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Open access

Anthropology against Borders

Stephen Campbell

Ghosh, Sahana. 2023. A Thousand Tiny Cuts: Mobility and Security across the Bangladesh–India Borderland. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 296 pp. Pb.: US$29.95. ISBN: 978-0-5203-9573-2.

Keshavarz, Mahmoud and Shahram Khosravi (eds.) 2022. Seeing Like a Smuggler: Borders from Below. London: Pluto Press. 216 pp. Pb.: £19.99. ISBN: 978-0-7453- 4161-3.

Shih, Elena. 2023. Manufacturing Freedom: Sex Work, Anti-trafficking Rehab, and the Racial Wages of Rescue. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 288 pp. Pb.: US$29.95. ISBN: 978-0-5203-7970-1.

Open access

Becoming an Abla

Homemaking and the Shaping of an Ethical Self among Women in a Turkish Muslim Community in Brazil

Liza Dumovich


This article analyses the performance of homemaking and religious practices of six Turkish Muslim women who made hicret (migration) to Brazil, focusing on the domestic space of their shared apartment. Their reasons to migrate combine personal motivations and a sense of responsibility to spread the world view of the Turkish Islamic movement of which they are participants. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, I explore their everyday practices in the production of an ideal Muslim self and the making of a home in order to understand the effects of the community's domesticities on their individual trajectories. The analysis shows that the performance of those everyday practices produces a moral and affective bond to the movement and its religious leader, conditioning home to a specific spatial and moral structure.

Open access

Blocking the Exit

Research Ethics and Bureaucratic Writing Practices

Brendan Whitty


I argue that the standard model of research ethics pushes the ethnographer of bureaucracies to the cautious, concise and compliant textual practices styles of the bureaucracy itself. Given the methodological importance of writing to ethnography, this matters. To make the argument, I draw on my experience of my decision to embargo my PhD thesis, an ethnography of an international donor agency. I show how the key gatekeeper to my research sought to translate concepts from research ethics (consent, avoidance of harm) into insisting on writing and stylistic practices familiar to his organisation (scope of work, risk), in order to constrain future academic publications. These dilemmas played out in the text of the thesis, its styles, forms and arguments. In studying up, the ethical demands of writing present challenges to the text and its methodological significance. I suggest that navigating these methodological challenges demand strategies that also start with the text.


Je défends ici l'idée que les standards et modèles traditionnels d’éthique de la recherche poussent l'ethnographe des bureaucraties à développer des pratiques textuelles précautionneuses, concises et complaisantes proches de celles de la bureaucratie elle-même. Etant donné l'importance méthodologique de l’écriture pour l'ethnographie, cela a une grande importance. Pour présenter cet argument, je m'appuie sur la décision de placer ma thèse de doctorat sous embargo, thèse qui portait sur l'ethnographie d'une agence internationale de don. Au cours de ce processus, je montre comment les garants clés de ma recherche ont cherché à traduire les concepts de l’éthique de la recherche (consentement, évitement du préjudice porté) en une insistance sur l’écriture et les pratiques stylistiques familières à cette organisation (visée du travail, risque), dans le but de contraindre la façon dont le bureau était campé dans mes écrits à la langue et les représentations autorisées en cours dans cet office. Avec l'insistance et la contrainte a émergé un dilemme entre les demandes méthodologiques de l’écriture ethnographique et les responsabilités éthiques mises en avant. Le dilemne s'est traduit de façon grandissante dans le texte au point de menacer ma capacité à développer une perspective sur mes données et à séparer le bureau du terrain. Je montre comment je suis parvenu à contourner ces défis méthodologiques par des stratégies de recentrage sur le texte : embargo de la thèse et déplacement pour publier les données sous le format plus court d'articles.

Open access

Charlatans and Fraudsters

Spiritual Healing and the Discourse of Piety and Order in Egypt

Sohayla El Fakahany


This article delves into the intricate interplay among state institutions, belief systems, dominant discourses and alternative spiritual healing practices in Egypt. It scrutinises the challenges encountered by individuals seeking spiritual healing within a societal framework shaped by educational and religious institutions, social norms, media and the law. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that integrates social anthropology, discourse analysis and cultural studies, the research sheds light on the regulations and limitations imposed on individuals by state-generated discourses, compelling adherence to prescribed rules and belief systems. The analysis explores how power hierarchy and dominant institutions, which categorise certain practices as disordered due to their ritualistic nature, are challenged by practitioners persisting in their work and seekers continuing to pursue these services.

Free access


Isabelle Rivoal and Dimitra Kofti

A growing concern about academic freedoms has recently resulted in the EASA General Assembly's December 2023 vote on a Motion to Create a Working Group on Human Rights and Academic Freedom, followed in February 2024 by the EASA executive's letter expressing direct concern after Professor Ghassan Hage's working relationship with the Max Planck Institute was terminated after misplaced accusations of racism and antisemitism. It is timely that the current issue opens up a space to discuss ethics, commitment, critique, authorship and truth seeking.

