Cultural Dynamics

Published by SAGE

Print ISSN: 0921-3740


Hayek's Four Tendencies Toward Equilibrium
  • Article

February 1989


26 Reads

Mario J. Rizzo
In the first section of this essay, we distinguish between analytical and empirical tendencies. This distinction is central to the subsequent analysis. In the second section, we present a very brief overview of the four meanings that Hayek attaches to the general term "tendency toward equilibrium." Section Three digresses from our main task to provide the reader with a clear picture of the equilibrium toward which it is claimed we are tending. Section Four is the heart of the article. Here we explore in considerable detail the characteristic features of each of the tendencies. In Section Five we conclude that although we have found no critical flaws in the basic structure of his analysis, Hayek, nonetheless, has failed in his effort to provide us with a genuinely causal analysis of the process of equilibration.

“After 9/11 everything changed”: Re-formations of state violence in everyday life on the US–Mexico border

March 2013


43 Reads

After 11 September 2001, the state declared a War on Terror, repositioning “Arab-Middle-Eastern-Muslims” as threats to national security, and later broadening its scope to include immigrants crossing the US–Mexico border. This discursive shift propelled the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 (approximately 700 mile barrier between the United States and Mexico) to curtail unauthorized immigration and international terrorism. This article focuses on the effects of militarization on Cameron County, Texas residents living in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley as they contend with an assemblage of security apparatuses in their communities. The objective is to move beyond institutional understandings of “the state” and focus on the micropolitics of sovereignty or what I call the state as lived experience. Using ethnographic methods, three manifestations of the state—dispossessor, irrational legal–political force, and arbiter of knowledge—emerge in the everyday lives of residents.

Creole Hadramis in the Malay world in the 1800s: Fragments of biographies and connected histories
  • Article
  • Full-text available

July 2013


221 Reads

This article explores cultural geographies at the conjunction of transregional and local histories by examining creole Hadrami biographies in the Malay world. It focuses on Abdullah al-Misri and Abdullah Munsyi and a few biographical fragments from their writings. Efforts to create national canons have led to the anachronistic application of national and ethnic categories to these nineteenth-century writers. Through biographical fragments, this article demonstrates the connected histories of creole Hadramis in the Malay world, and presents cultural geographies that bring to the fore the multi-scalar and shared histories of the citizens of contemporary nation-states. It makes a historically grounded argument for a cosmopolitan Malay world.

‘Beyond the limits of nation and geography’: Rabindranath Tagore and the cosmopolitan moment, 1916–1920

July 2013


100 Reads

This article examines the emergence of a distinctive brand of political cosmopolitanism across Britain’s Asian Empire during World War I. Rather than presenting this phenomenon merely as a response to Western developments (in particular, Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points), it argues for the Asian origins and political logic of such discourse. The activities of the poet Rabindranath Tagore in these crucial years, his voyage from Bengal to Japan and his scheme for an international university, are used as a lens through which to view the wider currency of cosmopolitan thinking and practice in the region. For, it is argued, while Tagore never committed himself to an explicitly ‘political’ cosmopolitan project, the success and failure of his international endeavours are best understood within this broader intellectual milieu.

International Expert Organizations and Policy Adoption The World Bank and Microfinance in the 1990s

March 2007


18 Reads

Microfinance as a development policy tool has enjoyed an increasing popularity in the last few years. The United Nations declared 2005 as the international year of microcredit. Since Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, microfinance is once more under the spotlight. The prominence of development programs is mainly promoted by powerful international organizations like the World Bank. This article examines the World Bank's World Development Reports over time to demonstrate how the Bank became interested in, interpreted, and framed microfinance in accordance with its general background assumptions on poverty and development. The neoliberal interpretation by the Bank in the 1990s of notions such as social capital and gender is crucial for understanding its adoption of microfinance.

