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Sustainability Metamorphosis

An Inconvenient Change

Erland Mårald and Janina Priebe


The institutionalization of sustainability agendas on the local and global levels has largely failed to deliver the promised change. In this essay, we develop the idea of sustainability metamorphosis as a way to break with the pathological paradigm of sustainable development that weakens society's capacity to transform in the face of global crises. Sustainability metamorphosis, in our understanding, draws on the Bakthian perspective of carnivalization and dialogical truth. In this sense, sustainability metamorphosis is an outlook on change in society and a source of strategies for long-term societal change. Our understanding of metamorphosis is inspired by the historical and literary understandings that saw ungraspable forces, acting upon both inner and outer worlds, and suspended hierarchies as the sources of necessary but inconvenient change.

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Sabina Barone and Mehdi Alioua


In this interview with Sabina Barone, Mehdi Alioua—Sociology Professor at the Université Internationale de Rabat (International University of Rabat), Morocco—reflects on the transformations that Sub-Saharan African migration has brought to Moroccan society over the last two decades, in particular with reference to identity and the denominations of the foreign others, the internal and regional dynamics of (im)mobility, and the challenges to social coexistence and national migration policies. He proposes conceptual categories such as “transmigrant,” “migration by stages,” and “migratory crossroads” to capture the complexity of the mobile experiences unfolding in Morocco. Based on his trajectory of engaged scholarship in favor of migrants and refugees, he calls for a renewed South-South and North-South academic collaboration and cross-fertilization through small scale, bottom-up research made possible by friendship among scholars.

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Trading Futures

Sadaqah, social enterprise, and the polytemporalities of development gifts

Tom Widger and Filippo Osella


In this article, we explore what happens when idea(l)s of Islamic charity (sadaqah) and social enterprise converge within a low-cost public health clinic in Colombo, Sri Lanka. For both the clinic's wealthy sponsors and the urban poor who use it, interpreting the intervention as a pious expression of care toward the poor or as a for-profit humanitarian venture meant extending different futures to the poor. The ambiguous temporalities of gifts and commodities anticipated by benefactors and beneficiaries involved in this challenges anthropological assumptions concerning the marketizing effects of neoliberal development interventions. Our ethnography revealed a hesitancy among the clinic's sponsors, managers, and users to endow the intervention with a final interpretation, undermining its stated goal of promoting health care privatization and “responsibilization” of the poor.

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Transition as Cultural Revitalization

Exploring Social Motives for Environmental Movement Participation

Anna J. Willow


This article explores the Transition movement for climate change resilience as a cultural revitalization movement that is unfolding in response to the unique problems and prospects of the Anthropocene era. Drawing on ethnographic research, I suggest that personal well-being and community cohesion are essential motives for environmental movement participation. As Transition participants work to generate more satisfying cultural options, they relieve existential angst, reclaim the possibility of a positive future, create a safe space for radical resistance, and engender a simultaneously local and global sense of community. Ultimately, I argue that embracing environmental and (inter)personal action as both complementary and inextricably intertwined is essential if we are to catalyze the broad behavioral changes needed to evade catastrophic climate change and socioecological collapse.

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Michael Blake


The increasing political salience of the sanctuary city has not yet been met with adequate philosophical examination of that concept. This article argues that there are at least two models of how the sanctuary city ought to be understood. The first model, the wholesale model, understands the sanctuary city as a standing check against federal overreach; the city ought to refuse to participate in deportation, even when the federal government is morally correct in how and when it deports. The second model, the piecemeal model, understands the sanctuary city instead as one particular site of resistance to particular forms of federal wrongdoing. This article does not seek to vindicate one model over the other, but argues that both models raise significant philosophical worries. More philosophical attention will help us understand both what the sanctuary city is and what might be said in its defense.

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Working against and with the State

From Sanctuary to Resettlement

Audrey Macklin


A handful of Canadian church congregations provide sanctuary to failed asylum seekers. Many also participate in resettling refugees through a government program called private sponsorship. Both sanctuary and sponsorship arise as specific modes of hospitality in response to practices of exclusion and inclusion under national migration regimes. Sanctuary engages oppositional politics, whereby providers confront and challenge state authority to exclude. Refugee sponsorship embodies a form of collaborative politics, in which sponsorship groups partner with government in settlement and integration. I demonstrate how the state's perspective on asylum versus resettlement structures the relationship between citizen and state and between citizen and refugee. I also reveal that there is more collaboration in sanctuary and resistance in sponsorship than might be supposed.

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Desired formality

Labor migration, black markets, and the state in Chile

Sofía Ugarte

Formal work is essential to gain legal residence in Chile and the reason why Latin American and Caribbean migrants purchase fake contracts on the black market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with migrant Haitian women applying for work visas in Santiago, this article explores the effects of desired formality and its promises of a good life on contemporary statehood in Chile. The analysis shows how Haitian women’s efforts to become formal workers transform their experiences as racialized and gendered migrants in Chile, and impact how state institutions manage and control migration. Desired formality reveals the paradoxical character of state policies that help create a racialized and precarious labor force within its legal frameworks and explain why migrants attach themselves to fragile good-life projects in new countries.

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The Integration Spectacle

Migration, politics, and multiculturalism in a Finnish suburb

Ville Laakkonen

Migration politics in Finland are centered around “social integration” and “multiculturalism.” While the stated aims of such politics are equality and social mobility, the results are often contradictory, perpetuating the hierarchies and inequalities they propose to overcome. Utilizing Guy Debord’s notion of the “society of the spectacle,” I argue that there is a neoliberal Integration Spectacle that projects the appearance of societal change but is, in reality, an immobilizing force that works to obscure a particular racialized social order. I draw on my fieldwork in and around Varissuo, an international working-class suburb on the edge of Turku, western Finland, to analyze how both migrant residents of the area and the professionals within the so-called integration economy engage with, reproduce, and deal with this discrepancy.

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A politicized ecology of resilience

Redistributive land reform and distributive justice in the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonathan DeVore

Brazil has endured multiple political, economic, and environmental crises—and now the COVID-19 pandemic—which have drawn social inequalities into razor sharp relief. This contribution analyzes the resilience of rural families facing these crises in southern Bahia. These families have benefited from various redistributive policies over the years, including redistributive land reforms (RLRs), conditional cash transfers (CCTs), and recent emergency aid (EA) payments related to the pandemic. Each (re)distributive approach involves different notions of distributive justice informed by competing background theories of “the good,” which hold implications for concepts of resilience. Drawing on long-term research with RLR communities in Bahia, this article considers the gains achieved by different redistributive programs. Families who acquired land through RLR projects appear more resilient, especially in the face of crisis.

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The Aesthetics and Publics of Testimony

Participation and Agency in Architectural Memorializations of the 1993 Solingen Arson Attack

Eray Çaylı


Physical environments and their images feature increasingly prominently today in efforts to contend publicly with political violence, making aesthetics ever-significant to discourses and practices of testimony. Critics have shown that the publicness of the platforms and practices used in these efforts is marked by disparate levels and types of participation and agency. Relatively underexplored, however, is how those disadvantaged by this disparity navigate it and what role aesthetics may play therein. I explore these questions through fieldwork on architectural memorializations of the 1993 Solingen arson attack where a family with Turkish background were targeted at home in their sleep. I argue that the arson attack has featured in these memorializations not simply as the subject of testimony but also as a force structuring its aesthetics.