This paper examines the practice of working-class group excursions in Thailand, organized by and for rural labor migrants in Bangkok. These trips involve traditional forms of Buddhist ceremonial as well as more self-consciously "modern" sightseeing activities in distant regions of the country. More than just a welcome respite from the drudgery and discipline of factory jobs, these excursions allow labor migrants to make important claims about their experiences as members of the Thai nation-state. As tourist-consumers, migrant workers appropriate powerful signs and symbols of modern Thai identity and status, in doing so they contest (and at least partly rework) their material and ideological marginalization within contemporary Thai society.
■ This article explores the interconnected historical processes of the redefinition of matriliny and the progressive loss, between 1885 and 1955, of the authority exercised by Lakeside Tonga women. Primarily based in a re-reading of the work of J. van Velsen, it details the adoption by the Tonga of practices such as bridewealth and virilocal residence that are more commonly associated with patrilineal groups, and analyzes their impact on the role of women as sisters and mothers. It contrasts the standing of a sister with that of a wife, and identifies the migrant labor system as the primary reason why Tonga women and their hus bands' kin came to conceive of the position of a wife as roughly analogous to that of a slave. It argues that this designation furnishes evidence for the declining status of women as a whole within Tonga society during this time.
■ This article examines New York City's war on graffiti from 1970 until the present and the ways in which the city's reaction to the popular youth practice was largely shaped by the neoliberal restructuring process occurring throughout the same period. It explores the racialization and criminalization of the youth who practiced graffiti, and the ways in which this process manifested itself as a contestation over the use of urban space. Finally, it explores the practice of graffiti and the role of cultural practices more generally in relation to an anti-racist discourse.
Does the concept of non-dualism have ethnographic purchase or is it mainly of philosophical interest? This article comprises the edited presentation and discussions of the 2011 GDAT debate on the motion ‘Non-dualism is Philosophy not Ethnography’. The debaters proposing the motion were Michael Scott and Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov. They were opposed by Christopher Pinney and Joanna Cook. Marilyn Strathern acted as jester – playfully and rigorously engaging with all four speakers. The presentations and the discussions that followed were wide ranging, lively and stimulating.
The Battle of Genoa has become an iconic sign of wanton destruction, evoking images of tear gas, burning cars, and black clad protestors hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at advancing lines of heavily militarized riot police. In this article, I explore the complex relationship between performative violence and mass-mediated constructions of violence during the anti-G8 protests in Genoa. Performative violence is a specific mode of communication through which activists seek to produce social transformation by staging symbolic rituals of confrontation. Young militants enact performative violence in order to generate radical identities, while producing concrete messages challenging global capitalism and the state. At the same time, dominant media frames reinterpret the resulting images as random acts of senseless violence, undermining activists more generally. I further argue that the prevailing ‘diversity of tactics’ ethic reflects the broader networking logics associated with anti-corporate globalization movements themselves.
A conjunction of forces associated with globalization has contributed to changes in the world studied by anthropology as well as changes in anthropology itself. Both critical theoretical analysis and pragmatic activism are called for to address these changes and support the struggles of those with whom anthropologists work for rights, economic progress and social and cultural autonomy. Activism in this context has important contributions to make to theoretical understanding, just as critical theoretical understanding can clarify the sources and relationships of new ideological formations within anthropology with the real world they seek to explain.
Chinese migrant workers make up the key manual workforce of global capitalist production, but they are barely integrated into either Chinese state narratives or global capitalism’s self-representation. In Chinese they are known as the floating population because they dwell outside the modernist state grid and remain largely unrecognised by the state. This article addresses the labour experiences and developmental aspirations of young Beijing migrants. While they are shown to frame development in the terminology used in state policies, I argue that state conceptions of ideal citizenship are in fact felt to be of little relevance. Their struggle to develop is better understood in relation to a materialist logic of sale of labour, imprinting upon them that their wages equal their worth. To appreciate their aspirations, I argue, we should realise that migrant workers were never successfully integrated into state ideology and therefore restore attention to the subjectivising effects of the labour market.
