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Open access

Being There While Not Being There

Reflections on Multi-sited Ethnography and Field Access in the Context of Forced Migration

Laura K. McAdam-Otto and Sarah Nimführ

Multi-sited research has become a quality criterion for ethnographic research. This applies especially to studies on forced migration. Here, a site is often equated with a state, where researchers are usually required to be physically present. In this article, however, we ask: Must multi-sited research necessarily be multi-national? Do researchers have to be physically present at all sites? By discussing ethnographic material collected with forced migrants in Malta, we demonstrate that multi-sitedness is viewed in too narrow terms when site is equated with the nation-state. Adopting this approach also obscures refugees’ lived realities, their patterns of movement and their often truncated mobility. Instead, we carve out an understanding of multi-sited ethnography within one locality, introducing the concept of un-participated sites to include sites researchers are not able to physically visit. While the inaccessibility of sites is often inherent to ethnographic studies, it is all the more relevant for migration research.

Open access

Britain, Brexit and Euroscepticism

Anthropological Perspectives on Angry Politics, Technopopulism and the UK Referendum

Cris Shore

When history books about Brexit are written a key question asked will be ‘how did it happen?’ How did a country renowned for stable governments, pragmatism and diplomacy produce a chaotic outcome so harmful to its economic interests and international standing? This article examines the factors that produced Brexit by analysing its political and historical context, the main campaign groups and their communication strategies. Drawing on the work of Verdery (1999), Maskovsky and Bjork-James (2020) and other anthropologists, I suggest we need to look beyond conventional political science concepts and consider Brexit in terms of ‘enchantment’, ‘angry politics’ and ‘technopopulism’. I conclude that while Brexit provides a window for analysing fault lines in contemporary Britain, it also highlights problems in the EU, its austerity politics and democratic deficit.

Open access

Building Rapport

‘Curing’ and ‘Charming’ as Cultural Intimacy in Everyday Bureaucratic Encounters in the Northern Ireland Farming Community

Irene Ketonen-Keating

How does sharing hidden but valuable magical information help Northern Ireland (NI) Catholic and Protestant farmers build rapport? I suggest that it serves as a form of cultural intimacy by emphasising common beliefs, while downplaying possibly conflicting ethnoreligious identities. Magical practices such as ‘curing/charming’ remain common among NI farmers. It refers to asking a person with ‘the cure’ for a specific condition (such as bleeding or heart disease) to heal a sufferer. During nine months of fieldwork, conducted between 2012 and 2014, I learned that farmers, inspectors, and NGO staff often discuss ‘curing’ during their bureaucratic encounters. One person mentions a relative who is sick. The other then provides contact information for a healer with ‘the cure’ for such an ailment. Both Catholics and Protestants practice ‘curing’ in very similar forms.

Open access

Consuming and Certifying Quality

Alta Qualità and Food Choice in Italy

Lauren Crossland-Marr

This article explores the use of the term alta qualità across two third-party certification (TPC) realms. TPCs assure that foods have certain qualities such that they are sourced within a national boundary, reduce environmental damage, or promote healthy living. In Europe, many TPCs support the economically and socially significant sector of artisanal foodways. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Milan, north Italy, the article provides context to understand how, when, and why alta qualità is uttered. Relying on the pragmatic economic sociological theory of qualification, I show that alta qualità is an important way to signify that a food is good, but this does not always mean it is consumable. For those institutionalising qualities, alta qualità signifies elements of taste, marketing, and organisational structure.

Open access

Decolonising Arts and Culture in Belgium

Some clues from the Black Out media

Axel Mudahemuka Gossiaux

This contribution gives insight into the decolonisation of thought by presenting Black Out, a transmedia initiative located in the city of Liège in Belgium. Black Out is a project designed for promoting black music and culture and fighting against racism, principally through information technology and social media. I highlight how Black Out may participate in efforts for decolonising arts and culture in Belgium and Europe. To do so, I present a few contextual elements about racism and the postcolonial debate in Belgium before giving examples on how the projects of Black Out are in line with some of the driving forces of the decolonial approach.

Open access


Decolonisation Matters

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos and Livio Sansone

In 2020, Europe was the setting for several events that sparked off a broad debate on the need for the decolonisation of thought, practices, spaces, monuments and museums. Historically, several European countries have had a direct or indirect relationship with colonialism and its practices, as well as with the authoritarian ways of managing and exercising power (Cahen and Matos 2018; Cooper and Stoler 1997; Matos 2019). The need to reflect on imperial ruins (Stoler 2013) and to decolonise thought today is therefore understandable. This was not always considered urgent, however. Additionally, there was not always an opportunity for it. In the postcolonial period, debates were limited mainly to academia and, more recently, to the world of museums, where the hot issue of repatriation of artefacts and human remains that were pillaged, stolen, or abusively gathered in the Third World was initiated by the 1970 UNESCO Convention against Illicit Export under the Act to implement the Convention (the Cultural Property Implementation Act) and boosted by the successive UNESCO resolutions on repatriation (Sansone 2017; 2019).

