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Open access

Biopolitical Leviathan

Understanding State Power in the Era of COVID-19 through the Weberian-Foucauldian Theory of the State

Lars Erik Løvaas Gjerde


The coronavirus pandemic made the biopolitics of infection control the core object of states around the world. Globally, states governed spheres usually free of state control, implementing various restrictions, closing down society in the process. This is possible due to the state's capacities to act through and over society, grounded in the state's powers. I argue that while the pandemic has led to useful and interesting state-centric Foucauldian literature on the politics of COVID-19, this literature has not fully taken the theoretical lessons of the pandemic into account. Explicating these lessons, I discuss how the pandemic invites us to reconsider the Foucauldian approach to the state. The purpose of this article is to combine the Foucauldian theory of power with a Weberian state theory based on Michael Mann's work on the state and the sources of power, so to lay the foundations for a Weberian-Foucauldian theory of the state.

Open access

Review Essay

Lives, Works, and Conversations in Economic Anthropology

Chris Hann

Scott Cook, Exploring Commodities. An Anthropologist on the Trails of Malinowski and Traven in Mexico. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 246. 2021.

Stephen Gudeman, Enlightening Encounters. The Journeys of an Anthropologist. New York: Berghahn, pp. 144. 2022.

Keith Hart, Self in the World. Connecting Life's Extremes. New York: Berghahn, pp. 314. 2022.

Open access

Decisiveness in Domestic Public Policies

Case Studies of Israeli Gas Field Development and COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Artur Skorek


Constructivists in the field of International Relations assume that states not only seek to ensure their physical security but also try to secure their identities by maintaining durable behavioral patterns in their relations with other actors. The dominant identity of the Israeli state is associated with policies characterized by resoluteness and decisiveness. This article argues that this state identity also manifests itself in the domestic sphere and presents case studies of two such manifestations. The first pertains to the development of Israeli offshore gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean while the second deals with the country's COVID-19 pandemic containment strategy. The two cases are similar in the decisive and extraordinary character of the measures that the government attempted to use. At the same time, in the first case study this attempt was mostly unsuccessful and only in the second case the decisive stance was effectively implemented.

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Digital Humanities—Ways Forward; Future Challenges

Honoring David Kammerling Smith and the Digital Public Sphere; Acceleration?; Digital Humanities for the People(?); Infrastructure as Privilege; Computation, Cultures, and Communities; Digital Humanities and Generational Shift

Sally Debra Charnow, Jeff Horn, Jeffrey S. Ravel, Cindy Ermus, David Joseph Wrisley, Christy Pichichero, and David Kammerling Smith


Have digital tools and methods accelerated the rate of scholarly production over the last 20 years? If so, has this acceleration been beneficial for scholarship? This article considers examples of accelerated historical scholarship as well as calls for a “slow history.” Through an analysis of the author's own experiences with the digital humanities, it examines the advantages and disadvantages of digital technologies in the field of history. It concludes that online resources and digital technologies have expanded the archive for the historian and created new ways to reach other specialists and the general public. Nevertheless, historical scholarship must still rely on carefully crafted, well-argued prose whose production cannot be accelerated by new digital technologies, although recent developments in the field of artificial intelligence may ultimately challenge this situation.

In recent decades, the field (or, at times, discipline) of digital humanities (DH) has revolutionized the scholarly profession and beyond—and with good reason. Seen at times as a democratizing force, DH has led to the creation of an increasing number of open- access databases and scholarly publications, the launching of massive archival digitization initiatives, and the development of numerous digital tools that help streamline the work of the academic researcher, student, and educator. In many ways, then, its benefits are manifest. Yet, recent years have also begun to reveal numerous problems that could influence various aspects of our trade as well as what—and how—information will be available in the future. This article discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of DH and invites the reader to reflect on what we can do to help mitigate these problems.

Exciting new modes of digital scholarship have emerged in recent years, providing us with expanded windows onto the past. This process has been accelerated by somewhat democratized ways of digitizing and analyzing source material. A main issue of contemporary knowledge production using digitized sources is how power can so easily be reinscribed into access to archives. The choice to digitize collections, even the existence of collections themselves, creates a great opportunity for research but also runs the risk of reinforcing the privilege and worldviews that have shaped and continue to shape the very processes of digitization and digitalization. Drawing on examples of Western and non-Western digital scholarship, this article argues that, although the digital facilitates greater public knowledge of collections, when it comes to decolonizing our research subjects, it also introduces significant layers of complexity.

This article advances an analysis of the development and state of critical digital humanities. It posits two modalities for this approach to digital humanities (DH). The first is a modality of inward-looking, functional self-critique that comprises a rethinking of computational genesis stories, logics and methods, institutions and infrastructures, and digital capitalism, and the second is an outward-looking critique best understood as a form of situated sociopolitical engagement that embraces epistemic and social justice projects that are decolonial, anti-racist, inclusive, collaborative, and multilingual. Through these analyses, the article offers a vision of critical digital humanities in its mission to critique the ideologies, social inequities, and epistemological hierarchies that are built into technological products and computational logics and that are concomitantly fostered by knowledge- creation industries of universities, corporations, governments, and the GLAM[R] sector. In this way, the article shows how critical digital humanities helps us to envision the role that DH can play in processes of recovery, reparations, emancipation, and community-building.

