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Open access

Obituary

Khaled Al Siddiq

On behalf of the Scientific Committee of Anthropology of the Middle East, we would like to express our deepest regrets for the loss of pioneer film maker Khaled Al Siddiq on October 14th, 2021. Khaled Al Siddiq's 1972 film, Cruel Sea won the Fipresi Prize at the Venice Film Festival and was also a prize winner at the Syrian Film Festival that year. This landmark film bought the Gulf Cinema Company, where Khaled was the director, widespread international acclaim. Al Siddiq's other important films include The Wedding of Zein (1976) and Shaheen (1984). Our deepest condolences go to Dr. Zubeydenh Ashkanani, his wife, whose generous gift of the yearly eponymous prize awarded for best article of the year in the Anthropology of the Middle East is always well-received and much appreciated.

Open access

Poetic Imagination

Love and Longing among Syrian Men in Exile in Amman

Emilie Lund Mortensen

Abstract

In this article, I attend to poetic expressions of passionate longing for a beloved among displaced single Syrian men in the Jordanian capital of Amman. With a point of departure in the story and poetry of Qays, a 28-year-old Syrian man from Damascus, the article engages in an exploration of the poetic space engendered in the process of writing and reading poetry in exile. It demonstrates how longing found expression and relief in love poetry, as it enabled the young Syrian men to, momentarily, displace themselves to a different time and place, closer to the women they longed for. The poetry I thus argue, engenders and constitutes a creative space of possibility in which the impossible becomes possible in exile.

Open access

Katharina Schramm

Abstract

From the early 2000s onward, scientists, politicians, and intellectuals have presented the South African gene pool as a new archive for the new nation, suggesting a non-racial unity in diversity through common human origins. In this discourse, population genomics and genetic ancestry allude to metaphors of shared kinship to overcome the legacies of race. However, a focus on the underlying practices of measuring and classification reveals how the genomic archive is implicated in the history of apartheid and its racialized subjectivities. Similarly, individual interpretations of genetic ancestry show that race is constantly brought forth in this archival process. The genomic archive interweaves measuring practices in the sciences with the politics of social and biographical experience—a relationship that is at the heart of genetic genealogies.

Open access

Relative Risk

Measuring Kinship for Future Health in US Genetic Counseling

Anna Jabloner

Abstract

Genetic counselors in the US assess disease risks by drawing on family histories, genetic tests, and patients’ racial, ethnic, national, or religious self-identifications. The bodily risks of kinship articulated by family histories can be defused by genetic tests that highlight the contingency of biological inheritance and decouple kinship from genetics. However, such tests, as well as self-identifying patients, also entwine genetic risk with older indicators of kinship: biologically understood race and ethnicity. Across these scales, counselors calculate relative risks to the future health of individuals, in the process measuring kinship as genealogical closeness, genetic dis/similarity, and biocultural race and ethnicity. As counselors personalize the universal promises of genomics at a biomedical nexus of risk and prophylaxis, they tap into anxieties about the changed natures of American kinship.

Open access

Revolutionary abandon

Circles and machines in Sandinista Nicaragua

David Cooper

Abstract

In Nicaragua, the political trajectory of the governing FSLN has been understood as a transition from underground revolutionary circle toward clientelistic political machine. This article traces the emergence of these two key images in political and scholarly discourse, and shows how they have come to inform everyday politics in a community of rural government supporters, who—within a defunct agrarian cooperative—struggle to participate in the government's project of fostering an “Organized People.” For those excluded from this populist political model, the views of inclusion produced by ideas about circles and machines give rise to alternative strategies for contesting what James Ferguson terms “abjection.” The case demonstrates the value, for an emerging anthropology of political “abandonment,” of attending to the formal properties of political images.

Open access

Revolutionary circles

A morphology of radical politics

Martin Holbraad and Myriam Lamrani

Abstract

Drawing on the contributions of this theme section, this introduction stakes out an agenda for the anthropological study of revolutionary circles. Understood as a powerful model of and for political action, the revolutionary circle renders the desire for radical political change as a function of the circular configuration of the group of people who pursue it. This correlation of political ends with social means puts questions of “political morphology”—actors’ concern with the shape of their relationships—at the center of revolutionary action. As the articles of the theme section illustrate, such a concern with social shapes plays itself out not only in questions of political organization, but also those of personal relationships and ethical comportment, practices of secrecy and dissemination, shared activities and values, and their different potentials for transformation over time.

Open access

Mei Qu

Abstract

This article explores how grassroots administrators interact with various other actors in the process of forming international partnerships. A top-down and a bottom-up case of building international partnerships for masters and PhD programmes were selected from my fieldwork in a Danish university. The cases were elaborated and analysed using Tatiana Fumasoli's organisational approach to multi-level governance in higher education. This article concludes that with their personal networks and knowledge about the normative frameworks of certain powerful actors, grassroots administrators could help academic staff who might not know the regulations involved in the internationalisation process, to balance their own interests with their intention of complying with the normative frameworks, and thus enhance their capacities of forming and participating in a successful international partnership.

Open access

Andrei V. Grinëv and Richard Bland

Abstract

This article analyzes social protest in the Russian colonies in Alaska and Northern California. The main reasons for protests were the actions of the colonial administration or abuse by its representatives, along with dissatisfaction with the financial situation, rules, conditions, and remuneration for labor, as well as shortages of commodities and food for a considerable part of the population of the Russian colonies. Protest activity in Russian America was relatively insignificant, and its primary forms were complaints, minor economic sabotage, and desertion. Most protest acts took place during the 1790s–1800s, when the colonial system was formed, and exploitation of dependent natives and Russian promyshlenniki (hired hunters of fur-bearing animals) reached its peak. The representatives of the Russian-American Company who managed Alaska from 1799 on tried to block protest activity and not allow open displays of dissatisfaction, since the result could hinder trade, business, and finally, profits and its image in the eyes of the tsar's authorities.

Open access

Jenanne Ferguson

The three articles featured in this issue may not appear to be related, but within their varying contexts, I found myself teasing out several chords that resonate throughout them, and one, in particular, struck me as notable. Directly or indirectly, these articles (as well as the report) all address the notion of problem-solving in some shape or form. Whether a historical account of protest as an attempt to solve issues of discontent among fur trade workers in Russian America, approaches to discussing climate change in northeastern Siberia, coping with failing infrastructure and the negotiation of corporate versus state responsibility—or dealing with COVID lockdowns and scholarly knowledge exchange at present—the articles in this issue all explore the confrontation of problems and how they might be solved.

Open access

Twenty-Four Ways to Have Sex within the Law

Regulation and Moral Subjectivity in the Japanese Sex Industry

Gabriele Koch

Abstract

This article argues that how sex appears in the law shapes what erotic pleasure is in a commercial context, and indirectly produces sex workers’ ideas about the moral stakes of engaging in certain acts. Although Japan's anti-prostitution law was intended to eliminate commercial sex, the state's mid-century attempt to define a proscribed site of sexual pleasure centered on intercourse instead led to the proliferation of erotic services in a diversified marketplace. The efforts of cisheteronormative sex industry businesses to navigate the actual conditions of the law's enforcement have in turn made intercourse a distinctive site of concern for many sex workers, who regard it as the basis of an imagined moral hierarchy within the industry and as representing the inability of their workplaces to protect them.