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Essentialising medicines

Trust, markets, and industrial origins in pharmaceutical ‘track and trace’ programmes

Ramah McKay


Digital technologies used to make pharmaceuticals trustworthy promise to displace historical relations, offering instead transparency through data. This article draws from research with manufacturers, importers, and distributors moving medicines between factories and markets to explore trust-making and trustworthiness in pharmaceutical sales. It shows how practices of selling and regulating pharmaceuticals rely on narratives and technologies of safety, risk, trust, and essentialised notions of industrial origin. Following the medicines shows how, rather than displacing social knowledge with data, technologies of trust rely on situated knowledge of institutions and social relations that are the source of both trust and suspicion. Ultimately, both narratives and pharmaceuticals are stabilised through notions of trust as linked to identity in ways that implicate ethnographic as well as industrial practices.

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Ethics, Sublimity and Hospitality

Levinas and the Romantics

Mehrdad Bidgoli and Pyeaam Abbasi


This article presents a study of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Coleridge and ‘Resolution and Independence’ by Wordsworth. The readings are mainly addressed by the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and try to present a conception of sublimity which mainly revolves around ethical awareness and sensibility so as to gauge the extent to which they can possibly hint at ethical issues at stake. We propose that these poetic works deal with the other and the sublimity of the encounter between the self and the other. Each of these works offers similar images of the self before the encounter – that of dwelling, self-preoccupation and enjoyment – but the speakers come out of the encounter differently: in ‘The Rime’, the Mariner roams throughout the country and recounts his experience for other ‘others’ in the hope of spreading what he now can probably identify as ‘the Good’; in ‘Resolution and Independence’, the speaker simply comes out of the unsettling and sublime encounter with the leech-gatherer enlightened and mindful of the other. The conclusion is that one significant part of the idea of the sublime in Romanticism deals with irreducible alterities – cosmic/ontic as well as (more importantly) human – and while they ineluctably reduce them to the language of poetry, each treatment can be evaluated by analysing how well they express the ruptures and interstices of alterity within a language which can go beyond language.

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The Exile of Speech

Re-reading Genesis 6–9 in the Light of Lockdown

Angela West


The rabbis considered that a ‘pathology of speech’ in humans brought about the Biblical Flood. Lockdown has reminded us of new threats to our future. In the language of science, positivist certainties have given way to quantum probabilities, often expressed reductively as data. The data-driven society maintains the illusion of individual freedom, while concentrating power in the hands of the few, subjecting the diversity of the many to a standardised norm. The sages also sought to apply a single rule for all, but honoured diversity by training in the art of making careful distinctions. Recent neurological research views the brain as formed by the bodily needs of survival and the common culture of the group. The evolution of language is better understood as the application of conceptual metaphor to the governance of individual and community. This fits well with the rabbis’ understanding of how the misuse of language endangers our collective well-being.

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Flood and Fire

Reorganizing Lives around Extreme Conditions

Jerry K. Jacka and Amelia Moore

The intensifying warming of the planet over the past several decades is a manifestation of centuries of uneven and inequitable extractive economies. This warming is well known to be the main force driving shifts in climatological conditions and extreme weather events leading to increasingly severe impacts on planetary systems. Every year, more locations on earth are experiencing heat waves, intense droughts, longer and larger fire seasons, increased tropical storm intensity, and sea level rise at rates that would have been unthinkable a generation ago while near daily news reports document the increasing toll that this changing climate plays in exacerbating social and ecological vulnerabilities. Just this year, at the start of the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2023, a massive tropical cyclone has killed over 145 people in Bangladesh and Myanmar, western Canada has already seen as much forest burned in a few days as it does in an entire summer, drastically diminishing air quality over half a continent, the Po River Valley in Italy has been ravaged by floods after experiencing two years of extreme drought, and California has experienced deadly and pervasive atmospheric rivers after years of record-setting fire seasons and water shortages. In this special issue, rather than prioritizing benign and depoliticized notions of adaptive capacity and resilience, as is far too common within mainstream discussions of climate change, we highlight the theme of flood and fire to examine these events as compounding contemporary crises and responses to phenomena that are devastating, transforming, and reformulating communities, ecologies, and governing processes around the planet.

