coconstitutive character. Drawing upon border procedures, I claim that “the magic of the state” ( Das 2004 ) is totally compatible with the ambiguity and even irregularity of state bureaucratic modalities. At the same time, absolute control through a rational
Navigating through irregular bureaucracy
Returning to Cosmology—Thoughts on the Positioning of Belief
Cosmology may be helpful in positioning belief. I suggest, through discussing the contributions to this collection, that belief, especially propositional belief, is integral to monotheistic cosmoses that are constituted through gigantic fractures (like that between God and human being). Such fractures distinguish between cosmic interior and cosmic exterior. The fracture as boundary is absolute, paradoxical, not to be breached. Thus, the infinite Hebrew God integrates His finite cosmos by holding it together from its outside. The absolute boundary signifies cosmic discontinuity. Here belief in the unfathomable may be central to overcoming such discontinuity and, so, to integrating cosmos. By contrast, an organic cosmos is held together within itself, is more continuous within itself, is more holistic, and, in flowing through itself, obviates any centrality of belief.
Institutional planning in Kuala Lumpur
This article considers the complexity of contemporary urban life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, through an analysis of planning and the plan itself as a thing in this environment of multiplicity. It argues that the plan functions as a vehicle for action in the present that does not require a singular vision of the future in order to succeed. Plans in the context of governance and urban development gesture to “the future,” but this gesture does not require “a future” in order to function in a highly effective manner. The evidence presented indicates that the primary effectiveness of the plan largely relates to its status as a virtual object in the present. Such virtual objects (plans) bind subjects to the conditions of the present within the desires and limits asserted by the institutions seeking to dominate contemporary life in the city, but this domination is never absolute, singular, or complete.
Epistemic Practices and Ideologies of the Secret Police in Former East Germany
This paper traces the epistemic practices and ideologies that Stasi (East Germany's former secret police) used to construct the GDR peace and civil rights movements during the 1980s as one of the GDR's key enemies. In particular, the paper addresses the question of how communications in organized social encounters that are hierarchized by a cultivation of secrecy (legitimized by a Manichaean worldview) and corresponding myths about the distribution of knowledge and the proximity to an absolute social good have shaped interpretive processes. The particular epistemic style of Stasi is analyzed as a peculiar conflation of ethics and epistemology which was, ironically, profoundly undialectic, that is monothetic, and thus unable to react constructively to interpretive failures in response to a fast changing environment.
The size and dramatic impact of the large-scale mines of Melanesia make a useful case study of the effects of economic globalization on local communities, particularly in terms of poverty and inequality. In the context of debates concerning globalization and poverty, this article examines the processes around large-scale mining at both the national and local scales. It argues that the issue of scale is critical to discussions of the links between poverty and globalization, with no evidence that large-scale mining has reduced poverty at the national level in Papua New Guinea over the last thirty years. Evidence is given from the Porgera mine of the effects of mining development at the local scale, with absolute poverty down but inequality increasing. Ethnographic detail helps to situate these processes in the dynamics of the local society. It is these locally grounded attributes that account for the production of inequality far better than generalized accounts of the 'culture of globalization'.
Berlin's “Holocaust Trail“
Maria Pia Di Bella
Since the early 1990s, Berlin has developed what I call a “Holocaust trail“-circa twenty-five officially dedicated memorial sites recalling significant historical events leading to the Final Solution-without acknowledging it yet as a “trail.“ Berlin is already well known for its two famous museums-memorials: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005) and the Jewish Museum (2001), two strong statements meant to show how the town deals with the heritage of the Holocaust, how it tries to underline the absolute impossibility of its erasure from social memory and to fight revisionism. The different memorial sites of the Holocaust trail came into existence thanks to multiple initiatives that allowed the town to become a true laboratory for the politics of memory concerning the crimes of the Nazi state and the sufferings of the Jewish citizens that fell victim to the state's genocide.
Anna J. Wesselink, Wiebe E. Bijker, Huib J. de Vriend, and Maarten S. Krol
This article shows how Dutch technological culture has historically dealt with and developed around vulnerability with respect to flooding and indicates recent developments in attitude towards the flood threat. The flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina temporarily made the Dutch public worry about the flood defense infrastructure in the Netherlands, exemplified by the Delta Works. Could this happen in the Netherlands? After the flooding disaster of 1953, a system of large dams was built to offer safety from flooding with—in theory at least—protection levels that are much higher than in New Orleans. In the public's perception the protection offered is absolute. In practice not all flood defense structures are as secure as they are supposed to be, but their upgrading takes time and money. Katrina has served as a reminder of what is at stake: Can the Dutch afford to take another 10 years to restore the protection level of their flood defenses? Calls for pride in clever engineering are the latest in a continuing debate on the best way to continue life below sea level.
Secondary education, indigenous people, and the state in Jharkhand, India
Rob Higham and Alpa Shah
This article proposes an anthropology of affirmative action that is embedded in analysis of the wider political economic transformations in which affirmative action policies emerge. It is argued that this historically situated approach enables analyses of the relative effects of affirmative action on processes of socio economic marginalization. The focus of the article is on the combination of preferential treatment policies and the provision of education as a state-led response to historical marginalization. These policies are explored in the context of adivasis (tribal or indigenous peoples) in Jharkhand, India. The analysis shows how, despite improvement in absolute educational outcomes among adivasis as a result of these policies, inequalities in relative outcomes are being reproduced and are widening. This is explained in part by market-led gains within the private edu cation sector for more advantaged sections of society that outweigh the predom inately state-led improvements for adivasis. The analysis demonstrates the limitations of contemporary affirmative action in affecting the relative position of socioeconomically marginalized groups in contexts where the state is losing some of its universal features and ambition.
The changing contours of the hegemonic field in the twenty-first-century United States
“restricts the field of negotiable politics to selected participants, so there is a sphere of action beyond such politics where no such negotiation is possible” (2014: 187–199). Outside this restricted field is an “absolute residual population” whose only
concerning what I would see as an absolute distinction between an ontological identity and a symbolical one. Also, the pernicious effects of category thinking that the episodes reveal, when systems of symbolic classification are deployed to collectivise and