■ What are the responsibilities of anthropologists towards the communities with whom they work? This article examines debates on anthropology and advocacy in relation to the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea. Since the early 1990s, the indigenous communities living downstream from the mine have carried out on an international political and legal campaign to reduce the mine's environmental impact and gain compensation for the damage it has caused. I argue that neutrality may not be possible in disputes between transnational corporations and indigenous communities because of structural inequalities that make it easier for corporations to take advantage of anthropological expertise and silence opposing voices. This article invokes questions raised in recent discussions of cultural property rights to consider the proprietary responsibilities of anthropologists towards the information that they collect and the claims made on anthropologists by the subjects of their research. Finally, the article considers the implications of recent political and economic trends regarding the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in monitoring international capital for anthropological activism.
People strive for ‘better lives’. Young women in Bohol temporarily out-migrate to Manila and other urban centres for economic and aesthetic reasons, which are both complementary and contradictory. Their temporary out-migration is a kind of rite of passage in which they transform themselves into beautiful and marriageable women in far-away places in the proximity of beautiful people and things in the city. The modernizing state translates the question of ‘better lives’ into a solvable problem via purification. Towards the end, I introduce Japanese gold, the metaphor and metonym for plundered wealth brought from Singapore, which is pursued by both Japanese experts and Boholanos. Japanese gold enables us to see ‘better lives’ as an unpurified hybrid equally sought after by Boholanos, Japanese experts, the dictator and his prodigal beauty queen.
The anthropological study of citizenship enables an understanding of restitutive and redistributive reforms in the post-transitional context of South Africa. In its earlier, state-derived form, citizenship’s situated and contingent character, its use of pre-existing modes of identification as templates, and its ethnic differentiation which expresses ‘class’ distinctions while also masking them, reveal that no single democratic vision can easily encompass all of those who would belong in a new society. In its later market-oriented form, citizenship becomes more individuated, with discourses stressing enterprise, responsibility and the need to earn rights. The term ‘neoliberal governmentality’ has been used to describe the switch from state- to market-driven arrangements, but is inadequate to do so since it overlooks the extent to which state and market intermesh and are tightly interwoven, with apparently purely market-oriented initiatives reliant on extensive state intervention both for design and implementation. In societies undergoing rapid transition, even though new policies and social forces have come into play and people have responded to these in new ways, this novelty is mitigated and mediated through older social forms, attitudes and approaches, which have left their imprint upon both formal institutions and on the expectations and responses of those who ‘receive’ those institutions’ interventions. The paper calls for a view of citizenship which merges elements – state and market – that might at first sight seem contradictory: and which both acknowledges the power of wider frameworks and recognises the ability of ordinary actors on the ground to respond to and sometimes resist these.
In this article I explore the changing interface of states and markets in the borderland of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the current phase of ‘post-conflict’ state reconstruction. The renewed centrality of the state in regional economic development in the aftermath of war raises some mixed reactions at the border, as various efforts to ‘bring the state back in’ invariably meet with entrenched forms of ‘informal’ integration in the realm of cross-border trade. In this article, I explain how these everyday forms of cross-border regulation have gradually come to encapsulate state rules and normativities through their encroachment on state legislation. Whereas the strong connectivities established in cross-border trade have been capable of overcoming the boundaries imposed by the state on a variety of political scales, they increasingly bring in the hegemony of the market through the back door of the border.
The articles in this special issue start from the premise that citizenship is more than the legal status of member of a national political community with certain rights and responsibilities (Marshall, 1983). We contend that citizenship is an important and helpful way of framing anthropological enquiry into politics. The authors ask how citizenship is experienced in any given context, and thereby explore how particular political communities and political agency are constituted.
