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Addressing the Irrational Drivers of the Climate Crisis

Surplus Repression and Destructive Production

Diana Stuart, Brian Petersen, and Ryan Gunderson


An increasing number of scientists have illustrated how economic growth is an underlying driver of the climate crisis. This article examines how associated levels of excess work, production, and consumption repress human flourishing and drive global warming. Drawing from the work of Herbert Marcuse and André Gorz, we discuss the irrationality of a system of excess work, production, and consumption in terms of unnecessary human repression and environmental destruction. In the context of the climate crisis, this system becomes even more irrational as it threatens the habitability of Earth for humans. We examine work-time reduction and related sufficiency measures as a rational response to the climate crisis.

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Algae Openings

How the Bloom Boom in the United States and Mexico makes Environmental Protection Actionable

Laura Otto and Carly Rospert


Humans have always lived with and around algae. At times, algae enable life, and at others, render life difficult. This article examines two sites suffering from atypical—and potentially harmful—algae blooms: Lake Erie in Ohio (USA) and the Riviera Maya (Mexico). Referring to ethnographic fieldwork, as well as to newspaper articles, policy papers, and online fora, we demonstrate how the narratives around algae have changed over time and shed light on how changes in these narratives opened the discussion of wetland repair and coastal integrity. We argue that conceptualizing algae as the “unwanted” unifies people, brings them together, and makes the treatment of lake eutrophication and coastal protection actionable.

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The Americans and “Sleeper Cells” of Russian Intelligence in America

A Story Behind the TV Show

Sergei I. Zhuk


In June of 2010, a Canadian couple, Donald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as the KGB “sleeper agents.” These KGB agents (Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova) lived in Canada since 1992, and in the United States since 1999, working for the Russian intelligence as “a sleeper cell” of the Russian spies. This story became an inspiration for the American TV show The Americans (2013–2018). Using the reviews of this TV show from the United States and Russia, the interviews with the real participants of the events of 2010 and with the retired KGB officers, the KGB documents from the SBU Archive in Kyiv, Ukraine, this article is an attempt to study how the special KGB/FSB operations in the USA, portrayed in one American TV series became an object of fascination and “fictionalization” on the both—American and Russian—sides of the geo-political conflict.

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Anthropology against Borders

Stephen Campbell

Ghosh, Sahana. 2023. A Thousand Tiny Cuts: Mobility and Security across the Bangladesh–India Borderland. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 296 pp. Pb.: US$29.95. ISBN: 978-0-5203-9573-2.

Keshavarz, Mahmoud and Shahram Khosravi (eds.) 2022. Seeing Like a Smuggler: Borders from Below. London: Pluto Press. 216 pp. Pb.: £19.99. ISBN: 978-0-7453- 4161-3.

Shih, Elena. 2023. Manufacturing Freedom: Sex Work, Anti-trafficking Rehab, and the Racial Wages of Rescue. Oakland, CA: University of California Press. 288 pp. Pb.: US$29.95. ISBN: 978-0-5203-7970-1.

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Becoming an Abla

Homemaking and the Shaping of an Ethical Self among Women in a Turkish Muslim Community in Brazil

Liza Dumovich


This article analyses the performance of homemaking and religious practices of six Turkish Muslim women who made hicret (migration) to Brazil, focusing on the domestic space of their shared apartment. Their reasons to migrate combine personal motivations and a sense of responsibility to spread the world view of the Turkish Islamic movement of which they are participants. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, I explore their everyday practices in the production of an ideal Muslim self and the making of a home in order to understand the effects of the community's domesticities on their individual trajectories. The analysis shows that the performance of those everyday practices produces a moral and affective bond to the movement and its religious leader, conditioning home to a specific spatial and moral structure.

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Blocking the Exit

Research Ethics and Bureaucratic Writing Practices

Brendan Whitty


I argue that the standard model of research ethics pushes the ethnographer of bureaucracies to the cautious, concise and compliant textual practices styles of the bureaucracy itself. Given the methodological importance of writing to ethnography, this matters. To make the argument, I draw on my experience of my decision to embargo my PhD thesis, an ethnography of an international donor agency. I show how the key gatekeeper to my research sought to translate concepts from research ethics (consent, avoidance of harm) into insisting on writing and stylistic practices familiar to his organisation (scope of work, risk), in order to constrain future academic publications. These dilemmas played out in the text of the thesis, its styles, forms and arguments. In studying up, the ethical demands of writing present challenges to the text and its methodological significance. I suggest that navigating these methodological challenges demand strategies that also start with the text.


