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Soheila Shahshahani


All different sciences are defined in a specific way. It is not enough to define anthropology as a science that has studied human beings at all times and all places. It is the methodology of anthropology that is unique and increasingly appreciated by other fields. With the spread of COVID-19, as displacement became a problem, for the researcher and for those s/he had to be with, this methodology was temporarily put into question: social media or simply telephone contacts to gather data was used. The collection of articles in this issue reconfirms that it is through participant observation that the researcher can diligently and exhaustively study a topic or shine new light upon well-studied topics. Our topics are varied this time, some papers are from different fields, our methodology remains the same.

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Between Two Worlds

The Dybbuk, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and Reparative Tragedy

Lisa S. Starks


This article examines how S. Ansky's 1918 play The Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds and its subsequent adaptations on stage and screen appropriate Romeo and Juliet, transforming Shakespeare's tragedy, through Kabbalah and Jewish folklore, into one that ‘repairs’ the story of star-crossed lovers and the material world that they seek to escape. The Dybbuk is a ‘reparative tragedy’, one that intersects multiple levels of restoration, healing and repair. Generically, the play and its later stage and screen adaptations recuperate and refigure Shakespeare's tragedy; materially, it calls for the repair of past and impending trauma, suffering and severed human relationships. These levels, as well as others, culminate in the play's overriding spiritual one: the play follows the ‘reparative’ narrative of Kabbalah itself, with its goal of tikkun olam – to repair the world.

Open access

Beyond (Un)Stable

Chars as Dynamic Destabilisers of Problematic Binaries

Jenia Mukherjee, Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, and Raktima Ghosh

Abstract: Until recently, river islands have been neglected in island studies and river/water scholarship. We address this research gap by focusing on the ‘fluidscape’ of the Lower Ganga Basin, West Bengal, India. Drawing empirical insights on chars (river islands) of the River Ganga, located upstream and downstream of the Farakka Barrage, we present lives and livelihoods in this ‘ever-shifting landscape’ and demonstrate how the barrage project led to transplantation–obliteration-resurrection of chars in repetitive cycles and activated ambivalence among choruas (communities inhabiting chars). Our fluid tales of everydayness in the volatile river islands show how these ‘muddyscapes of hazards’ become ‘muddyscapes of opportunities’ along ‘situated adaptive practices’ and contingent adjustments pursued by choruas. We establish chars as the most significant metaphor of destabilisation, dislodging widely held ideas about rivers, vulnerability, adaptation, among others. The deployment of ‘volatility’ as the theoretical-conceptual traction allows us to perceive chars beyond vulnerability and instead as viablescapes.

Résumé : Jusqu’à récemment, la littérature académique des rivières et espaces aquatiques s’est peu intéressée aux îles fl uviales. L’existence de ce qui est « fluide » - c’est-à-dire, au-delà de la démarcation entre le « solide » et le « liquide » - en Asie du sud deltaïque n’est pas reconnue comme legs du savoir hydrologique colonial. Afin de combler ce vide, cette article présente les résultats d’une enquête empirique conduite sur les îles du bas Gange, en amont et en aval du barrage Farakka. En proposant la notion de « fluidscapes », nous nous attacherons à décrire les vies et modes de vie dans ces espaces toujours en mouvement et montreront comment le projet de barrage a provoqué une rupture sans précédent dans l’écologie de la rivière qui a transplanté, oblitéré et ressuscité des îles fluviales en cycles répétitifs. Il fera également écho à l’attitude ambivalente des Choruas, ces communautés qui habitent les îles fluviales. Ces histoires fluides de la vie quotidienne dans des îles fluviales volatiles nous permettent de mieux comprendre comment ces « espaces boueux dangereux » peuvent devenir des « espaces boueux d’opportunité » par la mise en œuvre de pratiques d’adaptation et d’ajustements contingents de la part des Choruas. Nos enquêtes ethnographiques nous ont conduits à voir dans ces îles fluviale une métaphore de la déstabilisation signifi cative, renversant largement les idées préconçues sur les rivières, la vulnérabilité, l’adaptation, etc. Le recours à la « volatilité » comme concept théorique est fécond dans la perception de ces espaces insulaires spécifi ques comme off rant un au-delà du vulnérable vers des espaces de vie qui sont bien viables, au contraire.

