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Diasporas as Audiences of Securitization

Jewish American Diaspora and BDS

Ronnie Olesker


This study conceptually develops and analytically examines the role and function of diasporas as audiences in the securitization process by examining the American Jewish Diaspora in Israel's securitization of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). It argues that Israel's use of antisemitism as a metanarrative for the securitization of the BDS movement incorporates diasporic Jews as internal audiences in the securitization process. Audiences, however, are not monolithic. While homeland Jews, including both elites and the public, tend to support Israel's securitization process, American Jews are split; the elite support the process but public opinion is far less sympathetic to Israeli constructions of BDS as a threat. The disparity between audiences’ reactions weakens the support for Israel's counter-BDS policies and undermines its securitization process.

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Oded Haklai and Adia Mendelsohn-Maoz

The current issue features a special section dedicated to the study of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. One would be hard-pressed to identify issues that currently stir more passionate contestation and stronger emotions in academic circles than the BDS campaign in the groves of academe. Views on this issue vary considerably and have been keenly articulated in multiple and diverse outlets. Some view BDS as a legitimate, nonviolent campaign in support of the Palestinians; some find it threatening to academic freedom; and some identify the singling out of Israel as an expression of antisemitism.

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Explaining Non-Diasporic Mobilizations for Distant Causes

A Comparative Study of the Palestinian and Kurdish Struggles

David Zarnett


While the Palestinian struggle has received widespread support from non-Palestinian activists across North America and Europe, the Kurdish struggle in Turkey, which is similar to the Palestinian cause in important ways, has not received such extensive support from non-Kurdish activists. Existing explanations do not fully account for this difference. I argue that this variation in non-diasporic support is in part a product of the impact that differences between the Palestinian and Kurdish diasporas in the West have had on how each group has sought to mobilize grassroots support for their cause. The small size and internal divisions of the Palestinian diaspora incentivized Palestinian activists to focus on recruiting non-Palestinians, creating the conditions for their mobilization. The larger size and greater degree of organization of the Kurdish diaspora incentivized Kurdish activists to focus primarily on mobilizing their ethnic kin and less on recruiting non-Kurds, resulting in relatively little non-Kurdish support.

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A Game of Whac-A-Mole

The BDS Movement and Its Fluidity across International Political Opportunity Structures

Naama Lutz


This article focuses on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement's utilization of ‘fluidity,’ conceptualized as the ability to adapt campaign tactics to multiple arenas and political opportunity structures simultaneously. Framing BDS as both a social movement and a transnational advocacy network, it demonstrates the movement's fluidity in the context of three campaigns: the campaign at the 65th FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) congress in 2015, which illustrates an ‘outsider’ strategy aimed at intergovernmental institutions; the 2014 Olive Declaration of municipalities endorsing BDS, which illustrates how local ‘insider’ campaigns can combine to create a translocal campaign; and the ‘Ferguson-Gaza moment’ in 2014, which illustrates how movements can engage at the level of civil society and embed themselves in the broader global justice movement.

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The Palestinians, Israel, and BDS

Strategies and Struggles in Wars of Position

Ian S. Lustick and Nathaniel Shils


Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) have been in conflict within one another for nearly two decades. In this article we compare trajectories of Palestinian-led BDS mobilization and Israeli-led counter-mobilization by deploying two theoretical perspectives, a rationalist, strategic learning model and a political competition model. We find that the difference in balance of power on each side between state and civil society led to strategic convergence by Israel in its counter-BDS efforts but not (yet at any rate) on the Palestinian side. We locate BDS as an example of a transnational boycott movement and identify patterns in its conflict with Israel observed in association with other such movements. Our analysis leads to an explanation of why both sides see the battles between them taking place in the United States and Europe as particularly crucial.

