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Contemporary Megaprojects

An Introduction

Seth Schindler, Simin Fadaee and Dan Brockington

There is renewed interest in megaprojects worldwide. In contrast to high-modernist megaprojects that were discrete projects undertaken by centralized authorities, contemporary megaprojects are often decentralized and pursued by a range of stakeholders from governments as well as the private sector. They leverage cutting-edge technology to ‘see’ complex systems as legible and singular phenomena. As a result, they are more ambitious, more pervasive and they have the potential to reconfigure longstanding relationships that have animated social and ecological systems. The articles in this issue explore the novel features of contemporary megaprojects, they show how the proponents of contemporary megaprojects aspire to technologically enabled omnipresence, and they document the resistance that megaprojects have provoked.

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Bryan Loughrey and Graham Holderness

In this issue, Critical Survey continues to represent international scholarship and research, and to broaden the horizons of scholarship. Featuring authors from Britain, the United States, Australia, Jordan, the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Ireland, the issue ranges from early modern to contemporary literature and culture, from Shakespeare to the literature and drama of contemporary Ireland.

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Editorial

A Historical Focus on Comics

Lawrence Grove, Anne Magnussen and Ann Miller

Comics history has been an integral part of comics research from the outset, but from the late 1980s and well into the 2000s, a historical focus seemed to live a more anonymous existence. This was largely due to the burgeoning and exciting interest in close analyses of comics as ‘works’, emphasizing the medium’s potential as an art form. Over the past ten years, however, research interest into comics history has regained momentum, but this time combining classic comics history with a heightened awareness of the medium’s aesthetic dimension and with some of the newer trends within historical research at large. The historical interest has been furthered by theoretical and methodological trends that reach beyond comics research. Inspired by anthropology and the linguistic turn, much historical research now has a pronounced focus on cultural products (such as comics) as part of society, and not only in cultural history in a strict sense but also in interaction with broader societal and political processes and conflicts. Within the comics field, this focus most obviously lends itself to some of the comics genres that have boomed within the past fifteen years, such as memory, documentary and ‘activist’ comics, but it is not limited to these. In its updated form, comics history research also follows another general trend within historical research, namely that of transnational studies, which questions a default national framework for understanding comics history and instead follows interaction and inspiration across national borders of industries and publications, as well as individual artists. As a third feature, the field has moved beyond the most widely studied countries and time periods and thereby questions the comics canon that usually evolves around North America and a limited number of European (and Asian) countries. All in all, comics history research is back from the margin, in a new and updated format.

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Andrew Sanchez

This special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, entitled ‘Envy and Greed: Ugly Emotions and the Politics of Accusation’, is guest edited by Geoffrey Hughes, Megnaa Mehtta, Chiara Bresciani and Stuart Strange.

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Editors' Note

The Split that Did Not Happen

Paul L. Scham and Yoram Peri

As all who attended the Association for Israel Studies conference this past June at Kinneret College now know, the only thing that resulted in unbearable heat was the temperature outdoors, not tempers around the tables. The discussion of “Word Crimes,” the title of the summer issue of Israel Studies, our sister publication, did not cause an irreparable split—or any split at all—in the AIS. There was a spirited and quite lengthy airing of the whole issue at the meeting of the Board of Directors on the Sunday before the conference began, at which various differing opinions were presented. But it was clear that it no longer appeared to be a make-or-break time for either the AIS or IS.

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Sevasti-Melissa Nolas and Christos Varvantakis

In this article we develop the idea of ethnography as a practice of desire lines. Lines of desire are pedestrian footpaths that are at once amateurish and playful, and that deviate from the grids and schemes of urban planners. We argue that ethnography has always been so at the same time as also being highly professionalized. The article explores these tensions between desire lines and professionalization as they became evident to us during a funded, international multi-modal ethnographic study with children—a study, we argue, that rendered us childlike. We conclude that being childlike and ‘out of line’ is an appropriate and necessary response for knowledge creation at a time of heightened professionalization in the academy.

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Valentina Napolitano

This article explores the tension between Pope Francis as a ‘trickster’ and as a much-needed reformer of the Catholic Church at large. He is an exemplar of the longue durée of an embodied ‘Atlantic Return’ from the Americas to the ‘heart’ of Catholicism (Rome and the Vatican), with its ambivalent, racialized history. Through the mobilization of material religion, sensuous mediations, and the case of the Lampedusa crosses in particular, I engage with an anthropological analysis of Francis as a Criollo and the first-ever Jesuit pope. Examining Francis’s papacy overlapping racial and ethico-political dimensions, I identify coordinates around which the rhetorical, affective, and charismatic force of Francis as a Criollo has been actualized—between, most crucially, proximity and distance, as well as pastoral versus theological impulses. This article advances an understanding of Francis that emerges from a study of the conjuncture of affective fields, political theology, racialized aesthetics, and mediatic interface.

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Hilary Pomeroy

The eleven articles in this issue of European Judaism reflect the social and religious culture of Moroccan Jews set against an ever changing backdrop of persecution and conflict, interaction and cohabitation. Ranging from Berber Jews to forced converts, scholars, courtiers and artisans, Moroccan Jews were constantly under threat. Despite this unstable situation, they produced literary and religious works in Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Spanish as well as creating distinctive life-cycle customs, songs and a highly skilled material culture. While the Jewish community of Morocco is today considerably reduced, Moroccan immigrants in Israel, France and the Americas keep the memory and identity of Jewish Morocco alive.

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Martin Holbraad

Experimenting with the many potentials of anthropological analysis—that shifting interface between the empirical and the conceptual, the space and perhaps the time between ethnography and theory—is at the heart of our journal’s intellectual mission. Our aim is to publish articles that display a spirit of analytical exploration by dealing in fresh ways with their empirical materials and showing in the action of their analytical treatment new paths for anthropological thinking to pursue. Alongside full-length research articles, in this issue we inaugurate Think Pieces in Analytics, a forum devoted to slightly shorter and more speculative texts, in which particular aspects of the scope, process, or aims of anthropological analysis are explored for their own sake. Mirroring the ambiguous and shifting character of both the concept and the practice of analysis, we give free rein to contributors to broach matters of methodology, theoretical approach, research ethics and politics, interdisciplinary interface, and institutional infrastructure, as long as their bearing on questions of analytical practice in anthropology is identified.

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Introduction

A Decade of Religion and Society

Sondra L. Hausner, Ruy Llera Blanes and Simon Coleman

This volume of Religion and Society is a special one. First, with this edition we celebrate our 10th anniversary. While our personnel have changed to some degree, our remit has remained largely the same. We present theoretically and methodologically challenging studies of religion through a variety of formats that place religion at the center of analysis and enable those who study religious phenomena to engage in debate and dialogue with each other. In recent years, our approach has also cemented ties with the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, a subsection of the American Anthropological Association. Over the entirety of the last decade, we have continued to publish exceptional interdisciplinary scholarship in social and cultural analyses of religion.