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Mexico is at the center of the global battle over abortion. In 2007, a watershed reform legalized the procedure in the national capital, making it one of just three places across Latin America where it was permitted at the time. Abortion care is now available on demand and free of cost through a pioneering program of the Mexico City Ministry of Health, which has served hundreds of thousands of women. At the same time, abortion laws have grown harsher in several states outside the capital as part of a coordinated national backlash. In this book, Elyse Ona Singer argues that while pregnant women in Mexico today have options that were unavailable just over a decade ago, they are also subject to the expanded reach of the Mexican state and the Catholic Church over their bodies and reproductive lives. By analyzing the moral politics of clinical encounters in Mexico City's public abortion program, Lawful Sins offers a critical account of the relationship among reproductive rights, gendered citizenship, and public healthcare. With timely insights on global struggles for reproductive justice, Singer reorients prevailing perspectives that approach abortion rights as a hallmark of women's citizenship in liberal societies.
The Lebanese state is structured through religious freedom and secular power sharing across sectarian groups. Every sect has specific laws that govern kinship matters like marriage or inheritance. Together with criminal and civil laws, these laws regulate and produce political difference. But whether women or men, Muslims or Christians, queer or straight, all people in Lebanon have one thing in common—they are biopolitical subjects forged through bureaucratic, ideological, and legal techniques of the state. With this book, Maya Mikdashi offers a new way to understand state power, theorizing how sex, sexuality, and sect shape and are shaped by law, secularism, and sovereignty. Drawing on court archives, public records, and ethnography of the Court of Cassation, the highest civil court in Lebanon, Mikdashi shows how political difference is entangled with religious, secular, and sexual difference. She presents state power as inevitably contingent, like the practices of everyday life it engenders, focusing on the regulation of religious conversion, the curation of legal archives, state and parastatal violence, and secular activism. Sextarianism locates state power in the experiences, transitions, uprisings, and violence that people in the Middle East continue to live.
The Dominican Republic has posted impressive economic growth rates over the past thirty years. Despite this, the generation of new, good jobs has been remarkably weak. How have ordinary and poor Dominicans worked and lived in the shadow of the country's conspicuous growth rates? This book considers this question through an ethnographic exploration of the popular economy in the Dominican capital. Focusing on the city's precarious small businesses, including furniture manufacturers, food stalls, street-corner stores, and savings and credit cooperatives, Krohn-Hansen shows how people make a living, tackle market shifts, and the factors that characterize their relationship to the state and pervasive corruption. Empirically grounded, this book examines the condition of the urban masses in Santo Domingo, offering an original and captivating contribution to the scholarship on popular economic practices, urban changes, and today's Latin America and the Caribbean. This will be essential reading for scholars and policy makers.
In the poorest neighborhoods of Santiago, Chile, low-income residents known as pobladores have long lived at the margins—and have long advocated for the right to housing as part of la vida digna (a life with dignity). From 2011 to 2015, anthropologist Miguel Pérez conducted fieldwork among the pobladores of Santiago, where the urban dwellers and activists he met were part of an emerging social movement that demanded dignified living conditions, the right to remain in their neighborhoods of origin, and, more broadly, recognition as citizens entitled to basic rights. This ethnographic account raises questions about state policies that conceptualize housing as a commodity rather than a right, and how poor urban dwellers seek recognition and articulate political agency against the backdrop of neoliberal policies. By scrutinizing how Chilean pobladores constitute themselves as political subjects, this book reveals the mechanisms through which housing activists develop new imaginaries of citizenship in a country where the market has been the dominant force organizing social life for almost forty years. Pérez considers the limits and potentialities of urban movements, framed by poor people's involvement in subsidy-based programs, as well as the capacity of low-income residents to struggle against the commodification of rights by claiming the right to dignity: a demand based on a moral category that would ultimately become the driving force behind Chile's 2019 social uprising.
How extreme-right antidemocratic governments around the world are prioritizing profits over citizens, stoking catastrophic wildfires, and accelerating global climate change. Recent years have seen out-of-control wildfires rage across remote Brazilian rainforests, densely populated California coastlines, and major cities in Australia. What connects these separate events is more than immediate devastation and human loss of life. In Global Burning, Eve Darian-Smith contends that using fire as a symbolic and literal thread connecting different places around the world allows us to better understand the parallel, and related, trends of the growth of authoritarian politics and climate crises and their interconnected global consequences. Darian-Smith looks deeply into each of these three cases of catastrophic wildfires and finds key similarities in all of them. As political leaders and big business work together in the pursuit of profits and power, anti-environmentalism has become an essential political tool enabling the rise of extreme right governments and energizing their populist supporters. These are the governments that deny climate science, reject environmental protection laws, and foster exclusionary worldviews that exacerbate climate injustice. The fires in Australia, Brazil and the United States demand acknowledgment of the global systems of inequality that undergird them, connecting the political erosion of liberal democracy with the corrosion of the environment. Darian-Smith argues that these wildfires are closely linked through capitalism, colonialism, industrialization, and resource extraction. In thinking through wildfires as environmental and political phenomenon, Global Burning challenges readers to confront the interlocking powers that are ensuring our future ecological collapse.
A radical vision for the future of human rights as a fundamentally reconfigured framework for global justice. Reinventing Human Rights offers a bold argument: that only a radically reformulated approach to human rights will prove adequate to confront and overcome the most consequential global problems. Charting a new path—away from either common critiques of the various incapacities of the international human rights system or advocacy for the status quo—Mark Goodale offers a new vision for human rights as a basis for collective action and moral renewal. Goodale's proposition to reinvent human rights begins with a deep unpacking of human rights institutionalism and political theory in order to give priority to the "practice of human rights." Rather than a priori claims to universality, he calls for a working theory of human rights defined by "translocality," a conceptual and ethical grounding that invites people to form alliances beyond established boundaries of community, nation, race, or religious identity. This book will serve as both a concrete blueprint and source of inspiration for those who want to preserve human rights as a key framework for confronting our manifold contemporary challenges, yet who agree—for many different reasons—that to do so requires radical reappraisal, imaginative reconceptualization, and a willingness to reinvent human rights as a cross-cultural foundation for both empowerment and social action.
From medieval contemplation to the early modern cosmopoetic imagination, to the invention of aesthetic experience, to nineteenth-century decadent literature, and to early-twentieth century essayistic forms of writing and film, Niklaus Largier shows that mystical practices have been reinvented across the centuries, generating a notion of possibility with unexpected critical potential. Arguing for a new understanding of mystical experience, Largier foregrounds the ways in which devotion builds on experimental practices of figuration in order to shape perception, emotions, and thoughts anew. Largier illuminates how devotional practices are invested in the creation of possibilities, and this investment has been a key element in a wide range of experimental engagements in literature and art from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, and most recently in forms of "new materialism." Read as a history of the senses and emotions, the book argues that mystical and devotional practices have long been invested in the modulating and reconfiguring of sensation, affects, and thoughts. Read as a book about practices of figuration, it questions ordinary protocols of interpretation in the humanities, and the priority given to a hermeneutic understanding of texts and cultural artifacts.
Over the last decade, Peru has experienced a spectacular mining boom and astronomical economic growth. Yet, for villagers in Peru's southern Andes, few have felt the material benefits. With this book, Eric Hirsch considers what growth means—and importantly how it feels. Hirsch proposes an analysis of boom-time capitalism that starts not from considerations of poverty, but from the premise that Peru is wealthy. He situates his work in a network of villages near new mining sites, agricultural export markets, and tourist attractions, where Peruvian prosperity appears tantalizingly close, yet just out of reach. This book centers on small-scale development investments working to transform villagers into indigenous entrepreneurs ready to capitalize on Peru's new national brand and access the constantly deferred promise of national growth. That meant identifying as indigenous, where few actively did so; identifying as an entrepreneur, in a place where single-minded devotion to a business went against the tendency to diversify income sources; and identifying every dimension of one's daily life as a resource, despite the unwelcome intimacy this required. Theorizing growth as an affective project that requires constant physical and emotional labor, Acts of Growth follows a diverse group of Andean residents through the exhausting work of making an economy grow.
A strike pattern is a signature of violence carved into the land—bomb craters or fragments of explosives left behind, forgotten. In Strike Patterns, poet and anthropologist Leah Zani journeys to a Lao river community where people live alongside such relics of a secret war. With sensitive and arresting prose, Zani reveals the layered realities that settle atop one another in Laos—from its French colonial history to today's authoritarian state—all blown open by the war. This excavation of postwar life's balance between the mundane, the terrifying, and the extraordinary propels Zani to confront her own explosive past. From 1964 to 1973, the United States carried out a covert air war against Laos. Frequently overshadowed by the war with Vietnam, the Secret War was the longest and most intense air war in history. As Zani uncovers this hidden legacy, she finds herself immersed in the lives of her hosts: Chantha, a daughter of war refugees who grapples with her place in a future Laos of imagined prosperity; Channarong, a bomb technician whose Thai origins allow him to stand apart from the battlefields he clears; and Bounmi, a young man who has inherited his bomb expertise from his father but now struggles to imagine a similar future for his unborn son. Wandering through their lives are the restless ghosts of kin and strangers. Today, much of Laos remains contaminated with dangerous leftover explosives. Despite its obscurity, the Secret War has become a shadow model for modern counterinsurgency. Investigating these shadows of war, Zani spends time with silk weavers and rice farmers, bomb clearance crews and black market war scrap traders, ritual healers and survivors of explosions. Combining her fieldnotes with poetry, fiction, and memoir she reflects on the power of building new lives in the ruins.
In contemporary South Africa, power no longer maps neatly onto race. While white South Africans continue to enjoy considerable power at the top levels of industry, they have become a demographic minority, politically subordinate to the black South African population. To be white today means having to adjust to a new racial paradigm. In this book, Jacob Boersema argues that this adaptation requires nothing less than unlearning racism: confronting the shame of a racist past, acknowledging privilege, and, to varying degrees, rethinking notions of nationalism. Drawing on more than 150 interviews with a cross-section of white South Africans—representationally diverse in age, class, and gender—Boersema details how they understand their whiteness and depicts the limits and possibilities of individual, and collective, transformation. He reveals that the process of unlearning racism entails dismantling psychological and institutional structures alike, all of which are inflected by emotion and shaped by ideas of culture and power. Can We Unlearn Racism? pursues a question that should be at the forefront of every society's collective consciousness. Theoretically rich and ethnographically empathetic, this book offers valuable insights into the broader sociological process of unlearning, relevant today to communities all around the world.
In the centuries before Europeans crossed the Atlantic, social and material relations among the indigenous Guaraní people of present-day Paraguay were based on reciprocal gift-giving. But the Spanish and Portuguese newcomers who arrived in the sixteenth century seemed interested in the Guaraní only to advance their own interests, either through material exchange or by getting the Guaraní to serve them. This book tells the story of how Europeans felt empowered to pursue individual gain in the New World, and how the Guaraní people confronted this challenge to their very way of being. Although neither Guaraní nor Europeans were positioned to grasp the larger meaning of the moment, their meeting was part of a global sea change in human relations and the nature of economic exchange. Brian P. Owensby uses the centuries-long encounter between Europeans and the indigenous people of South America to reframe the notion of economic gain as a historical development rather than a matter of human nature. Owensby argues that gain—the pursuit of individual, material self-interest—must be understood as a global development that transformed the lives of Europeans and non-Europeans, wherever these two encountered each other in the great European expansion spanning the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries.
Sex work occupies a legally gray space in Johannesburg, South Africa, and police attitudes towards it are inconsistent and largely unregulated. As I. India Thusi argues in Policing Bodies, this results in both room for negotiation that can benefit sex workers and also extreme precarity in which the security police officers provide can be offered and taken away at a moment's notice. Sex work straddles the line between formal and informal. Attitudes about beauty and subjective value are manifest in formal tasks, including police activities, which are often conducted in a seemingly ad hoc manner. However, high-level organizational directives intended to regulate police obligations and duties toward sex workers also influence police action and tilt the exercise of discretion to the formal. In this liminal space, this book considers how sex work is policed and how it should be policed. Challenging discourses about sexuality and gender that inform its regulation, Thusi exposes the limitations of dominant feminist arguments regarding the legal treatment of sex work. This in-depth, historically informed ethnography illustrates the tension between enforcing a country's laws and protecting citizens' human rights.
