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Cultural Anthropology

Impact factor: 2.49 5-Year impact factor: 3.045 Print ISSN: 0886-7356 Online ISSN: 1548-1360 Publisher: Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)

Subject: Anthropology

Most recent papers:

  • AUTO‐CONSTRUCTION REDUX: The City as Method.
    Alberto CorsÍn JimÉnez.
    Cultural Anthropology. October 20, 2017
    This article recuperates the concept of auto‐construction as a heuristic for anthropological theory and method. Drawing on the concept's original usage in urban studies, I suggest that auto‐construction offers a handle for grasping not only how grassroots projects mobilize resources, materials, and relations in ways that are inventive and transformative of urban ecologies but that it also helps outline how theory itself is auto‐constructed: the operations of problematization through which situations are navigated and designed into methods of inquiry and exploration. I read autoconstruction, in other words, as both an empirical and theoretical descriptor, a sort of auto‐heuristics for thinking of the city as method. The argument is illustrated by an ethnographic account of work with guerrilla architectural and countercultural collectives in Madrid, focusing in particular on the transformation of a vacant open air site in the heart of the city into a self‐organized community project, exploring how activists variously problematized the city as method. [auto‐construction; informal urbanism; ethnographic methods; ethnographic design; infrastructures]
    October 20, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.3.09   open full text
  • TANGLES OF CARE: Killing Goats to Save Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands.
    Paolo Bocci.
    Cultural Anthropology. October 20, 2017
    If calls to care for other species multiply in a time of global and local environmental crisis, this article demonstrates that caring practices are not always as benevolent or irenic as imagined. To save endemic tortoises from the menace of extinction, Proyecto Isabela killed more than two hundred thousand goats on the Galápagos Islands in the largest mammal eradication campaign in the world. While anthropologists have looked at human engagements with unwanted species as habitual and even pleasurable, I discuss an exceptional intervention that was ethically inflected toward saving an endemic species, yet also controversial and distressing. Exploring eradication's biological, ecological, and political implications and discussing opposing practices of care for goats among residents, I move past the recognition that humans live in a multispecies world and point to the contentious nature of living with nonhuman others. I go on to argue that realizing competing forms of care may help conservation measures—and, indeed, life in the Anthropocene—to move beyond the logic of success and failure toward an open‐ended commitment to the more‐than‐human. [care; Anthropocene; multispecies assemblages; conservation; Galápagos Islands]
    October 20, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.3.08   open full text
  • TRIGGERING CHANGE: Police Homicides, Community Healing, and the Emergent Eventfulness of the New Civil Rights.
    Megan Raschig.
    Cultural Anthropology. October 20, 2017
    In the spring and summer of 2014, both before and after Ferguson, four police officer–involved shootings of unarmed Latino men occurred in the often criminalized and mostly Mexican enclave of East Salinas, California. These deaths at the hands of state agents created significant triggers for many locals—knee‐jerk reactions to present stimuli in relation to difficult and diffuse past experiences—generating unprecedented, and sometimes unacknowledged, affective and ethical responses among those who have long abided countless unresolved gang‐related deaths in the city. The official downplaying of the deaths as something that “never happens here” stood in contrast to resident responses that stressed the ongoing, if less overt, occurrence of state disregard. Such disparity, as registered in many East Salinans’ triggers, indicates the relative eventfulness of state violence that is both slow and ongoing, in addition to occasionally spectacular, in criminalized communities in late liberal America. As a concept imported from psychology in the general mainstreaming of discourses of trauma, triggers are conceptualized here instead as socially generated and ethically generative, a way of marking and making time and transforming the systematic exhaustion of criminalized life into a political resource. Tracing these temporal trip‐wires ethnographically in East Salinas, in light of a local social project of healing, illuminates the affective and ethical impetus to both political engagement and disengagement in persistently criminalized communities of color as they encounter police homicides and state violence, refracting the proliferating project of making lives matter. [activism; temporality; ethics; morality; trauma; healing; criminalization]
    October 20, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.3.07   open full text
  • THE WILD INDOORS: Room‐Spaces of Scientific Inquiry.
    Ann H. Kelly, Javier Lezaun.
    Cultural Anthropology. October 20, 2017
    This article examines three locations where entomologists engage in the experimental observation of mosquitoes: the insectary, the semifield station, and the outdoors. We approach each of these settings as creating a distinct mode of interiority, a particular room‐space. This concept resets the investigative encounter in terms of an aesthetic of attention, and offers a counterpoint to the ideals of control and containment that dominate biosecurity understandings of infectious disease research. An ethnographic foray into the compositional logics of entomological experiments serves to illuminate the dialectics of caring and killing that characterize scientific inquiry into animals that pose a public health risk. [mosquitoes; vector control; entomology; multispecies ethnography; global health research]
    October 20, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.3.06   open full text
  • A CLINICAL ECONOMY OF SPECULATION: Financial Trading and Gambling Disorder in Spain.
    Jorge Nunez.
    Cultural Anthropology. June 05, 2017
    This article concerns itself with financial traders in Spain who have been diagnosed with gambling disorder. It analyzes what I call the clinical economy of speculation, in which the category of problem gambler is repurposed to draw new lines around proper financial trading. In exploring the expansion of post–financial crisis regulatory mechanisms for credit and debt, as well as widening inequalities across the field of investment, I depict how both traders and clinicians become invested in medicalizing trading as gambling disorder. My theorizing interrogates whether and why common speculative practices are seen as sick and unsafe when everyday people, instead of banks and other financial institutions, perform them. I argue that the pathologized trader is an attempt to regulate, at the individual level, the increasing use of borrowed capital to make financial profits. The commodification of debt, however, is not a gender‐neutral development. Female traders pay a greater price for venturing into the heights of finance. This focus on gender brings into view the redefinition of credit and debt within the domain of trading, and shows the role of debt‐fueled financial speculation in the expansion of financial markets. These ethnographic findings are particularly relevant in a country like Spain, where the Great Recession has bred more new millionaires than ever before, even as the smaller fish of the economy are being medicalized and sometimes even incarcerated.
    June 05, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.2.08   open full text
  • DISAPPEARING MANGROVES: The Epistemic Politics of Climate Adaptation in Guyana.
