From Practice to Mediation
Antonius C. G. M. Robben
The Being and Becoming of Burundian Refugees in the Camp and the City
Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Burundian refugees living clandestinely in Nairobi and living in a refugee camp in Tanzania, the article argues that displacement can be about staying out of place in order to find a place in the world in the future. I suggest that the term dia-placement describes this sense of not only being out of place but also being en route to a future. Burundians in the camp and the city are doing their best to remain out of place, in transition between a lost past and a future yet to come, and the temporary nature of their sojourn is maintained in everyday practices. Such everyday practices are policed by powerful actors in the camp and are ingrained in practices of self-discipline in Nairobi. Comparing the two settings demonstrates that remaining out of place can take on different forms, according to context.
Legal Rupture in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Mikael Baaz and Mona Lilja
An increasing body of literature focuses on negotiations of transitional justice, but not much has been written so far regarding contestations over its practices and the refusal of states and individuals to participate. Given the remaining legalistic dominance, this is particularly true regarding the field of international criminal law. Very little, if any, work in international criminal law engages with the topic of “resistance.” Departing from this gap in research, focusing on Cambodia and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the objective of this article is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the “strategy of rupture”—as developed by the late French lawyer Jacques Vergès—and the ways in which this legal defense has been applied in practice at the ECCC in order to resist not only the Tribunal per se, but also the entire Cambodian transitional justice process and, by extension, the post–Cold War global liberal project.
Everyday Ethnic Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Structurally inspired anthropological analyses of war and violence tend to claim that conflicts have an inherent potential to create unambiguous identities. Based on ethnographic data from everyday life among the Muslim population of Stolac in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina the article shows that this is not necessarily the case. Instead of resorting to the politically created dichotomous categories of ethnic exclusion, the Muslims of Stolac favored ambiguous identifications highlighting coexistence and interethnic respect. In this way of refraining from exclusive ethnic antagonistic identifications they experimented with ways of inhabiting the world together with the ethnic others; mainly the Croat population of Stolac.
Brazilian Conflicts and the Popular Culture of Sovereignty
This article explores the aesthetic elements of sovereignty. Building on the anthropological literature on sovereignty and on contemporary work on the politics of aesthetics, the article analyzes contemporary appearances of Batman symbols and figures in Rio de Janeiro. Despite political debate and academic discussion about the Batmen appearing in mafia-like militias and popular street protests in Rio, the question of what these appearances tell us about the relations between popular imagery and political contestation has remained untouched. This article supports the work of writers who argue that superhero comics and movies present fierce figures that operate in the zone of indistinction, at the crossroads of lawful order and its exception. However, it adds to this literature an analysis that shows in what kind of sociopolitical contexts these figures operate and how that plays itself out. To understand the contemporary appearances and force of figures of the entertainment industry better, this article proposes the concept “popular culture of sovereignty.”
Timo Kallinen, Michael D. Jackson, Gisela Welz, Hastings Donnan, Jeevan Raj Sharma, and Ronald S. Stade
Crude Domination: An Anthropology of Oil Andrea Behrends, Stephen P. Reyna, and Günter Schlee, eds. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2011. 325 pp. Hardcover ISBN 978-0-85745-255-9.
The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia Danny Hoffman. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011. 295 pp. Paper ISBN 978-0-8223-5077-4.
The Make-Believe Space: Affective Geography in a Postwar Polity Yael Navaro-Yashin. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. 270 pp. Paper ISBN 978-0-8223-5204-4.
The Risk of War: Everyday Sociality in the Republic of Macedonia Vasiliki P. Neofotistos. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. 216 pp. Hardcover ISBN 978-0-8122-4399-4.
Maoists at the Hearth: Everyday Life in Nepal’s Civil War Judith Pettigrew. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 200 pp. Hardcover ISBN 978-0-8122-4492-2.
Private Security in a Bolivian Marketplace
Daniel M. Goldstein
The appearance of effective security making—demonstrated through surveillance, visibility, and ongoing performance—is significant to contemporary sovereign authority in urban spaces characterized by quotidian violence and crime. This article examines La Cancha, Cochabamba, Bolivia’s enormous outdoor market, which is policed not by the state but by private security firms that operate as nonstate sovereign actors in the space of the market. The article provides an ethnographic account of one of these firms (the Men in Black), and documents the work of both municipal and national police—all of them distinguished by differently colored uniforms—in the management of crime, administration of justice, and establishment of public order in the market. Sovereignty here is derived through public performance, both violent and nonviolent, through which the Men in Black demonstrate and maintain their sovereign power.
Human Rights, Transitional Justice, and Memories of Resistance in Post-Conflict Timor-Leste
This article examines the effects of human rights and transitional justice on memories of Timor-Leste’s resistance to the Indonesian occupation, which lasted from 1975 to 1999. Data comes from ethnographic fieldwork in Timor, centered around remembrance of two major acts of resistance: an armed uprising in 1983 and a peaceful demonstration in 1991. The article argues that in Timor, an “apolitical” human rights has caused a post-conflict “democratization of perpetration”, in that similar culpability is assigned to all those who caused suffering in the conflict with Indonesia through physical violence, irrespective of context. Transitional justice has thus expanded the category of perpetrator in Timor, to include some who legally used armed resistance against Indonesian rule. Studies of violence have belatedly turned toward examining perpetrators of state terror; this article examines how discourses of human rights and transitional justice shape perceptions of those who resist state terror with violence.
Erella Grassiani, Alexander Horstmann, Lotte Buch Segal, Ronald Stade, and Henrik Vigh
Violence, defined as the intentional inflicting of injury and damage, seems to always have been a fact of human life. Whether in the shape of raids, ambushes, wars, massacres, genocides, insurgences, terrorism, or gang assaults, socially organized violence, that is, human groups orchestrating and committing violent acts, has been a steady companion of human life through the ages. The human quest to make sense of violence is probably as old as violence itself. Academic conflict research both continues and advances this quest. As long as wars were waged between nations, the research on armed conflicts focused on international relations and great power politics. This paradigm was kept alive even when the asymmetrical warfare of decolonization spread across the world, because by then the frame of analysis was the binary system of the Cold War and regional conflicts were classifi ed as proxy wars. After the end of the Cold War, the academic interest in forms of organized violence other than international conflict became more general in the social sciences, not least in anthropology, a discipline whose long-standing research interest in violent conflict previously had been directed almost exclusively towards “tribal warfare.” But, following their research tradition, anthropologists also began to conduct field studies in contemporary war zones and other violent settings.
This article discusses the recent revision of the notion of sovereignty that emphasizes de facto rather than de jure sovereignty, understanding sovereignty as an effect of performative claims to sovereignty. As an implication of this approach, we come to see political landscapes as formed by multiple, overlapping, coexisting, and sometimes competing claims to sovereignty operating within and across boundaries. The article suggests using “formations of sovereignty” as a way of understanding these political landscapes and the way they change over time in specific areas. Empirically, the article analyzes different formations of sovereignty in a Guatemalan municipality at the border with Mexico, from before the civil war of the early 1980s to the present.