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Mapping Transformations of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Modern Iran

Afsaneh Najmabadi

This article aims to provide a broad overview of the enormous transformations of gender and sexual relations and sensibilities that occurred in Iran from the early nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth century. In particular, it seeks to investigate how these changes—while not directly linked with a project of production of modern governmentable bodies in the sense that Foucault had proposed for a similar period of European history—were deeply connected with what it meant to 'achieve modernity' for the Iranian cultural elite of this period. The article ends by bringing this historical background to bear on some very recent developments that have come to public attention through the discussions of sex-change surgeries in Iran.

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Crafting the Local

GIs, Jewelry, and Transformations in Valenza, Italy

Michele F. Fontefrancesco

This article examines the effects that GI (geographic indication) brands may have on the commodity producers who employ this marketing strategy. By analyzing the case of jewelry production in Valenza, Italy, and the creation of the DV brand, it demonstrates that GIs tend to impose new forms of production over the local milieu. Although based on a rhetoric about the maintenance of traditional practices, GIs enforce a techno-scientific approach over a techne-oriented understanding on the local level. Echoing Foucault's idea of disciplinary power, GIs and their regulation bodies thus become agents of a transformation of the local community and local production practice. This case suggests that these transformations of locale, which result in tension among market standards, brand regulation, and production due to the rhetoric of 'authenticity', should be reconsidered.

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“Completely Useless“

Exiling the Disabled to Tsarist Siberia

Andrew A. Gentes

The ostracizing of mentally and physically disabled individuals is a cross-cultural phenomenon that amounts to what Henri-Jacques Stiker calls a “murderous system,“ which does not kill such individuals outright, but instead indirectly. This as well as Foucault's notions about the construction of madness and deviancy serve as a departure point for understanding tsarist Russia's murderous system of deporting the disabled to Siberia. This article charts this system's operation over the longue durée, from the midsixteenth to the late nineteenth century; describes the motivations and factors conditioning those powerbrokers who exiled the disabled; and provides data on the number of disabled exiles and describes conditions they faced. I argue that the state's exploitation of the peasantry, the peasantry's inculcation of commodifying economic imperatives, and the availability of Siberia's expanses combined to make Russia's a uniquely murderous system that lasted for centuries.

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The specific intellectual's pivotal position

Action, compassion and thinking in administrative society, an Arendtian view

Gregory Feldman

Political action is frequently conceptualised as starting from the ground up. Plausible as this point may be, it pays insufficient attention to well‐established arguments that we inhabit administrative society, implicitly contrasted against political society, with technocrats operating the requisite power/knowledge grid away from the street. Like Foucault's ‘specific intellectuals’, technocrats work in pivotal positions in apparatuses of population regulation, but nevertheless can potentially recognise the plight of the marginalised ‘masses’ as they themselves are also alienated subject‐objects of population regulation. This article draws on a range of ethnographic encounters with technocrats working in diverse areas of migration management in the European Union to prompt an examination of the historical and social conditions that impede, and often render unthinkable, direct engagement between technocrats and the migrants whom they are paid to regulate. The article draws explicitly on Hannah Arendt's work on the , compassion, thinking, judging and revolution (1) to explain how the apparatus's systemic isolation of both its policy experts and policy targets impedes political action and (2) to identify a form of ethnographic engagement that might help to overcome it.

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Reviews

Aurélie Godet, Andre Thiemann, Fabiana Dimpflmeier, Anne-Erita Berta, Giuseppe Tateo, Alexandra Schwell, Greca N. Meloni, and Lieke Wijnia

Jean-François Bert and Elisabetta Basso (eds) (2015), Foucault à Münsterlingen. À l’origine de l’Histoire de la folie (Paris: Éditions de l’EHESS), 285 pp., €24, ISBN 9782713225086.

Čarna Brković (2017), Managing Ambiguity: How Clientelism, Citizenship, and Power Shape Personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Oxford: Berghahn), 208 pp., $120.00/£85.00, ISBN 9781785334146.

William A. Douglass (2015), Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean (Reno: University of Nevada Press), 230 pp., $24.95, ISBN 9781935709602.

Peter Naccarato, Zachary Nowak and Elgin K. Eckert (eds) (2017), Representing Italy through Food (London: Bloomsbury Academic), 269 pp., £85, ISBN 9781474280419.

Bruce O’Neill (2017), The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order (Durham: Duke University Press), 280 pp., $25.95, ISBN 9780822363286.

Tomasz Rakowski (2016), Hunters, Gatherers, and Practitioners of Powerlessness: An Ethnography of the Degraded in Postsocialist Poland (Oxford: Berghahn), 332 pp., $130.00/£92.00, ISBN 9781785332401.

Antonio Sorge (2015), Legacies of Violence: History, Society, and the State in Sardinia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 232 pp., $24.61, ISBN 9781442627291.

Helena Wulff (ed.) (2016), The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford: Berghahn), 288 pp., $130.00/£92.00, ISBN 9781785330186.