This article examines the prevalence of domestic violence in a fishing community in Kerala, south India. Understanding violence here necessitates understanding something about local ideas of gender, personhood and agency; ideas which are strongly resistant to change. Violence is linked by people to the embodied nature of gender difference, the inevitably greater ‘heat’ of men’s bodies, and also the ways in which men and women are bound to each other in marriage, the actions of each being elicited by the other. Violence here seems inevitable and men are not usually seen as to blame. More recently, activist discourses condemning violence have become common, but the collision between a feminist inspired criticism of male violence and local understandings of person and agency has led to a focus on alcohol as the root of the problem, with men still perceived to be personally not at fault.
The paper presents findings from research on political subjectivity and citizenship with two public‐sector trade unions in Buenos Aires. I outline some of the relations between trade unionism and citizenship in Argentina and then explore the concept of ‘contención’ (‘containment’), a group‐based technology of the self which is fundamental to the construction of political agency and citizenship within the most active members of these trade unions.
This paper engages with an emerging genre in anthropology’s engagement with international development – writing about ‘Aidland’ which focus attention on the lives, motivations and personalities of ‘development professionals’. It suggests that there are two possible problems with the growing popularity of work on Aidland: first, that it rests on a reified and dated view of the worlds of aid and development; second, that an ethnographic focus on development professionals may serve to divert attention to the significance of both the politics and the material effects of development intervention and the relations of power within which they are embedded.
Strategic alterity is defined here as a process of shifting between different assertions of devalued group identity in order to valorize free-trading citizens of the market and to mask the labor of those making that free market participation possible (by moralizing the devalorization). The examples provided here - based on ethnographic, oral history, and archival research in an eastern Kentucky, US community - focus on the ways that different markers of identity have characterized the farmworkers providing the low-wage or non-wage labor in tobacco over the past two centuries that has made it possible for those whose crops they work in to see themselves as independent, family farmers. Tobacco is viewed, here, as having always been a global crop produced by a ‘globalized’ labor force. The ideological arguments, most recently neoliberal, justifying the differential power (and ‘market citizenship’) of farmers and farm-workers are examined within a US context, with suggestions for comparative and historical approaches to interpreting current strategies of inclusion and exclusion related to neoliberal capitalist globalization.
This article examines alternatives to the war on drugs in terms of the continued survival of the legal market in coca leaves. By comparing the two areas of traditional coca use and cultivation—northwest Amazonas state, Brazil, and the department of Cusco, Peru—the differences are highlighted between Peruvian and Brazilian attitudes towards coca and ethnic identity. Formula tions based on a rigid dichotomy between (good) coca and (bad) cocaine are shown to confuse morality with purely practical considerations. Rather than a simple distinction between substances, the experience of indigenous drug users in South America suggests an understanding of the importance of cultural values in controlling any kind of drug consumption, and a recognition of the long-term effectiveness of 'user-friendly' strategies of prevention.
Regional trends of global significance involving frontier peasants in deforestation are seen through the eyes of those who produce them in remote places of the Amazon, where during their lives thousands of settlers from the underdeveloped North-east of Brazil have moved from frontier farming to gold prospecting and back again. Going beyond simplistic environmental rhetoric blaming slash-and-burn agriculture for global problems with carbon emissions, local perceptions of life paths and rural livelihoods are scrutinized to show how settlers escaped from desperate poverty in their place of origin but wound up living in degrading conditions of gold prospecting and finally arrived at their current situation as struggling but independent frontier farmers in western Pará state. As this relative improvement in livelihood comes at a cost of deforestation due to the unsustainable nature of frontier farming and risks recreating the social problems of the North-east in the North, it is argued that proposed solutions to reduce environmental degradation and poverty in the Amazon will also have to address issues of underdevelopment in the North-east in order to overcome the problems which compel so many peasants to emigrate from that region.
