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Open access

Saana Hansen

Abstract

This article considers how the image of a caring state is both performed and contested by the actual workings of Zimbabwe's volunteer community case workers (CCWs). According to their policy mandate, the volunteers’ commitment to registering ‘the vulnerable’ and mobilising them for different welfare project purposes is based on an assumed affective closeness to their communities. Ethnographic investigation also identifies community-level care work as an affectively and economically charged field, where the CCWs navigate conflicting expectations and utilise their connectedness to other welfare providers to sustain life. As diversely situated, community-level, caring bureaucrats, they also assist their ‘cases’ to construct claims of vulnerability that fit the narrow categories of welfare organisations, recognising and addressing forms of vulnerability that go beyond such definitions from the outside. In such processes, the credibility of both welfare institutions and CCWs is challenged and reproduced.

Open access

Danielle M. Purifoy

Abstract

This article examines the contemporary timber industry as a reproduction of plantation power via remote control, which occurs through absentee landowners, Black family land grabs, new markets for energy, and legal regimes designed to “devalue” common property in favor of individual ownership and profit-seeking productivity. Multi-generation Black homeplaces and communities possess alternative modes of land relations to sustain themselves despite the friction between the economic interests forced by racial capitalism and the ecological interests arising from long-standing forest interdependence. With the Alabama Black Belt and the larger US South experiencing expansion of concentrated forestland ownership and local divestment, most recently through the rise of the biomass industry, the reciprocal traditions of Black forest traditions represent modes of land relation and intervention that are necessary for livable futures.

Open access

Andrea García-González, Siobhan Magee, Bruce O'Neill, and Anja Zlatović

Alessandra Gribaldo (2021), Unexpected Subjects: Intimate Partner Violence, Testimony, and the Law (Chicago: Hau Books), 148 pp., $20, ISBN: 9781912808304.

Agnieszka Kościańska (2021), To See a Moose: The History of Polish Sex Education (New York: Berghahn).

Andrea Matošević (2021), Almost, but Not Quite Bored in Pula: An Anthropological Study of the Tapija Phenomenon in Northwest Croatia (Oxford: Berghahn Books).

Aleksandra Pavićević (2021), Funerary Practices in Serbia (Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited), 200 pp., ISBN 978-1787691827.

Open access

Seeing Fidel in the Sky

Unruly Affects in the Making of the State in Rural Cuba

Marie Aureille

Abstract

In July 2017, local leaders interrupted their conversations after a long working day at the sight of a cloud that looked like Fidel Castro. This fleeting vision plunged them into a genuine and lasting joy, far from the hypocrisy and cynicism attributed to revolutionary elites since the crisis of the 1990s. Following the role of affects and emotions in the daily work of bureaucrats and in their interactions with farmers, I argue that affects play a pivotal role in producing what Timothy Mitchell calls the ‘state effect’ by fueling the boundary work that sustains the distinction between state and society in Cuba. I show how affects articulate registers of self-sacrifice and reciprocity which have been mediating relationships with El Estado since the beginning of the revolution.

Open access

A State of Relief

Feelings, Affect and Emotions in Instantiating the Malawi State in Disaster Relief

Tanja D. Hendriks

Abstract

Studies of bureaucrats and bureaucracy have contributed to our understanding of the social production of indifference (). However, in this article, I argue that this focus obscures the centrality of feelings, affect and emotions in their everyday functioning. Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in Malawi with civil servants of the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, I show empirically how they did not—nor did they strive to—appear indifferent. Rather, feelings, affect and emotions shaped the ways in which they allocated assistance and instantiated the state in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. Despite its general material constraints, these relief interventions enabled the Malawi state to be present and provide resources to some of its citizens, constituting (it as) a state of relief.

