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Open access

Aane Wala Hai

Waiting for the Arrival of the State

Syantani Chatterjee


The Bharatiya Janata Party won the 2014 parliamentary elections in India, popularising the slogan ‘Achhe din aane wale hai’ (‘Good days are coming’). Even as the good days remained elusive, in 2019, the party won the popular vote again, with an additional promise of culling out putative ‘infiltrators’ from India by announcing ‘NRC aane wala hai’ (‘NRC is coming’). Drawing on ethnographic research carried out between 2016 and 2019 in a largely Muslim working-class neighbourhood next to one of Asia's largest garbage dumps in Mumbai, this article attempts to grasp the force of the state through its affective deferral by examining this aane wala hai form of governance – the forever-deferred, the always-arriving, the ready-to-strike – that is predicated upon weaponising deferral into a tactic of governance.

Open access

Accountabilities in the NHS

Coercion, Finance and Responsibility

Piyush Pushkar


This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out with managers, politicians and political activists in the English public healthcare system. Rather than a dominance of financial accountability, I found a mish-mash of accountabilities, in which the duty to ‘balance the books’ was a key driver but one that relied on other forms of coercion. Campaigners mobilised the concept of political accountability against cuts and privatisation. While bureaucrats were often sympathetic to activists’ point of view, they felt constrained by ‘the reality’ of limited funds. Their conceptualisations of what was possible were enclosed. Debate regarding those limits was foreclosed. I sketch these limits on bureaucrats’ ethical imagination, theorising them as ideological closure. But at times, managers did imagine alternative possibilities. Mostly, they kept quiet regarding alternatives due to a fear of losing their jobs. Thus, corporate accountability – to one's employer – enforced service retrenchment in the name of financial accountability.

Open access

Nikita Simpson

Michiel Baas. Muscular India: Masculinity, mobility & the new middle class. New Delhi: Context, 2020.

Alice Tilche. Adivasi art and activism: Curation in a nationalist age. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2022.

Sanderien Verstappen. New lives in Anand: Building a Muslim hub in Western India. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2022.

Open access


Thoughts on Governance, Punctuation and Authoritarian Populism

Maria José de Abreu


Inspired by key concerns of this collective project, this afterword article highlights two main aspects in the discussion of governance through suspension. The first aspect is how geographically widespread the rhetoric of ‘indeterminacy’ (as the fuel of the temporal medium of suspension) has become, soliciting analyses of differentiation across cultures and time. The second aspect relates to the politics of punctuated time in light of changes happening in our current culture of temporality. These two aspects integrate my interest in rethinking the classic concept of the (sovereign) decision conceived as separation from towards that of incision as cut through, particularly in light of rising expressions of authoritarian populism, globally, across regimes.

Open access

The anthropology of infrastructure

The boom and the bubble?

Natalia Buier


This article engages with the constitution of the anthropology of infrastructure as an autonomous subdiscipline. Rather than laboring in the service of demarcating a new field of study, anthropologists, I argue, should strive for a critical deconstruction of the contemporary infrastructural moment. In the first part of the article, I engage with the arguments in favor of infrastructure as an analytical lens by focusing on their treatment of relationality and materiality. I pinpoint the limitations of these approaches and argue that their epistemological and theoretical assumptions blunt the critical potential of anthropological studies of infrastructure. The second part of the article looks at theoretical alliances that favor connecting the anthropological study of infrastructure with a critical analysis of the production of nature and the built environment.

Restricted access

Are Movies Making Us Smarter?

The Role of Cinematic Evolution in the Flynn Effect

Tim J. Smith, Claire Essex, and Rachael Bedford


IQ tests have charted massive gains over the last century, known as the Flynn Effect. Over the same period, the time society spends with screens has massively increased and intensified, for example, shorter and closer shots, increasing narrative complexity. In Movies on our Minds (2021), James Cutting suggests a potential bidirectional link between the two effects: generational increase in visual processing abilities led to movie makers increasing the demands their movies place on viewer cognition, which in turn has trained societal visual processing capacity. In this commentary we review the evidence for such a positive association. The evidence indicates that increasing screen time may be associated with faster visual processing but also a potentially decreased ability to process this information (i.e., reduced executive functions). Further, effects may be dependent on the type of screen experience (e.g., developmental appropriateness of content and delivery platform such as TikTok) and other environmental considerations (e.g., socioeconomic status, parenting), suggesting that the factors influencing our evolving media/mind niche may be more complex than originally proposed.

