This article looks at the everyday security practices of local residents in violent local orders, where capacities and strategies of state and non-state armed actors to produce regularity and stability are weak and contested. It discusses the case of gang-controlled neighborhoods in the metropolitan area of Greater San Salvador, El Salvador, in the years 2017–2018, when security “provision” of armed state and nonstate actors was weak and contested, and as a result civilians mostly took care of themselves. The article analyzes the main characteristics of local violent orders, the insecurity experiences of local residents, and the everyday practices of local residents to deal with these circumstances. It argues that in neighborhoods where security provision by state and non-state actors is weak and contested, everyday security practices of local residents are key to understanding the functioning and reproduction of the local forms of “disordered order.
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Chris van der Borgh
Everyone’s an artist?
Class, precarity, and the distribution of creative labor
This article examines the endurance of traditional class labels among precarious workers in post-recession Dublin. It argues that tensions remain between creatives and non-creatives due to: (1) divergent class concepts, (2) a lack of social engagement, and (3) unequal access to economic, social, and cultural capital, which creatives mobilize to protect some highly vocational artistic labor. It is thus not a shared experience of the same kind of precarious exploitation that unites the precariat but a trap held in common, whereby self-actualization through labor is construed as a route to freedom. Drawing on Karl Marx’s theory of emancipation, I suggest that attempts to redress precarization should focus on undermining this encroachment of work into life, which I argue results in exploitation and alienation for all precarious workers.
A mutable space
Identity in the ruins of a polyethnic town camp, Outback Australia
As that which troubles simplistic binaries, ruins provide an entry point for scholars to conceptualize time, space, and identity as multiple, fragmented, and mutable. Th is article contributes to these studies by interrogating Australian settler-colonial time-space narratives (chronotopes) of White dominance through engagement with counter-narratives of mutable materialities and identities. Through ethnography of a commemorative event in a rural Australian town, I show how peoples of mixed Aboriginal and Asian descent negotiated racialized ruins to reassert narrative agency. I argue narratives of identity—when reremembered through spatial understandings of multiple community membership, re-lived through embodied experiences, and re-collected through affective engagement with ruins—create a mutable space to disrupt settler-colonial chronotopes, revealing narratives of hybrid, polyethnic, and polyracial belongings in Australia.
The shift in China’s national economy from industrial manufacturing to technology and IT has placed constraints on the lives of rural-to-urban male migrant workers from the lower social strata. As the pace of out-migration in China slows, male rural returnees are harnessing self-reliant masculinities to reclaim status and heighten a sense of collective pride in and affiliation with their natal village. Centering on two ethnographic case studies of Dong ethnic minority male rural returnees in the autonomous district of Guizhou Province, the analysis in this article contributes to critique on the recent unfolding of the state-led “crisis of masculinity” to highlight the wider socioeconomic conditions that continue to deepen the inequalities and felt anxieties of male rural returnees.
“While it lasts”
Strategizing with precarity in internationally funded project labor in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nejra Nuna Čengić
This article traces transformations of labor through an exploration of a relatively new employment sector in supervised postsocialist, postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where internationally funded, temporary, project-based contracts are the rule. Focusing on atypical white-collar precarious workers who have strung together 10 to 25 years on successive short projects in IGOs and NGOs in Sarajevo (under the umbrella of democratization, peacebuilding and EU integration agendas), I investigate their ways of strategizing to accumulate such continuity through cultivation of three kinds of assets: sector-specific competences, favorable positionality, and a disposition of optimism. I argue that their “successful” strategizing, generally in line with neoliberal rationality and mainly developed within this sector, is facilitated by similar structural conditions of overall precarity, temporariness and provisionality in wider BiH society.
Black as Drought
Arid Landscapes and Ecologies of Encounter across the African Diaspora
In the poem “ca'line's prayer,” Lucille Clifton marks the progression of Black generational memory through the metaphor of drought. The poem's 1969 publication coincided with one of the worst droughts in modern history. Across the West African Sahel late rains and the onset of famine led to widespread death and displacement. Starting from this conjunctural moment in the late 1960s and using Clifton's provocation about the “Blackness” of drought, this article contemplates representations of arid environments in African and Afro-diasporic texts. I consider various imaginings of arid spaces, presented simultaneously as wasteland and homeland. Surveying critical scholarship on the Sahelian drought, I interrogate the contested meanings of Black life and death in deserts. I also consider the contemporary resonances of these themes, engaging African eco-critical and Afro/Africanfuturists texts. I show how these portrayals of actual and imagined deserts reveal alternate modes of encounter forged through Black/African ecological thought.
