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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

Open access

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

Open access

States of dependence


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.

Open access

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

Open access

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

Open access

Katherine Smith

“good life.” For Julie, what a future beyond welfare dependence and repeated submission to the requirements of the state might look like has become unimaginable. Both impending events demonstrate an intricate interdependence between Julie's dependence

Open access

Latin America

A challenging prospect for regionalism

Ernesto Vivares

inequalities—both politically and economically, dependence on the west, underdeveloped economies, and political instability. However, the growing dependance from Southeast Asia is not going to be different. Furthermore, LA features substantial informal sectors

Open access

Uneasy Entanglements

Solar Energy Development in Zanzibar

Erin Dean

broader technical, economic and political logic of capture ( Doughty 2019 ) stemming from the complex relationship between the archipelago and the Tanzanian mainland. Zanzibar's dependence on Tanzania for electricity is one of many uneasy relations of

Open access

The Janus face of austerity politics

Autonomy and dependence in contemporary Spain

Susana Narotzky

widely experienced breakdown of social reproduction in Ferrol and Spain, and the struggles to overcome it. The paradox of autonomy and dependence emerges as a Janus-faced conundrum in the everyday life of people. On the one hand, the neoliberal push