    Sarah E. Vaughn.
    Cultural Anthropology. June 05, 2017
    This article details the epistemic politics that shape the climate adaptation of sea defense in Guyana. Rethinking the material arrangements of expertise in the Anthropocene, I track the work of a group of technoscientific experts participating in the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP). In an attempt to redesign sea defense around mangrove ecosystems, GMRP participants recognize that climate adaptation is not solely dependent on their well‐intentioned efforts. As research objects, mangroves are not only forms of evidence but also tools that guide expert action and distinctions in day‐to‐day labor. Moreover, mangroves draw out the explicit contingencies of modeling, placing expert groups in tension with one another as each seeks to advance their own ideas for mangrove protection, management, or change. I show that this relational ontology is emblematic of climate‐adaptation policy's broader operative logics, or what I call inverse performativity. This is a process whereby an unruly world forces one expert group to seek help from others, building a new ecology of expertise to adapt to a changing climate. Impermanent and wondrous, mangroves urge us to think more creatively about vulnerability to climate change and the kinds of practices that inspire knowledge about it.
    June 05, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.2.07   open full text
  • HOLDING PATTERNS: Sand and Political Time at China's Desert Shores.
    Jerry C. Zee.
    Cultural Anthropology. June 05, 2017
    This article considers possibilities for posing the relationship between historical, political, and environmental time—a key provocation of what has been called the Anthropocene—by exploring how sand gives form to political time in Chinese state antidesertification and sand‐control efforts. Through an ethnographic exploration of how scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats in two desertification emergency zones in northern China read landscapes through sand as a substance embroiled in multiple physical, geological, and ecological processes, this essay argues that sand emerges as a form not simply for apprehending alternative ways of accounting for and narrating the passage and texture of passing time but also for giving shape to the futures with which environmental politics in China must contend. It also constitutes a set of tactical techniques for intervening in and shaping environmental processes. As sand gives form to multiple chronological forms, it further reworks the chronopolitics of the grand futures of state‐sponsored economic development into what I call “holding patterns,” techniques of environmental management shaped by earthly temporalities and aimed at holding the unruly time‐spaces of moving sand in place. Sand's motion and stabilization become the physical substrate for new modes of political fortune‐telling, sometimes spelling out endings in the anticipatory spectacle of buried cities, but sometimes also providing the architecture for regenerative ecological futures.
    June 05, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.2.06   open full text
  • LIVING THE LAUGHSCREAM: Human Technology and Affective Maneuvers in the Iraq War.
    Nomi Stone.
    Cultural Anthropology. March 12, 2017
    In a new contribution to contemporary scholarship on war, I explore the epistemological and affective labors outsourced to individuals I call human technologies: populations of local wartime intermediaries and cultural role‐players employed by the U.S. military as embodied repositories of Middle East knowledge. Drawing on field‐work across the United States, this study focuses on the largely unexamined ethnographic spaces of U.S. military predeployment simulations in mock Middle Eastern villages. I focus on Iraqis who first worked for the U.S. military in Iraq as interpreters and then as role‐players within predeployment simulations in the United States. Through a close examination of the wartime labors of these individuals, this study illuminates how the intrinsic contradiction in the term human technology—the turning of person into machine for a singular use, foreclosing other forms of being and becoming—plays out on the ground. I demonstrate how the ironic disjuncture between military prescriptions for authenticity and role‐players’ experiences of inauthenticity generates moments of affective rupture for those hired to embody their cultures. I argue that a charged tension manifests itself in the training apparatus: on an epistemological level, even as they experience excess, role‐players work to make the simulations “look good” to retain their jobs. Meanwhile, that excess manifests itself in affective overflow—in particular, one form that a role‐player called “the laughscream.” I contend that such moments of affective excess create a momentary reprieve for role‐players, while typically not disturbing the military structure. The role‐players’ laughter existentially negates the possibility that human beings can be tools, while permitting them, in practice, to be used as tools.
    March 12, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.1.10   open full text
  • TO REVIVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE: Catholic Science and Neoextractivist Politics in Peru's Mantaro Valley.
    Stefanie Graeter.
    Cultural Anthropology. March 12, 2017
    Since the turn of the twenty‐first century, the rapid growth of Peru's extractive industries has unleashed diverse forms of political resistance to an economic system dependent on ecological destruction and human harm. In the central highlands of Peru, a Catholic scientific project based out of the Archdiocese of Huancayo undertook six years of research on heavy‐metal contamination in the Mantaro Valley. This included lead‐exposure studies in the notoriously polluted city of La Oroya, home to the country's largest polymetallic smelter. How did the Catholic Church become an apt institution for the production of science in this region? Drawing on fieldwork with the Revive the Mantaro Project, this article conceptualizes the integration of religious and scientific practitioners and practices and the political landscape that necessitated, shaped, and limited them. Technocratic governance and anti‐leftist sentiments made science a suitable political idiom for the Catholic Church to enact its ethos of abundance and demand the legitimacy of life beyond bare life. A state of endemic corruption and epistemic mistrust also obliged Catholic accompaniment to scientific practices to generate trust for the researchers and to provide ethical credibility as their knowledge entered the fray of national mining politics. Ultimately contending with entrenched systems of power, the Revive the Mantaro Project's significance extended beyond political efficacy; its practices enacted a world of democracy, rights, and legal protections not yet of this world.
    March 12, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.1.09   open full text
  • Scenes Of Commitment.
    Bharat Jayram Venkat.
    Cultural Anthropology. March 12, 2017
    What shape does ethical reasoning assume in the face of potentially contradictory commitments? Drawing on fieldwork in a private clinic in Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, I examine how patients, their families, and the clinic's staff navigated ethically complex situations in which one was called on as both family member and patient. I argue that the doctors and counselors at the clinic attempted to reconfigure the relationship between what were experienced as divergent or contradictory commitments—to treatment and to close kin—in terms of what I call hierarchical subsumption. This mode of response worked not simply to recast treatment as noncontradictory with familial obligations; rather, the commitment to therapy became hierarchically subsumed by and therefore necessary to the fulfillment of such kin‐based commitments. In attending to those ordinary moments in which commitments are felt to be at odds, I suggest that we might develop a better understanding of the particular styles of ethical reasoning that people employ to manage such conflictual situations, which refuse the kind of tacitness that scholars have associated with everyday life.