Open access

Forced Emplacement

Flood Exposure and Contested Confinements, from the Colony to Climate Migration

Eric Hirsch


As intensifying floods and other climate extremes proliferate, narratives of unidirectional climate migration have become ubiquitous in media coverage and policy debates. This article reviews new scholarship that attends to an underreported dimension of climate change impact exposure. Emerging conversations in Indigenous climate justice research, mobility studies, and critical urban adaptation scholarship seek to understand why so many marginalized communities find themselves immobilized in the face of climate extremes. I argue that these scholars are building a concept of forced emplacement to politicize and historicize the uneven distribution of climate harms. Drawing on this scholarship and brief ethnographic sketches from my work in Peru and the Maldives, I follow forced emplacement across diverse case studies that root devastating immobilizations from flooding in local histories of colonial confinement, unevenly policed mobility, and varied efforts to control marginalized populations. I also illuminate how climate-exposed communities contest adaptation projects that reproduce their immobilization.

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Francis Meres Revisited

Wit, Design and Authorship in Palladis Tamia (1598)

Roger Stritmatter


Francis Meres’ 1598 Palladis Tamia, subtitled in English ‘Wit's Treasury’, is a quintessential document in Shakespeare studies. With ten Shakespeare plays already in print anonymously, Meres’ commonplace book for the first time identifies ‘Shakespeare’ as a playwright, and within weeks of Meres’ book, the name ‘Shakespeare’ appears on the second quarto title pages of Richard II and Richard III, transforming ‘anonymous’ into ‘Shakespeare’ in a blink. This article analyses the methods of commonplace book arrangement used by Francis Meres, Master of Arts at both Cambridge and Oxford, to have his private say about Shakespeare. In his 1597 God's Arithmetic, Meres approves the opinion of Pythagoras who wrote over the door of the entrance to his school: ‘Let none enter here that is ignorant in Arithmetic’. The ideas of God's Arithemetic, applied to Palladis Tamia, disclose Meres’ meticulous mastery of erudite humanist design that is the hallmark of his pedagogic method and his ‘post-Stratfordian’ conclusions.

Open access

Futures on Dry Ground

Anthropology and Coastal Planning

Theodore Hilton and Sheehan Moore


Around the world, governments, industry, and other actors are creating plans to save coasts from environmental crisis. Louisiana is one prominent example: levees and other measures protect oil and gas infrastructure from inundation as the wetlands buffer rapidly erodes—in large part due to that same industry. The state's primary answer to land loss is a $50 billion Coastal Master Plan. To illuminate such responses in Louisiana and globally, this article reviews emerging literature and frames an anthropology of coastal planning around three themes: (1) novel orientations toward time and space, (2) the reproduction of power and capital in the name of protection and restoration, and (3) the elision of other forms of land loss and defense by reductive above-ground/underwater planning paradigms.

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Generation Enraged

The Journal Jalta as a Mouthpiece for Young Jews in Germany

Dekel Peretz


How does the increasing diversification of both the Jewish and general population in Germany influence Jewish self-positioning in German society? It seems that especially young Jews no longer perceive themselves in a binary relationship to the majority society alone, but as part of a heterogeneous, post-migrant society. The journal Jalta – Positionen zur jüdischen Gegenwart [Yalta – Positions on the Jewish Present], published between 2017 and 2020, served as an important mouthpiece for the young generation's rage and desires. This study identifies and expounds upon three sets of relationships within German society that Jalta wishes to redefine: relationships within Jewish communities, relationships between Jews and the majority society, and relationships of Jews to other minorities.

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Rainer Kampling and Karma Ben Johanan


The Jewish-Christian dialogue has a dynamic, ongoing character, which impacts greatly not only on the relations between the two faith communities, but also on the self-reflection of each community itself (Kampling).

Considered from a political point of view, moreover, the Jewish-Christian dialogue is characterised by a structural asymmetry, which has at least three underlying reasons: (1) the numerical imbalance between Christian and Jewish communities; (2) the different ways Christianity and Judaism perceive each other; and (3) the different roles assumed by Christianity and Judaism throughout history (Ben Johanan).

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Hitler's American Countermodel

The United States and the Making of Nazi Ideology

Pavel Brunssen


The fact that the Nazis looked to the United States for inspiration has led some to claim that the US served Nazi thinkers as a “model.” This article argues instead that Nazis looked to America as a countermodel for how not to deal with the “Jewish question.” Through an intertextual analysis of visual and textual primary sources, this article demonstrates how the Nazis used America as a projection screen for developing their vision of empire and “redemptive antisemitism.” The Nazis admired the United States’ racist laws and technological development but despised Americans for ignoring the “Jewish threat.” By showing how the Nazis used the United States as a mirror for developing Nazi ideology, this article reintroduces the category of antisemitic ideology to the Historikerstreit 2.0 debate.