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Crisis and retirement

Alienation in Kerala's tea belt

Jayaseelan Raj

The recent crisis in the tea industry has devastated the livelihood of the Dalit workforce in the South Indian state of Kerala. Retired workers were worst affected, since the plantation companies—under the disguise of the crisis—deferred their service payout. This article seeks to understand the severe alienation of the retirees as they struggle to regain lost respect, kinship network, and everyday sociality in the plantations and beyond. I argue that the alienation produced through their dispossession as wage laborers and the discrimination as Tamil-speaking Dalit must be understood as an interrelated process, whereas the source of alienation cannot be reduced to production or categorical relations alone.

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Olusegun Steven Samuel and Ademola Kazeem Fayemi

This article is a critique of Thaddeus Metz’s modal relational approach to moral status in African ethics (AE). According to moral relationalism (MR), a being has moral status if it exhibits the capacity for communal relationship as either a subject or an object. While Metz defends a prima facie plausibility of MR as an African account of moral status, this article provides a fresh perspective to the debate on moral status in environmental and ethical discourse. It raises two objections against MR: (1) the capability criterion inherent in MR is not only exogenous to African thought but also undermines the viability of MR; and (2) MR cannot account for the standing of species populations. Both objections have severe implications for biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa and beyond.

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Degrees of Permeability

Confinement, Power and Resistance in Freetown's Central Prison

Luisa T. Schneider

This article deconstructs a binary that has arisen between prisons as, on the one hand, ‘total institutions’ of exclusion and, on the other, ‘carceral continuums’ that incorporate marginalized urban livelihoods. The experiences of four inmates at Pademba Road, Freetown’s male prison – which accommodates inmates with sentences from one year to life – illustrate that prisons belong in neither camp. Instead, inmates’ unique responses to their imprisonment show that both a prison’s continuity and its exclusionary mechanism are situational and gendered as crime, social standing, capital and agency coalesce. Following Michel de Certeau’s examination of people’s reappropriations of culture in everyday life, this article analyses how inmates’ tactics to reinforce and bend prison walls work to either strengthen or undermine the carceral system’s strategies and influence the prison’s permeability. Inmates’ embodied experiences allow for a nuanced understanding of the inside/outside relationship of imprisonment and of the space between mobility and stasis, subjugation, embrace and resistance.

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Desarrollo vs. satisfacción de necesidades básicas

Recepción de remesas en Morelos, México

Ana Melisa Pardo Montaño and Claudio Alberto Dávila Cervantes

*Full article is in Spanish

English abstract: This article responds to the following questions: Which sociodemographic characteristics of households influence the reception of remittances in Morelos? What are the differences in household expenditure in basic needs if a household receives internal or international remittances, or if it receives none? Using the National Income and Expenditure Survey of 2016, we employed a logistic regression to examine the factors associated with the reception of remittances, and we analyzed different areas of expenditure by type of household. We present some reflection on a sending community in Morelos (Axochiapan) where we conducted 23 semi-structured interviews with people who receive remittances, who explained the main uses of these resources. We observed household characteristics that favor the reception of remittances, mainly used to satisfy basic needs.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo buscó responder: ¿qué características socio-demográficas en hogares influyen en la recepción de remesas en Morelos? y ¿cuáles son las diferencias en el gasto de los hogares respecto a sus necesidades básicas recibiendo o no remesas internas o internacionales? Utilizando la Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares 2016, estimamos una regresión logística para examinar los factores asociados a la recepción de remesas y analizamos los rubros del gasto por tipo de hogar. Presentamos opiniones de una comunidad de origen en Morelos (Axochiapan), donde realizamos 23 entrevistas semiestructuradas a personas receptoras de remesas, quienes explicaron los principales usos de estos recursos. Observamos características de los hogares que favorecen la recepción de remesas, mayormente ocupadas en la satisfacción de necesidades básicas.

French abstract: Cet article pose la question suivante: quelles caractéristiques sociodémographiques des ménages influencent les transferts de fonds au Morelos? Quelles sont les différences de dépenses des ménages quant à leurs besoins fondamentaux, en fonction des transferts de fonds internes ou internationaux? A partir de l’Enquête nationale sur les revenus et dépenses de 2016, nous avons réalisé une régression logistique afin d’analyser les facteurs associés à la réception de fonds et les types de dépenses selon les ménages. Nous présentons ici les résultats concernant une communauté originaire du Morelos (Axochiapan), où nous avons effectué vingt-trois entretiens semi-structurés avec des destinataires de fonds qui ont expliqué les principales utilisations qu’ils faisaient de ces revenus. Nous en concluons les caractéristiques des ménages qui favorisent la réception des transferts de fonds, destinés principalement à satisfaire des besoins fondamentaux.