Education and empire, old and new: HR 3077 and the resurgence of the US university

March 2013


18 Reads

This essay examines HR 3077, the 2003 International Studies in Higher Act, which sought to tie federal funding for university-based area studies programs to the interests of the US security state. While locating it in the post-9/11 context, the essay situates HR 3077 in a broader frame that elucidates the shifting but always intimate relationship between education and imperialism. It discusses how knowledge production has long been tied to imperialist endeavors and examines the origins and development of US area studies during the Cold War and its critical turn in the late 1960s. The article closely reads HR 3077 and the neoconservative literature that grounds it to trace wide-ranging efforts to foreclose intellectual freedom and critiques of the US state. It argues that HR 3077 marks only one example of a troubling movement to arrest critical public discourse, one that subjects invested in maintaining vigorous democratic publics must contest.

Media, Markets and Powwows Matrices of Aboriginal Cultural Mediation in Canada

July 2004


208 Reads

This article examines the construction of an Aboriginal public sphere in eastern Canada, tracing flows of images, ideas, peoples and practices over cultural and geographical borders from the late 19th century to the present. Early Aboriginally authored newspapers, agricultural fairs and exhibits of ethnic difference provided important contexts for the cultural mediation of novel forms of Indigeneity. Aboriginal cultural producers constructed these contact zones by intermingling and resignifying key identifying elements of ‘whiteness’ and Indianness—social categories that were ordinarily polarly opposed. This syncretizing technique continues to underwrite contemporary social practice. I suggest that not unlike other mass-mediated Aboriginal cultural products, contemporary powwow performances might be instructively perceived as communicative strategies in so far as they engender a reinscription of the Aboriginal ‘ideoscape’.

Acknowledging Afghanistan Notes and Queries on an Occupation

November 2006


104 Reads

This article questions the privileging of gender as the primary axis along which the experience of being a woman in Afghanistan can be understood and attended to. I argue that the privileging of gender is part of a two-pronged problem: first, there is a substantial lack of current knowledge on everyday life and subjectivity of Afghans, and second, this lack of knowledge is held in abeyance, while a limited set of analytical concepts and clichés—especially gender and Islamic fundamentalism—occupy the respective discursive space. My claim is that knowledge of Afghanistan that lays emphasis on a limited set of analytical parameters ultimately results in an impossibility of acknowledging the experiences of Afghans—men and women alike. A discussion of ongoing ethnographic work in a widow-run bakery in Kabul will serve as an entry point to reconsider the ways in which Afghanistan may inhabit our imagination.

Information, Uncertainty and Choice Implications for Human Action, Including Public Policy

March 1997


9 Reads

The analysis demonstrates that the relevant focus of economics is on the middle ground between perfect knowledge and total ignorance. Individual action always involves uncertainty because, as Mises emphasizes, uncertainty about the future and human action are two aspects of the same thing. The implications of uncertainty for human action are explored in a number of different contexts. Under uncertainty, profit maximization loses meaning as a guide to action and 'market failure' loses meaning and relevance as a guide for public policy. The paradox of omniscience, considered as perfect knowledge or the absence of uncertainty, is explored for individual decision making, profits and public policy. The findings support Hayek's thesis that knowledge is likely to be used most effectively if information is controlled by those whose knowledge and success depend on it.

Table 2 . Precursors and Practitioners of Race, Class, and Gender Intersectional Analysis
Agents of Knowledge and Action

July 2000


470 Reads

This article examines some of the contributions of subjugated peoples' knowledges to ‘western’ social science, particularly focusing on the development of analyses of race, class, and gender as interlocking spheres in which domination occurs. Often work on race, class, and gender intersectionality is taught and is understood as an outgrowth of academic western feminist inquiry that is attempting to acknowledge and embrace difference and eschew essentializing women's experiences. While feminist discourse has been an important site for the development of the intersectional framework, I argue that an important historical basis for social scientific thinking that addresses the intersection of race, class, and gender lies in activism and scholarship as exemplified by that of Anna Julia Cooper, Ida Wells Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Amy Jacques Garvey, Cheikh Anta Diop, Audre Lorde, Kwame Toure, and others whose thinking about the social world has been shaped by their own western and non-western political and cultural experiences and research.