Open access

Are You with Us or Against Us?

Studying Conflicts Over Conspiracy Theories and Overcoming the Great Conspiratorial Divide

Elżbieta Drążkiewicz


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, two contrasting images quickly became representative of the crisis. On the one hand, there were heroic doctors working day and night with the novel virus, risking their lives and making sacrifices to save others. On the other, there were ‘anti-maskers’ and ‘anti-vaxxers’: people doubting if the virus is real, questioning the effectiveness of protective measures, suspicious that the crisis is nothing more than an elaborate plot, a scam aimed to redesign their world and to destroy the values they hold dear. Reflecting on research conducted in Ireland with people separated by the conspiratorial divide, this paper examines some methodological and analytical challenges of doing simultaneous research with opposing stakeholders. Analysing my own entanglements in the conflicts over vaccines and conspiracy theories in this paper I argue that the pandemic was not just a battle to secure the acceptability of specific medical technology (the COVID-19 vaccine) but was also about safeguarding respectability of science and maintaining the rule of experts. It was about preventing ontological turn, the end of the era of reason, a dawn of modernity.

Restricted access

As Knowers and Narrators

A Case Study of African Girlhood

Sharon Adetutu Omotoso and Ejemen Ogbebor


Expanded feminist narratives on the girl child have paid little attention to how young girls have become agents of their own change and sharers of their own knowledge. In this study, we spotlight girls’ agency reinforced by institutions that transform them from recipient to agents of change and resilience. In this qualitative study, we deploy critical analysis and reflective argumentation to underscore how Women's Research and Documentation Center (WORDOC) of the Institute of African Studies University of Ibadan provided Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tactics to girls aged 10 to 18 between 2018 and 2019 at its annual WORDOC Girls’ Summit. We explore a version of African girlhood aimed at presenting institutional impacts that offer platforms for girls’ self-empowerment and girl-agency in Nigeria.

Restricted access

The Bereaved Daughter

Traces of Military Orphanhood in the Artwork of Israeli Women Artists

Yael Guilat


This article deals with the intersection between bereavement, gender, and art in the context of the cult of the fallen in Israel, focusing on the life story and artwork of two women artists, Asnat Austerlitz (b. 1969) and Michal Shachnai Yaakobi (b. 1967) who experienced orphanhood in a military context. Adopting the two-track model of bereavement suggested by Simon Rubin in 1981, the article offers an analytical, interdisciplinary examination of their artworks as adult women artists who are aware of the fragility of life and its finite character but also understand the importance and significance of continuing emotional bonds after death. Both have developed in diverse medium gender-based artistic creations related to the cult of the fallen creating models of alternative and counter-hegemonic memory that are manifested through personal languages full of irony, fantasy, and pain.

Open access

Beyond Anthropology's Edges

Debunking the ‘Noble Anthropologist’, Practicing Pragmatism, and Embracing Entrepreneurialism

Cynthia Sear


In recent years, anthropology has become a buzz word in the corporate world. Companies such as Google have hired anthropologists for research and product design while marketing consultancies such as Red Associates have built their brands around anthropological methods. Yet, corporate anthropologists such as myself occupy an uneasy space within anthropology. Despite the discipline's internal commitment to reflexivity of its complicity in broader hegemonies, on the ‘outside’ when communicating to the public, the pristine figure of a ‘noble anthropologist’—acting to make the world a better place, free from influence and self-interest—is often evoked. While some applied anthropologists conform to this image of the ‘noble anthropologist’, the corporate anthropologist often does not. In the context of decreasing student numbers and dissolving departments for anthropologists working in the academy, I consider how a pragmatic and entrepreneurial approach to securing corporate work, while not necessarily ‘noble’, might still be ‘good’.