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Rethinking Social Theory in Contemporary Social Movements

Nadia Ferrer

In current and future situations of trans-global crises, social dissent and related practices of resistance cut across conventional country boundaries. Expressions of dissent and resistance pursue change through unconventional practices not only to challenge current governance, but to re-invent participation. They seek to impact society by transforming acquired values, subjectivities and knowledge. Despite these transformations of people’s subjectivities, majoritarian theories examining social movements still focus on finding rational patterns that can be instrumentalized in data sets and produce generalizable theoretical outcomes. This paper problematizes how social theory makes sense of collective action practices on the ground. Everyday non-discursive practices prove productivity-led theories' increasing disengagement with their object while challenging the excessive bureaucratization of scientific knowledge (Lyotard, 1997). That is, people experiment collectively with their capacities, and create their own initiatives and identities which do not follow determined patterns but do-while-thinking. The dichotomist approach of majoritarian debates in collective action theory is critically analysed by introducing the work of ‘minor authors’ and ‘radical theorists’. The fundamental purpose of this paper is to open a discussion space between the field of social action theories and activism knowledge, hence encouraging the creation of plateaus that blur academic boundaries and construct new subjectivities beyond “the indignity of speaking for others” (Deleuze in Foucault et al., 1977. p. 209). Drawing on the experience of the 15th of May 2011 in Spain, I analyse how radical theory reflects on current movements and collectives."

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'For I must nothing be'

Kings, Idols, and the Double-Body of the Sign in Early Modern England

Patricia Canning

The importance of the 'word' in sixteenth century theology cannot be overestimated in both its literal and literary manifestations. As the incarnation of divinity, it is given form and material substance through scripture. From a Reformed perspective, this presents a theological anomaly: God is both form (word) and meaning (Word). As a duplicated representation of divinity encoding both nominal and intrinsic properties I propose that the 'W/word' can be read idolatrously. This article considers the implications of such a reading in the theological arena of early modern England. It focuses on the ways in which a theory of duplicated representation, or what I call, the 'double-body of the sign', strengthens while it also problematises early modern conceptions of authority. To date, few scholars have examined and debated these ideas through a stylistic framework using contemporary linguistic models. Focusing on the unstable signification that underpins monarchical and divine authority, I offer an analysis of William Shakespeare's Richard II which aims to address this critical lacuna. Reading Foucault and Kantorowicz, for example, alongside Fauconnier and Turner, I pay particular attention to the ways in which the relationship or bond of resemblance between signifier and signified animates the space in which tension, contradiction, and ultimately, schism can operate to disrupt the process of signification. It is this space within which representation can both exploit and be exploited politically, religiously, and culturally, having the power to destabilise monarchical authority and more devastatingly, the foundations of the Reformed argument.

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Running Wilde

Landscape, the Body, and the History of the Treadmill

Vybarr Cregan Reid

How have exercise, the body, and modes of imprisonment become so imbricated in modern societies? The treadmill started its life as the harshest form of punishment that could be meted out, short of the death penalty. It remained so for two centuries. Today, we pay membership fees equivalent to a household energy bill for the dubious privilege of being permitted to run on them. The treadmill is a high-functioning symbol of our anthropocene life that chooses to engage with self-created realities that knowingly deny our creaturely existence.

This essay aims to bring a number of genres and disciplines into conversation with one another to effect a mode of reflective but insightful cultural analysis. Through this ecological interdependence of genre, (including history, philosophy, literary analysis, sociology, psychogeography, autobiography, and biography) the essay aims to look at the ways in which our condition in modernity conspires against our psychological, physiological, geographical, and personal freedoms. Using Oscar Wilde's experiences of life on the treadmill, some of Hardy's poetry, Simone Weil, Pater, Foucault, Lacan, Sartre, Althusser, and Lukács, the essay draws attention to the ways that inauthenticity and dehumanisation have become the mainstay of life in the modern gym.

Free access

Representations, History, and Wartime France

Brett Bowles

In a 1989 article published by Annales under the title “Le monde comme représentation,”1 Roger Chartier articulated a conceptual framework for bridging the gap that had traditionally separated the history of mentalities from social and political history. While the former field—pioneered by Georges Duby, Robert Mandrou, and Philippe Ariès in the 1960s—had legitimized the study of collective beliefs, anxieties, and desires as historical phenomena, the latter remained largely devoted to more concrete, easily quantifiable factors such as structures, institutions, and material culture. Drawing on the anthropological and psychoanalytical premises that had informed the work of Michel Foucault, Louis Marin, and Michel de Certeau, among others, Chartier emphasized the performative dimension of individual and collective representations in order to argue that they should be understood not only as evidence registering the exercise of social and political power, but as underlying catalysts of change in their own right. Like habitus, Pierre Bourdieu’s complex model of social causality and evolution, Chartier framed representation as a symbiotic “structuring structure” that deserved to sit at the heart of historical inquiry.

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Doing Queer Love

Feminism, AIDS, and History

Lisa Diedrich

In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love'. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe.