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Open access

Not-Russians on TV

Class, Comedy, and the Peculiarities of East European Otherness on 2 Broke Girls

Erica L. Fraser

Abstract

This article discusses portrayals of a Ukrainian and a Polish character on the US sitcom 2 Broke Girls (2011–2017). The pilot episode reveals that the showrunners used stereotypes of Russian characters to establish different national origins for Oleg and Sophie. The show perpetuates offensive stereotypes of Slavic and postsocialist characters to elide differences from Russians but with notable distinctions—stemming from Oleg and Sophie's economic backgrounds in the struggling postsocialist economies of the 1990s. American television has produced many comedic characters from the European margins (Greek, Czech, Ukrainian, Polish, Latvian, or from invented but East European-coded lands) who were understood as chaotic but loveable. Crucially, however, they were not Russian. From the late Cold War through the 2010s, Russianness onscreen seems to consistently signal dishonesty, danger, or hopelessness for Western audiences. This suggests that while stereotypes persist, in comedy, at least, showrunners use East Europeans to support, not threaten, American characters, further othering Russianness.

Open access

The Romanovs on Contemporary American TV

Nostalgia for White Imperialism

Katharina Wiedlack

Abstract

This article analyzes the Netflix six-part docudrama The Last Czars as well as the Amazon Prime anthology drama The Romanoffs for its representations of Russian imperial history and its heritage. Using an intersectional lens, it utilizes a close watching of the TV shows to identify a nostalgia for Russia's imperial legacy as core element of both series. Embedding the findings within popular culture, the analysis further shows that the nostalgic depiction of the last Russian imperial family and the mourning of their loss has a century-long history within American media. Comparing these depictions further to recent commemorations of the last Romanovs through the exhibitions Russia My History points to the Western complicity in Russian imperialist and colonial ideology through the recent shows in liberal American media.

Open access

Achieving good science

The integrity of scientific institutions

Jeannette Pols, Amade M'charek, Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent, and Jonna Brenninkmeijer

Abstract

There are worries about the quality of scientific research, the validity of the knowledge it produces and the integrity of academics. What is lacking in the debate is what scientists have to say and what they do to create and safeguard what they see as ‘good science’. Using Dutch academia as a case, we show that the academics’ understandings of scientific practice differ in vital ways from those of policy makers. Policy maker's understanding of academia as a competitive marketplace to foster innovative research disturbs the everyday ethics and creativity of scientific work according to the scientists, who see academia as a collective practice aimed at understanding the world in which tradition and innovation have to find a balance. We conclude that this misunderstanding and its consequences do more to damage research integrity than fraudulent activities of individual researchers.

Open access

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

The Cuban mission in Brazil

Maria Lidola

Abstract

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

Afterword: From Number Politics to Infrastructure Politics

Notes on Context and Methods

Stefania Milan

Abstract

Data infrastructures are the scaffolding of the present. This afterword centres on this claim by broadening the question that animates the special issue – what does lived data politics look like? – to the question of ‘where’ it is taking place today. It extends the gaze to the systemic transformation subtending contemporary data production, which I term ‘governance by data infrastructure.’ This pervasive form of number politics represents the most recent rearrangement in matters of governance of the social. It centers regulatory data infrastructures as the preferred mode of managing complexity, bringing the industry to the kernel of the state. Furthermore, the article asks what it means to think from an anthropological vantage point considering these developments, and what fruitful methodological avenues for research this may open.

Open access

Along the twilights of care

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

Heike Drotbohm

Abstract

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

Avoidable Deaths in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Quantifying Responsibility in Brazil

Alexandre de Paiva Rio Camargo and Eugênia Motta

Abstract

Since March 2020, a huge quantity of data, rankings, charts and tables has been informing the ways we speak and act in the pandemic. This article focusses on the centrality of numbers in a major national controversy: the quantification of avoidable deaths by COVID-19. Launched by scientists who first addressed the omissions of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro in the management of the pandemic, estimations of avoidable deaths rapidly transitioned into the political arena with the installation of a parliamentary enquiry committee on the coronavirus crisis. The article examines the emergence and development of these estimates, as well as the role they have played and continue to play in constructing the pandemic as passed as they vie for a place in the memory of the COVID-19 crisis in the present.

Open access

The “awkwardnesses” of aid and exchange

Food cooperative practices in austerity Britain

Celia Plender

Abstract

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

Belonging in the “Big Picture”

(In)authentic Recognition of Wounded Veterans in Denmark

Eva G. Krause, Jan Christensen, and Mette N. Svendsen

What makes recognition of veterans “authentic,” and how does authentic recognition shape and establish “war veteranship” among wounded veterans? Through ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, this article explores how Danish wounded veterans experience and evaluate official recognition ceremonies. We demonstrate that recognition ceremonies alone do not establish effective recognition. Rather, for recognition to be perceived as authentic, it must be mutual, grounded in the moral originality of the recognizers, and manifested in words as well as actions. Authentic recognition, we argue, establishes a reciprocal relationship between wounded veterans and the state, which positions veterans as valuable contributors to society. Conversely, the absence of authentic recognition generates experiences of misrecognition and invisibility, leading in some cases to wounded veterans feeling “like immigrants” in their own country.