On Adams' Monistic Concept of Social Evolution

July 1991


5 Reads

Adams' monistic concept of social evolution is understood as the most coherent theoretical proposition on this matter available today. And yet, the theory of Monistic Materialism fails to retain its materialist stance at the methodological level; it falls back on the mind-matter-dichotomy. Consequently, "power" based on the mindful control of matter turns into the most fundamental term of reference in social studies. This limits the analytical potency of Materialism in the study of social evolution and in offering alternatives for society's future. This paper suggests that a dialectical appropriation of Monism promises to overcome these difficulties.

‘Faut-Il Brûler L’Orientalisme?’ On French Scholarship of North Africa

July 2004


206 Reads

This article discusses the specificity of French Orientalism on North Africa and shows how in its divide and rule policy, French colonialism constructed a discourse that opposes the Oriental Arab to the European Berber. It argues that French Orientalism, the bulk of knowledge that has been built in the context of colonization, though it has changed through time, continues to operate today both in the discourse of the former colonized and that of the former colonizer. In addition, the article draws the attention to the important fact that knowledge is not only a means of control and governance for the colonial machine, but it also contains categories by which imaginaries are shaped and colonial relations and attitudes are perpetuated.

Dialectics of the African Diaspora: The glocality of race and resistance in the Brazilian economy of violence

March 2012


18 Reads

This article looks at the dialectics of race, space and death in the structuring of black urban life and in the making of the African Diaspora. It argues the African diaspora should be understood not only within the perspectives of the historical trauma of racial terror but also through the spatial agency developed by people of African descent as a way to reconstitute the self and forge a political community. Based on fieldwork with black youth in a shantytown in the city of São Paulo, the article aims to investigate the political subjectivities created through the state’s (morbid) interpellation of black youth in the global city. In order to answer this question, it pays attention to the spatial praxis developed by the direct victims of state violence to reclaim their right to a city divided along racial lines. Finally, it suggests that the global and local articulations of race and racism also convey a transnational explosive black political identity of which black youth spatially grounded strategies of resistance are just one example.

Between Reality and Representation Women’s Agency in War and Post-Conflict Sri Lanka

October 2004


226 Reads

During two decades of armed conflict in north east Sri Lanka, women have carved new spaces of agency and new roles as armed combatants, principal income generators or heads of household in the absence of men folk. Will they be pushed back ‘into the kitchen’ with a return to peace, also often indexed as a return to the pre-war gender status quo? This article focuses on women’s agency in post-conflict Sri Lanka, where a peace process has been ongoing for two years, and asks if and how a return of peace may affect women’s empowerment. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of the political economy of armed conflict, the article suggests that, contrary to nationalist imaginaries, the structure of the ‘new war’ in Sri Lanka may not permit a return to a pre-war gender status quo.

The Transformation of the Alevi Collective Identity

July 2005


138 Reads

This article examines the transformation of the Alevi identity—an important religious and/or cultural minority in Turkey—since the 1980s. It suggests a shift in the Alevi identity from repression to expression which parallels the Turkish state's shifting relationship with minorities from the early moment of nation-state formation to its efforts to enter the EU. The changing nature of the struggle between the Alevi community and the Turkish state and the implications of this change for the conceptualization of the Alevi collective identity are the major concerns of this article. The articulation of a social movement to the emerging postmodern condition based on identity politics, and the terms and the limits of expression of a collective identity in a global multicultural environment are examined through the transformation of the Alevi identity. This article suggests that Alevism, appearing as a potentially counter-hegemonic social movement due to the difference-repressive nature of the Turkish state, finds a space for expression in the dominant public sphere as a result of the changing global environment and the attitude of the Turkish state towards difference. At the same time, though, it loses its counterhegemonic character, limits its difference and becomes accommodated to the global discourse of multiculturalism.

