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Introduction

The middle class-ification of Britain

Jeanette Edwards, Gillian Evans, and Katherine Smith

The articles collected in this special section of Focaal capture, ethnographically, a particular moment at the end of the New Labour project when the political consequences of a failure to address the growing sense of crisis among working-class people in post-industrial Britain are being felt. These new ethnographies of social class in Britain reveal not only disenchantment and disenfranchisement, but also incisive and critical commentary on the shifting and often surprising forms and experiences of contemporary class relations. Here we trace the emergence of controversies surrounding the category “white working class“ and what it has come to stand for, which includes the vilification of people whose political, economic and social standing has been systematically eroded by the economic policies and political strategies of both Conservative and New Labour governments. The specificities of class discourse in Britain are also located relative to broader changes that have occurred across Europe with the rise of “cultural fundamentalisms“ and a populist politics espousing neo-nationalist rhetorics of ethnic solidarity. This selection of recent ethnographies holds up a mirror to a rapidly changing political landscape in Britain. It reveals how post-Thatcherite discourses of “the individual“, “the market“, “social mobility“ and “choice“ have failed a significant proportion of the working-class population. Moreover, it shows how well anthropology can capture the subtle and complex forms of collectivity through which people find meaning in times of change.

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Culture Trumps Scientific Fact

‘Race’ in US American Language

Augustine Agwuele

in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. (AAA Statement on Race) 1 For whatever reason, the concept and consciousness of ‘race’ eluded me in Africa

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Kathleen M. Blee

Interpretive and ethical frameworks circumscribe how we study the perpetrators of politically motivated violence against civilian populations. This article revisits the author’s studies of two eras of white supremacism in the United States, the 1920s and 1980s–1990s, to examine how these were affected by four frameworks of inquiry: the assumption of agency, the allure of the extraordinary, the tendency to categorical analysis, and the presumption of net benefit. It concludes with suggestions on how scholars can avoid the limitations of these frameworks.

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Portrait

Talal Asad

Talal Asad, Jonathan Boyarin, Nadia Fadil, Hussein Ali Agrama, Donovan O. Schaefer, and Ananda Abeysekara

Europeans), human beings are essentially defined neither by language and religious belief nor by form of life but by race. 1 The point, of course, is that priority given to identity in terms of ‘race’ fails to pay adequate attention to beliefs, habits, and

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Liesa Rühlmann and Sarah McMonagle

nation-state ‘norm’. Many plurilingual individuals experience acts of ‘linguicism’ ( Skutnabb-Kangas 1988 ), which are acts of racism based on the languages they speak. However, critical reflections on ‘race’ and ‘racism’ are still largely absent in

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“Deception begins with trade … ”

Vladimir Arsen’ev’s Economic Expertise and Challenges of Rationalizing Imperial Diversity in the Taiga

Aleksandr Turbin

/ethnographer/topographer, etc.), or, for example, the career military officer or Arsen'ev “the vanquisher,” valiantly strengthening the “buffer which had been withstanding the onslaught of the yellow race.” 8 This article does not look to add another alter ego of Arsen

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Temperamental Differences

The Shifting Political Implications of Cousin Marriage in Nineteenth-Century America

Susan McKinnon

)appropriate difference and similarity” (Goldfarb and Schuster, this issue). These anxieties articulated the differential valuation of class- and race-based hierarchies and equalities—inclusions and exclusions—that were as central to shifting ideas about kinship and

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‘Coming To Look Alike’

Materializing Affinity in Japanese Foster and Adoptive Care

Kathryn E. Goldfarb

difference, including boundaries between family and non-family and visible markers of otherness, such as ethnicity and race. ‘You Don’t Know from Which Horse the Bone Comes’ My research explores a marginalized and in many ways invisible world of Japanese

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What Am I Still Doing Here?

Travel, Travel Writing, and Old Age

Robin Jarvis

their sixties and seventies; some even carry on into their eighties. This phenomenon of the older travel writer has received little or no critical attention (gender, race, sexuality, and nationality have provided important analytical frames, but age is

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Among Cannibals and Headhunters

Jack London in Melanesia

Keith Newlin

’s thinking about race. In Jack London’s Racial Lives , for example, Jeanne Reesman argues that the voyage “occasioned a dramatic change in his racial thinking, as he learned much more about the diverse peoples of the world than his earlier racialist ideas