Uber's April 2016 launch in Buenos Aires plunged the Argentine capital into a frenzied hysteria that engulfed courts of law, taxi drivers, bureaucrats, the press, the general public, and Argentina's president himself. Economist and anthropologist Juan M. del Nido, who had arrived in the city six months earlier to research the taxi industry, suddenly found himself documenting the unprecedented upheaval in real time. Taxis vs. Uber examines the ensuing conflict from the perspective of the city's globalist, culturally liberal middle class, showing how notions like monopoly, efficiency, innovation, competition, and freedom fueled claims that were often exaggerated, inconsistent, unverifiable, or plainly false, but that shaped the experience of the conflict such that taxi drivers' stakes in it were no longer merely disputed but progressively written off, pathologized, and explained away. This first book-length study of the lead-up to and immediate aftermath of the arrival of a major platform economy to a metropolitan capital considers how the clash between Uber and the traditional taxi industry played out in courtrooms, in the press, and on the street. Looking to court cases, the politics of taxi licenses, social media campaigns, telecommunications infrastructure, public protests, and Uber's own promotional materials, del Nido examines the emergence of "post-political reasoning": an increasingly common way in which societies neutralize disagreement, shaping how we understand what we can even legitimately argue about and how.
More than one million Indians travel annually to work in oil projects in the Gulf, one of the few international destinations where men without formal education can find lucrative employment. Between Dreams and Ghosts follows their migration, taking readers to sites in India, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, from villages to oilfields and back again. Engaging all parties involved—the migrants themselves, the recruiting agencies that place them, the government bureaucrats that regulate their emigration, and the corporations that hire them—Andrea Wright examines labor migration as a social process as it reshapes global capitalism. With this book, Wright demonstrates how migration is deeply informed both by workers' dreams for the future and the ghosts of history, including the enduring legacies of colonial capitalism. As workers navigate bureaucratic hurdles to migration and working conditions in the Gulf, they in turn influence and inform state policies and corporate practices. Placing migrants at the center of global capital rather than its periphery, Wright shows how migrants are not passive bodies at the mercy of abstract forces—and reveals through their experiences a new understanding of contemporary resource extraction, governance, and global labor.
A poignant look at empathetic encounters between staunch ideological rivals, all centered around our common need for food. While America's new reality appears to be a deeply divided body politic, many are wondering how we can or should move forward from here. Can political or social divisiveness be healed? Is empathy among people with very little ideological common ground possible? In A Decent Meal, Michael Carolan finds answers to these fundamental questions in a series of unexpected places: around our dinner tables, along the aisles of our supermarkets, and in the fields growing our fruits and vegetables. What is more common, after all, than the simple fact that we all need to eat? This book is the result of Carolan's career-long efforts to create simulations in which food could be used to build empathy, among even the staunchest of rivals. Though most people assume that presenting facts will sway the way the public behaves, time and again this assumption is proven wrong as we all selectively accept the facts that support our beliefs. Drawing on the data he has collected, Carolan argues that we must, instead, find places and practices where incivility—or worse, hate—is suspended and leverage those opportunities into tools for building social cohesion. Each chapter follows the individuals who participated in a given experiment, ranging from strawberry-picking, attempting to subsist on SNAP benefits, or attending a dinner of wild game. By engaging with participants before, during, and after, Carolan is able to document their remarkable shifts in attitude and opinion. Though this book is framed around food, it is really about the spaces opened up by our need for food, in our communities, in our homes, and, ultimately, in our minds.
Nearly 90 percent of residents in Dubai are foreigners with no Emirati nationality. As in many global cities, those who hold Western passports share specific advantages: prestigious careers, high salaries, and comfortable homes and lifestyles. With this book, Amélie Le Renard explores how race, gender and class backgrounds shape experiences of privilege, and investigates the processes that lead to the formation of Westerners as a social group. Westernness is more than a passport; it is also an identity that requires emotional and bodily labor. And as they work, hook up, parent, and hire domestic help, Westerners chase Dubai's promise of socioeconomic elevation for the few. Through an ethnography informed by postcolonial and feminist theory, Le Renard reveals the diverse experiences and trajectories of white and non-white, male and female Westerners to understand the shifting and contingent nature of Westernness—and also its deep connection to whiteness and heteronormativity. Western Privilege offers a singular look at the lived reality of structural racism in cities of the global South.
Winner of the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize, this work spins a heartfelt story of an improbable relationship between an anthropologist and her charismatic Indigenous father. When Aparecida Vilaça first traveled down the remote Negro River in Amazonia, she expected to come back with notebooks and tapes full of observations about the Indigenous Wari' people—but not with a new father. In Paletó and Me, Vilaça shares her life with her adoptive Wari' family, and the profound personal transformations involved in becoming kin. Paletó—unfailingly charming, always prepared with a joke—shines with life in Vilaça's account of their unusual father-daughter relationship. Paletó was many things: he was a survivor, who lived through the arrival of violent invaders and diseases. He was a leader, who taught through laughter and care, spoke softly, yet was always ready to jump into the unknown. He could shift seamlessly between the roles of the observer and the observed, and in his visits to Rio de Janeiro, deconstructs urban social conventions with ease and wit. Begun the day after Paletó's death at the age of 85, Paletó and Me is a celebration of life, weaving together the author's own memories of learning the lifeways of Indigenous Amazonia with her father's testimony to Wari' persistence in the face of colonization. Speaking from the heart as both anthropologist and daughter, Vilaça offers an intimate look at Indigenous lives in Brazil over nearly a century.
Throughout history, speech and storytelling have united communities and mobilized movements. Protestant Textuality and the Tamil Modern examines this phenomenon in Tamil-speaking South India over the last three centuries, charting the development of political oratory and its influence on society. Supplementing his narrative with thorough archival work, Bernard Bate begins with Protestant missionaries' introduction of the sermonic genre and takes the reader through its local vernacularization. What originally began as a format of religious speech became an essential political infrastructure used to galvanize support for new social imaginaries, from Indian independence to Tamil nationalism. Completed by a team of Bate's colleagues, this ethnography marries linguistic anthropology to performance studies and political history, illuminating new geographies of belonging in the modern era.
In Mexican American communities in the central United States, the modern tradition of playing fastpitch softball has been passed from generation to generation. This ethnic sporting practice is kept alive through annual tournaments, the longest-running of which were founded in the 1940s, when softball was a ubiquitous form of recreation, and the so-called "Mexican American generation" born to immigrant parents was coming of age. Carrying on with fastpitch into the second or third generation of players even as wider interest in the sport has waned, these historically Mexican American tournaments now function as reunions that allow people to maintain ties to a shared past, and to remember the decades of segregation when Mexican Americans' citizenship was unfairly questioned. In this multi-sited ethnography, Ben Chappell conveys the importance of fastpitch in the ordinary yearly life of Mexican American communities from Kansas City to Houston. Traveling to tournaments, he interviews players and fans, strikes up conversations in the bleachers, takes in the atmosphere in the heat of competition, and combs through local and personal archives. Recognizing fastpitch as a practice of cultural citizenship, Chappell situates the sport within a history marked by migration, marginalization, solidarity, and struggle, through which Mexican Americans have navigated complex negotiations of cultural, national, and local identities.
Oaxaca Resurgent examines how Indigenous people in one of Mexico's most rebellious states shaped local and national politics during the twentieth century. Drawing on declassified surveillance documents and original ethnographic research, A. S. Dillingham traces the contested history of indigenous development and the trajectory of the Mexican government's Instituto Nacional Indigenista, the most ambitious agency of its kind in the Americas. This book shows how generations of Indigenous actors, operating from within the Mexican government while also challenging its authority, proved instrumental in democratizing the local teachers' trade union and implementing bilingual education. Focusing on the experiences of anthropologists, government bureaucrats, trade unionists, and activists, Dillingham explores the relationship between indigeneity, rural education and development, and the political radicalism of the Global Sixties. By centering Indigenous expressions of anticolonialism, Oaxaca Resurgent offers key insights into the entangled histories of Indigenous resurgence movements and the rise of state-sponsored multiculturalism in the Americas. This revelatory book provides crucial context for understanding post-1968 Mexican history and the rise of the 2006 Oaxacan social movement.
Unlike other athletes, the rock climber tends to disregard established norms of style and technique, doing whatever she needs to do to get to the next foothold. This figure provides an apt analogy for the scholar at the center of this unique book. In Rocking Qualitative Social Science, Ashley Rubin provides an entertaining treatise, corrective vision, and rigorously informative guidebook for qualitative research methods that have long been dismissed in deference to traditional scientific methods. Recognizing the steep challenges facing many, especially junior, social science scholars who struggle to adapt their research models to narrowly defined notions of "right," Rubin argues that properly nourished qualitative research can generate important, creative, and even paradigm-shifting insights. This book is designed to help people conduct good qualitative research, talk about their research, and evaluate other scholars' work. Drawing on her own experiences in research and life, Rubin provides tools for qualitative scholars, synthesizes the best advice, and addresses the ubiquitous problem of anxiety in academia. Ultimately, this book argues that rigorous research can be anything but rigid.
A new strain of coronavirus emerged sometime in November 2019, and within weeks a cluster of patients began to be admitted to hospitals in Wuhan with severe pneumonia, most of them linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. China's seemingly effective containment of the first stage of the epidemic, in glaring contrast with the uncontrolled spread in Europe and the United States, was heralded as a testament to the Chinese Communist Party's unparalleled command over the biomedical sciences, population, and economy. Conversely, much academic and public debate about the origins of the virus focuses on the supposedly "backwards" cultural practice of consuming wild animals and the perceived problem of authoritarianism suppressing information about the outbreak until it was too late. The Origins of COVID-19, by Li Zhang, shifts debate away from narrow cultural, political, or biomedical frameworks, emphasizing that we must understand the origins of emerging diseases with pandemic potential (such as SARS and COVID-19) in the more complex and structural entanglements of state-making, science and technology, and global capitalism. She argues that both narratives, that of China's victory and the racist depictions of its culpability, do not address—and even aggravate—these larger forces that degrade the environment and increase the human-wildlife interface through which novel pathogens spill over into humans and may rapidly expand into global pandemics.
In the mid-1990s, experts predicted that India would face the world's biggest AIDS epidemic by 2000. Though a crisis at this scale never fully materialized, global public health institutions, donors, and the Indian state initiated a massive effort to prevent it. HIV prevention programs channeled billions of dollars toward those groups designated as at-risk—sex workers and men who have sex with men. At Risk captures this unique moment in which these criminalized and marginalized groups reinvented their "at-risk" categorization and became central players in the crisis response. The AIDS crisis created a contradictory, conditional, and temporary opening for sex-worker and LGBTIQ activists to renegotiate citizenship and to make demands on the state. Working across India and Kenya, Gowri Vijayakumar provides a fine-grained account of the political struggles at the heart of the Indian AIDS response. These range from everyday articulations of sexual identity in activist organizations in Bangalore to new approaches to HIV prevention in Nairobi, where prevention strategies first introduced in India are adapted and circulate, as in the global AIDS field more broadly. Vijayakumar illuminates how the politics of gender, sexuality, and nationalism shape global crisis response. In so doing, she considers the precarious potential for social change in and after a crisis.