Contesting/Negotiating Power and Domination on the US — Mexico Border Mexican and Central American Migrants in El Paso

July 2009


42 Reads

The article examines the ways in which twenty Mexican and five Central Americans male undocumented migrants construct the border in varying ways while they speak of their work conditions and their encounters and perceptions of the border patrol agents on the Texas/Mexico border area. Many of them who work as construction workers are economically exploited since they are paid below standard minimum wages. The temporary migrant workers display knowledge of their rights and entitlements through discursive practices such as evaluations, knowledge of their exploitative conditions, and resolutions to move further into the US or to find alternative means of income. In doing so, the migrants construct the border in many instances as a transitional space which is rather exploitative. More significantly, the undocumented migrants tend to differ in the ways in which they experience the border. Despite the militarization and exploitative work conditions for some undocumented migrants the border is perceived as relatively fluid. While for other immigrant groups such as Central Americans, migrants with past criminal records, and younger demonized males the border is more enclosed where they have to contend with power structures on a different level. There has been much focus on the border and border narratives across various disciplines but little attention has been given to the ways in which undocumented migrants experience the border during their temporary stay in order to transition to further points in the US such as Dallas, Los Angeles, and Denver. Data are based on participant observation, informal conversations, and recorded interviews of 25 male undocumented migrants residing at a temporary shelter in El Paso, Texas, over two summer periods in the years 2006 and 2007.

Crossing the Indian Ocean and wading through the littoral: Cosmopolitan visions in Amitav Ghosh’s ‘antique land’ and ‘tide country’

July 2013


137 Reads

This article traces the cosmopolitan structures Amitav Ghosh retrieves from the medieval Indian Ocean world and those he forges along the South Asian littoral in an era of climate change in the narrative works In an Antique Land and The Hungry Tide. Both turn to the Indian Ocean and its coastal delta in search of the permeability that characterises the littoral and the syncretic and/or dialogic cultural and life forms emerging along it, which stand in contrast to geopolitical boundaries and species borders. In this social, political and ecological space they locate a cosmopolitanism that interweaves, elaborates and exceeds the three principle threads in cosmopolitan thought. Reconceiving cosmopolitanism from the South in the ‘Anthropocene Age’, Ghosh – it is argued – pushes beyond the political limits of the ‘citizen of the world’ while immersing this concept in the mud of a local – sticky yet fluid – ecosystem.

Ideas of Power in the Philippines: Amulets and Sacrifice

March 2003


420 Reads

This article examines beliefs about men of supernatural power on the Philippine island of Bohol. As has been pointed out, these beliefs are quite parallel to what Benedict Anderson has described for Java, especially with regard to the requirements of ascetic practices for accumulating and retaining the supernatural powers. Particular for the Philippine case, however, is the way that this asceticism is understood through a notion of 'sacrifice', explicitly linked to Christian imagery and with strong moral overtones. This moral emphasis may be linked to another dimension where the Philippine material diverges from what Anderson describes, namely the question of legitimacy. In the Philippines, issues of legitimacy are more complex, and this means that political and supernatural forms of power while related must not be conflated.

The Dynamics of Anthropological Theory

November 1997


28 Reads

This article is a general discussion of the nature and implications of anthropological theorizing in the contact zone, that is the space where cultures meet and horizons fuse. In so far as we can no longer see anthropology as simply the study of other cultures, the theoretical language of anthropology must be a language of contrast, which may challenge the self-understanding on both sides of the contact zone at the same time. A distinction between designative and expressive theories is made, amounting to a difference between clarification and radical interpretation. The latter is seen as the more congenial to the general theoretical ambition of anthropology, and indeed of any social theory, whose object is never a natural one. Through the infiltration of self-understandings anthropology changes its object in the very process of studying it. Therein lies part of its dynamic potential, and its likeness to human action in general.

