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Open access

Affective relatedness, temporalities, and the politics of care in a medical South-South partnership

The Cuban mission in Brazil

Maria Lidola


For more than 50 years, Cuba has been one of the most important players in the field of international medical care in the Global South. Between 2013 and 2018, Cuba sent nearly 18,000 Cuban health professionals to Brazil within the framework of the More Doctors Program to assist during the Brazilian public health care system's state of emergency. This article focuses on local encounters and emergent socialities between Cuban physicians and Brazilian patients and medical staff. Their sensitive moments of interaction—with their embodied, emplaced, and political dimensions of past and present—hold the possibility of a fragile intersubjectivity that creates its own temporal and affective dynamics, undermining, for a moment, the prevalent care regimes.

Open access

After the boom

Petro-politics and the fate of revolution in Venezuela

Aaron Kappeler

Matthew Wilde, A blessing and a curse: Oil, politics, and morality in Venezuela. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023.

Mariya Ivancheva, The alternative university: Lessons from Bolivarian Venezuela. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2023.

Open access

Along the twilights of care

Continuities of technomoral politics in São Paulo's pro-migrant activism

Heike Drotbohm


This article explores central dimensions of different forms of asymmetric care that fall between the competences of overlapping civil society organizations. Based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, the article follows migrants arriving and integrating across different nodes of reception, including church-based NGOs, humanitarian organizations, and activist housing projects. Overlaps between these different forms of reception, care, and control do not arise only when migrants refer to different organizational structures. Instead, numerous formal and organizational similarities complicate a clear separation of these domains of asymmetric care. By concentrating on incidents when the encounters between migrant activists and Brazilian activists are disturbed, this article traces the mutual irritation of differently positioned actors, who calibrate their moral claims and produce new understandings of “worthiness.”

Open access

The “awkwardnesses” of aid and exchange

Food cooperative practices in austerity Britain

Celia Plender


Self-help and mutual aid have been at the heart of the consumer cooperative movement and its response to food insecurity since its inception. Yet how these terms are conceptualized and practiced in contemporary food co-ops often has more to do with their individual histories, ideologies, and the values of those involved than it does the history of the cooperative movement. Drawing on ethnographic examples from two London-based food co-ops with different backgrounds, this article explores how each enacts ideals of aid and exchange. It argues that the context of austerity creates “awkwardnesses” between and within personal values and organizational structures in the face of inequality, leading to blurred boundaries between different models of aid and exchange and the forms of moral accounting that these entail.

Open access

Care as political revolution?

Miriam Ticktin


This afterword discusses the three articles in the theme section “Affective regimes of care beyond humanitarian crisis,” suggesting that they offer us important ethnographies that each pry open and reevaluate the nature of care, including its political potential. Building on how these alternative forms shift the meaning and practice of care, but focusing on the one structuring hierarchy of humanitarianism left intact—racism—I end by briefly discussing the more radical politics of care being articulated by The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) to show how politics and care are being combined to create revolutionary political platforms.

Open access

Disappointment and awkwardness as ugly feelings

Humanitarian affect in a “Global East”

Čarna Brković


 What does transnational humanitarianism look like when considered from the perspective of a “Global East”? Ethnographically studying the disappointment and awkwardness generated by two transnational humanitarian projects illuminates a sense of suspended agency among Montenegrin citizens that was developed after the end of the Cold War. Montenegrins are often simultaneously included in the racialized and class-based humanitarian discourses of the Global North and excluded from actual participation in transnational humanitarian projects due to structural constraints. The article suggests that suspended agency emerges when there is both a sense of belonging to a certain humanitarian endeavor that should enable particular kinds of action (e.g., transnational humanitarianism) and a lack of infrastructure capable of sustaining such a sense.

Open access

“God's Mighty Arm Makes the French Victorious”

The French Revolutionary Deists Who Believed in Miracles

Joseph Waligore


The deists have commonly been characterized as irreligious thinkers who believed in a distant and inactive deity. This characterization of deism is undermined by the large number of French Revolutionary deists who believed that God worked miracles. Some French Revolutionary deists claimed that God continually led the French armies to victory, while others said that God worked a single miracle. After eliminating the French Revolutionaries who were following the party line when Maximilien Robespierre was in power, there were 72 French Revolutionary deists who believed God worked miracles to help the French Revolution. The French Revolutionary deists shared a common theology with the earlier deists, and many earlier deists also believed that God worked miracles. The Enlightenment deists were much more religious than commonly thought.

Open access

Planning, state building, and the days after in Palestine

Kareem Rabie


Drawn from ethnographic fieldwork and documentary research, this article examines three shifts in national-scale planning in Palestine. In the period after the Oslo accords, Palestinian planners were tasked with the responsibility to create formal structures of governance and build for a future, eventual state there. Through that process and especially after the second intifada, national planning came to focus almost exclusively on market openness, privatization, and capitalistic development as part of a state and economy building project. Increasingly since 2015, planners have attempted to re-take some kind of formal authority. This article argues that such regimes show how Palestine is increasingly crafted at the state-scale as a node in wider global political economies in order to ostensibly stabilize the political situation, and in ways that have wide consequences for Palestine.

Open access

The proxy war in Ukraine

History, political economy, and representations

Chris Hann, Volodymyr Ishchenko, and Denys Gorbach

Overwhelming empathy with all the civilians and conscripts who have suffered from the ongoing violence in Ukraine, which began years before the Russian invasion of February 2022, must be complemented by analysis and explanation. What can anthropologists contribute? I have been disappointed by one-sided accounts endorsing the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky and the cause of the Ukrainian nation that have dominated in the Western mass media and anglophone academic work, including that of anthropologists. From an anthropological perspective, to invoke international law and sacralize political sovereignty is inadequate (Hann 2023; ). Instead, we need to scrutinize the complex history of the Ukrainian nation, which is being consummated through the present violence. We need to recognize that Zelensky heads an Atlanticist, market-oriented, nationalist regime of dubious legitimacy. This critical stance does not mean deference to the Kremlin in the spirit of the “realist school” of international relations. It does mean recalling that as late as autumn 2021 President Vladimir Putin was putting forward proposals for a peaceful resolution of the crisis brought about by Western geopolitical and economic ambitions since the end of the Cold War. For the Russian political classes (not just for Putin and his oligarchical allies), when it came to NATO expansion Ukraine was a unique red line. However, too many interest groups in Washington as well as in Kyiv actually wanted the war that began in February 2022 (though this could not be declared publicly).

Open access

Rethinking affects of care through power

An introduction

Heike Drotbohm and Hansjörg Dilger


This introduction outlines the contemporary emergence of new forms of informal crisis-related care, which both complement and contradict classical forms of humanitarian assistance. The introduction traces the spread, blurring, and differentiation of novel forms of non-state assistance and support against the backdrop of increasingly widespread criticism of large-scale international aid. Tackling regimes of care beyond the exceptionality of a crisis notion, the introduction then summarizes how the three contributions and the commentary to this theme section employ the lens of affect for exploring how these highly intersubjective forms of encounter are experienced, performed, and reflected on.