Open access

The Ends of Consent

Professional Ethics in the Context of Xinjiang (2021)

James McMurray


State securitisation and internment programmes in Xinjiang have, since 2017, rapidly changed living conditions for its inhabitants and created new degrees of risk. Here, I consider whether the consent given by participants for my use of interview transcripts and other research materials is meaningful when it is no longer safe to contact participants, and their consent was given under very different circumstances. I argue that at such critical moments neither formal codes of ethics nor the ‘situated’ ethics of fieldwork offer helpful guidance, but that consideration of the internal good of anthropology, and insights offered by its practice, can provide potential answers.


L'entreprise de sécurisation par l'Etat et les programmes d'internement au Xinjiang au cours des quatre dernières années ont rapidement changé les conditions de vie pour ses habitants en créant des nouveaux degrés de risque. Dans cet article, je me demande si le consentement donné par les participants d'utiliser la retranscription des entretiens conduits avec eux ainsi que d'autres matériaux collectés au moment de ma recherche avait toujours la même valeur alors qu'il était désormais devenu dangereux d'entrer en contact avec ces participants et alors que leur consentement avait été donné dans des conditions bien différentes. Je défends l'idée qu'en de telles circonstances critiques, ni les codes d’éthique formels, ni l’éthique « située » du terrain n'offrent de guide pertinent, mais que seule la considération du bien interne à l'anthropologie et le jugement évaluatif offert par sa pratique peuvent fournir des réponses potentielles.

Open access

Following a Deep-Sea Channel

Sensory Landscape and Experiential Knowledge in Science-Making on a Research Vessel

Ramona Haegele


Little is known of deep-sea channels and their role as an effective carbon sink. How do scientists approach the deep sea, and which are their strategies to generate knowledge? To answer these questions, my research focuses on knowledge production processes along the Northwest Atlantic Mid-Ocean Channel (NAMOC) during a research expedition in the Labrador Sea. The research is conceptually guided by approaches of science and technology studies and new materialism. Methodologically, the study employs multi-sited ethnography and uses multi-modal materials including participant observation and semi-structured interviews with representatives of the research vessel's crew and scientists. The findings shed light on the usually unseen practices of science-making. Sensory landscapes as well as experiential knowledge were identified as two modes of following, researching, and knowing the NAMOC.

Open access

The Hau of the Article and Dividual Authors

Reimagining Authorship in Anthropology

Luther Blissett


Despite repeated calls for change, social and cultural anthropology is still dominated by single-authored works. I consider two thought experiments that might disturb the status quo in interesting ways. Anthropologists could publish anonymously, treating ourselves in the same way as we treat our anonymised informants, for example, using pseudonyms. Alternatively, we could treat our colleagues in the field not only as equals but also as co-authors. Both these options have implications concerning the ‘dividual’ author (perhaps now thought of as an ‘auth’), and involve rethinking the ‘hau’ of publication.


En dépit d'appels répétés pour une évolution de nos pratiques, l'anthropologie sociale et culturelle est toujours dominée par l'auctorialité au singulier. Je considère ici deux expériences de pensée qui peuvent perturber le status quo en la matière de façon intéressante. Nous pouvons ainsi publier anonymement, nous traitant ainsi de la même manière que nous traitons anonymement nos informateurs, par exemple avec l'usage de pseudonymes. Alternativement, nous pouvons traiter nos collègues sur le terrain non seulement comme des égaux, mais également comme des co-auteurs. Ces deux options ont des implications en ce qui concerne l'auteur « dividuel » (qu'il faut peut-être désormais penser comme un « auth »), ce qui implique de repenser le « hau » de la publication

Open access

Introduction: Ritual Performance and Religious Identity

Reshaping Traditions in Contemporary MENA and its Diasporas

Paulo G. Pinto and Liza Dumovich


Tradition is a multifaceted concept and a term with contested meanings. It is usually understood as an unchanging collection of artefacts passed down from generation to generation, where continuity between past and present is expected and assumed. Scholarly studies, however, have shown that tradition is continuously produced and ‘invented’ in order to cope with the present and to imagine a possible future. The articles in this special issue explore different ways in which tradition is imagined, articulated and produced in different religious contexts, in which Islam serves as a focus for reference or contrast. They show that a specific Islamic tradition can undergo profound transformations to the point of losing its connection with Islam, both at the individual and at the social or communal levels.

Open access

Islam as the Problem, Christianity as the Solution

Rupture and Continuity as Missionary Method for the Conversion of Iranians

Ana Maria Gomes Raietparvar


This article analyses Christian missionaries working on converting Muslim Iranians to Christianity. Their methods are based on a logic of rupture and discontinuity with Islam, presenting Christianity as the solution to a moral-political crisis of Iranians in the Islamic Republic. Anti-Islam is the focus of this conversion discourse. In a transnational Christian network formed by Iranians and non-Iranians, the evangelical missionaries work with methodology that breaks and dialogues with society and the local culture of their target audience, presenting evangelical Christianity as an alternative for Iranians. This research was carried out based on participant observation in missionary groups and Christian churches for Iranians, via digital media and face-to-face, contributing to the understanding of the conversion of Muslims to evangelical Christianity.