Around the year 1800, independent Native groups still effectively controlled about half the territory of the Americas. How did they maintain their political autonomy and territorial sovereignty, hundreds of years after the arrival of Europeans? In a study that spans the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and ranges across the vast interior of South America, Heather F. Roller examines this history of power and persistence from the vantage point of autonomous Native peoples in Brazil. The central argument of the book is that Indigenous groups took the initiative in their contacts with Brazilian society. Rather than fleeing or evading contact, Native peoples actively sought to appropriate what was useful and potent from outsiders, incorporating new knowledge, products, and even people, on their own terms and for their own purposes. At the same time, autonomous Native groups aimed to control contact with dangerous outsiders, so as to protect their communities from threats that came in the form of sicknesses, vices, forced labor, and land invasions. Their tactical decisions shaped and limited colonizing enterprises in Brazil, while revealing Native peoples' capacity for cultural persistence through transformation. These contact strategies are preserved in the collective memories of Indigenous groups today, informing struggles for survival and self-determination in the present.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is iconic in the landscape of Indian healthcare. Established in the early years of independence, this enormous public teaching hospital rapidly gained fame for the high-quality treatment it offered at a nominal cost; at present, an average of ten thousand patients pass through the outpatient department each day. With its notorious medical program acceptance rate of less than 0.01%, AIIMS also sits at the apex of Indian medical education. To be trained as a doctor here is to be considered the best. In what way does this enduring reputation of excellence shape the institution's ethos? How does elite medical education sustain India's social hierarchies and the health inequalities entrenched within? In the first-ever ethnography of AIIMS, Anna Ruddock considers prestige as a byproduct of norms attached to ambition, aspiration, caste, and class in modern India, and illustrates how the institution's reputation affects its students' present experiences and future career choices. Ruddock untangles the threads of intellectual exceptionalism, social and power stratification, and health inequality that are woven into the health care taught and provided at AIIMS, asking what is lost when medicine is used not as a social equalizer but as a means to cultivate and maintain prestige.
Exposing ethical dilemmas of neuroscientific research on violence, this book warns against a dystopian future in which behavior is narrowly defined in relation to our biological makeup. Biological explanations for violence have existed for centuries, as has criticism of this kind of deterministic science, haunted by a long history of horrific abuse. Yet, this program has endured because of, and not despite, its notorious legacy. Today's scientists are well beyond the nature versus nurture debate. Instead, they contend that scientific progress has led to a nature and nurture, biological and social, stance that allows it to avoid the pitfalls of the past. In Conviction Oliver Rollins cautions against this optimism, arguing that the way these categories are imagined belies a dangerous continuity between past and present. The late 1980s ushered in a wave of techno-scientific advancements in the genetic and brain sciences. Rollins focuses on an often-ignored strand of research, the neuroscience of violence, which he argues became a key player in the larger conversation about the biological origins of criminal, violent behavior. Using powerful technologies, neuroscientists have rationalized an idea of the violent brain—or a brain that bears the marks of predisposition toward "dangerousness." Drawing on extensive analysis of neurobiological research, interviews with neuroscientists, and participant observation, Rollins finds that this construct of the brain is ill-equipped to deal with the complexities and contradictions of the social world, much less the ethical implications of informing treatment based on such simplified definitions. Rollins warns of the potentially devastating effects of a science that promises to "predict" criminals before the crime is committed, in a world that already understands violence largely through a politic of inequality.
Each year, billions of dollars are spent on global humanitarian health initiatives. These efforts are intended to care for suffering bodies, especially those of distressed children living in poverty. But as global medical aid can often overlook the local economic and political systems that cause bodily suffering, it can also unintentionally prolong the very conditions that hurt children and undermine local aid givers. Investigating medical humanitarian encounters in Egypt, Paradoxes of Care illustrates how child aid recipients and local aid experts grapple with global aid's shortcomings and its paradoxical outcomes. Rania Kassab Sweis examines how some of the world's largest aid organizations care for vulnerable children in Egypt, focusing on medical efforts with street children and out-of-school village girls. Her in-depth ethnographic study reveals how global medical aid fails to "save" these children according to its stated aims, and often maintains—or produces new—social disparities in children's lives. Foregrounding vulnerable children's responses to medical aid, Sweis moves past the unquestioned benevolence of global health to demonstrate how children must manage their own bodies and lives in the absence of adult care. With this book, she challenges readers to engage with the question of what medical caregivers and donors alike gain from such global humanitarian transactions.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, complex capital flows have ravaged everyday communities across the globe. Housing in particular has become increasingly precarious. In response, many movements now contest the long-held promises and established terms of the private ownership of housing. Immigrant activism has played an important, if understudied, role in such struggles over collective consumption. In Dispossession and Dissent, Sophie Gonick examines the intersection of homeownership and immigrant activism through an analysis of Spain's anti-evictions movement, now a hallmark for housing struggles across the globe. Madrid was the crucible for Spain's urban planning and policy, its millennial economic boom (1998–2008), and its more recent mobilizations in response to crisis. During the boom, the city also experienced rapid, unprecedented immigration. Through extensive archival and ethnographic research, Gonick uncovers the city's histories of homeownership and immigration to demonstrate the pivotal role of Andean immigrants within this movement, as the first to contest dispossession from mortgage-related foreclosures and evictions. Consequently, they forged a potent politics of dissent, which drew upon migratory experiences and indigenous traditions of activism to contest foreclosures and evictions.
Electricity is a quirky commodity: more often than not, it cannot be stored, easily transported, or imported from overseas. Before lighting up our homes, it changes hands through specialized electricity markets that rely on engineering expertise to trade competitively while respecting the physical requirements of the electric grid. The Current Economy is an ethnography of electricity markets in the United States that shows the heterogenous and technologically inflected nature of economic expertise today. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among market data analysts, electric grid engineers, and citizen activists, this book provides a deep dive into the convoluted economy of electricity and its reverberations throughout daily life. Canay Özden-Schilling argues that many of the economic formations in everyday life come from work cultures rarely suspected of doing economic work: cultures of science, technology, and engineering that often do not have a claim to economic theory or practice, yet nonetheless dictate forms of economic activity. Contributing to economic anthropology, science and technology studies, energy studies, and the anthropology of expertise, this book is a map of the everyday infrastructures of economy and energy into which we are plugged as denizens of a technological world.
In the last two decades, amid the global spread of smartphones, state killings of civilians have increasingly been captured on the cameras of both bystanders and police. Screen Shots studies this phenomenon from the vantage point of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Here, cameras have proliferated as political tools in the hands of a broad range of actors and institutions, including Palestinian activists, Israeli soldiers, Jewish settlers, and human rights workers. All trained their lens on Israeli state violence, propelled by a shared dream: that advances in digital photography—closer, sharper, faster—would advance their respective political agendas. Most would be let down. Drawing on ethnographic work, Rebecca L. Stein chronicles Palestinian video-activists seeking justice, Israeli soldiers laboring to perfect the military's image, and Zionist conspiracy theorists accusing Palestinians of "playing dead." Writing against techno-optimism, Stein investigates what camera dreams and disillusionment across these political divides reveal about the Israeli and Palestinian colonial present, and the shifting terms of power and struggle in the smartphone age.
The industrial-port belt of Los Angeles is home to eleven of the top twenty oil refineries in California, the largest ports in the country, and those "racist monuments" we call freeways. In this uncelebrated corner of "La La Land" through which most of America's goods transit, pollution is literally killing the residents. In response, a grassroots movement for environmental justice has grown, predominated by Asian and undocumented Latin@ immigrant women who are transforming our political landscape—yet we know very little about these change makers. In Refusing Death, Nadia Y. Kim tells their stories, finding that the women are influential because of their ability to remap politics, community, and citizenship in the face of the country's nativist racism and system of class injustice, defined not just by disproportionate environmental pollution but also by neglected schools, surveillance and deportation, and political marginalization. The women are highly conscious of how these harms are an assault on their bodies and emotions, and of their resulting reliance on a state they prefer to avoid and ignore. In spite of such challenges and contradictions, however, they have developed creative, unconventional, and loving ways to support and protect one another. They challenge the state's betrayal, demand respect, and, ultimately, refuse death.
The Taliban made piety a business of the state, and thereby intervened in the daily lives and social interactions of Afghan women. Pious Peripheries examines women's resistance through groundbreaking fieldwork at a women's shelter in Kabul, home to runaway wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters of the Taliban. Whether running to seek marriage or divorce, enduring or escaping abuse, or even accused of singing sexually explicit songs in public, "promiscuous" women challenge the status quo—and once marked as promiscuous, women have few resources. This book provides a window into the everyday struggles of Afghan women as they develop new ways to challenge historical patriarchal practices. Sonia Ahsan-Tirmizi explores how women negotiate gendered power mechanisms, notably those of Islam and Pashtunwali. Sometimes defined as an honor code, Pashtunwali is a discursive and material practice that women embody through praying, fasting, oral and written poetry, and participation in rituals of hospitality and refuge. In taking ownership of Pashtunwali and Islamic knowledge, in both textual and oral forms, women create a new supportive community, finding friendship and solidarity in the margins of Afghan society. So doing, these women redefine the meanings of equality, honor, piety, and promiscuity in Afghanistan.
Today, the concept of "the refugee" as distinct from other migrants looms large. Immigration laws have developed to reinforce a dichotomy between those viewed as voluntary, often economically motivated, migrants who can be legitimately excluded by potential host states, and those viewed as forced, often politically motivated, refugees who should be let in. In Crossing, Rebecca Hamlin argues against advocacy positions that cling to this distinction. Everything we know about people who decide to move suggests that border crossing is far more complicated than any binary, or even a continuum, can encompass. Drawing on cases of various "border crises" across Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East, Hamlin outlines major inconsistencies and faulty assumptions on which the binary relies. The migrant/refugee binary is not just an innocuous shorthand—indeed, its power stems from the way in which it is painted as apolitical. In truth, the binary is a dangerous legal fiction, politically constructed with the ultimate goal of making harsh border control measures more ethically palatable to the public. This book is a challenge to all those invested in the rights and study of migrants to move toward more equitable advocacy for all border crossers.
How to Make A Wetland tells the story of two Turkish coastal areas, both shaped by ecological change and political uncertainty. On the Black Sea coast and the shores of the Aegean, farmers, scientists, fishermen, and families grapple with livelihoods in transition, as their environment is bound up in national and international conservation projects. Bridges and drainage canals, apartment buildings and highways—as well as the birds, water buffalo, and various animals of the regions—all inform a moral ecology in the making. Drawing on six years of fieldwork in wetlands and deltas, Caterina Scaramelli offers an anthropological understanding of sweeping environmental and infrastructural change, and the moral claims made on livability and materiality in Turkey, and beyond. Beginning from a moral ecological position, she takes into account the notion that politics is not simply projected onto animals, plants, soil, water, sediments, rocks, and other non-human beings and materials. Rather, people make politics through them. With this book, she highlights the aspirations, moral relations, and care practices in constant play in contestations and alliances over environmental change.
Society and democracy are ever threatened by the fall of fact. Rigorous analysis of facts, the hard boundary between truth and opinion, and fidelity to reputable sources of factual information are all in alarming decline. A 2018 report published by the RAND Corporation labeled this problem "truth decay" and Andrew J. Hoffman lays the challenge of fixing it at the door of the academy. But, as he points out, academia is prevented from carrying this out due to its own existential crisis—a crisis of relevance. Scholarship rarely moves very far beyond the walls of the academy and is certainly not accessing the primarily civic spaces it needs to reach in order to mitigate truth corruption. In this brief but compelling book, Hoffman draws upon existing literature and personal experience to bring attention to the problem of academic insularity—where it comes from and where, if left to grow unchecked, it will go—and argues for the emergence of a more publicly and politically engaged scholar. This book is a call to make that path toward public engagement more acceptable and legitimate for those who do it; to enlarge the tent to be inclusive of multiple ways that one enacts the role of academic scholar in today's world.
Rich, personal stories shed light on midwives at the frontier of women's reproductive rights. Midwives in the United States live and work in a complex regulatory environment that is a direct result of state and medical intervention into women's reproductive capacity. In Birthing a Movement, Renée Ann Cramer draws on over a decade of ethnographic and archival research to examine the interactions of law, politics, and activism surrounding midwifery care. Framed by gripping narratives from midwives across the country, she parses out the often-paradoxical priorities with which they must engage—seeking formal professionalization, advocating for reproductive justice, and resisting state-centered approaches. Currently, professional midwives are legal and regulated in their practice in 32 states and illegal in eight, where their practice could bring felony convictions and penalties that include imprisonment. In the remaining ten states, Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) are unregulated, but nominally legal. By studying states where CPMs have differing legal statuses, Cramer makes the case that midwives and their clients engage in various forms of mobilization—at times simultaneous, and at times inconsistent—to facilitate access to care, autonomy in childbirth, and the articulation of women's authority in reproduction. This book brings together literatures not frequently in conversation with one another, on regulation, mobilization, health policy, and gender, offering a multifaceted view of the experiences and politics of American midwifery, and promising rich insights to a wide array of scholars, activists, healthcare professionals alike.