Drawing upon over 20 years as Editor-in-Chief of H-France, I argue that the scholarly profession, established in Cold War era, pre-digital institutions, has only begun to adapt to the transformations introduced by the global digital humanities. A generational shift is currently underway as younger scholars more natively adept with digital technologies use their skills and forms of new media to press for changes in hiring and tenure practices, to demand greater progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues, and to insist that the academy confront the collapse of academic positions in the humanities and provide training for and recognition of alternative career paths. I call upon professional organizations to undertake difficult conversations and take leadership in reshaping professional organizations for a post–Cold War, digital age, especially in terms of funding priorities. Scholarly organizations will best gain influence through collaboration.

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Legacies of Leadership

Assessing Angela Merkel's Role in Foreign Relations and the European Union through a Gender-Sensitive Lens

Christiane Lemke


Leaving office after 16 years as German chancellor, Angela Merkel has multifold and complex legacies. While Merkel's leadership style has frequently been described as cautious in domestic politics, her role in international relations is often characterized as that of an active defender of liberal international norms and values. Yet she was also responsible for some of the most controversial decisions regarding Europe, often raising questions about Germany's commitments and goals. This article explores her foreign policy and her role in the European Union through a gender-sensitive lens. It examines the scope and significance of her leadership based on three case studies to allow for a differentiated analysis: the Eurozone crisis, the migrant crisis, and the COVID-19 crisis.

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Pandemic Politics in the Federal Republic

A Familiar Pattern?

David F. Patton


This article assesses the distinctiveness of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on German party politics. To do so, it compares and contrasts the politics of the pandemic with those of four other historic crises—the catastrophic flooding of August 2002; the 2008–2009 global financial crisis; the European Union's sovereign debt crisis; and the refugee influx of 2015–2016. It examines the extent of a “rally-round-the flag” effect; how political parties framed the crisis in terms of solidarity; and the impact of retrospective assessment and voting on crisis management. The article finds that the political consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the whole resembled past patterns, notwithstanding the unprecedent nature of the 2020–2021 crisis.

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Tracking and Tracing in Israel during COVID-19

Balancing between the Need to Protect Public Health and Individual Right to Privacy

Raphael Cohen-Almagor and Eldar Haber


In March 2020, the Israeli government decided that its internal security agency may collect, process, and use technological information measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19. This was done by tracking the cellphones of those who may have contracted the virus, along with obtaining details on those who were in proximity for more than fifteen minutes and fourteen days prior to the positive outcome of those traced. The article discusses the controversial track and trace measure and proposes an alternative model of using tracing technology, considering the obligation to preserve human life and the right to individual privacy among other rights and liberties. It is argued that measures infringing on the right to privacy must be effectively restricted in time and meet standards of necessity, proportionality, and scientific validity, as required by constitutional standards. The government needs to balance the right to health against the right to privacy.

Open access


Living the Dream or Surviving a Nightmare?

Cody Rodriguez


As an early piece of digital ethnographic work, this article aims to convey an ambience for full-time vanlifers who are supposedly ‘living the dream’ in Europe. A reflection of the causes and developments of the #vanlife movement sets the foundation for discussing overregulation of restrictions on vanlifers in England, which is juxtaposed to the joy of thriving nomadically in continental Europe. The resulting discussions reveal that for some members of the vanlife community, this alternative lifestyle is embraced to attain their own sense of personal autonomy, ontological security and overall higher quality of life in a neoliberal late-stage capitalistic society that has left far too many people alienated and struggling to survive the nightmare of economic uncertainty.

Open access

Affective Cartographies of Collective Blame

Mediating Citizen–State Relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Susanna Trnka and L. L. Wynn


In both Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia, COVID-19 lockdowns were enforced through public scrutiny of the movements of supposedly ‘irresponsible’ individuals. Denouncing their impact on public health created an affective cartography of collective blame uniting State and society in shared moral indignation. Produced through assemblages of mainstream and social media and government statements, such mediated spectacles engendered a sense of collective unity and shared purpose at a time when both collective cohesion and narratives of individual responsibility were of particular interest to the State. Spatio-temporal maps and diagrams of culpable contagion helped materialise the invisible movement of the virus but also enabled identification of the sick. Some bodies more than others were made to carry the morality of the collective enterprise of stopping the virus.

Open access

‘Anthropological Enough?’

Reflections on Methodology, Challenges of Doing Fieldwork ‘At Home’ and Building a More Inclusive Discipline

Ryan I. Logan, Laura Kihlström, and Kanan Mehta


In this article, we discuss how fieldwork completed ‘at home’ in the USA presented challenges and resulted in our work being considered not ‘anthropological enough’. Centring our article around our individual projects for which primary data collection was completed prior to COVID-19, we explore a variety of issues related to methodology and structural constraints we experienced as graduate students in anthropology and now as junior scholars. Drawing on our experiences conducting research in the USA, we posit how anthropology might move forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and foster a more inclusive discipline. By challenging the notion of ‘anthropological enough’, we reimagine ways of conducting anthropology that are better suited for increasingly uncertain times, which call for collaborations rooted in social justice.