This article analyzes the commonly deployed imaginary of the Amazon as a pharmacopia – a cornucopia of ethnomedicinal cures unheard of in the West. Using several fictional narratives (two novels and a film) as a starting point, I explore how the Western imaginary of the Amazon as a pharmacopia is a discursive variation on the environmental imaginary of the Amazon as the “lungs of world” – a vulnerable entity of high import and in need of protection. Both the “lungs of the world” and the “pharmacopia” imaginaries construct the Amazon as a global commons. But I argue that while the “lungs of the world” narrative is conceptually anti-extractivist, as within it the Amazon’s value is attributed to its containment and intactness, which needs to be salvaged, the “pharmacopia” narrative legitimates certain contemporary forms of extraction in the Amazon, such as bioprospecting. Finally, I analyze the dislocations of indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge practices within these representational geographies, and connect my analysis to the experiences of an indigenous Kichwa community in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
This article argues for the maintenance of the traditional anthropological analytic distinction between gifts and commodities, against a recent trend to refer to all objects as commodities when exchange is their socially relevant feature. It examines Marx’s notions of alienation and commodity fetishism in the context of human praxis and suggests that rigorous, rather than impressionistic, use of these analytic concepts in anthropology can clarify a distinction between gifts and commodities in relation to praxis and intention, rather than exchange.
■ This article offers a critique of postmodernism, and the rather nihilis tic ethos that some of its advocates suggest. It thus seeks to affirm the salience of a realist metaphysic, and argues for the crucial importance of such conceptions as truth as representation, human agency and empirical science. It suggests the continuing need in anthropology to combine empirical science (naturalism) and hermeneutics (humanism), thus avoiding both positivism, which repudiates hermeneutics and tends towards a reductive materialism, and textualism, which repudiates empirical social science entirely.
This article offers a critique of postmodernism, and the rather nihilistic ethos that some of its advocates suggest. It thus seeks to affirm the salience of a realist metaphysic, and argues for the crucial importance of such conceptions as truth as representation, human agency and empirical science. It suggests the continuing need in anthropology to combine empirical science (naturalism) and hermeneutics (humanism), thus avoiding both positivism, which repudiates hermeneutics and tends towards a reductive materialism, and textualism, which repudiates empirical social science entirely.
This article begins by defining the specificity of critical anthropological thought and the way it can articulate with radical politics. It shows how the anthropology of Eduardo Vivieros de Castro offers a paradigmatic example of an anthropology that is both critical and radical, highlighting both the critical and political nature of Viveiros de Castro’s perspectivism and his concept of multinaturalism. It shows how this concept can offer a political and critical perspective that forms a basis for the unification of the concerns of both ‘primitivist’ and ‘modernist’ anthropology.
In this article, anthropology is seen as a Western cosmopolitics that consolidated itself as a formal academic discipline in the 20th century within a growing Western university system that expanded throughout the world. Like other cosmopolitics, anthropology reflects the historical dynamics of the world system, especially those related to the changing roles ‘alterity’ may play in international and national scenarios. Some of the most fundamental changes in anthropology in the last century were due to changes in the subject position of anthropology’s ‘object’ par excellence, native peoples all over the planet. But, currently, there is another element which was never duly incorporated by previous critiques and is bound to impact anthropology: the increased importance of the non-hegemonic anthropologists in the production and reproduction of knowledge. Changes in the conditions of conversability among anthropologists located in different loci of the world system will impact the tension between metropolitan provincialism and provincial cosmopolitanism, increase horizontal communication and create more plural world anthropologies.