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Autobiography in Anthropology, Then and Now

Helena Wulff

Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the first publication of the volume Anthropology and Autobiography (1992) edited by Judith Okely and Helen Callaway, AJEC 31(1) features an inspiring special issue devoted to this topic, then and now. Starting from the beginning, we learn about the appalling resistance Judith Okely faced when she suggested Anthropology and Autobiography as a theme for the 1989 ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK) Conference. The idea to include the experience of the fieldworker, his or her emotional reactions, and issues related to gender, age and race – in the research and later even the use of “I” in the writing – came from the ‘writing culture’ movement in the United States. This early resistance against reflexivity and autobiography in British anthropology can be understood as a generational intolerance of American intellectual influence. As Ernest Gellner (1988: 26) suggested in a review of Clifford Geertz’ Works and Lives:

My own advice to anthropology departments is that this volume be kept in a locked cupboard, with the key in the possession of the head of department, and that students be lent it only when a strong case is made out by their tutors.

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Escaping Gentrification?

The Athenian Metaxourgio Grassroots Carnival as a Contested Event

Regina Zervou and Mina Dragouni


Contemporary carnivals represent rather banal spectacles, harnessed by institutional control and stripped of their meaning as disruptive processes of revelry, expressivity and defiance. However, when organised at grassroots level, carnivals may retain their subversive character, revealing intentions to cross the limits of urban normality. By drawing on ethnographic data, this article explores the carnival of Metaxourgio in Athens, performed in a multicultural neighbourhood at the heart of the metropolis by a small group of young artists and creatives. Based on the notions of liminality and threshold, it analyses how the carnival creates a temporal universe that challenges mainstream perceptions of public space and Otherness, contests gentrification and seeks to maintain a sense of community in a world of ever-shifting boundaries of precarity.

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The Exhibition of Botocudos at Piccadilly Hall

Variations of an Anthropological Show, from the Museum to the Circus

Marina Cavalcante Vieira


In 1883 five Brazilian Botocudos were exhibited at Piccadilly Hall, London's popular theatre. This exhibition aimed to replicate in Europe the success achieved by the display of seven Botocudos, held the previous year by the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro at the Brazilian Anthropological Exhibition. Measured and studied by scientists from the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, the Botocudos performed daily for the public in London, Manchester, and Sheffield, until they were sold to P.T. Barnum, joining the US tour of the Grand Ethnological Congress of the Bailey and Barnum Circus. This article emphasises the ambivalent trajectory between science and spectacle in these three different exhibition formats and versions. Illustrations, posters, photographs and newspaper reports are relied on as research sources.

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Introduction: World Fairs, Exhibitions and Anthropology

Revisiting Contexts of Post-colonialism

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos, Hande Birkalan-Gedik, Andrés Barrera-González, and Pegi Vail


World fairs and exhibitions served as important venues for empires to showcase their industrial and technological achievements. Moreover, they also presented ‘civilisational models’ that portrayed Europeans as the most advanced and sophisticated and depicted the distant inhabitants as exotic and primitive. In portraying distant peoples, these contrasts were evident through their dress styles, dance, music, and performance of daily customs, but most noticeably, through their skin colours. With five articles focusing on world fairs and exhibitions in diverse locations and times, this special issue raises questions about the display and showcasing of humans that are still pertinent to the current contexts of anthropology. The articles call for ‘decolonising’ thoughts, discourses, and practices in political and public space in displaying contemporary cultures. While acknowledging the problematics and limits of ‘decolonisation’ itself, the articles reassess through a critical lens the connections between fairs and exhibitions in the early days of anthropology.

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The Mise-en-Scène of Modernity

Exposición Internacional del Centenario, Buenos Aires (1910)

Nicolas Freeman


This article examines the various stagings of progress as exhibited at Argentina's International Centennial Exhibitions hosted in Buenos Aires in 1910. In preparation for the exhibitions, a wealthy port aristocracy oversaw renovations of the private and public, material and symbolic spaces of the city which transformed the capital into a political theatre. A chronology of the exhibitions (agriculture, industry, hygiene, railways, and the arts) and their accumulated symbols are read as multidimensional sites of encounter where a clash of contradictory interests and agencies interact. The text emerges out of a moment of ethnographic encounter and weaves together the words of my interlocutors with historical and theoretical analysis. In doing so, the article reflects from different angles upon the relationship between the rituals of showing and of spectatorship involved in the State's aesthetic performance of national progress.