Open access

States of Feeling

Public Servants’ Affective and Emotional Entanglements in the Making of the State

Sophie Andreetta, Luisa Enria, Pauline Jarroux, and Susanne Verheul

Abstract

With the affective turn, scholars pay increased attention to the emotional dimensions of everyday life. This special issue builds on this work through an explicit focus on bureaucracies to show what a more sustained attention to affects and emotions can bring to the study of the state, both as an apparatus and as an image. Contributions highlight the importance of ethnographically studying the affective relations and emotional engagements of public servants to understand how representations and practices of the state are brought together in often intangible, sometimes unspoken, but nonetheless powerful ways. In this Introduction we situate our wider contribution and the individual articles in debates about the social lives of the state and the daily practices of public servants. We postulate how affective intensities give rise to particular political imaginations and subjectivities, and we reflect on ethnography's unique position within the study of emotions and affects in political anthropology.

Open access

‘To the Extremes of Asian Sensibility’

Balinese Performances at the 1931 International Colonial Exhibition

Juliana Coelho de Souza Ladeira

Abstract

This article proposes a comprehensive and detailed approach to the reception of the Balinese performances and the performers’ stay at the International Colonial Exhibition of 1931, held in Vincennes, France. Thus, it analyses French sources, such as the daily press, specialised and literary magazines, photographs, films and sound recordings. As one of the most acknowledged attractions of the Exhibition, the Balinese group appeared extensively in the press. This ensemble of documents allowed us to understand that their performances’ favourable reception contributed considerably to creating a positive impression of Dutch colonisation and the progressive inclusion of Bali in the world's cartography.

Open access

Indulata Prasad

Abstract

The caste system has implications for the environmental experiences of Dalits (formerly “untouchables”). Dalits are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters and climate change because of their high dependence on natural resources and manual labor, including agriculture. Dalit viewpoints and ecological expertise nevertheless remain missing from the environmental literature and mainstream activism. Aligning with Black ecologies as a challenge to eco-racism, I use the term “Dalit ecologies” to conceptualize Dalit articulations with their environment and experiences of eco-casteism involving inequities such as their exclusions from natural resources and high vulnerability to pollution and waste. My analysis of scholarly literature finds that nature is caste-ized through the ideology of Hindu Brahminism that animates mainstream environmental activism in India. Dalit subjectivities and agency nevertheless remain evident in their literary and oral narratives and ongoing struggles for access to land, water, and other environmental resources.

Open access

We All We Got

Urban Black Ecologies of Care and Mutual Aid

Ashanté M. Reese and Symone A. Johnson

Abstract

Urban ecologies are fraught with inequities, often resulting in humanitarian or charity solutions that emphasize lack rather than communities’ self-determination. While these inequities have been widely documented, the COVID-19 pandemic further reveals how these crises are not the sum result of individual failures. Rather, they are systemically produced through policies that harm people. How do Black urban residents contend with the sociohistorical antagonisms between feelings of scarcity (e.g., food and housing insecurity, underemployment, and financial strain) and aspirations for abundance? Using ethnographic encounters in Chicago and Austin we consider how practices of mutual aid are meaningful both spatially and affectively. First, we explore how mutual aid transforms “decaying” urban spaces to meet residents’ needs. Second, we explore felt experiences of mutuality in social relationships as distinct from authoritarian, charity-based relationality. Thinking these spatial and affective dimensions collectively, we work toward a framework of Black ecologies of care and mutual aid.

Open access

Adapting to Crisis

Migration Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aydan Greatrick, Jumana Al-Waeli, Hannah Sender, Susanna Corona Maioli, Jin L. Li, and Ellen Goodwin

Abstract

This article draws on our experiences of carrying out PhD research on migration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all involved with the University College London Migration Research Unit (MRU), and our PhD research explores the lived experiences of migrants and people affected by migration. This is the first of two articles in this issue of Migration and Society addressing the implications of COVID-19 on migration research from the perspective of postgraduate researchers. In this article, we firstly reflect on how “crises,” including the COVID-19 pandemic, inevitably shape contexts of migration research. We then share how COVID-19 has shaped our relationship to “the field” and our formal research institutions. Finally, we share how we have adapted our methodologies in response to COVID-19 and, considering the complex ethical and practical challenges posed by this context, reflect on what it means to make methodological “adaptations” in times of overlapping crises.