Experience and Diversity in Religious Practice Mayotte and the Anthropology of Religion

July 1997


10 Reads

Major issues in the anthropology of religious knowledge and practice are brought to center stage in Michael Lambek's monograph on Islam, sorcery, and spirit possession in Mayotte. Lambek's work continues a tradition of detailed ethnography of alternative religions and expands this horizon by examining the multistranded connections that actors have to different forms of religious knowledge within a local community. Important larger questions are raised concerning religious knowledge, power, and the historical and contemporary interpenetration between different spiritual and religious traditions.

Gendered antiblackness and the impossible Brazilian project: Emerging critical black Brazilian studies

March 2012


98 Reads

A new generation of black Brazilian scholar-activists is asking critical questions about the polity’s nature and process. No longer restricted to Brazilian white-dominated, Eurocentric academic canons and rituals, these black voices, rooted in collective efforts aimed against ubiquitous and persistent gendered antiblack discriminatory practices, challenge the social world’s cognitive and political machinery. Sônia Santos, Jaime Alves, Luciane Rocha, and Maria Andrea Soares zero in on black experiences that consistently reveal a structure of antiblack antagonisms. Their analyses suggest the imminently corrupt character of the dominant Brazilian social and ideological project. Whether the project can be reformed, or whether it should be destroyed and replaced depends on how we read and how far we are willing to take each analysis.

Iqbal and Karbala Re-Reading the Episteme of Martyrdom for a Poetics of Appropriation

November 2001


68 Reads

This article seeks to illumine the trope of Karbala within the writings of Muhammad Iqbal, a 20th-century thinker, who carried forward in various forms, and through qualifications, the Sufi readings of Karbala in order to mount his socioreligious reform agenda. It also explores how the work of Iqbal has become central for the re-emplotment of Karbala across diverse intellectual traditions.

Theory of Culture Margaret Archer versus Classical Sociology

March 2001


120 Reads

The intention of this article is to show some of the contradictions which arise when Margaret Archer, in her theory of culture and agency, utilizes Durkheim's and Weber's analyses of culture as examples of cultural morphogenesis. Additionally, the intention is to explore which principles for the development of a sociological theory of culture can be deduced from these classical texts. By confronting Archer's theory with the analyses of Durkheim and Weber, it can be shown that, while Archer perceives the individual as a rational actor pursuing material interests, thetwo classical sociologists see the individual as an object of cultivation. Furthermore, while Archer perceives the relation between structure and culture as an exchange relationship, in which legitimacy is exchanged for resources, the two classical sociologists see society as the source of cultural development. The conclusion is that, if one wishes to utilize Durkheim's and Weber's analyses of culture, one has to read these texts on their own premises. A rereading of their analyses enables the development of four basic tenets of a sociological theory of culture: (1) culture is a subject–object relationship; (2) mechanisms exist, whereby objective culture is transferred to the subject; (3) as a consequence of its content, culture can influence society; (4) as a consequence of its organization, society can influence culture.

Engendering status and value in the powwow art market

March 2013


17 Reads

This article examines the relationship between people and objects in the powwow arts and crafts market. Over the past century, the field of Indian art developed a system of valuation that employs the “negative relationship” to create a hierarchy of people, objects, and markets. Central to this system are regimes of value associated with art and commodity. I argue that the presence of the mass-produced makes it possible for artisan-vendors to employ the negative relationship to define, value, and make sustainable the artistic in the powwow market context. Ultimately, this marks artisan-vendors and mass-produced vendors as position-takers within the Indian art field.

Back to the Present

July 1998


6 Reads

Thinking about culture in the humanities is dominated by a historicist approach derived from a nationalist, 'postcolonial' consciousness marked by a disavowal of modernity. The study of contemporary culture, in particular the cultural context overdetermined by capitalist processes, shows up the limitations of this paradigm and foregrounds the need for a concept of the contemporary. As a first step towards this goal, the article takes up for analysis certain key ideologemes of modern Indian life which hinge on the sense of a recovery of identity, and tries to demonstrate their inadequacy for a rigorous sense of the present.

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