Alex A. Moulton and Inge Salo
Black geographies and Black ecologies are epistemological frameworks that attend to the ideological, philosophical, and material portent of Black movements in dialectical, but not deterministic, relationships with the geographies and environments of Black life and struggle. This article reviews the Black geographies and Black ecologies literature, showing the convergence of these bodies of scholarship around themes of racial, spatial, and ecological justice. The thematic, methodological, and analytical overlaps between Black geographies and Black ecologies are quite apropos for understanding the current realities faced by Black racial-spatial-ecological justice movements; for clarifying the geographies, histories, and ecologies of Black transformation, flourishing, and everyday resistance; and for explicating how global environmental crises are rooted in racial capitalism and regimes of racialization (a sociopolitical crisis).
Black Placemaking under Environmental Stressors
Dryland Farming in the Arid Black Pacific, 1890–1930
Maya L. Shamsid-Deen and Jayson M. Porter
Dry farming, or techniques of cultivating crops in regions with domineering dry seasons, was central to Black agricultural life across the Black diaspora, but especially in the Black Pacific. Ecologically, the Black diaspora transformed semi-arid ecosystems in both the Atlantic and Pacific. However, there is a dearth of Black narratives that draw on the ecological and botanical relationships held with the land. Through a collaborative botanical and historical approach that blends historical ecology and botany, we evaluate how Black placemaking occurred despite arid climatic stressors and as a result of ecological and cultural knowledge systems. Highlighting Black agricultural life in Costa Chica, Mexico and Blackdom, New Mexico, we argue that people and plants made cimarronaje (or collective and situated Black placemaking) possible in the Western coasts and deserts of Mexico and New Mexico through botanical knowledge systems of retaining water and cultivating a life in water-scarce environments.
Amani C. Morrison
Affordance theory, originating in ecological psychology but adopted by the field of design studies, refers to possibilities for action that a subject perceives in an environment. I posit Black spatial affordance, critically employing affordances with an eye toward Black ecological and geographical practices, and I apply it to the Great Migration residential landscape and literature. Grounded in racial capitalist critique, Black geographic thought, and cultural critique at the intersections of race, place, and performance, Black spatial affordance works as an analytic to engage Black quotidian practice in racially circumscribed and delineated places and spaces. Operating at multiple scales, Black spatial affordance engages the specificity of places structured by racism to analyze the micro-level spatial negotiations Black subjects devise and employ in recognition of the terrain through which they move or are emplaced. Employing Black spatial affordance enables critical inquiry into the spatial navigation of subjects who occupy marginal positions in society.
Adwaita Banerjee, Emma Banks, Julie Brugger, Maya Daurio, Florence Durney, Wendi A. Haugh, Lisa Hiwasaki, David M. Hoffman, Raka Sen, David Stentiford, and Weronika Tomczyk
Stoekl, Allan. 2021. The Three Sustainabilities: Energy, Economy, Time. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 307 pp. ISBN 978-1517908188.
Carrasco, Anita. 2020. Embracing the Anaconda: A Chronicle of Atacameño Life and Mining in the Andes. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. 182 pp. ISBN 978-1498575157.
Sullivan, Kathleen M., and James H. McDonald, eds. 2020. Public Lands in the Western US: Place and Politics in the Clash between Public and Private. 226 pp. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. ISBN 978-1793637062.
Hirsch, Shana Lee. 2020. Anticipating Future Environments: Climate Change, Adaptive Restoration, and the Columbia River Basin. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 232 pp. ISBN 978-0295747293.
O'Gorman, Emily. 2021. Wetlands in a Dry Land: More-Than-Human-Histories of the Murray–Darling Basin. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-295-74915-0.
Styles, Megan. 2019. Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 232 pp. ISBN 978-0-295-74650-0.
Boyce, James K. 2019. The Case for Carbon Dividends. Medford, MA: Polity Press. 140 pp. ISBN 978-1-5095-2655-0.
Rahder, Micha. 2020. An Ecology of Knowledges: Fear, Love, and Technoscience in Guatemalan Conservation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 316 pp. ISBN 978-1-4780-0691-6.
Lewis, Simon L., and Mark A. Maslin. 2018. The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 496 pp. ISBN 978-0-241-28088-1.
Braverman, Irus, and Elizabeth R. Johnson, eds. 2020. Blue Legalities: The Life & Laws of the Sea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 342 pp. ISBN 978-1-4780-0654-1.
Chaney, Robert. 2020. The Grizzly in the Driveway: The Return of Bears to a Crowded American West. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 288 pp. ISBN 978-0-295-74793-4.