    March 12, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.1.08   open full text
  • FRAMED BY FREEDOM: Emancipation and Oppression in Post‐Fordist Thailand.
    Claudio Sopranzetti.
    Cultural Anthropology. March 12, 2017
    Based on ethnographic research conducted between 2009 and 2014, this article examines the discourse of freedom (‘itsaraphāp) among motorcycle taxi drivers in Bangkok and the practices, both emancipatory and oppressive, that it supports and makes possible. I explore its central role in their self‐construction as successful migrants, entrepreneurial subjects, and autonomous urban dwellers, as well as its relations to capitalist restructuring and precarity in post‐crisis Thailand. I show how freedom offers a way for precarious workers—such as the drivers—to consciously make sense of and make do with political‐economic, social, and conceptual shifts taking place around them. In this sense, this article explores the construction of consent in contemporary Thailand without falling in the trap of assigning false consciousness to the drivers or of framing them as subjugated subjects. Rather, I locate the effectiveness of ‘itsaraphāp discourse precisely in its ability to connect preexisting forms of exploitation, personal desires, and aspirations with a restructuring of the relations between capital and labor in contemporary Bangkok.
    March 12, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.1.07   open full text
  • HUMANITARIAN CARE AND THE ENDS OF LIFE: The Politics of Aging and Dying in a Palestinian Refugee Camp.
    Ilana Feldman.
    Cultural Anthropology. March 12, 2017
    What is it to live as a refugee over the long term? One thing that it can mean— and in the Palestinian case of nearly seventy years of displacement, what it necessarily has meant for many people—is to die as a refugee. This essay explores the consequences of the ways in which humanitarian work has been compelled to take up the end of life as a humanitarian concern. Drawing on fieldwork in the Burj al Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, it explores care for the aging and dying as a setting in which key aspects of the social world produced through humanitarianism are brought into existence and view. The problems of the end of life introduce additional challenges into the conundrums of long‐term humanitarianism, occurring at the intersection of humanitarian practice and Palestinian experience. With the questions of services for the aging and dying foregrounded, the possibility of the future becomes a site of confrontation among, and within, providers and recipients. Often, this future appears to be foreclosed.
    March 12, 2017   doi: 10.14506/ca32.1.06   open full text
  • THE BLUE YEARS: An Ethnography of a Prison Archive.
    Angela Garcia.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    This article is an ethnographic account of an archive of prison letters written by three generations of female kin. Based on long‐term ethnographic research in rural New Mexico, it describes the context in which the letters were written, as well as the desires, preoccupations, and practices that transformed them into an archive. I have placed a particular focus on how dislocation and connection manifest in the letters and shape the kinds of narratives the archive tells. Themes of isolation, loss, and memory are explored within the wider context of colonial history and the acceleration of the carceral state. This article seeks to integrate these registers analytically, while elucidating the role of archiving for a subject's present life.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.06   open full text
  • Is Another Cosmopolitics Possible?
    Mario Blaser.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    The concept of cosmopolitics developed by Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour keeps open the question of who and what might compose the common world. In this way, cosmopolitics offers a way to avoid the pitfalls of reasonable politics, a politics that, defining in advance that the differences at stake in a disagreement are between perspectives on a single reality, makes it possible to sideline some concerns by deeming them unrealistic and, therefore, unreasonable or irrelevant. Figuring the common world as its possible result, rather than as a starting point, cosmopolitics disrupts the quick recourse to ruling out concerns on the basis of their ostensible lack of reality. And yet, questions remain as to who and what can participate in the composition of the common world. Exploring these questions through ethnographical materials on a conflict around caribou in Labrador, I argue that a cosmopolitics oriented to the common world has important limitations and that another orientation might be possible as well.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.05   open full text
  • GOLDEN SNAIL OPERA: The More‐Than‐Human Performance of Friendly Farming on Taiwan's Lanyang Plain.
    Yen‐Ling Tsai, Isabelle Carbonell, Joelle Chevrier, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    Combining video and performance‐oriented text, this genre‐bending o‐pei‐la is a multispecies enactment of experimental natural history. Our players consider the golden treasure snail (金寶螺; kim‐pó‐lê; Pomacea canaliculata and relatives; golden apple snail), first imported to Taiwan from Argentina in 1979 for an imagined escargot industry, but now a major pest of rice agriculture in Taiwan and across Asia. Whereas farmers in the Green Revolution's legacy use poison to exterminate snails, a new generation of friendly farmers (友善小農; youshan xiaonong) in Taiwan's Yilan County hand‐pick snails and attempt to learn enough about their lives to insert farming as one among many multispecies life ways within the paddy. Drawing on a variety of knowledge sources, including personal experience, international science, social media, traditional calendars, and local understandings of ghosts and deities, these farmers construct an experimental natural history of both new and old paddy‐field denizens. Their experiments self‐consciously intersect with the investigations made by other species of the paddy field. Our article offers an ethnography of both kinds of experiments, human and nonhuman. Video and text together show the performative features of cross‐species acquaintance. In the process, we contribute to debates about radical alterity, showing how anthropologists can do more than sort for difference: we can identify vernacular patches of practice that mix and juxtapose many ontological alternatives.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.04   open full text
  • THE INFINITE ROUNDS OF THE STUBBORN: Reparative Futures at a French Political Protest.
    Eli Thorkelson.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    When social actors find themselves at an impasse, perceiving their futures as threatened, how can they respond? If their futures can get broken or interrupted, can they subsequently be reconnected or repaired? If yes, how? Here, I consider an ethnographic case of reconnected futurity drawn from French protest politics: the 2009–2010 Ronde Infinie des Obstinés, or “Infinite Rounds of the Stubborn.” Opposing Sarkozy‐era neoliberal university reforms, the Ronde sought to instrumentalize its temporal and political impasse, shifting its relation to the future out from the register of subjectivity and into the register of ritual motion. By situating the Ronde within the fabric of Parisian political space, I show how it synthesized the politics of occupation with the politics of marching, hopelessness with stubborn endurance, the negation of state temporality with the prefiguration of an alternative future. I conclude by reflecting on the place of temporal repair in relation to recent forms of prefigurative radicalism.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.03   open full text
  • GRAVITY'S REVERB: Listening to Space‐Time, or Articulating the Sounds of Gravitational‐Wave Detection.
    Stefan Helmreich.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    In February 2016, U.S.‐based astronomers announced that they had detected gravitational waves, vibrations in the substance of space‐time. When they made the detection public, they translated the signal into sound, a “chirp,” a sound wave swooping up in frequency, indexing, scientists said, the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. Drawing on interviews with gravitational‐wave scientists at MIT and interpreting popular representations of this cosmic audio, I ask after these scientists’ acoustemology—that is, what the anthropologist of sound Steven Feld would call their “sonic way of knowing and being.” Some scientists suggest that interpreting gravitational‐wave sounds requires them to develop a “vocabulary,” a trained judgment about how to listen to the impress of interstellar vibration on the medium of the detector. Gravitational‐wave detection sounds, I argue, are thus articulations of theories with models and of models with instrumental captures of the cosmically nonhuman. Such articulations, based on mathematical and technological formalisms—Einstein's equations, interferometric observatories, and sound files—operate alongside less fully disciplined collections of acoustic, auditory, and even musical metaphors, which I call informalisms. Those informalisms then bounce back on the original articulations, leading to rhetorical reverb, in which articulations—amplified through analogies, similes, and metaphors—become difficult to fully isolate from the rhetorical reflections they generate. Filtering analysis through a number of accompanying sound files, this article contributes to the anthropology of listening, positing that scientific audition often operates by listening through technologies that have been tuned to render theories and their accompanying formalisms both materially explicit and interpretively resonant.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.02   open full text
  • SOUND + VISION: Experimenting with the Anthropological Research Article of the Future.
    Dominic Boyer, James Faubion, Cymene Howe, Marcel Laflamme.
    Cultural Anthropology. November 28, 2016
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    November 28, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.4.01   open full text
  • A MAGICAL REORIENTATION OF THE MODERN: Professional Organizers and Thingly Care in Contemporary North America.
    Katie Kilroy‐Marac.
    Cultural Anthropology. August 29, 2016
    Within the past decade, material disorder—especially that of the domestic variety— has come to stand alternately as evidence, symptom, and potential cause of mental disorder in the North American popular and psychiatric imagination. Sources ranging from the newly defined Hoarding Disorder diagnosis in the DSM‐V, to popular media, to agents of the burgeoning clutter‐management industry describe disorder in terms of an irrational attachment, closeness, or overidentification with objects. At the same time, these sources imagine order to result from the cool distance and controlled passion a person is able to maintain toward his or her possessions. Drawing on more than twenty interviews and numerous fieldwork encounters with professional organizers (POs) in Toronto between 2014 and 2015, this article describes how POs aim to reorient their clients materially, morally, and affectively to relieve the disorder they report in their lives. Here, I argue, POs emerge as a species of late capitalist healer whose interventions are animated by a paradoxical double movement. For just as POs act to loosen the object attachments and disrupt the “secret sympathy” their clients share with their possessions, they operate within a realm of magical correspondence where matter and mind are imagined to reflect and affect one another, and where bringing order to a client's possessions means also bringing order to his or her mind.
    August 29, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.3.09   open full text
  • YOU‐WILL‐KILL‐ME BEANS: Taste and the Politics of Necessity in Humanitarian Aid.
    Micah M. Trapp.
    Cultural Anthropology. August 29, 2016
    Despite their nuanced palates and cooking skills, as guests at the humanitarian table, Liberians living at the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana were expected and assumed to adapt to the “tastes of necessity.” In the refugee camp, the sensory experiences and pleasures of the taste of liberty—or “luxury”—existed, if at all, as an indicator that one was no longer in need of aid. In this article, I consider how innovations in cooking and taste shape humanitarian politics and argue that Liberian refugees subverted the biopolitics of necessity through biographies of taste. Through their sensuous encounters and critical responses to the taste of necessity, humanitarian subjects are able to produce biographies of food aid and a public accounting of the historic and contemporary conditions of humanitarianism. By prioritizing the taste of refugee food, camp residents have challenged the reason of humanitarian reason by expanding the sensibility of food aid and repositioning recipients as essential figures in humanitarian aid.
    August 29, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.3.08   open full text
  • SEEING (FROM) DIGITAL PERIPHERIES: Technology and Transparency in Kenya's Silicon Savannah.
    Lisa Poggiali.
    Cultural Anthropology. August 29, 2016
    This article focuses on how the recent proliferation of digital technologies in Nairobi, Kenya—a place many refer to as Silicon Savannah—is shaping the aspirations and anxieties of the city's poor. Taking as its point of departure an NGO project that enlisted settlement residents to digitally map their own neighborhood, I explore how geospatial technologies came to embody the shared dreams that animated Kenya's ambitious development plans and became implicated in debates about expertise, transparency, visibility, and truth. In particular, I discuss how utopian ideologies about technology, transparency, and mediation structured beliefs about the maps and map‐makers, and how the symbolic and material qualities of the digital form alternately enabled and challenged settlement residents’ self‐actualization. By foregrounding the ways in which subjectivity and social relations of power inform understandings of transparency, I suggest that settlement residents invoked transparency discourse as a form of claim‐making about technological expertise; through making their neighborhood visible through digital mapping, the mappers also attempted to make themselves visible as technical experts. In their struggle to become socially visible, however, the mapmakers’ status as technical experts was thrown into question. I argue that to see the inequalities (re)produced through technological imaginaries and sociotechnical engagements, we must analyze new media technologies as both potential vectors of sociopolitical recognition—that is, as technologies that make social relations of power visible—and as battlegrounds on which the urban poor's claims to transparency and expertise are affirmed or ignored, heeded or disregarded.
    August 29, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.3.07   open full text
  • PRACTICING UNCERTAINTY: Scenario‐Based Preparedness Exercises in Israel.
    Limor Samimian‐Darash.
    Cultural Anthropology. August 29, 2016
    In this article, I analyze how the Turning Point scenario‐based exercise works as a technology‐based uncertainty, both in its conceptualization of the future and in its enactment. The Israeli preparedness exercise involves the activation of and reaction to a chosen event, one that does not replicate the past or attempt to predict the future. Though designed to challenge responders, the scenario does not represent a worst‐case event but a plausible one. With this technology, the Israeli preparedness system is directed neither toward producing specific responses nor toward discovering the best solutions for an unknown future. Rather, the technology generates uncertainty through its execution, from which new problems are extracted. I examine both the discursive and the dispositional aspects of the Turning Point scenario, approaching it as a narrative put into action. I thus go beyond the conceptualization of the future underlying this technology and address how it practices uncertainty.
    August 29, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.3.06   open full text
  • Last Chance Incorporated.
    Jason Pine.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    Allegories are alluring because they promise to light up inchoate objects, trace unimagined connections, and resolve ambiguities and paradoxes of human—and more‐than‐human and abiotic—life. At the same time, allegories reveal their own failure to cohere, disintegrating in the excessive polysemia of their heterogeneous fragments. Meth cooking similarly throws into relief the unstable composition of a life. Meth cooking is an aporia: it leads the way out of workaday failures while lapsing back into them.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.07   open full text
  • INDIRECT ACTIVISM: Graffiti and Political Possibility in Athens, Greece.
    Othon Alexandrakis.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    Based on field research in Athens, Greece, this essay considers graffiti as a mode of political response to the material and symbolic violences of neoliberal governmentality. In 2010, the Greek state declared sovereign debt crisis and began to implement an aggressive austerity program in exchange for economic aid from a troika of international lenders. This resulted in the dismantling of public services, tax increases, salary and pension reductions, layoffs, and, generally, the impoverishment of the middle and lower classes. In this work I consider a crew of three young graffiti writers, both before and during the years of the crisis, as they came to realize a fear of becoming integrated into an economized social mainstream and responded by creating street art intended to bolster critical reasoning among Athenians. I argue that fear of abjection and the experience of being at the social margins served as a stimulus of critical agency, and that the crew's intervention can be considered indirect activism: a mode of resistance whose critical agents attempt to bring about their ambitions and visions by activating other groups to undertake resistance of their own. I show how my interlocutors made political possibility by creating art that lessened the capacity of neoliberal governmentality to manufacture consent, thereby contributing to a thriving ecology of resistance action in Athens.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.06   open full text
  • TAKING LOVE SERIOUSLY IN HUMAN‐PLANT RELATIONS IN MOZAMBIQUE: Toward an Anthropology of Affective Encounters.
    Julie Soleil Archambault.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    Behind some of the tall fences that compartmentalize domestic space in Inhambane hide luxurious gardens that are usually under the care of an individual who answers requests for cuttings and who seeks out, in everyday meanderings, new species to add to his or her collection. In this Mozambican city, gardeners articulate their engagement with plants as guided by an overriding principle: the love of plants. One gardener even described his plants as his lovers. What makes human‐plant relations in Inhambane even more ethnographically intriguing is that the most romantic gardeners tend to be either young men or older women. In this essay, I engage with the growing posthumanist literature on multispecies ethnography and explore what it would entail to take the love of plants seriously. I ask whether the statement “my plants are my lovers” should be taken metaphorically or literally. I situate human‐plant relations in Inhambane against the backdrop of the region's particular social and historical geographies—from a Portuguese settlement to a postsocialist, postwar society wrestling with growing inequality and the commodification of intimacy—and show how human‐plant relations deserve to be understood both as ontological relations in their own right and as a response to the commodification of intimacy. I do not argue that the commodification of intimacy has led young men, in their search for new forms of affection, to fall in love with plants; falling in love with plants is contingent, not reactive. Rather, I suggest that human‐plant relations are not only experienced and constructed in contrast to commodified forms of intimacies, but also offer a template for new interpersonal intimacies. My analysis of human‐plant relations is informed by my wider interest in affective encounters, in the transformative potential of everyday engagement with the material world. I explore the transformative potential of affective encounters between plants and gardeners to start thinking about how new intimacies, new ways of being and relating, emerge and take shape.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.05   open full text
  • EXCAVATING LEGAL LANDSCAPES: Juridical Archaeology and the Politics of Bureaucratic Materiality in Bogotá, Colombia.
    Federico PÉrez.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    In Bogotá, urban planners employ the notion of juridical archaeology to describe the difficulties associated with the implementation of the city's profuse and contradictory building regulations. They evoke a stratified and recalcitrant topography of decrees whose unpredictable effects are tied to the juxtapositions and gaps between sedimented legal artifacts. In practice, however, juridical archaeology holds great strategic value to bureaucratic operators, as it enables them to configure frameworks for urban development in a field of regulatory contingency. By representing the city's legal system as an opaque and intricately layered terrain, bureaucrats and lawyers deflect accountability, arguing that incoherence is to blame. Furthermore, they occlude their interpretative agency by claiming that they do not shape the meaning of the law, but merely excavate it from the city's legal depths. I argue that juridical archaeology expands understandings of state reification, showing that bureaucratic disorder itself can be reified as a concrete amalgamation of incompatible parts and pieces. Furthermore, I qualify scholarly claims about the agency of bureaucratic artifacts through a more interactive approach to materiality that highlights the crucial roles of social meaning and practice. From this perspective, I focus on the ways in which actors materialize legal infrastructures in their everyday performances of bureaucratic expertise and authority.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.04   open full text
  • WHAT IF THE ENVIRONMENT IS A PERSON? Lineages of Epigenetic Science in a Toxic China.
    Janelle Lamoreaux.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    Through an ethnographic portrayal of the research on and treatment of congenital disorders in China, in this article I suggest that epigenetic research has the potential not only to exaggerate maternal blame but also to deindividualize ideas of maternal and parental responsibility. When a pregnant woman and the generations that produced her are understood through epigenetic studies as the environmental contexts of another person, responsibility has the potential to be reimagined as existing in relations and configurations that move beyond individualized understandings of personhood. Moreover, I argue that epigenetic models of development and inheritance at work in toxicological studies in China, and in the postgenomic embrace of complexity more generally, strongly resonate with existing social scientific models of Chinese life. Toxicologists conducting epigenetic research in China today reconfigure preexisting models of transgenerational, biosocial relationality to reassert a sense of social, environmental, and intergenerational connectivity in a moment of increasing individualization and chemical toxicity.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.03   open full text
  • TOWARD AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF LANDMINES: Rogue Infrastructure and Military Waste in the Korean DMZ.
