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Martin Thomas

Focusing on the gendarmerie forces of the three French Maghreb territories, this article explores the relationships between paramilitary policing, the collection of political intelligence, and the form and scale of collective violence in the French Empire between the wars, and considers what, if anything, was specifically colonial about these phenomena. I also assess the changing priorities in political policing as France's North African territories became more unstable and violent during the Depression. The gendarmeries were overstretched, under-resourced, and poorly integrated into the societies they monitored. With the creation of dedicated riot control units, intelligenceled political policing of rural communities and the agricultural economy fell away. By 1939 the North African gendarmeries knew more about organized trade unions, political parties, and other oppositional groups in the Maghreb's major towns, but they knew far less about what really drove mass protest and political violence: access to food, economic prosperity, rural markets, and labor conditions.

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Of Traiteurs and Tsars

Potel et Chabot and the Franco-Russian Alliance

Willa Z. Silverman

Between 1893 and 1901, the Parisian traiteur Potel et Chabot catered a series of gala meals celebrating the recent Franco-Russian alliance, which was heralded in France as ending its diplomatic isolation following the Franco-Prussian War. The firm was well adapted to the particularities of the unlikely alliance between Tsarist Russia and republican France. On the one hand, it represented a tradition of French luxury production, including haute cuisine, that the Third Republic was eager to promote. On the other, echoing the Republic’s championing of scientific and technological progress, it relied on innovative transportation and food conservation technologies, which it deployed spectacularly during a 1900 banquet for over twenty-two thousand French mayors, a modern “mega-event.” Culinary discourse therefore signaled, and palliated concerns about, the improbable nature of the alliance at the same time as it revealed important changes taking place in the catering profession.

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Eva Johanna Holmberg and Chloë Houston

What did early modern English people think about “strangers”? This speech from the play Sir Thomas More, written by Anthony Munday and others and first performed in the early 1590s, gives an emphatic answer to this question. Strangers were “aliens” who “braved and abused ... freeborn Englishmen” (1.1.111, 74, 72). By their presence in London they stole both food and women from their rightful English owners, committing “vild enormities” and “insolencies” against the native people (1.1.81, 90). The extract above comes from a playbill designed by the broker John Lincoln, who calls on the “worshipful lords and masters of the city” to bring these injustices to an end (1.1.106-7). The text of the bill is taken verbatim from Holinshed’s 1587 Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, which related the events dramatized in the play, the “Ill May Day” protests of 1517.

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Bruno Latour

This article reflects on the traditional distinction between scientific laboratories experimenting on theories and phenomena and a political outside where non-experts make do with human values, opinions, and passions. Since today all people are engaged in emerging collective experiments on matters as varied as climate, food, landscape, health, urban design, and technical communication as consumers, militants, and citizens, they can all be considered co-researchers. Co-researching has consequences for our understanding of nature and demands a renewed attention to “multinaturalist” politics. It also questions the division of labor between experts and nonexperts. The article finishes with a call to “dis-invent” modernity so that we “moderns” can finally become ordinary humans again.

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Fancy Some Cobra?

Exploring Vietnamese Cuisine in Contemporary Culinary Travelogues

Jopi Nyman

This article focuses on the representation of Vietnam and its foods in contemporary travel narratives, with particular reference to two culinary travelogues, Anthony Bourdain’s bestselling book A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal (2001) and Keith Floyd’s travelogue/recipe book Far Flung Floyd (1994). What unites the two volumes is their protagonists’ attempts to map the space of the Other through culinary experiences. In these texts, both Floyd and Bourdain travel in Vietnamese settings to convey their culinary traditions to Euro-American audiences, occasionally foregrounding cultural differences in culinary practices and ways of eating to construct images of the Vietnamese Other, something that calls for urgent critical attention, not least because of the high popularity of these texts.

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Anthropocene Dynamics in the Prehistoric Pacific

Modeling Emergent Socioecological Outcomes of Environmental Change

Thomas P. Leppard

How will human societies evolve in the face of the massive changes humans themselves are driving in the earth systems? Currently, few data exist with which to address this question. I argue that archaeological datasets from islands provide useful models for understanding long-term socioecological responses to large-scale environmental change, by virtue of their longitudinal dimension and their relative insulation from broader biophysical systems. Reviewing how colonizing humans initiated biological and physical change in the insular Pacific, I show that varied adaptations to this dynamism caused diversification in social and subsistence systems. This diversification shows considerable path dependency related to the degree of heterogeneity/homogeneity in the distribution of food resources. This suggests that the extent to which the Anthropocene modifies agroeconomic land surfaces toward or away from patchiness will have profound sociopolitical implications.

