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Battlegrounds of dependence

Reconfiguring labor, kinship and relational obligation

Keir Martin, Ståle Wig, and Sylvia Yanagisako

the world gathered on balconies to applaud these workers upon whom, it was now recognized, our collective well-being depended, and toward whom, therefore, the national “we” were obliged. Governments often expressed this collective dependence on the

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Denunciations of dependence

Race, gender, and the double bind of domestic work in the Eastern Cape

Lotte Danielsen

In the influential article “Declarations of Dependence,” James Ferguson (2013) suggests that in Western liberal political theory and politics, dependence has been framed as equal to a life in bondage and chains and that independence as

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States of dependence

Introduction

Keir Martin and Sylvia Yanagisako

Anxieties around the moral effects of states of ‘dependence’ remain central to political and social debate across the world. At a time when the association between wage‐labour and a particular valorised conception of adult male independence is increasingly hard to sustain, these contests can take on new forms and new levels of intensity. Anthropology has a potentially valuable contribution to make to these discussions, having long made descriptions of particular forms of ‘dependence’ central to many of its most distinctive analytic framings. Nonetheless, the concept of ‘dependence’ itself has rarely been explicitly theorised in anthropological theory, as opposed to other concepts with which it has often been theoretically entwined, such as ‘exchange’, ‘reciprocity’ or ‘debt’, which have been subjected to more concerted theoretical investigation. The papers in this collection provide a series of comparative ethnographic explorations of the role of dependence in shaping new forms of sociality across the globe, as a contribution to the development of an anthropological understanding of the continued evolution of the term’s meaning and effect in the 21st century.

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Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff

In one form or another, the concept of dependence has, from the first, been foundational to modern understandings of humanity, society, and economy. For liberal theorists, individual freedom stemmed from a natural right to property that owed

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Sylvia Yanagisako

Recent anthropological studies of Italy have presented vivid and compelling accounts of the anxieties about precarity and economic dependence that have emerged as both state protections of employment and social welfare provisions have weakened. This essay, in contrast, argues that for a substantial sector of the Italian populace, work relations have been governed less by a state‐regulated regime of labour than by kinship ideologies and relations. Since the beginning of industrial manufacturing in the mid‐19th century and continuing into the 21st century, family firms have been the dominant employer in Italy. By following the changes in the silk industry and its allied clothing manufacturing sector in the 25 years from 1985 to 2010, this essay shows how aspirations and ascriptions of economic independence and dependence among firm owners, their children and hired managers are shaped by kinship relations and class trajectories.

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Keir Martin

This paper explores some accusations of wrongdoing in Papua New Guinea in the early 2000s. These accusations illustrate an ambiguous encouragement and discouragement of different kinds of perceived dependence as Papua New Guineans struggled with a growing disenchantment with their nation‐state and the withdrawal rather than expansion of state services and assistance. The paper explores the dynamics by which these accusations brought particular dependencies, cast as legitimate and illegitimate, in and out of view, and compares these with other instances in other parts of the world. Ascriptions of ‘dependence’ are shown not only to shift with context but also to be highly performative, being a central means by which persons engaged in highly entangled interdependent relations attempt to re‐shape the nature of those entanglements.

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“I am a dead woman”

Embodying and resisting dependency among women living with HIV in Papua New Guinea

Holly Wardlow

, or transgressive sex), which has, in turn, led to a moral panic about excessive dependence (that is, the dependence of people living with HIV on medicines, health care systems, food supplementation, state financial assistance, etc.). In this article

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Trust, Reflexivity and Dependence

A 'Social Systems Theory' Analysis in/of Medicine

Paul Ward

Given the centrality of 'trust' in both the Theory of Social Quality and as a central motif of life in late modernity, this paper focuses attention on public (mist)trust in social systems and the potential ramifications of engagement with medical services, in addition to feelings of social exclusion and disembeddedness. Using data from a qualitative study of lay perceptions of local primary health care services, the paper reveals the complex and often contradictory ways in which trust is won, developed and lost. In addition, mistrust in local general practitioners (GPs) was found to be a factor of mistrust in a variety of social systems, organisations and institutions of government, rather than solely related to mistrust of either the GPs or the medical system. Nevertheless, there was not a widespread abandonment of the use of GPs or Western medicine, which may partly be explained by the perceived dependence of these people these people on the medical system. Overall, generalised mistrust existed at both inter-personal and systems-based levels and was levied at a variety of social systems and institutions of governance – mistrust was a pervading dimension of life in this community.

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“Presentism” Versus “Path Dependence”?

Reflections on the Second World War in Russian Textbooks of the 1990s

Serguey Ehrlich

shapes the various views of the past,” with that of Barry Schwartz, who argues that “memory has both cumulative and presentist aspects.” 1 This controversy has been defined as one between “presentism” and “path dependence.” 2 In my opinion, this

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Voting and Liberty

Contemporary Implications of the Skinnerian Re-thinking of Political Liberty

Kari Palonen

In this paper, the author takes up the opposition between liberty and dependence proposed by Quentin Skinner and applies it to the analysis of the debates involving voting rights and regulations. The goal here is to examine the rhetoric supporting different positions in favor and against the extension of suffrage, the exclusion of certain groups, etc. The author points out that dependence can be detected even in democratic societies that lack traditional hierarchies. A similar effort is made to think how commitment, deliberation, and contestation can take place in the context of today's representative democracy in ways that enhance freedom instead of endangering it.