In 2001, Ethiopian Television aired a documentary about a small, rural village called Awra Amba, where women ploughed, men worked in the kitchen, and so-called harmful traditional practices did not exist. The documentary radically challenged prevailing images of Ethiopia as a gender-conservative and aid-dependent place, and Awra Amba became a symbol of gender equality and sustainable development in Ethiopia and beyond. Village Gone Viral uses the example of Awra Amba to consider the widespread circulation and use of modeling practices in an increasingly transnational and digital policy world. With a particular focus on traveling models—policy models that become "viral" through various vectors, ranging from NGOs and multilateral organizations to the Internet—Marit Tolo Østebø critically examines the hidden dimensions of models and model making. While a policy model may be presented as a "best practice," one that can be scaled up and successfully applied to other places, the local impacts of the model paradigm are far more ambivalent—potentially increasing social inequalities, reinforcing social stratification, and concealing injustice. With this book, Østebø ultimately calls for a reflexive critical anthropology of the production, circulation, and use of models as instruments for social change.
The Middle East plays a major role in the history of genetic science. Early in the twentieth century, technological breakthroughs in human genetics coincided with the birth of modern Middle Eastern nation-states, who proclaimed that the region's ancient history—as a cradle of civilizations and crossroads of humankind—was preserved in the bones and blood of their citizens. Using letters and publications from the 1920s to the present, Elise K. Burton follows the field expeditions and hospital surveys that scrutinized the bodies of tribal nomads and religious minorities. These studies, geneticists claim, not only detect the living descendants of biblical civilizations but also reveal the deeper past of human evolution. Genetic Crossroads is an unprecedented history of human genetics in the Middle East, from its roots in colonial anthropology and medicine to recent genome sequencing projects. It illuminates how scientists from Turkey to Yemen, Egypt to Iran, transformed genetic data into territorial claims and national origin myths. Burton shows why such nationalist appropriations of genetics are not local or temporary aberrations, but rather the enduring foundations of international scientific interest in Middle Eastern populations to this day.
Technology is rapidly changing the way we think about money. Digital payment has been slow to take off in the United States but is displacing cash in countries as diverse as China, Kenya, and Sweden. In Reimagining Money, Sibel Kusimba describes the rise of M-Pesa, and offers a rich portrait of how this technology changes the economic and social landscape, allowing users to create webs of relationships as they exchange, pool, borrow, lend, and share digital money in user-built networks. These networks, Kusimba argues, will shape the future of financial technologies and their impact on poverty, inclusion, and empowerment. She describes how urban and transnational migrants maintain a presence in rural areas through money gifts; how families use crowdfunding software to assemble donations for emergency medical care; and how new financial groups invest in real estate and fund weddings. The author presents fascinating accounts that challenge accepted wisdom by examining the notion of money as wealth-in-people—an idea long-cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa and now brought to bear on the digital age with homegrown financial technologies such as digital money transfer, digital microloans, and crowdfunding. The book concludes by proposing a new theory of money that can be applied to designing better financial technologies in the future.
This book offers a provocative retelling of Palestinian political history through an examination of the international commissions that have investigated political violence and human rights violations. More than twenty commissions have been convened over the last century, yet no significant change has resulted from these inquiries. The findings of the very first, the 1919 King-Crane Commission, were suppressed. The Mitchell Committee, convened in the heat of the Second Intifada, urged Palestinians to listen more sympathetically to the feelings of their occupiers. And factfinders returning from a shell-shocked Gaza Strip in 2008 registered their horror at the scale of the destruction, but Gazans have continued to live under a crippling blockade. Drawing on debates in the press, previously unexamined UN reports, historical archives, and ethnographic research, Lori Allen explores six key investigative commissions over the last century. She highlights how Palestinians' persistent demands for independence have been routinely translated into the numb language of reports and resolutions. These commissions, Allen argues, operating as technologies of liberal global governance, yield no justice—only the oppressive status quo. A History of False Hope issues a biting critique of the captivating allure and cold impotence of international law.
Following the recent global housing boom, tract housing development became a billion-dollar industry in Mexico. At the national level, neoliberal housing policy has overtaken debates around land reform. For Indigenous peoples, access to affordable housing remains crucial to alleviating poverty. But as palapas, traditional thatch and wood houses, are replaced by tract houses in the Yucatán Peninsula, Indigenous peoples' relationship to land, urbanism, and finance is similarly transformed, revealing a legacy of debt and dispossession. Indigenous Dispossession examines how Maya families grapple with the ramifications of neoliberal housing policies. M. Bianet Castellanos relates Maya migrants' experiences with housing and mortgage finance in Cancún, one of Mexico's fastest-growing cities. Their struggle to own homes reveals colonial and settler colonial structures that underpin the city's economy, built environment, and racial order. But even as Maya people contend with predatory lending practices and foreclosure, they cultivate strategies of resistance—from "waiting out" the state, to demanding Indigenous rights in urban centers. As Castellanos argues, it is through these maneuvers that Maya migrants forge a new vision of Indigenous urbanism.
Despite widespread consensus that China's digital revolution was sure to bring about massive democratic reforms, such changes have not come to pass. While scholars and policy makers alternate between predicting change and disparaging a stubbornly authoritarian regime, in this book Shaohua Guo demonstrates how this dichotomy misses the far more complex reality. The Evolution of the Chinese Internet traces the emergence and maturation of one of the most creative digital cultures in the world through four major technological platforms: the bulletin board system, the blog, the microblog, and WeChat. Guo transcends typical binaries of freedom and control, to argue that Chinese Internet culture displays a uniquely sophisticated interplay between multiple extremes, and that its vibrancy is dependent on these complex negotiations. In contrast to the flourishing of research findings on what is made invisible online, this book examines the driving mechanisms that grant visibility to particular kinds of user-generated content. Offering a systematic account of how and why an ingenious Internet culture has been able to thrive, Guo highlights the pivotal roles that media institutions, technological platforms, and creative practices of Chinese netizens have played in shaping culture on- and offline.
The assertion that even institutions often viewed as abhorrent should be dispassionately understood motivates Arkotong Longkumer's pathbreaking ethnography of the Sangh Parivar, a family of organizations comprising the Hindu right. The Greater India Experiment counters the urge to explain away their ideas and actions as inconsequential by demonstrating their efforts to influence local politics and culture in Northeast India. Longkumer constructs a comprehensive understanding of Hindutva, an idea central to the establishment of a Hindu nation-state, by focusing on the Sangh Parivar's engagement with indigenous peoples in a region that has long resisted the "idea of India." Contextualizing their activities as a Hindutva "experiment" within the broader Indian political and cultural landscape, he ultimately paints a unique picture of the country today.
What if we could imagine hierarchy not as a social ill, but as a source of social hope? Taking us into a "caste of thieves" in northern India, Nobody's People depicts hierarchy as a normative idiom through which people imagine better lives and pursue social ambitions. Failing to find a place inside hierarchic relations, the book's heroes are "nobody's people": perceived as worthless, disposable and so open to being murdered with no regret or remorse. Following their journey between death and hope, we learn to perceive vertical, non-equal relations as a social good, not only in rural Rajasthan, but also in much of the world—including settings stridently committed to equality. Challenging egalo-normative commitments, Anastasia Piliavsky asks scholars across the disciplines to recognize hierarchy as a major intellectual resource.
Following the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government set out to Islamize society. Muslim piety had to be visible, in personal appearance and in action. Iranians were told to pray, fast, and attend mosques to be true Muslims. The revolution turned questions of what it means to be a true Muslim into a matter of public debate, taken up widely outside the exclusive realm of male clerics and intellectuals. Say What Your Longing Heart Desires offers an elegant ethnography of these debates among a group of educated, middle-class women whose voices are often muted in studies of Islam. Niloofar Haeri follows them in their daily lives as they engage with the classical poetry of Rumi, Hafez, and Saadi, illuminating a long-standing mutual inspiration between prayer and poetry. She recounts how different forms of prayer may transform into dialogues with God, and, in turn, Haeri illuminates the ways in which believers draw on prayer and ritual acts as the emotional and intellectual material through which they think, deliberate, and debate.
Every event in human history has been a more-than-human event. When hunter-gatherers burn the land, they cooperate with herbs that seed quickly and grasses that sprout after fires, attracting game. Inside us, intestinal bacteria make it possible for us to digest our food. Other things, living and nonliving, make it possible to be human. Yet powerful habits of thought over the last centuries have made this statement less than obvious. With the arrival of the idea of the Anthropocene, we move away from such thinking to reconsider how human and nonhuman histories are inextricably intertwined. Convening over one hundred researchers to trace a whole range of such intertwinements, Feral Atlas offers an original and playful approach to studying the Anthropocene. Focused on the world's feral reactions to human intervention, the editors explore the structures and qualities that lie at the heart of the feral and make the phenomenon possible. This publication features original contributions by high-profile artists, humanists and scientists such as Amitav Ghosh, Elizabeth Fenn, Simon Lewis, Mark Maslin, and many others.
The Subject of Human Rights is the first book to systematically address the "human" part of "human rights." Drawing on the finest thinking in political theory, cultural studies, history, law, anthropology, and literary studies, this volume examines how human rights—as discourse, law, and practice—shape how we understand humanity and human beings. It asks how the humanness that the human rights idea seeks to protect and promote is experienced. The essays in this volume consider how human rights norms and practices affect the way we relate to ourselves, to other people, and to the nonhuman world. They investigate what kinds of institutions and actors are subjected to human rights and are charged with respecting their demands and realizing their aspirations. And they explore how human rights shape and even create the very subjects they seek to protect. Through critical reflection on these issues, The Subject of Human Rights suggests ways in which we might reimagine the relationship between human rights and subjectivity with a view to benefiting human rights and subjects alike.
With the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iraqis abroad, hoping to return one day to a better Iraq, became uncertain exiles. Return to Ruin tells the human story of this exile in the context of decades of U.S. imperial interests in Iraq—from the U.S. backing of the 1963 Ba'th coup and support of Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s, to the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 invasion and occupation. Zainab Saleh shares the experiences of Iraqis she met over fourteen years of fieldwork in Iraqi London—offering stories from an aging communist nostalgic for the streets she marched since childhood, a devout Shi'i dreaming of holy cities and family graves, and newly uprooted immigrants with fresh memories of loss, as well as her own. Focusing on debates among Iraqi exiles about what it means to be an Iraqi after years of displacement, Saleh weaves a narrative that draws attention to a once-dominant, vibrant Iraqi cultural landscape and social and political shifts among the diaspora after decades of authoritarianism, war, and occupation in Iraq. Through it all, this book illuminates how Iraqis continue to fashion a sense of belonging and imagine a future, built on the shards of these shattered memories.
The 21st century has seen growing numbers of seniors turning to migration in response to newfound challenges to traditional forms of retirement and old-age support, such as increased longevity, demographically aging populations, and global neoliberal trends reducing state welfare. Chinese-born migrants to the U.S. serve as an exemplary case of this trend, with 30 percent of all migrants since 1990 being at least 60 years old. This book tells their story, arguing that they demonstrate the significance of age as a mediating factor that is fundamentally important for considering how migration is experienced. The subjects of this study are situated at the crossroads of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American experiences, embodying many of the ambiguities and paradoxes that complicate common understandings of each group. These are older individuals who have waited their whole lives to migrate to the U.S. to rejoin family but often experience unanticipated family conflict when they arrive. They are retirees living at the social and economic margins of American society who nonetheless find significant opportunities to achieve meaningful retired lifestyles. They are members of a diaspora spanning vast regional and ideological differences, yet their wellbeing hinges on everyday interactions with others in this diverse community. Their stories highlight the many possibilities for mutual engagement that connect Chinese and American ways of being and belonging in the world.
Within the broad contours of Islamic traditions, Muslims are enjoined to fast during the month of Ramadan, they are invited to a disciplined practice of prayer, and they are offered the Quran as the divine revelation in the most beautiful verbal form. But what happens if Muslims choose not to fast, or give up prayer, or if the Quran's beauty seems inaccessible? When Muslims do not take up the path of piety, what happens to their relationships with more devout Muslims who are neighbors, friends, and kin? Between Muslims provides an ethnographic account of Iraqi Kurdish Muslims who turn away from devotional piety yet remain intimately engaged with Islamic traditions and with other Muslims. Andrew Bush offers a new way to understand religious difference in Islam, rejecting simple stereotypes about ethnic or sectarian identities. Integrating textual analysis of poetry, sermons, and Islamic history into accounts of everyday life in Iraqi Kurdistan, Between Muslims illuminates the interplay of attraction and aversion to Islam among ordinary Muslims.
The backlash against globalization and the rise of cultural anxiety has led to considerable re-thinking among social scientists. This book provides multiple theoretical, historical, and methodological orientations to examine these issues. While addressing the rise of populism worldwide, the volume provides explanations that cover periods of both cultural turbulence and stability. Issues addressed include populism and cultural anxiety, class, religion, arts and cultural diversity, global environment norms, international trade, and soft power. The interdisciplinary scholarship from well-known scholars questions the oft-made assumption in political economy that holds culture "constant," which in practice means marginalizing it in the explanation. The volume conceptualizes culture as a repertoire of values and alternatives. Locating human interests in underlying cultural values does not make political economy's strategic or instrumental calculations of interests redundant: the instrumental logic follows a social context and a distribution of cultural values, while locating forms of decision-making that may not be rational.
Monster is an adult pit bull, muscular and grey, who is impounded in a large animal shelter in Los Angeles. Like many other dogs at the shelter, Monster is associated with marginalized humans and assumed to embody certain behaviors because of his breed. And like approximately one million shelter animals each year, Monster will be killed. The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals takes us inside one of the country's highest-intake animal shelters. Katja M. Guenther witnesses the dramatic variance in the narratives assigned different animals, including Monster, which dictate their chances for survival. She argues that these inequalities are powerfully linked to human ideas about race, class, gender, ability, and species. Guenther deftly explores internal hierarchies, breed discrimination, and importantly, instances of resistance and agency.
A Financial Times Best Book of the Year The first book that examines India's mega-publicity campaigns to theorize the global transformation of the nation-state into an attractive investment destination. The early twenty-first century was an optimistic moment of global futures-making. The chief narrative was the emergence of the BRICS nations—leading stars in the great spectacle of capitalist growth stories, branded afresh as resource-rich hubs of untapped talent and potential, and newly opened up for foreign investments. The old third-world nations were rapidly embracing the script of unbridled capitalism in the hope of arriving on the world stage. If the tantalizing promise of economic growth invited entrepreneurs to invest in the nation's exciting futures, it offered utopian visions of "good times," and even restoration of lost national glory, to the nation's citizens. Brand New Nation reaches into the past and, inevitably, the future of this phenomenon as well as the fundamental shifts it has wrought in our understanding of the nation-state. It reveals the on-the-ground experience of the relentless transformation of the nation-state into an "attractive investment destination" for global capital. As Ravinder Kaur provocatively argues, the brand new nation is not a mere nineteenth century re-run. It has come alive as a unified enclosure of capitalist growth and nationalist desire in the twenty-first century. Today, to be deemed an attractive nation-brand in the global economy is to be affirmed as a proper nation. The infusion of capital not only rejuvenates the nation; it also produces investment-fueled nationalism, a populist energy that can be turned into a powerful instrument of coercion. Grounded in the history of modern India, the book reveals the close kinship among identity economy and identity politics, publicity and populism, and violence and economic growth rapidly rearranging the liberal political order the world over.
Social justice and human rights movements are entering a new phase. Social media, artificial intelligence, and digital forensics are reshaping advocacy and compliance. Technicians, lawmakers, and advocates, sometimes in collaboration with the private sector, have increasingly gravitated toward the possibilities and dangers inherent in the nonhuman. #HumanRights examines how new technologies interact with older models of rights claiming and communication, influencing and reshaping the modern-day pursuit of justice. Ronald Niezen argues that the impacts of information technologies on human rights are not found through an exclusive focus on sophisticated, expert-driven forms of data management but in considering how these technologies are interacting with other, "traditional" forms of media to produce new avenues of expression, public sympathy, redress of grievances, and sources of the self. Niezen considers various ways that the pursuit of justice is happening via new technologies, including crowdsourcing, social media–facilitated mobilizations (and enclosures), WhatsApp activist networks, and the selective attention of Google's search engine algorithm. He uncovers how emerging technologies of data management and social media influence the ways that human rights claimants and their allies pursue justice, and the "new victimology" that prioritizes and represents strategic lives and types of violence over others. #HumanRights paints a striking and important panoramic picture of the contest between authoritarianism and the new tools by which people attempt to leverage human rights and bring the powerful to account.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was the charismatic leader of the Chabad Hasidic movement and its designated Messiah. Yet when he died in 1994, the messianic fervor he inspired did not subside. Through traditional means and digital technologies, a group of radical Hasidim, the Meshichistim, still keep the Rebbe palpably close—engaging in ongoing dialogue, participating in specific rituals, and developing an ever-expanding visual culture of portraits and videos. With Us More Than Ever focuses on this group to explore how religious practice can sustain the belief that a messianic figure is both present and accessible. Yoram Bilu documents a unique religious experience that is distinctly modern. The rallying point of the Meshichistim—that the Rebbe is "with us more than ever"—is sustained through an elaborate system that creates the sense of his constant and pervasive presence in the lives of his followers. The virtual Rebbe that emerges is multiple, visible, accessible, and highly decentralized, the epicenter of a truly messianic movement in the twenty-first century. Combining ethnographic fieldwork and cognitive science with nuanced analysis, Bilu documents the birth and development of a new religious faith, describing the emergence of new spiritual horizons, a process common to various religious movements old and new.
This groundbreaking book investigates the emergence and evolution of the organ trade across North Africa and Europe. Seán Columb illuminates the voices and perspectives of organ sellers and brokers to demonstrate how crime and immigration controls produce circumstances where the business of selling organs has become a feature of economic survival. Drawing on the experiences of African migrants, Trading Life brings together five years of fieldwork charting the development of the organ trade from an informal economic activity into a structured criminal network operating within and between Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, and Europe. Ground-level analysis provides new insight into the operation of organ trading networks and the impact of current legal and policy measures in response to the organ trade. Columb reveals how investing financial and administrative resources into law enforcement and border securitization at the expense of social services has led to the convergence of illicit smuggling and organ trading networks and the development of organized crime. Trading Life delivers a powerful and grounded analysis of how economic pressures and the demands of survival force people into exploitative arrangements, like selling a kidney, that they would otherwise avoid. This fascinating and accessible book is a must-read for anyone interested in migration, organized crime, and exploitation.
Digital Pirates examines the unauthorized creation, distribution, and consumption of movies and music in Brazil. Alexander Sebastian Dent offers a new definition of piracy as indispensable to current capitalism alongside increasing global enforcement of intellectual property (IP). Complex and capricious laws might prohibit it, but piracy remains a core activity of the twenty-first century. Combining the tools of linguistic and cultural anthropology with models from media studies and political economy, Digital Pirates reveals how the dynamics of IP and piracy serve as strategies for managing the gaps between texts—in this case, digital content. Dent's analysis includes his fieldwork in and around São Paulo with pirates, musicians, filmmakers, police, salesmen, technicians, policymakers, politicians, activists, and consumers. Rather than argue for rigid positions, he suggests that Brazilians are pulled in multiple directions according to the injunctions of international governance, localized pleasure, magical consumption, and economic efficiency. Through its novel theorization of "digital textuality," this book offers crucial insights into the qualities of today's mediascape as well as the particularized political and cultural norms that govern it. The book also shows how twenty-first century capitalism generates piracy and its enforcement simultaneously, while producing fraught consumer experiences in Latin America and beyond.
Can there be good social policy? This book describes what happens to Indigenous policy when it targets the supposedly 'wild people' of regional and remote Australia. Tess Lea explores naturalized policy: policy unplugged, gone live, ramifying in everyday life, to show that it is policies that are wild, not the people being targeted. Lea turns the notion of unruliness on its head to reveal a policy-driven world dominated by short term political interests and their erratic, irrational effects, and by the less obvious protection of long-term interests in resource extraction and the liberal settler lifestyles this sustains. Wild Policy argues policies are not about undoing the big causes of enduring inequality, and do not ameliorate harms terribly well either—without yielding all hope. Drawing on efforts across housing and infrastructure, resistant media-making, health, governance and land tenure battles in regional and remote Australia, Wild Policy looks at how the logics of intervention are formulated and what this reveals in answer to the question: why is it all so hard? Lea offers readers a layered, multi-relational approach called policy ecology to probe the related question, 'what is to be done?' Lea's case material will resonate with analysts across the world who deal with infrastructures, policy, technologies, mining, militarization, enduring colonial legacies, and the Anthropocene.
The inside story of political protest in Saudi Arabia—on the ground, in the suburbs, and in the face of increasing state repression. Graveyard of Clerics takes up two global phenomena intimately linked in Saudi Arabia: urban sprawl and religious activism. Saudi suburbia emerged after World War II as citizens fled crowded inner cities. Developed to encourage a society of docile, isolated citizens, suburbs instead opened new spaces for political action. Religious activists in particular turned homes, schools, mosques, and summer camps into resources for mobilization. With the support of suburban grassroots networks, activists won local elections and found opportunities to protest government actions—until they faced a new wave of repression under the current Saudi leadership. Pascal Menoret spent four years in Saudi Arabia in the places where today's Islamic activism first emerged. With this book, he tells the stories of the people actively countering the Saudi state and highlights how people can organize and protest even amid increasingly intense police repression. This book changes the way we look at religious activism in Saudi Arabia. It also offers a cautionary tale: the ongoing repression by Saudi elites—achieved often with the complicity of the international community—is shutting down grassroots political movements with significant consequences for the country and the world.
Dark Finance offers one of the first ethnographic accounts of financial expansion and its political impacts in Eastern Europe. Following workers, managers, and investors in the Macedonian construction sector, Fabio Mattioli shows how financialization can empower authoritarian regimes—not by making money accessible to everyone, but by allowing a small group of oligarchs to monopolize access to international credit and promote a cascade of exploitative domestic debt relations. The landscape of failed deals and unrealizable dreams that is captured in this book portrays finance not as a singular, technical process. Instead, Mattioli argues that finance is a set of political and economic relations that entangles citizens, Eurocrats, and workers in tense paradoxes. Mattioli traces the origins of illiquidity in the reorganization of the European project and the postsocialist perversion of socialist financial practices—a dangerous mix that hid the Macedonian regime's weakness behind a façade of urban renewal and, for a decade, made it seem omnipresent and invincible. Dark Finance chronicles how, one bad deal at a time, Macedonia's authoritarian regime rode a wave of financial expansion that deepened its reach into Macedonian society, only to discover that its domination, like all speculative bubbles, was teetering on the verge of collapse.
Argentina lies at the heart of the American hemisphere's history of global migration booms of the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century: by 1910, one of every three Argentine residents was an immigrant—twice the demographic impact that the United States experienced in the boom period. In this context, some one hundred and forty thousand Ottoman Syrians came to Argentina prior to World War I, and over the following decades Middle Eastern communities, institutions, and businesses dotted the landscape of Argentina from bustling Buenos Aires to Argentina's most remote frontiers. Argentina in the Global Middle East connects modern Latin American and Middle Eastern history through their shared links to global migration systems. By following the mobile lives of individuals with roots in the Levantine Middle East, Lily Pearl Balloffet sheds light on the intersections of ethnicity, migrant–homeland ties, and international relations. Ranging from the nineteenth century boom in transoceanic migration to twenty-first century dynamics of large-scale migration and displacement in the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean, this book considers key themes such as cultural production, philanthropy, anti-imperial activism, and financial networks over the course of several generations of this diasporic community. Balloffet's study situates this transregional history of Argentina and the Middle East within a larger story of South-South alliances, solidarities, and exchanges.
Court of Injustice reveals how immigration lawyers work to achieve just results for their clients in a system that has long denigrated the rights of those they serve. J.C. Salyer specifically investigates immigration enforcement in New York City, following individual migrants, their lawyers, and the NGOs that serve them into the immigration courtrooms that decide their cases. This book is an account of the effects of the implementation of U.S. immigration law and policy. Salyer engages directly with the specific laws and procedures that mandate harsh and inhumane outcomes for migrants and their families. Combining anthropological and legal analysis, Salyer demonstrates the economic, historical, political, and social elements that go into constructing inequity under law for millions of non-citizens who live and work in the United States. Drawing on both ethnographic research conducted in New York City and on the author's knowledge and experience as a practicing immigration lawyer at a non-profit organization, this book provides unique insight into the workings and effects of U.S. immigration law. Court of Injustice provides an up-close view of the experiences of immigration lawyers at non-profit organizations, in law school clinics, and in private practice to reveal limitations and possibilities available to non-citizens under U.S. immigration law. In this way, this book provides a new perspective on the study of migration by focusing specifically on the laws, courts, and people involved in U.S. immigration law.
From Ramallah to New York, Tel Aviv to Porto Alegre, people around the world celebrate a formidable, transnational Palestinian LGBTQ social movement. Solidarity with Palestinians has become a salient domain of global queer politics. Yet LGBTQ Palestinians, even as they fight patriarchy and imperialism, are themselves subjected to an "empire of critique" from Israeli and Palestinian institutions, Western academics, journalists and filmmakers, and even fellow activists. Such global criticism has limited growth and led to an emphasis within the movement on anti-imperialism over the struggle against homophobia. With this book, Sa'ed Atshan asks how transnational progressive social movements can balance struggles for liberation along more than one axis. He explores critical junctures in the history of Palestinian LGBTQ activism, revealing the queer Palestinian spirit of agency, defiance, and creativity, in the face of daunting pressures and forces working to constrict it. Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique explores the necessity of connecting the struggles for Palestinian freedom with the struggle against homophobia.
Migranthood chronicles deportation from the perspectives of Indigenous youth who migrate unaccompanied from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States. In communities of origin in Guatemala, zones of transit in Mexico, detention centers for children in the U.S., government facilities receiving returned children in Guatemala, and communities of return, young people share how they negotiate everyday violence and discrimination, how they and their families prioritize limited resources and make difficult decisions, and how they develop and sustain relationships over time and space. Anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink shows that Indigenous youth cast as objects of policy, not participants, are not passive recipients of securitization policies and development interventions. Instead, Indigenous youth draw from a rich social, cultural, and political repertoire of assets and tactics to navigate precarity and marginality in Guatemala, including transnational kin, social networks, and financial institutions. By attending to young people's perspectives, we learn the critical roles they play as contributors to household economies, local social practices, and global processes. The insights and experiences of young people uncover the transnational effects of securitized responses to migration management and development on individuals and families, across space, citizenship status, and generation. They likewise provide evidence to inform child protection and human rights locally and internationally.
The Pakistan Army is a uniquely powerful and influential institution, with vast landholdings and resources. It has deep roots in the colonial armed forces and relies heavily on certain regions to supply its soldiers, especially parts of rural Punjab, where men have served in the army for generations. These men, their wives and mothers, and the military culture surrounding them are the focus of Maria Rashid's Dying to Serve, which innovatively and sensitively addresses the question: how does the military thrive when so much of its work results in injury, debility, and death? Taking ritual commemorations of fallen soldiers as one critical site of study, Rashid argues that these "spectacles of mourning" are careful manipulations of affect, gendered and structured by the military to reinforce its omnipotence in the lives of its subjects. Grounding her study in the famed martial district of Chakwal, Rashid finds affect similarly deployed in recruitment and training practices, as well as management of death and compensation to families. She contends that understanding these affective technologies is crucial to challenging the appeal of the military institution globally.
Contemporary Japan is home to one of the world's largest and most diversified markets for sex. Widely understood to be socially necessary, the sex industry operates and recruits openly, staffed by a diverse group of women who are attracted by its high pay and the promise of autonomy—but whose work remains stigmatized and unmentionable. Based on fieldwork with adult Japanese women in Tokyo's sex industry, Healing Labor explores the relationship between how sex workers think about what sex is and what it does and the political-economic roles and possibilities that they imagine for themselves. Gabriele Koch reveals how Japanese sex workers regard sex as a deeply feminized care—a healing labor—that is both necessary and significant for the well-being and productivity of men. In this nuanced ethnography that approaches sex as a social practice with political and economic effects, Koch compellingly illustrates the linkages between women's work, sex, and the gendered economy.
In India, the eight states that border Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Tibetan areas of China are often referred to as just "the Northeast." In the Name of the Nation offers a critical and historical account of the country's troubled relations with this borderland region. Its modern history is shaped by the dynamics of a "frontier" in its multiple references: migration and settlement, resource extraction, and regional geopolitics. Partly as a result of this, the political trajectory of the region has been different from the rest of the country. Ethnic militias and armed groups have flourished for decades, but they coexist comfortably with functioning electoral institutions. The region has some of India's highest voter turnout rates, but special security laws produce significant democracy deficits that are now almost as old as the Republic. That these policies have been enforced to foment national unity while multiple alternative conceptions of the "nation" animate politics in the region forces us to reflect on the very foundations of the nation form. Sanjib Baruah offers a nuanced account of this impossibly complicated story, asking how democracy can be sustained, and deepened, in these conditions.
When Misfortune Becomes Injustice surveys the progress and challenges in deploying human rights to advance health and social equality over recent decades, with a focus on women's health and rights. Yamin weaves together theory and firsthand experience in a compelling narrative of how evolving legal norms, empirical knowledge, and development paradigms have interacted in the realization of health rights. When Misfortune Becomes Injustice reveals extraordinary progress in recognizing health-related claims as legal rights and understanding the policy implications of doing so over the last few decades. Yet Yamin challenges us to consider why these advances have failed to produce greater equality within and between nations, and how the human rights praxis must now urgently address threats to social and gender justice, in health and beyond.
Food in Cuba follows Cuban families as they struggle to maintain a decent quality of life in Cuba's faltering, post-Soviet welfare state by specifically looking at the social and emotional dimensions of shifts in access to food. Based on extensive fieldwork with families in Santiago de Cuba, the island's second largest city, Hanna Garth examines Cuban families' attempts to acquire and assemble "a decent meal," unraveling the layers of household dynamics, community interactions, and individual reflections on everyday life in today's Cuba. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the subsequent loss of its most significant trade partner, Cuba entered a period of economic hardship. Although trade agreements have significantly improved the quantity and quality of rationed food in Cuba, many Cubans report that they continue to live with food shortages and economic hardship. Garth tells the stories of families that face the daily challenge of acquiring not only enough food, but food that meets local and personal cultural standards. She ultimately argues that these ongoing struggles produce what the Cuban families describe as "a change in character," and that for some, this shifting concept of self and sense of social relation leads to a transformation in society. Food in Cuba shows how the practices of acquisition and the politics of adequacy are intricately linked to the local moral stances on what it means to be a good person, family member, community member, and ultimately, a good Cuban.
After three decades of massive rural-to-urban migration in China, a burgeoning population of over 35 million second-generation migrants living in its cities poses a challenge to socialist modes of population management and urban governance. In The Inconvenient Generation, Minhua Ling offers the first longitudinal study of these migrant youth from middle school to the labor market in the years after the Shanghai municipal government partially opened its public school system to them. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic data, Ling follows the trajectories of dozens of children coming of age at a time of competing economic and social imperatives, and its everyday ramifications on their sense of identity, educational outcomes, and citizenship claims. Under policies and practices of segmented inclusion, they are inevitably funneled through the school system toward a life of manual labor. Illuminating the aspirations and strategies of these young men and women, Ling captures their experiences against the backdrop of a reemergent global Shanghai.
No contemporary figure is more demonized than the Islamist foreign fighter who wages jihad around the world. Spreading violence, disregarding national borders, and rejecting secular norms, so-called jihadists seem opposed to universalism itself. In a radical departure from conventional wisdom on the topic, The Universal Enemy argues that transnational jihadists are engaged in their own form of universalism: these fighters struggle to realize an Islamist vision directed at all of humanity, transcending racial and cultural difference. Anthropologist and attorney Darryl Li reconceptualizes jihad as armed transnational solidarity under conditions of American empire, revisiting a pivotal moment after the Cold War when ethnic cleansing in the Balkans dominated global headlines. Muslim volunteers came from distant lands to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside their co-religionists, offering themselves as an alternative to the US-led international community. Li highlights the parallels and overlaps between transnational jihads and other universalisms such as the War on Terror, United Nations peacekeeping, and socialist Non-Alignment. Developed from more than a decade of research with former fighters in a half-dozen countries, The Universal Enemy explores the relationship between jihad and American empire to shed critical light on both.
Waste Siege offers an analysis unusual in the study of Palestine: it depicts the environmental, infrastructural, and aesthetic context in which Palestinians are obliged to forge their lives. To speak of waste siege is to describe a series of conditions, from smelling wastes to negotiating military infrastructures, from biopolitical forms of colonial rule to experiences of governmental abandonment, from obvious targets of resistance to confusion over responsibility for the burdensome objects of daily life. Within this rubble, debris, and infrastructural fallout, West Bank Palestinians create a life under settler colonial rule. Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins focuses on waste as an experience of everyday life that is continuous with, but not a result only of, occupation. Tracing Palestinians' own experiences of wastes over the past decade, she considers how multiple authorities governing the West Bank—including municipalities, the Palestinian Authority, international aid organizations, NGOs, and Israel—rule by waste siege, whether intentionally or not. Her work challenges both common formulations of waste as "matter out of place" and as the ontological opposite of the environment, by suggesting instead that waste siege be understood as an ecology of "matter with no place to go." Waste siege thus not only describes a stateless Palestine, but also becomes a metaphor for our besieged planet.
In the 1930s, a cohort of professional human scientists coalesced around a common and particular understanding of objectivity as the foundation of legitimate knowledge, and of fieldwork as the pathway to objectivity. Into the Field is the first collective biography of this cohort, evocatively described by one contemporary as the men of one age. At the height of imperialism, the men of one age undertook field research in territories under Japanese rule in pursuit of "objective" information that would justify the subjugation of local peoples. After 1945, amid the defeat and dismantling of Japanese sovereignty and under the occupation and tutelage of the United States, they returned to the field to create narratives of human difference that supported the new national values of democracy, capitalism, and peace. The 1968 student movement challenged these values, resulting in an all-encompassing attack on objectivity itself. Nonetheless, the legacy of the men of one age lives on in the disciplines they developed and the beliefs they established about human diversity.
In a world that promotes assertion, agency, and empowerment, this book challenges us to revalue a range of actions and attitudes that have come to be disregarded or dismissed as merely passive. Mercy, resignation, politeness, restraint, gratitude, abstinence, losing well, apologizing, taking care: today, such behaviors are associated with negativity or lack. But the capacity to give way is better understood as positive action, at once intricate and demanding. Moving from intra-human common courtesies, to human-animal relations, to the global civility of human-inhuman ecological awareness, the book's argument unfolds on progressively larger scales. In reminding us of the existential threat our drives pose to our own survival, Steven Connor does not merely champion a family of behaviors; he shows that we are more adept practitioners of them than we realize. At a time when it is on the wane, Giving Way offers a powerful defense of civility, the versatile human capacity to deflect aggression into sociability and to exercise power over power itself.
Trumpism has not only ushered in a new political regime, but also a new regime of language—one that cries out for intelligent and informed analysis. When Words Trump Politics takes insights from linguistic anthropology and related fields to decode, understand, and ultimately provide non-expert readers with easily digestible tools to resist the politics of division and hate. Adam Hodges's short essays address Trump's Twitter insults, racism and white nationalism, "truthiness" and "alternative facts," #FakeNews and conspiracy theories, Supreme Court politics and #MeToo, Islamophobia, political theater, and many other timely and controversial discussions. Hodges breaks down the specific linguistic techniques and processes that make Trump's rhetoric successful in our contemporary political landscape. He identifies the language ideologies, word choices, and recurring metaphors that underlie Trumpian rhetoric. Trumpian discourse works in tandem with media discourse—Hodges shows how Trump often induces journalists and social media agents to recycle and strengthen his spectacular and misleading claims. Those who study democracy have long emphasized the need for an informed electorate. But being informed on political issues also demands a keen understanding of the way language is used to convey, discuss, debate, and contest those issues. When Words Trump Politics analyzes the political rhetoric of today. The actionable insights in this book give journalists, politicians, and all Americans the successful tools they need to respond to the politics of hate. When Words Trump Politics is an essential resource for political resistance, for anyone who cares about freeing democracy from the spell of demagoguery.
In recent decades, Palestinian heritage organizations have launched numerous urban regeneration and museum projects across the West Bank in response to the enduring Israeli occupation. These efforts to reclaim and assert Palestinian heritage differ significantly from the typical global cultural project: here it is people's cultural memory and living environment, rather than ancient history and archaeology, that take center stage. It is local civil society and NGOs, not state actors, who are "doing" heritage. In this context, Palestinian heritage has become not just a practice of resistance, but a resourceful mode of governing the Palestinian landscape. With this book, Chiara De Cesari examines these Palestinian heritage projects—notably the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, Riwaq, and the Palestinian Museum—and the transnational actors, practices, and material sites they mobilize to create new institutions in the absence of a sovereign state. Through their rehabilitation of Palestinian heritage, these organizations have halted the expansion of Israeli settlements. They have also given Palestinians opportunities to rethink and transform state functions. Heritage and the Cultural Struggle for Palestine reveals how the West Bank is home to creative experimentation, insurgent agencies, and resourceful attempts to reverse colonial violence—and a model of how things could be.
An inside look at what it means to be pro-regime in Iran, and the debates around the future of the Islamic Republic. More than half of Iran's citizens were not alive at the time of the 1979 Revolution. Now entering its fifth decade in power, the Iranian regime faces the paradox of any successful revolution: how to transmit the commitments of its political project to the next generation. New media ventures supported by the Islamic Republic attempt to win the hearts and minds of younger Iranians. Yet members of this new generation—whether dissidents or fundamentalists—are increasingly skeptical of these efforts. Iran Reframed offers unprecedented access to those who wield power in Iran as they debate and define the future of the Republic. Over ten years, Narges Bajoghli met with men in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Ansar Hezbollah, and Basij paramilitary organizations to investigate how their media producers developed strategies to court Iranian youth. Readers come to know these men—what the regime means to them and their anxieties about the future of their revolutionary project. Contestation over how to define the regime underlies all their efforts to communicate with the public. This book offers a multilayered story about what it means to be pro-regime in the Islamic Republic, challenging everything we think we know about Iran and revolution.
Few places are as politically precarious as Bangladesh, even fewer as crowded. Its 57,000 or so square miles are some of the world's most inhabited. Often described as a definitive case of the bankruptcy of postcolonial governance, it is also one of the poorest among the most densely populated nations. In spite of an overriding anxiety of exhaustion, there are a few important caveats to the familiar feelings of despair—a growing economy, and an uneven, yet robust, nationalist sentiment—which, together, generate revealing paradoxes. In this book, Nusrat Sabina Chowdhury offers insight into what she calls "the paradoxes of the popular," or the constitutive contradictions of popular politics. The focus here is on mass protests, long considered the primary medium of meaningful change in this part of the world. Chowdhury writes provocatively about political life in Bangladesh in a rich ethnography that studies some of the most consequential protests of the last decade, spanning both rural and urban Bangladesh. By making the crowd its starting point and analytical locus, this book tacks between multiple sites of public political gatherings and pays attention to the ephemeral and often accidental configurations of the crowd. Ultimately, Chowdhury makes an original case for the crowd as a defining feature and a foundational force of democratic practices in South Asia and beyond.
There are more than 700,000 Bulgaristanlı migrants residing in Turkey. Immigrants from Bulgaria who are ethnically Turkish, they assume certain privileges because of these ethnic ties, yet access to citizenship remains dependent on the whims of those in power. Through vivid accounts of encounters with the police and state bureaucracy, of nostalgic memories of home and aspirations for a more secure life in Turkey, Precarious Hope explores the tensions between ethnic privilege and economic vulnerability and rethinks the limits of migrant belonging among those for whom it is intimated and promised—but never guaranteed. In contrast to the typical focus on despair, Ayşe Parla studies the hopefulness of migrants. Turkish immigration policies have worked in lockstep with national aspirations for ethnic, religious, and ideological conformity, offering Bulgaristanlı migrants an advantage over others. Their hope is the product of privilege and an act of dignity and perseverance. It is also a tool of the state, reproducing a migration regime that categorizes some as desirable and others as foreign and dispensable. Through the experiences of the Bulgaristanlı, Precarious Hope speaks to the global predicament in which increasing numbers of people are forced to manage both cultivation of hope and relentless anxiety within structures of inequality.
What happens when a seemingly rational state becomes paranoid and delusional? The Encrypted State engages in a close analysis of political disorder to shed new light on the concept of political stability. The book focuses on a crisis of rule in mid-20th-century Peru, a period when officials believed they had lost the ability to govern and communicated in secret code to protect themselves from imaginary subversives. The Encrypted State engages the notion of sacropolitics—the politics of mass group sacrifice—to make sense of state delusion. Nugent interrogates the forces that variously enable or disable organized political subjection, and the role of state structures in this process. Investigating the role of everyday cultural practices and how affect and imagination structure political affairs, Nugent provides a greater understanding of the conditions of state formation, and failure.
Western culture is infatuated with the dream of going beyond, even as it is increasingly haunted by the specter of apocalypse: drought, famine, nuclear winter. How did we come to think of the planet and its limits as we do? This book reclaims, redefines, and makes an impassioned plea for limits—a notion central to environmentalism—clearing them from their association with Malthusianism and the ideology and politics that go along with it. Giorgos Kallis rereads reverend-economist Thomas Robert Malthus and his legacy, separating limits and scarcity, two notions that have long been conflated in both environmental and economic thought. Limits are not something out there, a property of nature to be deciphered by scientists, but a choice that confronts us, one that, paradoxically, is part and parcel of the pursuit of freedom. Taking us from ancient Greece to Malthus, from hunter-gatherers to the Romantics, from anarchist feminists to 1970s radical environmentalists, Limits shows us how an institutionalized culture of sharing can make possible the collective self-limitation we so urgently need.
Sayyid Fadl, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, led a unique life—one that spanned much of the nineteenth century and connected India, Arabia, and the Ottoman Empire. For God or Empire tells his story, part biography and part global history, as his life and legacy afford a singular view on historical shifts of power and sovereignty, religion and politics. Wilson Chacko Jacob recasts the genealogy of modern sovereignty through the encounter between Islam and empire-states in the Indian Ocean world. Fadl's travels in worlds seen and unseen made for a life that was both unsettled and unsettling. And through his life at least two forms of sovereignty—God and empire—become apparent in intersecting global contexts of religion and modern state formation. While these changes are typically explained in terms of secularization of the state and the birth of rational modern man, the life and afterlives of Sayyid Fadl—which take us from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indian Ocean worlds to twenty-first century cyberspace—offer a more open-ended global history of sovereignty and a more capacious conception of life.
From the US to Nepal, author J. Bradley Wigger travels five countries on three continents to hear children describe their invisible friends—one-hundred-year-old robins and blue dogs, dinosaurs and teapots, pretend families and shape-shifting aliens—companions springing from the deep well of childhood imagination. Drawing on these interviews, as well as a new wave of developmental research, he finds a fluid and flexible quality to the imaginative mind that is central to learning, co-operation, and paradoxically, to real-world rationality. Yet Wigger steps beyond psychological territory to explore the religious significance of the kind of mind that develops relationships with invisible beings. Alongside Cinderella the blue dog, Quack-Quack the duck, and Dino the dinosaur are angels, ancestors, spirits, and gods. What he uncovers is a profound capacity in the religious imagination to see through the surface of reality to more than meets the eye. Punctuated throughout by children's colorful drawings of their see-through interlocutors, the book is highly engaging and alternately endearing, moving, and humorous. Not just for parents or for those who work with children, Invisible Companions will appeal to anyone interested in our mind's creative and spiritual possibilities.
After the introduction of the "long-term resident" visa, the mass-migration of Nikkeis (Japanese Brazilians) has led to roughly 190,000 Brazilian nationals living in Japan. While the ancestry-based visa confers Nikkeis' right to settlement virtually as a right of blood, their ethnic ambiguity and working-class profile often prevent them from feeling at home in their supposed ethnic homeland. In response, many have converted to Pentecostalism, reflecting the explosive trend across Latin America since the 1970s. Jesus Loves Japan offers a rare window into lives at the crossroads of return migration and global Pentecostalism. Suma Ikeuchi argues that charismatic Christianity appeals to Nikkei migrants as a "third culture"—one that transcends ethno-national boundaries and offers a way out of a reality marked by stagnant national indifference. Jesus Loves Japan insightfully describes the political process of homecoming through the lens of religion, and the ubiquitous figure of the migrant as the pilgrim of a transnational future.
From Boas to Black Power investigates how U.S. cultural anthropologists wrote about race, racism, and "America" in the 20th century as a window into the greater project of U.S. anti-racist liberalism. Anthropology as a discipline and the American project share a common origin: their very foundations are built upon white supremacy, and both are still reckoning with their racist legacies. In this groundbreaking intellectual history of anti-racism within twentieth-century cultural anthropology, Mark Anderson starts with the legacy of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict and continues through the post-war and Black Power movement to the birth of the Black Studies discipline, exploring the problem "America" represents for liberal anti-racism. Anderson shows how cultural anthropology contributed to liberal American discourses on race that simultaneously bolstered and denied white domination. From Boas to Black Power provides a major rethinking of anthropological anti-racism as a project that, in step with the American racial liberalism it helped create, paradoxically maintained white American hegemony. Anthropologists influenced by radical political movements of the 1960s offered the first sustained challenge to that project, calling attention to the racial contradictions of American liberalism reflected in anthropology. Their critiques remain relevant for the discipline and the nation.
The military coup that brought General Pervez Musharraf to power as Pakistan's tenth president resulted in the abolition of a century-old sharecropping system that was rife with corruption. In its place the military regime implemented a market reform policy of cash contract farming. Ostensibly meant to improve living conditions for tenant farmers, the new system, instead, mobilized one of the largest, most successful land rights movements in South Asia—still active today. In The Ethics of Staying, Mubbashir A. Rizvi presents an original framework for understanding this major social movement, called the Anjuman Mazarin Punjab (AMP). This group of Christian and Muslim tenant sharecroppers, against all odds, successfully resisted Pakistan military's bid to monetize state-owned land, making a powerful moral case for land rights by invoking local claims to land and a broader vision for subsistence rights. The case of AMP provides a unique lens through which to examine state and society relations in Pakistan, one that bridges literatures from subaltern studies, military and colonial power, and the language of claim-making. Rizvi also offers a glimpse of Pakistan that challenges its standard framing as a hub of radical militancy, by opening a window into to the everyday struggles that are often obscured in the West's terror discourse.
When sacred objects were rejected during the Reformation, they were not always burned and broken but were sometimes given to children as toys. Play is typically seen as free and open, while iconoclasm, even to those who deem it necessary, is violent and disenchanting. What does it say about wider attitudes toward religious violence and children at play that these two seemingly different activities were sometimes one and the same? Drawing on a range of sixteenth-century artifacts, artworks, and texts, as well as on ancient and modern theories of iconoclasm and of play, Iconoclasm As Child's Play argues that the desire to shape and interpret the playing of children is an important cultural force. Formerly holy objects may have been handed over with an intent to debase them, but play has a tendency to create new meanings and stories that take on a life of their own. Joe Moshenska shows that this form of iconoclasm is not only a fascinating phenomenon in its own right; it has the potential to alter our understandings of the threshold between the religious and the secular, the forms and functions of play, and the nature of historical transformation and continuity.