Debates on `native anthropology', `anthropologies of the South', `peripheral anthropologies' and so forth have usually focused on colonialism as the main culprit of asymmetric relations between anthropological knowledges. By bringing the recent dispute between Western and `native' anthropologists of post-socialism into the `world anthropologies' debate, I seek to highlight those aspects of current epistemic inequalities that are not postcolonial in nature, but result from global commoditization of knowledge. I ponder why Western anthropologists who started visiting Eastern Europe from the 1970s, concluded that `native' academic knowledge is inferior to their own output. This was not due to a prejudice brought from afar, I argue, but rather was a result of their field experiences. I discuss how three types of native `captive minds' (communist, nationalist and neoliberal) emerged, and how encountering (or learning about) them made Western anthropologists uninterested in (and distrustful of) local epistemic production. I focus on the putative nationalist `captive mind', and argue that the straw man of East European `positivist' science (as opposed to the superior `theory-oriented' Western anthropology) emerged due to recent changes in the political economy of the academia. I show how the `theoretical turn' was experienced differently in Western and Polish academia, and how these changes, explained by the different regimes of value, show that there has been an increase only in `ritual' exchange between parochial and metropolitan anthropology rather than meaningful communication.
This article examines the present mobilization of indigenous peoples in India and their assertions of indigeneity at the United Nations. The notion of ‘indigenous peoples’ is highly controversial in India, and both the government and leading social scientists/anthropologists claim that it is neither possible nor desirable to single out any such category of peoples in the country. Above all, the fear is that the indigenous rights’ agenda will lead to further divisions of the society and fuel violent ethnic separatism. This, however, does not prevent marginalized ‘tribal peoples’ from asserting themselves as indigenous and claiming rights on the basis of this identity. Particularly during the last ten years an increasing number of indigenous delegates from India have participated in the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Indigenous Populations’ annual sessions in Geneva. At the UN these delegates express solidarity and a common plight with the world’s indigenous peoples. What is this all about and how should we as anthropologists relate to the emerging globalized field of indigenous politics? These are questions I address in the article. As a minimal requirement, I claim that anthropologists need to move beyond the sterile debate about whether the concept of indigenous peoples is relevant and take note of the fact that the concept is already out there.
This article takes an epistemological turn, warning that certain areas of social and cultural anthropology face the death ray of bathos, due to deference to an essentialist skepticism. An approximating skepticism is suggested as a means of cheating the death ray. Foucault’s regimes of truth (RoT) standpoint is investigated using such skepticism, and shown to be made more politically relevant if transformed into an anthropology of hypocrisy. In the process of doing this, notions of epistemic practice as well as those of asserted and approximate truth are explicated. The anthropology of hypocrisy approach is formulated through an exploration of Foucault’s understanding of RoTs. The approach is applied through consideration of the work of four anthropologists who interrogate different aspects of imperial and liberal RoTs. Finally, it suggests how an anthropology of hypocrisy both makes anthropology more politically valuable, while cheating the death ray of bathos.
The original version of this article was published in 1980 in a book edited by H. Wesseling and L. Bussé (History and Development, 1980). This is a revised version, for which the authors have also written a new introduction.
Anthropologists working in the political economy tradition have generated a sizeable amount of work that focuses on commodities. This article discusses approaches that focus on the form and structure of the commodity, in particular the work of Lukács, Sohn-Rethel and Benjamin, and uses them to examine the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, an institution where encyclopedic statistics and anthropology were especially conditioned by commodity relations. These authors help the anthropology of commodities to grasp both the relation between political economy and culture, and the influence of commodity on the discipline itself.
In a now much read critique, Derrida claimed to show the weakness and the supposed contradictions of Lévi-Strauss's interpretation of writing and his characterization of modern industrial society by the pathology of written communication. Lévi-Strauss is tweaked for ethnocentrism, subjectivism, empiricism, truism, archaism, primitivist utopia, epigenetism, sloppy thinking, theology and metaphysics, in short for everything at odds with what normally stands as Lévi-Straussian analysis. It is my contention in this paper to argue that, by misconstruing Lévi-Strauss's actual theoretical and epistemological contribution to general knowledge, Derrida's reading of Tristes Tropiques is exemplary and influential in that it joins together all the essential didactic elements of ‘deconstructionist' criticism, and seems to be what exactly ‘lit-crit' deconstructionism is all about, which in the last analysis turns into an arrogant scholastics that only ignorance or deliberate misinformation could allow.