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Dividing Worlds

Tsunamis, Seawalls, and Ontological Politics in Northeast Japan

Andrew Littlejohn

In 2011, a tsunami devastated Japan’s Northeast coastline following a magnitude 9.1 earthquake. In its aftermath, disaster scientists, civil engineers, and central government officials advocated protecting people and property from future oceanic incursions by armoring the coast with giant seawalls. Many survivors challenged this recommendation, arguing for other ways of ensuring safety and organizing human-nonhuman relations across the land-water interface. This article analyzes such resistance as acts of what I call ‘ontological dissensus’: the lodging of alternative ways of attuning to, conceptualizing capacities of, and arranging relations between beings in one’s environment into dominant ones. I argue that such a theory helps us not only to understand anti-seawall activism in post-tsunami Japan, but also to consider how, and when, ontological difference becomes active in political controversies.

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Andrew Sanchez

This special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, entitled ‘Confinement Beyond Site: Connecting Urban and Prison Ethnographies’, is guest edited by Julienne Weegels, Andrew M. Jefferson and Tomas Max Martin.

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Heta Mulari

In this article I discuss girls’ and non-binary young people’s experiences of unwelcome intergenerational encounters in the Helsinki metro underground transport network. I foreground a theoretical conception of the metro as an urban space in which the material is deeply intertwined with the political and as a space with its own racialized, gendered, and age-based hierarchies. Calling on the work of Sara Ahmed, I investigate how girls and non-binary young people make meaning of unwanted emotional encounters in the metro space and how they use and adopt certain material and digital strategies that Helena Saarikoski calls young feminine choreographies, to cope in these situations. This article is based on interviews with girls and non-binary young people who were then between 16 and 17 years of age.

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Explicating Ecoculture

Tracing a Transdisciplinary Focal Concept

Melissa M. Parks

Ecoculture is an emerging focal concept reflecting the inextricability of nature and culture. It is applicable to and employed in many disciplines, yet it is rarely defined, cited, or interrogated, causing potential inconsistencies in scholarly operationalization. In the present analysis, I use Steven H. Chaffee’s method of explication to develop an analytical review of ecoculture. I explore the primitive terms—ecology and culture—before assessing the scholarly use of the derived, compound term. I trace ecoculture across multiple disciplines, synthesizing operationalizations into one transdisciplinary theoretical framework. I find that ecoculture connotes interconnectedness and place relations, and has been critically operationalized in ways that problematize dominant human-centered ideologies, making it a productive scholarly frame that emphasizes the relationships between humans, their cultures, and their ecologies.

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Hollis Moore

This article – based on fieldwork conducted in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil – examines how those people most affected by carceral expansion pursue safety in an everyday marked by existential threat. Through a focus on a neglected sector of this population, namely adult women, I show how carceral encounters specifically – and informal, illegal and not-yet-(il)legal exchanges more generally – intersect with familial logics and imperatives to engender a capacity for action that I call ‘extralegal agency’. Extralegal agency is central to a practice of safety that represents an alternative to the dominant model of carceral security. An extralegal agency approach to analysing interconnected prison/urban fields, which decentres masculinized criminal organizations and resists romanticizing the rule of law, enables a disruption of dominant discourses of and about the carceral state.

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"Farmers Don't Dance"

The Construction of Gender in a Rural Scottish School

Fiona G. Menzies and Ninetta Santoro

In this article we examine the influence of rurality on the construction of masculinity and femininity for, and by, pupils in a rural secondary school in Scotland. Using data from semi-structured interviews with male and female pupils and a teacher, as well as observations of classroom interactions over a period of 12 months, we highlight how girls take up multiple and complex gendered identities in a rural context and we emphasize the tensions they experience as they negotiate a feminine identity in a rural space constructed and described as masculine. Findings suggest that this construction is, at times, supported by teachers’ practices and their interactions with pupils. We conclude by discussing the implications for teachers in rural schools and point to the need to support girls to ensure that their educational opportunities are not limited by the deep-rooted associations that exist between rurality and masculinity.