Kate Millett was already an icon of American feminism when she went to Iran in 1979. She arrived just weeks after the Iranian Revolution, to join Iranian women in marking International Women's Day. Intended as a day of celebration, the event turned into a week of protests. Millett, armed with film equipment and a cassette deck to record everything around her, found herself in the middle of demonstrations for women's rights and against the mandatory veil. Listening to the revolutionary soundscape of Millett's audio tapes, Negar Mottahedeh offers a new interpretive guide to Revolutionary Iran, its slogans, habits, and women's movement—a movement that, many claim, Millett never came to understand. Published with the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the women's protests that followed on its heels, Whisper Tapes re-introduces Millett's historic visit to Iran and lays out the nature of her encounter with the Iranian women's movement.
Borders of Belonging investigates a pressing but previously unexplored aspect of immigration in America—the impact of immigration policies and practices not only on undocumented migrants, but also on their family members, some of whom possess a form of legal status. Heide Castañeda reveals the trauma, distress, and inequalities that occur daily, alongside the stratification of particular family members' access to resources like education, employment, and health care. She also paints a vivid picture of the resilience, resistance, creative responses, and solidarity between parents and children, siblings, and other kin. Castañeda's innovative ethnography combines fieldwork with individuals and family groups to paint a full picture of the experiences of mixed-status families as they navigate the emotional, social, political, and medical difficulties that inevitably arise when at least one family member lacks legal status. Exposing the extreme conditions in the heavily-regulated U.S./Mexico borderlands, this book presents a portentous vision of how the further encroachment of immigration enforcement would affect millions of mixed-status families throughout the country.
This Atom Bomb in Me traces what it felt like to grow up suffused with American nuclear culture in and around the atomic city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As a secret city during the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge enriched the uranium that powered Little Boy, the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The city was a major nuclear production site throughout the Cold War, adding something to each and every bomb in the United States arsenal. Even today, Oak Ridge contains the world's largest supply of fissionable uranium. The granddaughter of an atomic courier, Lindsey A. Freeman turns a critical yet nostalgic eye to the place where her family was sent as part of a covert government plan. Theirs was a city devoted to nuclear science within a larger America obsessed with its nuclear prowess. Through memories, mysterious photographs, and uncanny childhood toys, she shows how Reagan-era politics and nuclear culture irradiated the late twentieth century. Alternately tender and alarming, her book takes a Geiger counter to recent history, reading the half-life of the atomic past as it resonates in our tense nuclear present.
In 2010, the world's wealthiest art institution, the J. Paul Getty Museum, found itself confronted by a century-old genocide. The Armenian Church was suing for the return of eight pages from the Zeytun Gospels, a manuscript illuminated by the greatest medieval Armenian artist, Toros Roslin. Protected for centuries in a remote church, the holy manuscript had followed the waves of displaced people exterminated during the Armenian genocide. Passed from hand to hand, caught in the confusion and brutality of the First World War, it was cleaved in two. Decades later, the manuscript found its way to the Republic of Armenia, while its missing eight pages came to the Getty. The Missing Pages is the biography of a manuscript that is at once art, sacred object, and cultural heritage. Its tale mirrors the story of its scattered community as Armenians have struggled to redefine themselves after genocide and in the absence of a homeland. Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh follows in the manuscript's footsteps through seven centuries, from medieval Armenia to the killing fields of 1915 Anatolia, the refugee camps of Aleppo, Ellis Island, and Soviet Armenia, and ultimately to a Los Angeles courtroom. Reconstructing the path of the pages, Watenpaugh uncovers the rich tapestry of an extraordinary artwork and the people touched by it. At once a story of genocide and survival, of unimaginable loss and resilience, The Missing Pages captures the human costs of war and persuasively makes the case for a human right to art.
Indigenous people in Colombia constitute a mere three percent of the national population. Colombian indigenous communities' success in gaining collective control of almost thirty percent of the national territory is nothing short of extraordinary. In Managing Multiculturalism, Jean E. Jackson examines the evolution of the Colombian indigenous movement over the course of her forty-plus years of research and fieldwork, offering unusually developed and nuanced insight into how indigenous communities and activists changed over time, as well as how she the ethnographer and scholar evolved in turn. The story of how indigenous organizing began, found its voice, established alliances, and won battles against the government and the Catholic Church has important implications for the indigenous cause internationally and for understanding all manner of rights organizing. Integrating case studies with commentaries on the movement's development, Jackson explores the politicization and deployment of multiculturalism, indigenous identity, and neoliberalism, as well as changing conceptions of cultural value and authenticity—including issues such as patrimony, heritage, and ethnic tourism. Both ethnography and recent history of the Latin American indigenous movement, this works traces the ideas motivating indigenous movements in regional and global relief, and with unprecedented breadth and depth.
Philosophy, Socrates declared, is the art of dying. This book underscores that it is also the art of learning to live and share the earth with those who have come before us. Burial, with its surrounding rituals, is the most ancient documented cultural-symbolic practice: all humans have developed techniques of caring for and communicating with the dead. The premise of Being with the Dead is that we can explore our lives with the dead as a cross-cultural existential a priori out of which the basic forms of historical consciousness emerge. Care for the dead is not just about the symbolic handling of mortal remains; it also points to a necropolitics, the social bond between the dead and living that holds societies together—a shared space or polis where the dead are maintained among the living. Moving from mortuary rituals to literary representations, from the problem of ancestrality to technologies of survival and intergenerational communication, Hans Ruin explores the epistemological, ethical, and ontological dimensions of what it means to be with the dead. His phenomenological approach to key sources in a range of fields gives us a new perspective on the human sciences as a whole.
Iraq was the first postcolonial state recognized as legally sovereign by the League of Nations amid the twentieth-century wave of decolonization movements. It also emerged as an early laboratory of development projects designed by Iraqi intellectuals, British colonial officials, American modernization theorists, and postwar international agencies. Familiar Futures considers how such projects—from the country's creation under British mandate rule in 1920 through the 1958 revolution to the first Ba'th coup in 1963—reshaped Iraqi everyday habits, desires, and familial relations in the name of a developed future. Sara Pursley investigates how Western and Iraqi policymakers promoted changes in schooling, land ownership, and family law to better differentiate Iraq's citizens by class, sex, and age. Peasants were resettled on isolated family farms; rural boys received education limited to training in agricultural skills; girls were required to take home economics courses; and adolescents were educated on the formation of proper families. Future-oriented discourses about the importance of sexual difference to Iraq's modernization worked paradoxically, deferring demands for political change in the present and reproducing existing capitalist relations. Ultimately, the book shows how certain goods—most obviously, democratic ideals—were repeatedly sacrificed in the name of the nation's economic development in an ever-receding future.
Based on rare, in-depth fieldwork among an undercover police investigative team working in a southern EU maritime state, Gregory Feldman examines how "taking action" against human smuggling rings requires the team to enter the "gray zone", a space where legal and policy prescriptions do not hold. Feldman asks how this seven-member team makes ethical judgments when they secretly investigate smugglers, traffickers, migrants, lawyers, shopkeepers, and many others. He asks readers to consider that gray zones create opportunities both to degrade subjects of investigations and to take unnecessary risks for them. Moving in either direction largely depends upon bureaucratic conditions and team members' willingness to see situations from a variety of perspectives. Feldman explores their personal experiences and daily work in order to crack open wider issues about sovereignty, action, ethics, and, ultimately, being human. Situated at the intersection of the EU migration apparatus and the global, clandestine networks it identifies as security threats, this book allows Feldman to outline an ethnographically-based theory of sovereign action.
"Mafia" has become an indigenous South Asian term. Like Italian mobsters, the South Asian "gangster politicians" are known for inflicting brutal violence while simultaneously upholding vigilante justice—inspiring fear and fantasy. But the term also refers to the diffuse spheres of crime, business, and politics operating within a shadow world that is popularly referred to as the rule of the mafia, or "Mafia Raj." Through intimate stories of the lives of powerful and aspiring bosses in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, this book illustrates their personal struggles for sovereignty as they climb the ladder of success. Ethnographically tracing the particularities of the South Asian case, the authors theorize what they call "the art of bossing," providing nuanced ideas about crime, corruption, and the lure of the strongman across the world.
The Politics of Love in Myanmar offers an intimate ethnographic account of a group of LGBT activists before, during, and after Myanmar's post-2011 political transition. Lynette J. Chua explores how these activists devoted themselves to, and fell in love with, the practice of human rights and how they were able to empower queer Burmese to accept themselves, gain social belonging, and reform discriminatory legislation and law enforcement. Informed by interviews with activists from all walks of life—city dwellers, villagers, political dissidents, children of military families, wage laborers, shopkeepers, beauticians, spirit mediums, lawyers, students—Chua details the vivid particulars of the LGBT activist experience founding a movement first among exiles and migrants and then in Myanmar's cities, towns, and countryside. A distinct political and emotional culture of activism took shape, fusing shared emotions and cultural bearings with legal and political ideas about human rights. For this network of activists, human rights moved hearts and minds and crafted a transformative web of friendship, fellowship, and affection among queer Burmese. Chua's investigation provides crucial insights into the intersection of emotions and interpersonal relationships with law, rights, and social movements.
At once an ecological phenomenon and a cultural construction, the desert has varied associations within Zionist and Israeli culture. In the Judaic textual tradition, it evokes exile and punishment, yet is also a site for origin myths, the divine presence, and sanctity. Secular Zionism developed its own spin on the duality of the desert as the romantic site of Jews' biblical roots that inspired the Hebrew culture, and as the barren land outside the Jewish settlements in Palestine, featuring them as an oasis of order and technological progress within a symbolic desert. Yael Zerubavel tells the story of the desert from the early twentieth century to the present, shedding light on romantic-mythical associations, settlement and security concerns, environmental sympathies, and the commodifying tourist gaze. Drawing on literary narratives, educational texts, newspaper articles, tourist materials, films, popular songs, posters, photographs, and cartoons, Zerubavel reveals the complexities and contradictions that mark Israeli society's semiotics of space in relation to the Middle East, and the central role of the "besieged island" trope in Israeli culture and politics.
More than 35 million Chinese people live outside China, but this population is far from homogenous, and its multifaceted national affiliations require careful theorization. This book unravels the multiple, shifting paths of global migration in Chinese society today, challenging a unilinear view of migration by presenting emigration, immigration, and re-migration trajectories that are occurring continually and simultaneously. Drawing on interviews and ethnographic observations conducted in China, Canada, Singapore, and the China–Myanmar border, Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho takes the geographical space of China as the starting point from which to consider complex patterns of migration that shape nation-building and citizenship, both in origin and destination countries. She uniquely brings together various migration experiences and national contexts under the same analytical framework to create a rich portrait of the diversity of contemporary Chinese migration processes. By examining the convergence of multiple migration pathways across one geographical region over time, Ho offers alternative approaches to studying migration, migrant experience, and citizenship, thus setting the stage for future scholarship.
Teach for Arabia offers an ethnographic account of the experiences of students, faculty, and administrators in Education City, Qatar. Education City, home to the branch campuses of six elite American universities, represents the Qatari government's multibillion dollar investment over the last two decades in growing a local knowledge-based economy. Though leaders have eagerly welcomed these institutions, not all citizens embrace the U.S. universities in their midst. Some critics see them as emblematic of a turn away from traditional values toward Westernization. Qatari students who attend these schools often feel stereotyped and segregated within their spaces. Neha Vora considers how American branch campuses influence notions of identity and citizenship among both citizen and non-citizen residents and contribute to national imaginings of the future and a transnational Qatar. Looking beyond the branch campus, she also confronts mythologies of liberal and illiberal peoples, places, and ideologies that have developed around these universities. Supporters and detractors alike of branch campuses have long ignored the imperial histories of American universities and the exclusions and inequalities that continue to animate daily academic life. From the vantage point of Qatar, Teach for Arabia challenges the assumed mantle of liberalism in Western institutions and illuminates how people can contribute to decolonized university life and knowledge production.