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On Anticipatory Accounts

Adjudicating Moral Being and Becoming in the Los Angeles Mental Health Court

Abigail Jane Mack

Abstract

Engaging an account of a judicial decision made in the Los Angeles Mental Health Court, this article interrogates the role of anticipation in the lived negotiation of moral, social and institutional orders. As Judge Samuel Benton recounts his attempt to let himself ‘emotionally off the hook’ in the wake of a patient's suicide, anticipation emerges as: 1) an ordered, linear sequencing of events towards logical ends; 2) unsettled, temporally disjunctive engagements with the past in order to make sense of present experience and ambiguous futures; 3) existential negotiations of one's potential morality and social belonging; and 4) distributed organization of information between people and across objects in order to elaborate present and future experience. These manifestations of anticipation reveal the social and temporal contingency and deep intersubjectivity of our negotiations with uncertainty in the unsettling process of becoming moral.

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Lesley Gill

Debates about the relationship of anthropology to the U.S. national security establishment are not new, and anthropologists are now forced to confront the issue again. Since the 11 September attacks, the U.S. military has stepped up efforts to recruit anthropologists to fight the so-called "war on terror," and a group of self-identified "security anthropologists" have organized for more recognition and legitimation within the American Anthropological Association. The article considers what is new about the current controversy, and it examines the issues at stake for anthropologists and the people who they study. It argues that anthropologists need to raise anew basic questions about their disciplinary and intellectual endeavors and that they must re-educate themselves on the realities of power.

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On “tribes” and bribes

“Iraq tribal study,” al-Anbar's awakening, and social science

Roberto J. González

The concept of the “tribe” has captured the imagination of military planners, who have been inspired partly by social scientists. Interest in tribes stems from events in Iraq's al-Anbar province, where the US military has co-opted Sunni “tribal” leaders. Some social scientists have capitalized on these developments by doing contract work for the Pentagon. For example, the “Iraq tribal study”—prepared by a private company consisting of anthropologists and political scientists among others—suggests employing colonial-era techniques (such as divide and conquer) for social control. It also advocates bribing local leaders, a method that has become part of the US military's pacification strategy. Such imperial policing techniques are likely to aggravate armed conflict between and among ethnic groups and religious sects. Observers report that the US strategy is creating a dangerous situation resembling the Lebanese civil war, raising ethical questions about social scientists' involvement in these processes.

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Counting Up the Lies

A Self-Reflexive Investigation of Craft and Fictionalization in a Modern Travel Book

Tim Hannigan

Travel writers seldom reveal the degree to which they deploy fictional elements in their notionally nonfictional books, nor do they discuss the precise motivations for and mechanics of fictionalization and fabrication in travel writing. In this article a travel-writing practitioner turned travel-writing scholar analyzes his own work: the thirteen-year-old manuscript of The Ghost Islands, an unpublished travel book about Indonesia. This analysis reveals various patterns of fabrication across what was presented as and intended to be a “true account,” including the craft-driven fabrications necessitated by reordering and amalgamating events, the omissions generated by attempts to overcome belatedness and to express antitouristic sentiments, the fictional elements introduced through the handling of dialogue and translation, and the self-fictionalization impelled by awareness of genre conventions. The article highlights the significance of writerly craft as a key—and largely overlooked—variable in the scholarly analysis of travel-writing texts.

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Who owns Siberian ethnography?

A critical assessment of a re-internationalized field

Patty Gray, Nikolai Vakhtin, and Peter Schweitzer

Although Siberian ethnography was an open and international field at the turn of the twentieth century, from about 1930 until the late 1980s Siberia was for the most part closed to foreigners and therefore to Western ethnographers. This allowed Soviet ethnographers to establish a virtual monopoly on Siberian field sites. Soviet and Western anthropology developed during that period in relative isolation from one another, allowing methodologies and theoretical approaches to diverge. During glasnost' and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Siberian field was reopened and field studies were conducted by several Western ethnographers. The resulting encounter between Western and former Soviet ethnographers in the 1980s and 1990s produced a degree of cultural shock as well as new challenges and opportunities on both sides. This is an experiential account of the mood of these newly reunited colleagues at the turn of the twenty-first century.

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On Not Talking to Strangers

Researching the Micro Worlds of Girls through Visual Auto-ethnographic Practices

Gerry Bloustien and Sarah Baker

How can visual ethnography help us to understand the nature and the complexity of the (ethnic/gendered/classed) experience of growing up? Drawing on two ethnographic projects, we discuss the purposes and the difficulties of the particular methodology of auto-visual ethnography which we deployed. Our specific focus was the relation- shipand the tension between the representation and the individual everyday experiences. Through focusing upon the micro worlds of the young people themselves within their wider ‘parent’ cultures, their engagement with home, school, and outside leisure activities, were revealed to be strategically (if sometimes unconsciously) part of much larger overlapping social spheres and powerful cultural influ- ences. The pre-teenage and teenage female participants were invited to document any aspects of their worlds on cameras and video.

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Intimate Events

The Correctness of Affective Transactions in Northeast Brazil

Matan Shapiro

Drawing on ethnographic research in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, this article proposes the concept of the 'intimate event' as a heuristic device in the cross-cultural study of kinship and relatedness. This theoretical construct refers to the retrospective recognition of affective transactions as meaningfully intimate, that recognition being an event which in Maranhão compels ethical reflection. Intimacy can be imagined as an aesthetic of practice that indicates when something simply feels right, and which then frames the correctness of both moral conformity and transgression in affective terms.

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Building Capacity in Ethical Review

Compliance and Transformation in the Asia-Pacific Region

Rachel Douglas-Jones

to be expected that the people (‘human subjects’) participating in the testing of drugs or medical devices are protected by standards of research ethics ( Petryna 2005 ). Prompted by the turn-of-the-century increases in multi-sited and ‘collaborative

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Extreme Poverty and Existential Obligations

Beyond Morality in the Anthropology of Africa?

Harri Englund

The suggestion that the anthropological study of morality is theoretically undeveloped carries with it the risk of caricaturing ideas of moral obligation in mid-twentieth-century social anthropology. The need for recovering aspects of these ideas is demonstrated by the tendency of moral philosophers to reduce the issue of world poverty to a question of ethical choices and dilemmas. Examining the diplomatic tie that had existed for almost 42 years between Malawi and Taiwan and an ill-fated project of Taiwanese aid in rural Malawi, this article maintains that honoring obligations indicates neither a communitarian ethos nor rule-bound behavior. As the mid-twentieth-century anthropology of Africa theorized ethnographically, the moral and existential import of obligation lies in its contingent materiality rather than in social control. Such insights, the article concludes, can enrich debates on world poverty with alternative intellectual resources.

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Postsocialist Mediterranean

Scalar gaze, moral self, and relational labor of favors in Eastern Europe

Čarna Brković

This article opens a conversation between anthropological studies of the Mediterranean and of postsocialism in order to propose the notion of a “scalar gaze” as an analytical approach useful for capturing veering practices in their social complexity. The article argues that favors (veze/štela, lit. relations, connections) in contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina were a practice through which people fulfilled the demands of capitalist economy to be active, rather than a pre-capitalist excess that prevented “proper” development of the country into a neoliberal democracy. Zooming in and out and looking sideways between moral reasoning, internationally supervised structural changes of the job markets, and electoral politics, this article explores how the relational labor of favors reproduced moral selves, as well as hierarchy and inequality.