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Mohammed A. Bamyeh

The globalization of modernity obviously exceeds in its profundity the signifiers of open pathways and commodity circulation—clothing, music, food, and so on—tend to capture much of our immediate attention. In the first place, among tales of cultural dissemination modernity has the unique feature that it made its epoch without a heroic duel with any opposing force. The effort expended today to magnify the scale of supposedly ‘anti-modern’ fanaticism, or to force the world into the logic of a clash of ‘civilizations’ notwithstanding, the globalization of modernity owes much to the fact that, in its broadest outlines, it has never been truly rejected by any significant force in any society. Hardly any commentator on modernity, after all, defines the term in ways, which, upon closer inspection, reveal anything in modernity that should be anathema to social processes and longings everywhere. If we define modernity in terms of material outcomes—prosperity, longevity, lack of scarcity, leisure time, better communication systems, better housing, education, a wider range of consumer commodities—it is hard to see how any of this could be opposed by anybody, although these outcomes may be rejected by ascetic monks in any society, modern or not. If we define modernity in terms of social structure, such as predominantly urban life and within it a strong bourgeois class, it is easy to see that this outcome has been the conscious goal of policies in most of the world even before the termination of the alternative path of East bloc socialism.

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Muthanga

A Spark of Hope

K. Ravi Raman

On 19 February 2003, the armed police of the currently rightwing government of the Indian state of Kerala descended on over one thousand adivasi1 families— men, women and children—who had peacefully settled on the fringes of the Muthanga range of the Wayanad Wild Life Sanctuary, driving them out in a most brutal fashion and even killing one of those women who resisted. The state had failed to give any prior warning of the police action, nor was any attempt made toward a mediated negotiation. The police unleashed a reign of terror in the region; physical molestation of women was also reported, the latter having been substantiated by the National Women’s Commission. Those who fell into the hands of the police were brutally manhandled en route to the police station; in a bizarre innovation, the activists were forced to beat one another. The movement had been launched by the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha—the Grand Assembly of Indigenous People—led by a tribal woman, C. K. Janu. The demands of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha for land, food, shelter, the enforcement of constitutional provisions, reparation for losses incurred by the intervention of foreign companies in their environment, etc., are paralleled in indigenous movements elsewhere, e.g., the Zapatistas in Mexico (see Collier 1994; Gledhill 1997; Hellman 2000; Weinberg 2000; Womack 1999). However, unlike other indigenous movements, the situation in Kerala has received little world attention.

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Carolyn Nordstrom

Trillions of dollars move through the world’s markets illegally, and millions of people work in extra-state activities. They move everything from the dangerous (narcotics, toxic wastes, arms) through the luxurious (diamonds and art) to the necessary and the mundane (food, clothing, and electronics). Not only are fortunes made on these profits—empires are built. Empires that are, for various reasons, largely invisible. Illegal transactions are generally embedded in networks that span the globe. The most successful of these networks control finances and resources larger than many of the world’s countries. They can quite literally develop or cripple national emergent economies. These networks are not states, nor are they competing to become states. They thrive precisely because they constitute a different order of politics and economics than formal legal states (Nordstrom 2001). Illegal networks continuously intersect with states as they launder money into legality, move goods across the borders of il/legality, and turn corruption into politics by another name. But it is the tension between state and extra-state that gives both their power.

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The Alaas

Cattle Economy and Environmental Perception of Sedentary Sakhas in Central Yakuti

Csaba Mészáros

Thermokarst depressions in the permafrost environment of Yakutia (northeastern Siberia) provide fertile hayfields for Sakha cattle economy. These areas of open land in the boreal forest are called alaas in Sakha language. At this northern latitude cattle breeding is particularly in demand of nutritious fodder, because cows spend nine months on average in winter stables. Therefore alaases are the focus of Sakha environmental perception. Sakhas not only dwell in alaases, but through their economic activities, they modify and maintain them. This process is based on control and domination rather than on procurement of food by a “giving“ environment. Villagers in Tobuluk (central Yakutia) consider the areas surrounding their village as controlled islands of alaases (hayfields) in a sea of uncontrolled forest. This article examines Sakha environmental perception in which landscapes and cardinal directions evoke and define each other, and characterize those who reside there. Due to the subsequent transformations of Sakha economy and lifestyle by the Soviet and Russian state administration in the last 100 years (collectivization, centralization, and decollectivization) the way that Sakhas interact with their surroundings has transformed radically within the four generations causing profound differences in the way generations relate to, interact with, and understand alaases.