Open access

Looking for a Space to Breathe

Decolonising Italian Cities

Elisabetta Campagni

This contribution explores two projects that have addressed urban toponymy by building counter-narratives that challenge dominant historical narratives. It does so through audio-visual materials and draws on biographies as well as intimate gazes. The first section explores the Rome-based Tezeta collective’s Harnet Streets project, where memories and family histories of subjects belonging to the Eritrean diasporas1 become the centre of a new counter-storytelling that starts from the toponymy of the African neighbourhood. The second section focuses on the city of Padova, looking at how some colonial streets have been re-appropriated by the bodies, voices and gazes of six Italian Afro-descendants who took part in a participatory video, re-signifying urban traces of colonialism in a creative way. The teaching and research experience of the Visual Research Methods Lab (University of Padova, Fall 2020) allowed us to question worldviews and social hierarchies that made it possible to celebrate/forget the racist and sexist violence of colonialism.

Open access

An Obstacle to Decolonising Europe

White Nationalism and Its Co-option of Serbian Propaganda

Jordan Kiper

While the central aim of decolonisation is undoing colonial legacies, a major obstacle is white nationalism. A new wave of transnational anti-globalist, Islamophobic, and white-grievance tropes have hybridised with local political ideologies of right-wing politics and authoritarian populists in Europe and the United States. Here, I review the cultural characteristics of this new wave of white nationalism by focusing on its co-option of Serbian nationalist propaganda from the Yugoslav Wars and shared receptivity to narratives among far-right political groups in former colonial powers. The portrait that emerges is one of cross-cultural variations on a common theme: maintaining white supremacy and actively countering ideological challenges to it. Critically, the new wave of white nationalism expands our anthropological understanding of white supremacy but also highlights the significance of white nationalism in obstructing justice initiatives that address the race crimes of colonialism. Less consensus has been reached, however, on how to counter white nationalist networks and transnational extremist propaganda. In addition to highlighting ways to counter white nationalist propaganda, I argue that decolonising Europe and achieving its envisioned relations of sociative peace will not be fully realised unless more is done to minimise the influence of white nationalism.

Open access

Alessandro Testa, Tobias Köllner, Agata Ładykowska, Simion Pop, Giuseppe Tateo, Jason Baird Jackson, Ullrich Kockel, Mairéad Nic Craith, and Viola Teisenhoffer

Milena Benovska (2021), Orthodox Revivalism in Russia: Driving Forces and Moral Quests (London: Routledge), ix + 193 pp., hbk. £120, ISBN 978036747420-1.

Tobias Köllner (2021), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Russia: Beyond the Binary of Power and Authority (London: Routledge), 165 pp., ISBN: 978-1-138-35468-5

Giuseppe Tateo (2020), Under the Sign of the Cross: The People’s Salvation Cathedral and the Church Building Industry in Postsocialist Romania, (Oxford-New York: Berghahn), 243pp., ISBN:978-1-78920-858-0, $120.00/£89.00

Tornike Metreveli (2020), Orthodox Christianity and the Politics of Transition: Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia (London: Routledge), 196 pp., $120.00, ISBN 9780367420079.

Valdimar Tr. Hafstein and Martin Skrydstrup (2020), Patrimonialities: Heritage vs. Property (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 102 pp., $20.00, ISBN 9781108928380.

Modeen, Mary and Iain Biggs (2021), Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place: Geopoetics, Deep Mapping and Slow Residencies (London: Routledge). 258pp; 71 colour illustrations; ISBN Hb 9780367545758, £120.00; ISBN ebook 9781003089773, £25.89

Samantha Walton (2020), The Living World: Nan Shepherd and Environmental Thought (London: Bloomsbury Academic) ISBN 1350153389 and 978-1-3501-5322-6, 210 pp. £90.00

Jone Salomonsen, Michael Houseman, Sarah M. Pike and Graham Hervey (eds.) (2021), Reassembling Democracy: Ritual as a Cultural Resource (London: Bloomsbury Academic), 249pp., Open Access, DOI 10.5040/9781350123045, Paperback: £28.99

Open access

Sardinian Lives Matter

Dynamics and Reactions in an Italian Internal Colony

Luca Lai and Sharon Watson

Sardinia had five centuries of independence up until the fifteenth century, and thereafter partial institutional autonomy until 1847. With its inclusion in the Italian state, Sardinia’s cultural, economic, institutional and political systems make it uniquely colonial in comparison to other ethnic/national minorities across Europe (Basque, Welsh, Catalan, etc.), leaving limited real choices for development to the locals and constraining what is seen as real and attainable for its future (Escobar 2020). This contribution demonstrates how Sardinia is an internal colony of Italy. We provide examples of decolonisation initiatives and provoke further interrogation on the ways in which the Black Lives Matter movement (and other efforts) are sustaining alternative visions for Sardinians’ political, economic, cultural and social future.