Institutionalisms, old and new, are multifaceted and heterogeneous but they share a desire to unshackle the economy to some extent, and open it out to an inclusive society. This gives room for a dialogue with anthropology. Two concepts are discussed here: (1) the embeddedness paradigm has been influential according two very different perspectives:economic anthropology (focusing on unequal relations) and culturalist approaches (focusing on common social values and norms), both being too unilateral and too general. (2) The informal institutions (or informal norms) issue has been promisingly raised by new-institutional economists, but the questions they posed are more interesting and stimulating than their too often formal and stereotyped answers. It is in fact between sociology of institutions on one side, anthropology of public action on the other, that the dialogue is the most fruitful, based on both sides on a strong empirical commitment, a combination of the norm-based approach and the power based approach, and an historical perspective.
While there are elements of postmodernist and post-structuralist thought that Wolf either anticipated or incorporated happily into his own thinking, his realist epistemology remained radically opposed to the fashions that became dominant after the publication of Europe and the People without History. He insisted that the goal of a humanistic science was to explain rather than simply to interpret ‘experience-near’ phenomena, and that explanation was a viable goal provided anthropologists adopted agreed canons for formulating concepts and undertaking comparisons. He also saw the quest for explanation as a cumulative process, in which new developments incorporated insights from the past. This article argues that Wolf’s particular way of marrying historical and ethnographic research enabled him to produce an understanding of the development of the modern world that is quite different from the grand narratives that postmodernists reject but still enables us to grasp the ‘bigger picture’ of global history as movement and the force of structural power in local scenarios. Postmodernist and postcolonial theorizing has, in contrast, failed to grasp the historical conditions of its own production and the way our world has changed, offering social and political critiques readily defused or appropriated by today’s more ‘decentred’ hegemonic forces.
The gulf between intellectuals and peasants, in which the latter are perceived to be a drag on the modernization led by the former, is usually selfaggrandizement. When, as in China, peasants have the ambivalent status of being the base of revolution and the drag on political reform in the direction of democracy, anthropologists are in a good position to challenge the intellectuals’ pretensions. But we don’t. This article asks why, points out the ways in which we can, and then refutes the notion that Chinese peasants have no democratic tradition with an example. It is an example of self-organization around an incense burner, a religious tradition of territorial association. I put it to the test of a number of concepts of democracy, most of which it passes. But its leaders are chosen by divine selection, raising the question whether this is a form of benign charisma rather than standard electoral democracy. The institution persists into the present of the People’s Republic of China and the government of Taiwan, where it functions as a public good, a test of local loyalty, and a moral basis by which the conduct of state officials and elected representatives are judged. It is a civil institution, but now the issue is whether it will last or be soaked up by central state cultural policies. Whatever the answer, the example also throws down a challenge to anthropologists in other regions to explore ‘peasant’ self-organization and cultural resources for democracy and civil judgement.
This article, inspired by June Nash’s provocative vision of postmodern times in Chiapas, looks at how anthropologists have traced the changing nature of grassroots organizations to suggest that we need to see cooperatives and other local organizations in a new way, as ephemeral associations. Through the example of how the cooperative imaginary has informed different development programs in Mexico’s recent history, from the early cooperative movement in the 19th century to the 21st century, it explores the idea that the institutional arrangements of the recent past have given way to a state of constant flux. A new volatility is at the heart of both the organizations and their surrounding environment, so that local organizations now have to re-invent themselves constantly, to keep up with global and local changes. Through a case study of weavers’ cooperatives in Chiapas, the article points at their internal flexibility and fragility in the current climate of little support for the projects and activities of rural producers and the urban poor.
