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Anthropology in Action is always happy to hear from potential reviewers at all stages in their academic careers, for books, films or other media. We currently have a number of books and video resources awaiting review. If you are interested in reviewing anything on the list below, please contact the reviews editor David Orr (d.orr@sussex.ac.uk).

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A Booming City in the Far North

Demographic and Migration Dynamics of Yakutsk, Russia

Svetlana Sukneva and Marlene Laruelle

Many cities of Russia’s Far North face a massive population decline, with the exception of those based on oil and gas extraction in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. Yet, there is one more exception to that trend: the city of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, whose population is booming, having grown from 186,000 in 1989 to 338,000 in 2018, This unique demographic dynamism is founded on the massive exodus of the ethnic Yakut population from rural parts of the republic to the capital city, a process that has reshaped the urban cultural landscape, making Yakutsk a genuine indigenous regional capital, the only one of its kind in the Russian Far North.

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Borders and justice

A postscript

Mary Bosworth

In this piece I offer an overview of the theme section and reflect on the relationship between academic studies and social justice. By comparing anthropology with my home discipline of criminology, I point to some shared and distinct contributions practitioners in these fields can make to our understanding about border control. Without being too pessimistic, I warn about the limits of ‘humanizing’ research subjects as a means to bring about progressive change, and suggest instead, drawing on the work of the theme section, that more needs to be done alongside and with individuals and local communities.

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Michael R. M. Ward and Thomas Thurnell-Read

This special issue of Boyhood Studies considers how a group of international scholars have engaged with the concepts of boyhood and belonging as a complex personal and powerful process. In different ways, the authors highlight how belonging is an ongoing negotiation within one’s surroundings. The international research presented here compels us to conceptualize belonging and boyhood as something that is not only infused with individuals and collective histories, but also interwoven within different conceptions of place and space. These places and spaces are experienced in multiple ways within different social contexts. We contend that this special issue is positioned at an important time in studies of boys and young men. As boys and young men experience their transition into adulthood with increased precarity, it is time we take theories of boyhood and belonging seriously. These theories can open up new spaces and provide critical insights into young lives.

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Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens

Marie Paxton

This article seeks to explore democratic theory by focusing on the example of agonistic democracy, in which contest between citizens is valued for its potential to render politics more inclusive, more engaging, and more virtuous. Using Connolly and Tully’s inclusivism, Chantal Mouffe’s adversarialism, and David Owen’s perfectionism, the article discusses democratic theory as a critique, a series of normative proposals, and a potential bridge between political theory and public policy. It is this bridge that enables democratic theory to pull together critical and normative discussions with those surrounding public policy and institutional design.

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Chong-ro

A Space of Belonging for Young Gay Men in Seoul

Elias Alexander

For young men navigating a sexual identity that lies on the periphery of culturally understood and politically acceptable discourses, places where one expresses such identities becomes necessary to foster a sense of belonging. Gay districts have existed as bastions of open self-expression, providing a sense of belonging in restrictive societal contexts. This is particularly true in South Korea. Through direct ethnographic engagement, this article analyzes the ways in which Chong-ro, one of Seoul’s gay districts, reinforces identity to create a sense of belonging. Through methods of participant observations and semi-structured interviews with self-identified gay men, qualitative data was collected and analyzed. This article attempts to show how these places help formulate relationships that affirm young gay men’s understanding of self, community, and belonging.

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Clarifying Liquidity

Keynes and Marx, Merchants, and Poets

Rolf Hugoson

This article is a history of liquidity presented as interaction between metaphors and theoretical concepts in social contexts. While taking note of Zygmunt Bauman’s metaphor “liquid modernity,” the study instead surveys the wider conceptual field. The text turns around mercantile liquidity (liquidity as clarification) and liquidity in modern economics (characteristic of all assets), as well as older metaphors, notably the famous phrase of the Communist Manifesto, “all that is solid melts into air” (Alles Ständische und Stehende verdampft), which is revealed to have resonance in texts by poets, notably Heinrich Heine. The main result is the historical consistency of the field, where liquidity is a promise of knowledge and clarity.

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Max Stille

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.

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Configurations of Plague

Spatial Diagrams in Early Epidemiology

Lukas Engelmann

Diagrams are found at the heart of the modern history of epidemiology. Epidemiologists used spatial diagrams to visualize concepts of epidemics as arrangements of biological, environmental, historical, as well as social factors and to analyze epidemics as configurations. Often, they provided a representation of the networks of relationships implied by epidemics, rather than to offer conclusions about origin and causation. This article will look at two spatial diagrams of plague across a period in which an epidemiological way of reasoning stood in stark contrast to arguments provided about plague in the rising field of bacteriology and experimental medicine. This historical genealogy of epidemiologists working with diagrams challenges perceptions of epidemic diagrams as mere arguments of causality to emphasize diagrammatic notions of uncertainty, crisis, and invisibility.

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Angélica Rodríguez Rodríguez and Carlos Enrique Guzmán Mendoza

Full article is in Spanish.

English abstract: This article analyses how, during the period from 2013 to 2017, popular consultation was used by nine Colombian municipalities to slow mining and hydrocarbon exploitation due to their harmful socio-environmental impact. In order to do so, we review the concept of sustainable development in relation with the legal mechanisms employed to its promotion and defense. We present the developments of the extractive sector in Colombia and discuss the nine popular consultations promoted by the municipal authorities. We conclude that despite the suitability of popular consultation, it has proved to be ineffective to stop the extractive projects that generate harmful effects on the communities where they are developed.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo analiza cómo, durante el periodo 2013–2017, la consulta popular fue utilizada por nueve municipios colombianos para frenar la explotación minera y de hidrocarburos dado su dañino impacto socioambiental. Para ello, revisamos el concepto de desarrollo sostenible en relación con los mecanismos legales empleados para su promoción y defensa. Presentamos los desarrollos del sector extractivo en Colombia y discutimos las nueve consultas populares adelantadas por los entes municipales. Concluimos que, a pesar de su idoneidad, la consulta popular ha resultado poco efectiva para detener los proyectos extractivos que generan efectos nocivos sobre las comunidades donde se desarrollan.

French abstract: Cet article analyse comment, au cours de la période 2013-2017, une consultation populaire a été menée dans neuf municipalités colombiennes sur l’exploitation minière et des hydrocarbures, en lien avec leur impact socio-environnemental. Pour ce faire, nous procédons d’abord à une révision du concept de développement durable par rapport aux mécanismes juridiques utilisés pour sa promotion et sa défense. Nous présentons ensuite les développements du secteur extractif en Colombie et analysons les neuf consultations menées par les autorités municipales. Finalement, nous concluons que, malgré son utilité, la consultation populaire s’est révélée inefficace pour mettre un terme aux projets d’extraction là où ils ont eu des effets néfastes sur les communautés.