Je défends ici l'idée que les standards et modèles traditionnels d’éthique de la recherche poussent l'ethnographe des bureaucraties à développer des pratiques textuelles précautionneuses, concises et complaisantes proches de celles de la bureaucratie elle-même. Etant donné l'importance méthodologique de l’écriture pour l'ethnographie, cela a une grande importance. Pour présenter cet argument, je m'appuie sur la décision de placer ma thèse de doctorat sous embargo, thèse qui portait sur l'ethnographie d'une agence internationale de don. Au cours de ce processus, je montre comment les garants clés de ma recherche ont cherché à traduire les concepts de l’éthique de la recherche (consentement, évitement du préjudice porté) en une insistance sur l’écriture et les pratiques stylistiques familières à cette organisation (visée du travail, risque), dans le but de contraindre la façon dont le bureau était campé dans mes écrits à la langue et les représentations autorisées en cours dans cet office. Avec l'insistance et la contrainte a émergé un dilemme entre les demandes méthodologiques de l’écriture ethnographique et les responsabilités éthiques mises en avant. Le dilemne s'est traduit de façon grandissante dans le texte au point de menacer ma capacité à développer une perspective sur mes données et à séparer le bureau du terrain. Je montre comment je suis parvenu à contourner ces défis méthodologiques par des stratégies de recentrage sur le texte : embargo de la thèse et déplacement pour publier les données sous le format plus court d'articles.

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Charlatans and Fraudsters

Spiritual Healing and the Discourse of Piety and Order in Egypt

Sohayla El Fakahany


This article delves into the intricate interplay among state institutions, belief systems, dominant discourses and alternative spiritual healing practices in Egypt. It scrutinises the challenges encountered by individuals seeking spiritual healing within a societal framework shaped by educational and religious institutions, social norms, media and the law. Employing a multidisciplinary approach that integrates social anthropology, discourse analysis and cultural studies, the research sheds light on the regulations and limitations imposed on individuals by state-generated discourses, compelling adherence to prescribed rules and belief systems. The analysis explores how power hierarchy and dominant institutions, which categorise certain practices as disordered due to their ritualistic nature, are challenged by practitioners persisting in their work and seekers continuing to pursue these services.

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Civilizing Russia's “Barbarous Kingdom”

Gender and Violence in Hulu's The Great

Marjorie Hilton


The Hulu series The Great, an ahistorical satire of the eighteenth-century Russian Empire, set at the courts of Peter III and Catherine II, doubles as a critique of contemporary politics and culture. Created for Anglophone audiences with little knowledge of history, but aware of stereotypes of Russia as a despotic, dysfunctional backwater, the show's appeal rests on the love-hate relationship between Peter the bro-emperor and the “girlboss” empress Catherine, as well as the expectation that Catherine, ultimately, will “have-it-all.” This article examines the gender dynamics structuring Peter's and Catherine's narrative arcs and argues that Catherine's trajectory from naïve, self-declared enlightened European princess to skilled, pragmatic ruler undermines Peter's attempt to liberate himself from an outdated model of masculinity.

Open access

Democracy, Participation, and Capitalist Crisis

An Interview with Nancy Fraser

Nancy Fraser, Adrian Bua, and Nick Vlahos


This conversation with Nancy Fraser explores her work on the crises of capitalism, democracy, and participation. Fraser has argued that much scholarship in political science and democratic theory on these issues is hampered by “politicism”—an inclination to view the political in separation from other social spheres, which fails to appreciate the structural nature of contemporary crises. Fraser argues that the political arena is important because it is here that collective regulatory powers are exercised, however it needs to be situated within a broader understanding of the social totality to understand how it is affected by crisis dynamics in other spheres and how it might contribute to attenuating, or resolving, these. Our conversation begins by exploring these arguments in relation to Fraser's recent work on the critique of capitalism, and then traces how this relates to her work on the public sphere, participatory parity, and utopian thought.

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Democratizing Essential Reliance Systems

Participation and Social Reproduction in the Foundational Economy

Bernd Bonfert


The increasingly obvious unsustainability of neoliberal capitalism creates an urgent need to understand how societies can meet their needs in a just and sustainable fashion. The new theoretical framework of the “Foundational Economy” may provide answers, as it explores a holistic transformation of essential reliance systems, such as food provision, energy, care, and housing. However, its conceptualization of democratic agency needs to be strengthened.

This article addresses this need by expanding the Foundational Economy framework with insights from the literature on social reproduction theory (SRT) and the solidarity economy (SE). SRT highlights the gendered and racialized hierarchies of essential reliance systems as key targets for transformation, while the SE encompasses participatory and non-capitalist practices that can democratize those systems. This expanded framework is applied to the UK agroecology movement, which aims to build democratic, sustainable, and non-capitalist alternatives to the food system, while subverting its classed, gendered, and racialized inequalities.