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Joseph Derrick Nelson

Reigeluth, Christopher S. 2022. The Masculinity Workbook for Teens: Discover What Being a Guy Means to You. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications

Open access

Gemechu Adimassu Abeshu, Ellie Assaf, Lauren Foley, Molly Gilmour, Beata Paragi, Ali Zafer Sağıroğlu, and Mirjam Wajsberg

BECOMING MIDDLE CLASS: Young People's Migration between Urban Centers in Ethiopia Markus Roos Breines. 2022. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan. 213 pages. ISBN: 978-981-16-3536-6 (hardback); ISBN: 978-981-16-3539-7 (paperback).

HYBRID POLITICAL ORDER AND THE POLITICS OF UNCERTAINTY: Refugee Governance in Lebanon Nora Stel. 2020. London: Routledge. 264 pages. ISBN 9781138352544 (hardback); ISBN 9780367518615 (paperback).

DEVELOPMENT, (DUAL) CITIZENSHIP AND ITS DISCONTENTS IN AFRICA: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia Robtel Neajai Pailey. 2021. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 276 pages. ISBN 9781108836548 (hardback); ISBN 9781108873871 (online).

MATERIAL CULTURE AND (FORCED) MIGRATION: Materializing the Transient Friedemann Yi-Neumann, Andrea Lauser, Antonie Fuhse, and Peter J. Bräunlein, eds. 2022. London: UCL Press. 367 pages. ISBN 9781800081628 (hardback); ISBN 9781800081611 (paperback).

POSTCOLONIALITY AND FORCED MIGRATION: Mobility, Control, Agency Martin Lemberg-Pedersen, Sharla M. Fett, Lucy Mayblin, Nina Sahraoui, and Eva Magdalena Stambøl, eds. 2022. Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. 246 pages. ISBN 978-1529218190 (hardback).

THE PRECARIOUS LIVES OF SYRIANS: Migration, Citizenship, and Temporary Protection in Turkey Feyzi Baban, Suzan Ilcan, Kim Rygiel. 2021. Montreal: McGill–Queen's University Press. 296 pages. ISBN 9780228008033 (hardback); ISBN 9780228008040 (paperback)

THE MIGRANT'S PARADOX: Street Livelihoods and Marginal Citizenship in Britain Suzanne M. Hall. 2021. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. 232 pages. ISBN 9781517910495 (hardback); ISBN 9781517910501 (paperback).

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Margrit Pernau


The methodology and theory developed by Koselleck has been successfully spread globally. Less attention has been devoted to reflections on the conditions and possibilities of universalizing his approach beyond the geographical area on the basis of which it was developed. This article proposes to reread Koselleck's three core contributions to the theory of history—the anthropological constants, the contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous, and the Sattelzeit—from a postcolonial viewpoint. Empirically it is based on the history of the South Asian Muslims, exploring how Koselleck can help raise new questions, but also how the change in the geographical viewpoint may lead to a reconsideration of some of his assumptions.

Open access

Changing Monsoonal Waterworlds

Sensing Delta Volatility through Hilsa Fish

Beth Cullen

Abstract: This article explores volatility from the perspective of hilsa fish in the Bengal Delta. The hilsa, known as ilish in Bengali, takes advantage of monsoonal hydrological dynamics in its life cycle. Today, hilsa are changing in response to anthropogenic activities, which attempt to stabilise delta landscapes in response to perceived volatility, but generate new volatilities that are felt and sensed corporeally by people who are entangled with hilsa lifeways. Interactions with a fisher, a cook, a scientist and an environmental activist during multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Bangladesh provide insights into how hilsa are experiencing and responding to spatial, material and temporal environmental transformations. Embodied understandings of hilsa lifeworlds gained through acts of fishing, cooking, dissecting and monitoring reveal the more-than-human reverberations of human-induced volatility.