    Eleana J. Kim.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    Drawing on research in the borderlands of South Korea near the Korean Demilitarized Zone, this essay analyzes the heterogeneous life of landmines in postconflict militarized ecologies. Humanitarian narratives typically frame mines as deadly remnants of war, which aligns with postcolonial critiques viewing them as traces of imperial power and ongoing violence. Given that landmines and other unexploded ordnance can remain live for up to a hundred years, I suggest that mines and minefields become infrastructural when their distributed agency is redistributed over time, bringing into view nonhuman agencies and affordances that might otherwise go undetected in humanitarian or postcolonial critiques. I offer the framework of rogue infrastructure to capture the volatile materiality of mines and their multiple natural, cultural, technical, and political entanglements with the humans who exist alongside them.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.02   open full text
  • FINANCING OPEN ACCESS: Introducing Friends of Cultural Anthropology.
    Anne Allison, Dominic Boyer, Charles Piot.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 18, 2016
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    May 18, 2016   doi: 10.14506/ca31.2.01   open full text
  • SOCIALITIES OF INDIGNATION: Denouncing Party Politics in Karachi.
    Tania Ahmad.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    In May 2007, in the aftermath of city‐wide urban unrest mediated by live news television, Karachi residents clamored noisily, using rumors, blogs, and SMS texting to overtly denounce the violence and intimidation ploys of political parties. Their discourse took a particular form: It described the violent tactics of organized politics as repulsive, suggested the moral respectability of avoiding such party politics, and, most important, articulated the impetus to domestic confinement—being compelled to stay at home—as a shared experience. Rather than conflate the discursive content of non‐participation with depoliticization, it is important to acknowledge the contingent sociality of recognizing and articulating domestic confinement as a shared experience through the indignant denunciation of political institutions. Such tactics invoke an emergent public that recuperates and politicizes the ordinary in an explicitly moral register.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.12   open full text
  • RADMILLA'S VOICE: Music Genre, Blood Quantum, and Belonging on the Navajo Nation.
    Kristina Jacobsen‐Bia.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    In this article, I examine race, sound, and belonging through an analysis of the first Navajo/African American Miss Navajo Nation, Radmilla Cody. Cody, a professional singer and a Navajo citizen, has been a polarizing public figure in Navajo communities since her crowning in 1997. Utilizing a mixed methodology of participant observation, sound recordings, and press releases, I probe how sound and voice inform a politics of indigeneity in today's Navajo Nation (Diné Bikéyah). Focusing on black/Native parentage and how sound serves as an additional form of marking, I foreground how voice, musical genre, and blood quantum inform public opinion about social authenticity and about who belongs as a Diné citizen. My larger contention becomes that both poetics and politics matter, albeit in differing ways and on divergent scales.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.11   open full text
  • Ironies Of Laboratory Work During Ghana's Second Age Of Optimism.
    Damien Droney.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    While Ghana is touted as an African success story, the young employees of a large herbal medicine research center in Ghana make sardonic and cynical remarks about the state of science in contemporary Africa. They decry the improvisation that characterizes doing science on the continent, point out what is lacking from their laboratories, and mock the ways in which their work appears embarrassingly peculiar. They claim that their labs are “not modern” and ironically refer to dissatisfying aspects of their work as “African science,” a second‐rate version of science done elsewhere. This is what Achille Mbembe has called negative interpretation, where social life is understood primarily in the ways in which it differs from an assumed Western standard. These jokes reference an earlier period in Ghanaian history, when African science formed part of the project of postcolonial nation building. Scientists of the independence period constructed the scientific and medical infrastructure of Ghana to both provide for the needs of its people and to represent the status of modern Africa to the world. The apparently incongruous relationship between the cynicism of these jokes and the strain of Afro‐optimism that has recently surrounded Ghana indicates a sustained shift in the identity politics of African professionals since independence. Their jokes signal their attempts at disentangling their identities from the project of African modernity, and at positioning themselves as scientists working in the context of Ghana.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.10   open full text
  • WRITING THE IMPLOSION: Teaching the World One Thing at a Time.
    Joseph Dumit.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    This article puts a reading of Gilles Deleuze's Cinema 2 in dialogue with Donna Haraway's works and methods. Working through the former helps me unpack the process of Haraway's inquisitive “implosion” method and some of its aims better. I describe this as exploring how the world is interconnected one process and thing at a time, how these connections are vitally and politically important, and how this work is inexhaustible. Following this exegesis, I offer a series of exercises for putting this method into practice, one that I use myself and teach to graduate students and undergrads.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.09   open full text
  • Dear Dr. Freud.
    Charles L. Briggs.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    Framed as a letter to Sigmund Freud, this text weaves precariously between psychoanalytic interpretations of mourning and laments sung during an epidemic of an unknown disease in the Delta Amacuro rain forest of Venezuela in 2008. This encounter extends reflection on the ways that Freud, Klein, Laplanche, Nasio, and other psychoanalysts have characterized “the work of mourning,” urging attention to the poetics, acoustics, and bodily materiality of lamentation. Focusing on a meeting that took place just before the burial of a young man, it explores claims made by lamenters on audiences, interpellating them into particular modes of listening and demanding attention to the politics of the circulation of images of lives and deaths. This intersection between psychoanalysis and lamentation provides a challenge to rethink the nature of anthropological research and writing.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.08   open full text
  • Glossary Of Open Access Terms.

    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.07   open full text
  • Cultural Anthropology And The Infrastructure Of Publishing.
    Timothy W. Elfenbein.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    The transition of Cultural Anthropology to an open‐access publication required that the Society for Cultural Anthropology take on the publishing responsibilities formerly fulfilled by Wiley‐Blackwell. This entailed the expanded use of already established infrastructures, the development of relationships with outside production vendors, registries, and archiving agencies, and designing for the long‐term preservation of the journal's documents. By taking on these responsibilities, the Society of Cultural Anthropology has itself become a publisher.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.06   open full text
  • DESIGNING DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE: Four Considerations for Scholarly Publishing Projects.
