I first encountered Ai Weiwei’s Law of the Journey as an amalgam of Instagram tiles (see photos on following page). The imposing sixty-meter-long rubber lifeboat—filled with faceless rubber bodies—was reduced to a scrollable algorithm. Posted across multiple time zones and geotagged in places like the Prague National Gallery to the most recent incarnation on Cockatoo Island (a decommissioned shipyard on Sydney harbor), Law of the Journey enjoyed much better travel rights and Visa entitlements than the actual refugees it depicted. While beyond the control of the artist or exhibiting venues, the mobility of images of Law of the Journey nonetheless made me think about the representations of refugees and border violence within the global art circuit.
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Religions, Morality, and Culture
Page Dougherty Delano
This article is a study of the complex social environment within the Vittel internment camp in eastern France during World War II. The Germans arrested some two thousand British women and then nearly three hundred American women of different class backgrounds, religions, political beliefs, and national affiliations, who were placed in the hotels of this spa town. The Vittel internment camp also became the temporary home of around three hundred Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, who claimed to possess American and South American citizenship. Most of these Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Drawing on memoirs, letters, Red Cross reports, and scattered histories, this article explores the interactions, resistance, and prejudices of camp inhabitants. It argues that American women’s behavior was guided less by religious beliefs than one might expect in the context of the 1940s.
Cultural anthropology in France continues to bear the influence of a colonial-era distinction between “modern” societies with a high degree of social differentiation (and marked by rapid social change) and ostensibly socially homogeneous and change-resistant “traditional” ones. The history of key institutions (museums and research institutes) bears witness to this, as does recent scholarship centered on “the contemporary” that reworks earlier models and concepts and applies them to a world increasingly marked by transnational circulation and globalization. Anthropology at the Crossroads describes the evolution of a national tradition of scholarship, changes to its institutional status, and the models, concepts, and critical perspectives of anthropologists currently revisiting and reworking the foundations of the discipline in France.
As from this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East, we are planning a new section, open to all readers, to share their academic experience in the Middle East. For those of us working in the region, anthropology has been a difficult field to get established and to contribute its share to the academia of the Middle East and from there to the academia and the public in the Middle East, and to the world of anthropology at large. We have had a variety of difficulties, as you will see in this text, and when we mention them, we realise anthropologists in some other countries far and wide have had similar experiences. Here, we propose to open an arena for expression and discussion with the hope of facilitating the road for younger anthropologists. In doing so, we shall not be pointing the finger at any one person or academic institutions, but wish to adopt a more comprehensive and holistic approach in addressing and solving our problems, and suggesting some solutions.
Anastasia Deligiaouri and Jane Suiter
How can we define democracy today given the continuous changes that modern societies are undergoing? What is the role of a democratic theorist? This paper articulates a threefold argument in responding to these questions by analyzing the term of democracy in vitro, in vivo, and in actu. The first step is to secure a democratic minimum and the core principles of democracy. The second step involves studying democracy as an ongoing project and examining how the principles of this democratic minimum are encoded. In the third step we deploy the basic premises of discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe when evaluating a specific discourse of democracy, as this approach encompasses both discursive and nondiscursive practices. Utilizing this three-level evaluative framework for democratic theory will allow us to not only articulate normative principles but also evaluate them according to their mode of implementation.
The Transition to Nuclear Power in Turkey
Focusing on Turkey’s nuclearisation process, which has accelerated over the past decade, this article examines the historical and contemporary relationships that the country’s political decision-makers maintain with risk, the environment and health and ecological disasters. While the transition to nuclear power in the post-Fukushima period is not a dynamic specific to Turkey, it nevertheless operates, in the Turkish case, in a particular geographic, energy and political context. On the one hand, Turkey is a highly seismic country that heavily depends on its neighbours for energy and, on the other, is experiencing a creeping political authoritarianism. This article focuses on the dynamics and specificities of this post-disaster nuclear transition, which will be analysed here as ‘serene nuclearism’, positioned as the polar opposite of ‘reflexive modernisation’, as theorised by Ulrich Beck.
Field Notes as First Responder Witness Accounts
I position critical ethnographic researcher field notes as an opportunity to document the physical and ideological violence that white settler states and institutions on the school-prison nexus inflict on the lives of girls of color generally and Black girls specifically. By drawing on my own field notes, I argue that critical social science researchers have an ethical duty to move their inquiries beyond conventions of settler colonial empirical science when they are wanting to create knowledges that transcend traditions of body counts and classification systems of human lives. As first responders to the social emergencies in girls’ lives, researchers can make palpable spatialization of institutionalized forms of settler epistemologies to convey more girl-centered ways of speaking against quantifiable hierarchies of human life.
A (Re)Mapping Guide towards Harriet Tubman and Beyond
Loren S. Cahill
Blackgirls have a long subaltern legacy of being geographers. We have complicated the settler-colonial project of cartography uniquely through our radical placemaking efforts towards achieving safety, inclusion, and liberation. In this autoethnographic article, I trace my own socio-spatial-sensory reflections that I experienced during my visit to Harriet Tubman’s Homeplace, Senior Home, and Grave Site in Auburn, New York. I attempt to unsettle the undertheorized renderings of Tubman by interrogating her personal freedom dreams, liberation geography, and womanist cartography. I then map the intergenerational solidarity that Blackgirls have forged with Tubman more contemporarily through their own space making. I conclude by unpacking what ontological lessons both knowledge producers and organizers can glean from Tubman’s geographic sacredness and savvy.
Nick Gill and Anthony Good (eds), Asylum Determination in Europe: Ethnographic Perspectives (London: Palgrave Macmillan)
Naomi J. Andrews, Simon Jackson, Jessica Wardhaugh, Shannon Fogg, Jessica Lynne Pearson, Elizabeth Campbell, Laura Levine Frader, Joshua Cole, Elizabeth A. Foster and Owen White
Silyane Larcher, L’Autre Citoyen: L’idéal républicain et les Antilles après l’esclavage (Paris: Armand Colin, 2014).
Elizabeth Heath, Wine, Sugar, and the Making of Modern France: Global Economic Crisis and the Racialization of French Citizenship, 1870–1910 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
Rebecca Scales, Radio and the Politics of Sound in Interwar France, 1921–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).
Claire Zalc, Dénaturalisés: Les retraits de nationalité sous Vichy (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2016).
Bertram M. Gordon, War Tourism: Second World War France from Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018).
Shannon L. Fogg, Stealing Home: Looting, Restitution, and Reconstructing Jewish Lives in France, 1942–1947 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Sarah Fishman, From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution: Gender and Family Life in Postwar France (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
Frederick Cooper, Citizenship between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945–1960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014).
Jessica Lynne Pearson, The Colonial Politics of Global Health: France and the United Nations in Postwar Africa (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).
Darcie Fontaine, Decolonizing Christianity: Religion and the End of Empire in France and Algeria (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016).