This essay reviews the current claims of political-economy and postmodernism to define the terrain of critical anthropology While it is argued that the marxist concept of labor is inadequate as a theory of social action, it is also argued that postmodernism fails to take into consideration the concrete social conditions of capitalist society that profoundly condition the representational process It is suggested that a metatheory grounded in history and responsive to the problematics of advanced capitalist society is the best means by which to bridge the impasse between political-economy and postmodern anthropology
This article examines the globalization of civil society through the proliferation of non-governmental organizations in developing countries. By focusing on the technologies and methods through which these new forms are globalized their expansion becomes explicable without recourse to theories of neoliberal governmentality. New organizational templates and the role of writing are highlighted in the dissemination of civil society forms in developing countries. These organizations do not represent an extension of state power but a multiplicity of peripheral positions from which actors seek contractual engagement in development relations.
The brutal history of racially based segregation in Johannesburg, as in other post-apartheid cities, would appear to condemn its inhabitants to live in perpetual fear of violence based on perceptions of racial and national difference. Yet urban pick-up soccer recreates spaces in which that history can be suspended, if not forgotten. In creating evanescent form out of spontaneous play, such games may be understood as artful conversations among bodies-in-motion. Players have the freedom to engage in charismatic self-fashioning, inventing a fantasy persona on the field that is larger than the life they live at other times and places in the city. In this way, participants project themselves into a social future beyond race that they might not otherwise be able to imagine.
This article proposes a new way of examining emotions in a series of hierarchical contexts. Autonomy and relatedness form a set of emotional stances and behavioral interactions. Relatedness is often associated with emotional fields such as caring, nurture and love, whereas autonomy is not usually classified as an emotion. This article examines them as parts of a dialectical and hierarchical pattern of interaction. Autonomy and relatedness can be viewed as social sentiments which work as manifestations of individual behavior, the structure of relations between individuals, cultural patterns between sets of individuals, such as age and gender groups, and finally as qualities which characterize whole societies or communities in their relations with others. By looking at emotions as part of a dynamic set of processes, the article examines how action creates both individual and cultural expectations and practices. The article uses Turner’s concepts of dialectics and hierarchy to examine social and cultural values and activities.
This article is concerned with the efforts of a Garifuna community in Honduras to claim a space in the growing local tourist economy. Its inhabitants maintain that they suffer a form of culture loss because they do not control the commodification of their culture through tourism. By examining the local perspective, we argue that cultural performances could be treated as cultural property and consumed by tourists in a context of mutual exchange as opposed to a hegemonic one. We suggest that every cultural performance entails a statement about collective identity and thus the local battle for cultural ownership relates to the politics of self-representation and the position of the community in the wider world. The members of the community we studied articulate their desire to become an attraction, which can fully satisfy the tourist quest for authenticity and difference. Only this has to take place on their own terms, to serve their interests and to promote the image they have about themselves and their culture.
How do grassroots social movements respond to shifting perceptions within their bases on key issues? This article centres its analysis on the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST – Landless Rural Workers’ Movement) and instances of the movement’s cultural activity, in particular, mística. It is recognised that the MST’s cultural activity reflects a deep engagement with cultural politics, and further, that the movement’s culture sector contributes directly to the delineation and formation of the ‘landless’ identity. However, from an ethnographic perspective and privileging the experiences of the members of the movement, this article goes beyond cultural politics to suggest that shifting notions of individualism, in the context of the movement’s cultural activity, are having an impact on MST artistic expression and members’ daily lives. The article argues that from within the bases of the movement, there has been a shift from what can be termed a receptive individualism, where members internalise cultural activity, to an expressive individualism, where members actively seek to shape the movement’s cultural programmes. Members speak of a lack of visceral energy that the culture sector’s activities used to possess, which provides the impetus for the article’s concluding remarks on how social movements respond to transformation more widely.
“All of us are presidents” examines the promise and disappointments of direct democracy that followed Evo Morales’ election as president of Bolivia. Working with the literature on politics, the state, and social movements in Latin America, the author contrasts ideas of normative democracy with radical democracy. The article pursues two ideas. First, in the wake of Morales’ election his core political base in the Chapare region perceived and engaged in politics as if they exercised direct, structural authority over the president’s policies. Second, while Morales initially embraced direct democracy he quickly distanced himself from this practice. As the coca growers observe, Morales abandon their political practices they have ceased to refer to themselves as presidents. Therefore, the author suggest that the model of direct democracy that Morales and his aides have promoted is in fact nothing more than a stark utopian claim designed to ensure the legitimacy of the MAS party.
