The term polycrisis, coined by Edgar Morin at the turn of the millennium (), has been picked up by a handful of commentators recently, and it was also recently the topic of a special issue of Anthropology Today (, see also ). Ranging from biodiversity loss and climate change to mounting inequalities both globally and domestically, a widespread sense of powerlessness spreads even in countries considered democratic, often feeding conspirators, ethnonationalists, right-wing populists and others who promise simple answers to complex questions.
A manifesto against property
Anthropological anger in an era of greed and destruction
Oscar Salemink and Thomas Hylland Eriksen
The Work of Stories in the Making of the Chacao Bridge, Southern Chile
Rodrigo Cordero, Aldo Mascareño, Ignacia Rodríguez, and Francisco Salinas
The very nature of large-scale infrastructure projects—long design and construction periods, high investment, and impact on social and natural spaces—makes them prone to socioecological and technical conflicts. These conflicts materialize in stories that become keystones in the making of infrastructure. In this article, we analyze the infrastructuring power of stories by drawing on the case of the Chacao Bridge on Chiloé Island in southern Chile, a controversial infrastructure project that has been in the making over the last six decades. We argue that the “absence” of the bridge creates a space for the production of stories on the island's inherited past and imagined future that keeps recurring and growing in the form of myths. Thus, we propose the concept of “mythical infrastructuring” to capture this process. We then conclude by arguing that the Chacao Bridge project develops its infrastructuring presence over landscape and culture in contradictory ways that cannot be solved technically or symbolically.
On self-reliant masculinities and rural returnees in ethnic China
The shift in China's national economy from industrial manufacturing to technology and IT has placed constraints on the lives of rural-to-urban male migrant workers from the lower social strata. As the pace of out-migration in China slows, male rural returnees are harnessing self-reliant masculinities to reclaim status and heighten a sense of collective pride in and affiliation with their natal village. Centering on two ethnographic case studies of Dong ethnic minority male rural returnees in the autonomous district of Guizhou Province, the analysis in this article contributes to critique on the recent unfolding of the state-led “crisis of masculinity” to highlight the wider socioeconomic conditions that continue to deepen the inequalities and felt anxieties of male rural returnees.
On Violence, Race, and Social Theory
Thinking with Wacquant and Du Bois
In this article, I offer an engagement with Wacquant's checkerboard of ethnoracial violence. Drawing on material from the digitalized W. E. B. Du Bois archive, I focus on two theses of Du Boisian thought that I believe can enrich Wacquant's theorization of ethnoracial violence. In particular, I highlight how Du Bois emphasized (1) the process by which colonial violence gets (mis)recognized as nonviolence; and (2) how ethnoracial violence connects to capital accumulation as an essentially profitable enterprise. Bringing Du Bois’ work into the picture, I invite Wacquant to consider the relationship between ethnoracial violence and racial capitalism and to engage in a fuller discussion about the struggles in social space over the very definition of violence itself. I conclude by questioning how we might connect Wacquant's contemporary theorization with the work of intellectuals—such as Du Bois—who have put ethnoracial violence at the center of their concerns.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The Invisible Society of Waste in Singapore
Ng Xin Hui, Kuan Shu Wen, and Md Saidul Islam
Waste is an increasingly significant environmental concern in Singapore in light of the shortening lifespan of the nation's Semakau Landfill, which is expected to reach full capacity by 2035. In order to provide a fresh perspective on the age-old problem of waste management and open different conversations regarding waste, we posit that the obscurement of waste promotes the production of waste in Singapore by desensitizing Singaporeans to their waste and disconnecting them from the waste problem. This article aims to uncover the factors that contribute to the obscurement of waste in Singapore and to explicate how this obscurement disconnects Singaporeans from their waste. Through qualitative interviews and field observations substantiated by secondary data, this article seeks to study how the intangible and tangible factors—educational, sociocultural, and situational—exert a collective influence on waste obscurement and hinder the adoption of waste minimization practices.
Peaceful or Disciplined?
Perceived Efficiency and Legitimacy of Nonviolent Protest by Novices and Repeaters in South Korean Candlelight Protests
Differential participation in violent protests has been explained in terms of protesters’ personal values, biographical availability, and network embeddedness. However, the form of mass protest may be influenced less by the microstructure of protesters and more by their collective past experiences of resistance. Through the South Korean candlelight protests of 2008 and 2016–2017, this article examines novices’ and repeaters’ perceptions of nonviolent protest. Onsite survey and interview data show that previous frustrating protest experiences in 2008 made repeater protesters more perseverant, even when violence was expected. Repeaters had little faith in “disciplined” protests, whereas novices hoped for change through “peaceful” protests. I argue that previous experiences of resistance and their outcomes influenced protesters’ perceptions on the efficiency and legitimacy of violent protest. By examining protesters’ varying perseverance, which mediates the condition of violence, this article advances the relationship between violence and civic participation.
Performances of Death
Hunger Strikes, Discipline, and Democracy
Hunger striking is a form of protest that escapes conventional forms of political participation. I argue that as a spectacular performance of death, the hunger strike not only draws attention to a particular cause or exert moral pressure on an opponent but can galvanize and strengthen a nascent political identity. Drawing on the example of the hunger strike of suffragette Marion Wallace-Dunlop, which I argue performatively constructed the identity of the disciplined “true suffragette,” I explain the hunger strike as a political becoming. Undertaken behind bars, by those denied citizenship rights, this protest should be understood not necessarily as the free expression of an already existing member of the demos but instead as a way of becoming a political subject while contesting and reconfiguring political boundaries.
The Political Economy of Learning in Agrarian Contention
Transnational Networks and Interracial Alliance Formation
Anthony Robert Pahnke
This article explains how an interracial alliance that promotes a radical restructuring of agriculture, featuring African American small-scale producers, farmers of Euro-American descent, Latino farmworkers, and Indigenous people, has come into existence. As I argue, this coalition formed due to changes in international political economy and within transnational activist networks. Specifically, the implementation of neoliberal international trade deals beginning in the 1970s disrupted farmers’ livelihoods in the Global North and South. It drove migrants from countries such as Mexico and Guatemala to the United States with their experiences of agrarian reform, and it saw US farmers simultaneously begin to engage farmers of color in new and important ways. The transnational activist networks that facilitated visits and meetings subsequently provided opportunities for activists to learn from one another and have new experiences, which, as I explore, led people from diverse backgrounds to agree on various principles and forge a common vision.
The Politics of Presence Revisited
Anne Phillips and Hans Asenbaum
Almost three decades after its first publication, Anne Phillips reflects on the Politics of Presence in the context of contemporary developments from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter. Granting the importance of a contingent and intersectional understanding of presence, she reemphasizes the necessity of descriptive representation. Phillips reflects on questions of anonymity, essentialism, the multiple self, unconditional equality, and the current role of feminist research in democratic theory. She also opens perspectives toward mending the divide between a politics of recognition and a politics of distribution.
Princesses, Bad Little Boys, and Normal People
Fluidity and the Queer Body in Adventure Time
Candice D. Roberts
Adventure Time is an animated series and bildungsroman, centered on the primary protagonist, Finn, and the normative prescriptions of identity as represented in his growth. The series evolves to offer nuanced and alternative representations of fluidity and the queer body, and the current research investigates queer potentiality in this speculative fiction/fantasy text. By weaving together extant understandings of bodies and animation with theories of the queer body, this analysis uses fluidity to examine queerness in Adventure Time. Further, it proposes that the body is one site—along with constructs of family, gender, and time—where fluidity may represent queerness.