    Ali Kenner.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    As we move discussions around publishing forward and adopt open‐access models, social scientists need to consider how digital infrastructure opens and closes possibilities for scholarly production and engagement. Attention to changes in publishing infrastructure—which, like most infrastructure, is often rendered invisible—is needed, not only because it allows us to make sense of socio‐technical transitions at various scales and for differently invested communities, but because we need more informed participants, users who can question the system in ways that make it more robust. This essay suggests that digital infrastructure design and development should be organized around (1) platform affordances, (2) support for labor, (3) emerging circulation practices, and (4) opportunities for collaboration. By tracing the long‐term socio‐technical work that made it possible for Cultural Anthropology to go open access earlier this year, this essay works to make visible some behind‐the‐scenes details to be considered when thinking about the future of scholarly publishing.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.05   open full text
  • Anthropology And Open Access.
    Jason Baird Jackson, Ryan Anderson.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    In an article coauthored in interview format, the authors introduce open‐access practices in an anthropological context. Complimenting the other essays in this special section on open access, on the occasion of Cultural Anthropology's move to one version of the gold open access business model, the focus here is on practical information needed by publishing cultural anthropologists. Despite this limitation, the authors work to touch on the ethical and political contexts of open access. They argue for a critical anthropology of scholarly communication (inclusive of scholarly publishing), one that brings the kinds of engaged analysis for which Cultural Anthropology is particularly well known to bear on this vital aspect of knowledge production, circulation, and valuation. [scholarly communication; publishing; open access; neoliberalism; political economy; digital technologies; disciplinary practices]
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.04   open full text
  • REASON, RISK, AND REWARD: Models for Libraries and Other Stakeholders in an Evolving Scholarly Publishing Ecosystem.
    Paolo Mangiafico, Kevin L. Smith.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    Scholarly publishing, and scholarly communication more generally, are based on patterns established over many decades and even centuries. Some of these patterns are clearly valuable and intimately related to core values of the academy, but others were based on the exigencies of the past, and new opportunities have brought into question whether it makes sense to persist in supporting old models. New technologies and new publishing models raise the question of how we should fund and operate scholarly publishing and scholarly communication in the future, moving away from a scarcity model based on the exchange of physical goods that restricts access to scholarly literature unless a market‐based exchange takes place. This essay describes emerging models that attempt to shift scholarly communication to a more open‐access and mission‐based approach and that try to retain control of scholarship by academics and the institutions and scholarly societies that support them. It explores changing practices for funding scholarly journals and changing services provided by academic libraries, changes instituted with the end goal of providing more access to more readers, stimulating new scholarship, and removing inefficiencies from a system ready for change.
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.03   open full text
  • BEYOND COPYRIGHT AND TECHNOLOGY: What Open Access Can Tell Us about Precarity, Authority, Innovation, and Automation in the University Today.
    Christopher Kelty.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 29, 2014
    In this interview, we discuss what open access can teach us about the state of the university, as well as practices in scholarly publishing. In particular the focus is on issues of labor and precarity, the question of how open access enables or blocks other innovations in scholarship, the way open access might be changing practices of scholarship, and the role of technology and automation in the creation, evaluation, and circulation of scholarly work. [open access; precarity; labor practices; scholarly publishing; collaboration; automation; technology]
    May 29, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.2.02   open full text
  • ECOLOGIES OF INVESTMENT: Crisis Histories and Brick Futures in Argentina.
    Nicholas D'avella.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    This article describes an ecological approach to investment in Argentina. This approach involves seeing investments as part of an emergent web of relations among constitutive and constituting parts. Such a sensibility is central to Argentine economic life, in which no investment is treated like any other. Care about attributing equivalence and attention to the relationality of investments was also central to how people worked to save their savings in the aftermath of the Argentine economic crisis of 2001. But Argentines are not just invested in dollars and pesos, bank accounts and cash; they are also invested in their economic past. As a result, the history of Argentine economic life is under a constant process of (re)narration, as Argentines reflect upon their rocky economic past in films, memoirs, comic monologues, and stories told among family and friends. I follow Argentines in attending to the past as a means to engage current ecologies of investment, paying particular attention to the history of currency and banking in Argentina, which together helped produce a boom in real estate investment in the years following the crisis. I also suggest that thinking ecologically about investments can be useful for anthropologists who are compelled to look beyond global descriptions of the economy.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.10   open full text
  • MANAGING HATE: Political Delinquency and Affective Governance in Germany.
    Nitzan Shoshan.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    The governance of young right‐extremists in Germany has spawned a proliferation of therapeutic procedures for their political rectification. This article examines three such efforts in order to expose the excesses and paradoxes that dovetail with, and at times seem to over whelm, the presumed biopolitical rationality of governance. The penal regimes that bear on young right‐extremists call into being a peculiar figure: the political delinquent. In turn, these regimes form part of what I call the management of hate, a wide field of knowledge/praxis invested in governing the relation of German publics to cultural alterity. The elaboration and administration of corrective methods to political delinquents, key to the management of hate, thus reveals itself as inscribed within cultural and political aporias, rather than as fundamentally concerned with the economistic management of populations. Specifically, the intractable specter of National Socialism and the troubled relation of contemporary German nationalism to immigration and difference haunt these therapeutic regimes, which often end up inciting precisely those affective dispositions they seek to curb. The governance of hate in Germany, I conclude, reveals itself as a politically‐charged social field, suffused with historical specters and cultural antinomies, and generative of tautological irrationalities and inexorable excesses.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.09   open full text
  • HOMEOWNERSHIP IN ISRAEL: The Social Costs of Middle‐Class Debt.
    Hadas Weiss.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    What motivates people to make home purchases that seem imprudent in narrowly economic terms, and how does the salience of homeownership debt shape political struggles for social justice? To answer these questions I draw on my fieldwork among homebuyers in Israel in the wake of the 2011 housing protests. I find that homebuyers’ reliance on credit compels them to operate as investors despite themselves by making homeownership synonymous with achieving security. Homebuyers’ competitive pursuit of security through mortgage‐enabled homeownership contributes to the collective insecurity of the middle class. Credit‐leveraged accumulation thereby widens the gap between market growth and public welfare, even as they are widely represented as interlinked. This analysis will illuminate the relation of credit and debt to political agency.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.08   open full text
  • “XENOPHOBIA” IN SOUTH AFRICA: Order, Chaos, and the Moral Economy of Witchcraft.
