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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

Abstract

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

Roma Community and Health Inequalities during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Romania

The Role of Health Mediators

Raluca Cosmina Budian and Oana Maria Blaga

Abstract

During a pandemic situation, already existing health inequalities tend to worsen. This study explores the inequalities in health care experienced by members of two Roma communities during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Romania. In August–September 2021, we conducted thirty ethnographic interviews: twenty in two Roma communities in Mure County, and ten with various professionals working with these communities, such as health mediators. The interview guide was developed considering anthropological and sociological perspectives on health. We conducted a thematic analysis and identified three relevant issues: (a) scepticism about COVID-19 and the vaccine; (b) the role of the health mediator before and during the pandemic; and (c) discrimination suffered before and during the pandemic with regard to medical attention. During the pandemic situation in Romania, in which inequalities were increasing, the work of health mediators as cultural facilitators was remarkable. They were interlocutors between the state's health-care institutions and its minority groups, and the Roma mediators provided valuable knowledge on the reality lived by the Roma communities.

Open access

Decisiveness in Domestic Public Policies

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

Artur Skorek

Abstract

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.

Open access

#Vanlife

Living the Dream or Surviving a Nightmare?

Cody Rodriguez

Abstract

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

Abstract

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

Abstract

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.

Open access

Using Photovoice to Explore Migrant Women's Sociospatial Engagement in Diverse Local Urban Areas of Santiago, Chile

Carolina Ramírez

Abstract

Framed in a project on conviviality and migration-led diversity in Santiago, Chile, this article presents visual narratives of neighborhood participation. Accounts of migrants’ public lives have turned to underlining mundane forms of conviviality and place-making. This visual essay shows how such dynamics can comprise a fertile terrain for public engagement in contexts of “crisis.” The account is based on a photovoice exercise developed by three long-established migrant women of different occupations, age, and nationalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that shaped the personal/public interface of their lives. I propose that photovoice, by endowing agency and producing situated knowledge, can illuminate migrants’ local engagement, making visible (creatively, descriptively, and symbolically) the connection between the personal and the public while counteracting dominant problem-based representations of migrants.

Open access

‘Out of touch’

University teachers’ negative engagements with technology during COVID-19

Jesper Aagaard, Maria Hvid Stenalt, and Neil Selwyn

Abstract

In the wake of COVID-19, enthusiasm is growing for hybrid and other blended forms of teaching. Before celebrating the hybrid future of education, however, it is instructive to interrogate its hybrid presence. Accordingly, this article explores pedagogical challenges prompted by the pandemic pivot to online teaching. Analysing qualitative survey data from Danish university teachers (n = 488), we identify five critical stances towards educational technology: (1) technologies are fine when used correctly; (2) technical issues are a major obstacle; (3) hybrid teaching is overwhelming; (4) one's sense of students suffers online; and (5) students hide behind their screens. Based on these results, this article identifies two challenges for the hybrid future of education: the problem of presence and the webcam-related tension between surveillance and care.

Open access

A politicized ecology of resilience

Redistributive land reform and distributive justice in the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonathan DeVore

Abstract

Brazil has endured multiple political, economic, and environmental crises—and now the COVID-19 pandemic—which have drawn social inequalities into razor sharp relief. This contribution analyzes the resilience of rural families facing these crises in southern Bahia. These families have benefited from various redistributive policies over the years, including redistributive land reforms (RLRs), conditional cash transfers (CCTs), and recent emergency aid (EA) payments related to the pandemic. Each (re)distributive approach involves different notions of distributive justice informed by competing background theories of “the good,” which hold implications for concepts of resilience. Drawing on long-term research with RLR communities in Bahia, this article considers the gains achieved by different redistributive programs. Families who acquired land through RLR projects appear more resilient, especially in the face of crisis.