This article illustrates and discusses the situation of diverse Indian groups who live on the Brazil/Guyana border. Efforts to enforce legal claims to land are frustrated by the machinations of local politicians as well as the Brazilian state’s attempts to militarize the region through the Calha Norte project. The complexity of relations between different yet coexisting Indian groups challenges crude typologies based on ethnic authenticity and degree of assimilation.
This article analyses the effects of slum upgrading on the lives of slum dwellers, especially on their position in society and their relation with the state. It zooms in on the implementation of Prometrópole, a World Bank-funded slum upgrading project in Recife that removes the population from shacks close to rivers to new housing estates. In this project, the state embraces participatory democracy and stresses the growing inclusion of the poor as citizens of the Brazilian nation-state. The question that inspired the article is: ‘How does the “citizenship agenda” employed by the Brazilian state relate to practices of political belonging in the urban periphery, characterized by social exclusion and violence?’ On the basis of ethnographic research, the article concludes that the upgrading of poor neighbourhoods indeed increases feelings of belonging and inclusion among the poor population. At the same time, however, the stress on the responsible citizen and the empty participatory procedures in the project have the perverse effects of side-lining the poor and reinforcing clientelist politics.
Taking up a tension between two conceptions of equality in Brazil, the article argues that focusing on the idea of equality of treatment as the main parameter to assess the exercise of citizenship in Western Democracies may not be sufficient to elucidate the demands for respecting rights or the demonstrations of indignation prompted by the perception of insult when legitimate expectations of recognition and considerateness are not observed. It is further argued that demands of citizenship rights must me understood in the interplay between notions of equality, dignity and fairness, which are local categories, dependent on local civic sensibilities.
■ Post-1989 structural reforms to the Czech health care service allowed for the introduction of new models of the nurse—patient relationship and new ideals of adequate nursing care. This article follows how these shifts were manifested in social relations within a Prague-based nursing home, founded by Borromeo nuns in the mid 1990s. Focusing on ideas about the place of emotional identification with patients amongst a range of nursing staff in the home (nuns, civil nurses and managers), this article explores how ideologies of care are linked to different articulations of modernity and, in particular, to changing configurations of public and private as embodied aspects of the modern self.
This article analyses the role of scalar politics in the 22-day Israeli assault on the occupied Gaza Strip that happened in the winter of 2008–9, and argues that practices of organizing and representing different kinds of scale have helped normalize occupation violence. Israeli regulatory mechanisms and a variety of scalar narratives of the occupied Palestinian territory constructed geographical, material and sensorial aspects of space and scale in a way that allowed the Israeli ‘Operation Cast Lead’ to stand out as anomalous, when it was in fact part of an ongoing, systematic military occupation. The ways that space and scale have been constructed throughout the occupied Palestinian territory in many ways echo modes of fragmentation and social segregation that enable forms of violence seen in enclaved cities around the globe. The Palestinian case calls for additional attention to the imbrication of different kinds of scale – density, distance, time and destruction – as they are shaped militarily and discursively.
This article questions the view that consumption rather than production has become the motor of the global economy. Based on the approach pioneered and developed by June Nash that stresses anthropological political economy, the article examines small-scale garment production in San Cosme Mazatecochco, a rural Mexican community in which consumption has become an increasing concern. Despite the appearance of consumption as an overriding concern, however, I argue that the new consumerism arises out of new relations of production characteristic of flexible accumulation. Although residents of San Cosme are now consuming many more modern commodities and adopting new non-class consumer identities, who consumes, what they consume, and why they adopt such identities derive from relations of flexible production and they know it.