Résumé : Cet article analyse la volatilité du point de vue du poisson hilsa dans le delta du Bengale. Le hilsa, également connu sous le nom de ilish en bengali, exploite la dynamique hydraulogique de la mousson au cours de son cycle de vie. Aujourd’hui, on constate que le poisson hilsa a changé en réponse aux activités anthropique qui tentent de stabiliser l’espace du delta contre sa volatilité perçue. Cette action créé une nouvelle volatilité qui est perçu par les personnes vivant étroitement avec le poisson hilsa. L’étude est basée sur une ethnographie multisite et des interactions avec un pêcheur, un cuisinier, un scientifi que et un activiste écologique au Bangladesh, dont l’objectif était de comprendre comment les expériences avec et l’étude du hisla permettent de saisir les transformations de l’environnement à l’œuvre. Le savoir incorporé des rythmes de vie du hilsa à travers l’activité de pêche, de cuisine, de dissection ou de surveillance donne à voir les réverbérations sur le non-humain de la volatilité induite par l’homme.

Open access

Channeled into a Transnational Street Vending Hub

Senegalese Street Hawkers in Buenos Aires

Ida Marie Savio Vammen


Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Buenos Aires, this article explores the social infrastructure created by Senegalese migrants, which channels newcomers into the cities’ prolific economy of street vending. The article focuses on the often invisible social infrastructure that emerges when people either do not have access to, or are excluded from, formal infrastructures created by the state, city governments, or NGOs. The article highlights how established migrants shape newly arrived migrants’ navigation and access to opportunities in the city to help reproduce life along a migration trajectory that fulfils social expectations in Senegal. However, this process also involves friction and new social alliances, especially when certain roles and expectations become contested.

Open access

Nele Noesselt


This article addresses the Chinese debates on utopian and dystopian modes of democracy. It opens the black box of the one-party state and delves below the surface of the People's Republic of China's official statements on “democracy” (e.g., “people's democracy,” “democratic centralism”) by focusing on the often-overlooked “democracy” contemplations within the highly fragmented Chinese academic communities. These reflections indirectly respond to the debates and governance practices in other world regions—with the US being referred to as the main “mirror” image. The article mainly focuses on the first two office terms of Xi Jinping. Developments since this re-appointment as head of the Chinese party-state in 2022 (and 2023), however, indicate that the “democracy” frame continues to serve as core element of the Chinese role-identity narratives.

Open access

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

Abstract: Sometimes attempts to reduce volatility have the opposite effect. A naturally flexible system which is regimented and disciplined to a fixed shape loses its ability to adjust to shifting circumstances. This is a recurrent theme in the anthropology of globalisation, where the dynamics between the fixed and the fluid are no less important than the more commonplace local–global contrast. Modernity produces infrastructures, institutions and practices that are unable to adapt smoothly to changing ecological conditions, giving priority to standardised models rather than solutions tailored to fit assemblages with unique characteristics. This article discusses two cases from Norway – a controversy over a bridge in an ecologically vulnerable area and a mudslide leading to considerable material damage and the loss of ten lives – as a means of looking into the scalar gaps and the relationship between stability and volatility in a society committed to technological control.

Résumé : Parfois, les tentatives de réduction de la volatilité ont l‘eff et inverse. Un système naturellement flexible qui est enrégimenté et discipliné à une forme fixe perd sa capacité à s‘adapter aux circonstances changeantes. Il s‘agit d‘un thème récurrent dans l‘anthropologie de la mondialisation, où la dynamique entre le fixe et le fluide n‘est pas moins importante que le contraste local-global, plus commun: la modernité produit des infrastructures, des institutions et des pratiques qui sont incapables de s‘adapter en douceur aux conditions écologiques changeantes, privilégiant des modèles standardisés plutôt que des solutions adaptées à des assemblages aux caractéristiques uniques. Cet article traite de deux cas en Norvège – une controverse sur un pont dans une zone écologiquement vulnérable et une coulée de boue entraînant des dégâts matériels considérables et la perte de dix vies – afin d‘examiner les écarts scalaires et la relation entre stabilité et volatilité dans une société engagée dans la maîtrise technologique.