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Introduction

On the Usefulness of Boundary Re-work

Francisco Martínez

Abstract

Boundaries influence how we live, the way we do and see things – but how? What role do boundaries play in effecting disciplinary shifts or stability in turn? And who is excluded when tracing epistemic frontiers and hard notions of relevance? This theme issue discusses the porosity of anthropology's borders and the difficulty of establishing scholarly authority. We set out to reopen the conversation about the permeability of academic boundaries, exploring different conceptual, methodological and historical reconfigurations with and within European anthropologies. We also discuss how the epistemic and institutional boundaries of our discipline are changing, affecting in turn what people can know and with whom, as well as our sense of professional strength and vulnerability.

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Introduction

Fuelling Capture: Africa's Energy Frontiers

Michael Degani, Brenda Chalfin, and Jamie Cross

Abstract

The introduction to this special issue begins by surveying the significance of what we call Africa's internal energy frontiers for understanding a global energy realignment marked by experiments in renewable technologies as well as revanchist investments in fossil fuels. It then discusses capture as a concept rooted in both Marxist informed accounts of global energy regimes as well as the political histories and practices of African populations. Finally, it discusses the articles as spanning three economies of capture along Africa's energy frontier: resurgent extractivism, post-carbon development and consumer renewables.

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Introduction

Oceans

Amelia Moore and Jerry K. Jacka

Abstract

In this introduction, we introduce the new editors of the journal and the new members of the editorial board. We then summarize the articles, highlighting the intellectual contributions they make to an environmental and social analysis of the world's oceans, ocean scientists, and marine species.

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Land Reclamations

Boundary Work as Production of Disciplinary Uniqueness

Klaus Schriewer

Abstract

This article deals with the hegemony of Anglo-Saxon social anthropology over the anthropologies of the South and its neighbour discipline, European ethnology. It departs from a description of my personal professional experience during the last thirty years to discuss how the disciplinary capacity of influence (and shadowing) is linked to political decisions, the definition of what is scientific, and the instrumental use of rankings and evaluations.

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Monumental Misunderstandings

The Material Entextualization of Mutual Incomprehension in Sino-Mozambican Relations

Morten Nielsen and Mikkel Bunkenborg

Abstract

A statue of stainless steel cast in China and placed at the entrance of the new National Stadium in Mozambique sparked controversy between Chinese donors and Mozambican recipients in the period leading up to the stadium's 2011 inauguration. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among the Mozambican and Chinese nationals involved in the project, we explore the multiple misunderstandings surrounding the statue and show how they came to define Sino-Mozambican relations. Entextualized through materiality, the misunderstandings assumed a monumental form in the statue, and the message of mutual incomprehension continued to reverberate across the social terrain of Sino-Mozambican relations long after the statue itself had been removed. Misunderstandings, we argue, should not be dismissed as ephemeral communicative glitches, but seen as productive events that structure social relations.

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Monumental Suspension

Art, Infrastructure, and Eduardo Chillida's Unbuilt Monument to Tolerance

Isaac Marrero-Guillamón

Abstract

More than 25 years after it was unveiled, Eduardo Chillida's Monument to Tolerance has been neither built nor abandoned—it is, rather, suspended. From the outset, the project, which consists in digging a vast cubic cave inside the mountain of Tindaya (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands), has faced the opposition of environmental activists, who argue that it is incompatible with the mountain's status as a protected site. Drawing from anthropological approaches to infrastructure and art, this article unpacks the Monument's actual existence as an unrealized project that has been partly actualized through anticipatory practices such as exhibitions and economic aspirations. The article contributes to the theorization of suspension by combining a focus on the temporal multiplicity of anticipation with an attention to the materiality of unbuilt entities.

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Narva as Method

Urban Inventories and the Mutation of the Postsocialist City

Francisco Martínez

Abstract

This article asks how a post-Soviet city went global and became something else, mutating, in the sense of generating a new set of features that go beyond a narrow understanding of postsocialism. The research provides a synthetic conceptualisation of Narva and the organisation of its ordinary life, by combining methods of urban observation and classification with geographical and ethnographic descriptions of this city. Using visual imagery of urban objects, along with field annotations and interview quotes as the materials analysed, the article carries out a Narvaology that consists in deploying this city ‘as method’. It points out that cities such as Narva require a more relational and multi-scalar language, one with broader theoretical and methodological implications, able to account for fragmentary socio-political issues.

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Navigating Shifting Regimes of Ocean Governance

From UNCLOS to Sustainable Development Goal 14

Ana K. Spalding and Ricardo de Ycaza

Abstract

Recent decades have seen a rapid increase in the diversity of ocean uses and threats, leading to the Anthropocene ocean: a place fraught with challenges for governance such as resource collapse, pollution, and changing sea levels and ocean chemistry. Here we review shifts in ocean governance regimes from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the first legal regime for the global ocean, to Sustainable Development Goal 14 and beyond. This second period represents a merging of growing international interest in the ocean as part of the global sustainable development agenda—characterized by a focus on knowledge, collaboration, and the formation of alliances between diverse actors and institutions of environmental governance. To conduct this review, we analyzed literature on changing actors, regimes, and institutional arrangements for ocean governance over time. We conclude with a summary of challenges and opportunities for future ocean governance.

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New Materialist Approaches to Fisheries

The Birth of “Bycatch”

Lauren Drakopulos

Abstract

For the past 40 years, bycatch has been a significant focus of fisheries science and management, yet bycatch has evaded clear definition persisting as a perennial fisheries concern. This article brings insights from new materialism to examine the ontological politics of bycatch. Building on new materialist approaches to oceans and fisheries, the article contributes to the bycatch debate by putting forth a new framework for understanding bycatch as multiple, enacted through the material-discursive practices of science and policy. Through a survey of policy and scientific documents, the article traces the emergence of “bycatch” as a global fisheries issue. The analysis broadens the orderings and normative understandings about human and nonhuman life inflected by post-humanist and new materialist traditions, as well as fisheries science and policy.

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Ocean Thinking

The Work of Ocean Sciences, Scientists, and Technologies in Producing the Sea as Space

Susannah Crockford

Abstract

How do scientists produce the ocean as space through their work and words? In this article, I examine how the techniques and tools of oceanographers constitute ocean science. Bringing theoretical literature from science and technology studies on how scientists “do” science into conversation with fine-grained ethnographic and sociological accounts of scientists in the field, I explore how ocean science is made, produced, and negotiated. Within this central concern, the technologies used to obtain data draw particular focus. Juxtaposed with this literature is a corpus by ocean scientists about their own work as well as interview data from original research. Examining the differences between scientists’ self-descriptions and analyses of them by social scientists leads to a productive exploration of how ocean science is constituted and how this work delineates the ocean as a form of striated space. This corpus of literature is placed in the context of climate change in the final section.