    Jason Hickel.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    This article explores the violent, anti‐immigrant riots that swept through informal settlements in South Africa in 2008, during which more than sixty foreigners were killed and more than one hundred thousand displaced. In the first part of the paper, I draw on research conducted in informal settlements around the city of Durban to argue that many people's perceptions of foreigners are informed by ideas about witches and witchcraft, which articulate with widespread anxieties about rising unemployment, housing shortages, and a general crisis of social reproduction. These ideas provide a semiotic environment in which anti‐immigrant violence becomes thinkable. In the second part of the paper, I argue that these ethnographic data help us interrogate existing theories of xenophobic violence, which tend to see it as a reaction to the cultural confusion and social anomie that globalization allegedly triggers. This dominant approach relies on assumptions about order and chaos that are native to Euro‐American culture and thus do not necessarily apply cross‐culturally. I show that these assumptions have a long and troubling history in South Africa, where colonial administrators and mid‐century social scientists drew on them in their attempts to manage African populations.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.07   open full text
  • SOME CARRY ON, SOME STAY IN BED: (In)convenient Affects and Agency in Neoliberal Nicaragua.
    ElysÉe Nouvet.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    What is the significance of feeling unbearably weighed‐down by everyday life on the social and economic margins of a Central American city? What are the politics of a mother feeling there is no longer any point in showing up for work given the limited impact it makes for the everyday needs of her family? Relatedly, what is the significance of another woman carrying on with the business of survival as a member of Nicaragua's urban poor majority? In this article, I question the differences and connections between two women's engagements with poverty in a shanty on the outskirts of León, Nicaragua's second biggest city. Subject to isolated analysis, each woman's corporealization of poverty appears ambiguous in terms of what they do to the inequalities that structure their existence. By engaging these corporealities as affective forces—trans‐personally constituted and constituting forces that impact human action—they can be understood as agencies capable of impacting the future. The impetus to carry on and to curl up in bed may represent seemingly contradictory engagements in (or away from) social life, but they both animate a sense of the present's painful inadequacy, which may be socially transformative. Approaching bodies pushed to their limits as affective forces complicates individual‐centric notions of agency, and, I argue, is crucial for understanding how and when social and political transformation becomes imaginable and achievable (or not) in particular contexts.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.06   open full text
  • BREAD, FREEDOM, SOCIAL JUSTICE: The Egyptian Uprising and a Sufi Khidma.
    Amira Mittermaier.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    ‘Aīsh, huriyya, ‘adāla igtimā‘iyya (“bread, freedom, social justice”) were key demands of Egyptian protesters in early 2011. Whereas the call for bread evokes immediate need, social justice is often associated with structural transformations and a better tomorrow. In light of this temporal tension, this article calls for a critical rethinking of an orientation toward the future by dwelling on the ethical and political potentials inherent to traditions of giving, sharing, and hospitality that are fundamentally oriented toward the present. Drawing on fieldwork in Cairo during 2010 and 2012, I think about an ethics of immediacy that is embodied in seemingly non‐revolutionary everyday practices, but that also emerges from stories about Tahrir as a space of togetherness and solidarity. I argue that such an ethics is obscured in dominant neoliberal concepts of social justice, which foreground individual responsibility, productivity, and economic growth. Concretely, the article places the Tahrir utopia in conversation with a Sufi khidma that provides guests with food, tea, and a place to rest. Both spaces, I suggest, gesture toward modes of being in the world which rupture the state's monopoly of politics, enable alternative forms of circulation and distribution, and encourage forms of relationality different from capitalism (in both its welfare and neoliberal renditions). By bringing these spaces into conversation, I seek to problematize a pervasive neoliberalization of social justice and to contribute to an anthropology of the otherwise.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.05   open full text
  • THE PRECARIOUS PRESENT: Wageless Labor and Disrupted Life in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    Kathleen M. Millar.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    This article explores the relationship between precarity as a labor condition and precarity as an ontological experience in the lives of urban poor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The focus is on a garbage dump on the outskirts of the city where thousands of Rio's poor, known as catadores, reclaim recyclables for a living. Attending to cyclic moments in which these workers leave the dump for other jobs and then return, I explore how everyday emergencies in Rio's periphery often clash with the rigid conditions of regular, wage‐labor employment. These comings and goings of catadores result from a tension between the desire for “real” work and the desire for what I describe as relational autonomy, made possible by the conditions of wageless work. The article considers how specific histories and experiences of capitalism in the global South differentially shape the articulation of precarious labor with precarious life. I conclude by suggesting that the returns of catadores to the dump do not signal an end for Rio's poor, but rather constitute a politics of detachment that enables life to be lived in fragile times. [precarity; urban poverty; unwaged labor; waste]
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.04   open full text
  • CAST ASIDE: Boredom, Downward Mobility, and Homelessness in Post‐Communist Bucharest.
    Bruce O'neill.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    The homeless, in post‐Communist Bucharest, Romania, are bored. They describe themselves as bored all of the time. Drawing upon nearly three years of ethnographic fieldwork that moves between Bucharest's homeless shelters and squatter camps, day centers and public parks, this article approaches the homeless's boredom as an everyday affect structured by the politics of consumption in post‐communist Bucharest. At the center of this study sits not simply the inability to consume but also the feeling of being cast aside, of being downwardly mobile in a neoliberal era of supposed ascent. In an increasingly consumer‐driven society, boredom, I argue, is an affective state that registers within the modality of time the newly homeless's expulsion to the margins of the city. In this sense, boredom is a persistent form of social suffering made possible by a crisis‐generated shift in the global economy, one that has forced tens of millions of people the world over to come to terms with diminished economic capacities.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.03   open full text
  • OPENING ACCESS: Publics, Publication, and a Path to Inclusion.
    Brad Weiss.
    Cultural Anthropology. May 06, 2014
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    May 06, 2014   doi: 10.14506/ca29.1.01   open full text