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Building the future

Construction, temporality, and politics in Astana

Mateusz Laszczkowski

This article focuses ethnographically on the built environment of the socalled “Left Bank” area in Astana, Kazakhstan. Previously merely a provincial administrative center, the city became the country’s capital in 1997; soon a new quarter of monumental, futuristic, and stylistically extravagant administrative, residential, and commercial buildings emerged. I argue that the construction effort produces complicity by mobilizing and channeling citizens’ agency. Against the background of recent history, it offers a sense of restored progress-directed collectivity within which individual citizens can seek to engage, pursuing more meaningful and materially satisfying lives. A selective vision of the city is propagandized widely, producing a hyperreal space that captures imaginations, set in opposition to more “ordinary” social space. The contrast between that vision and the lived realities of Astana causes disillusionment, but emic criticism of the political economy fails to transcend the logic of modernization narratives that the ideology of Astana’s construction rests upon.

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The men who knew too much

Sardines, skills, and the labor process in Jaffa, Israel, 1948–1979

Naor Ben-Yehoyada

This historical anthropology of the rise and fall of Israel's post-1948 sardine purse-seining development project shows what happens when marginalized groups, who are initially excluded as “backward” or “primitive”, enter modernization projects that are based on politics of skillfulness and experts' control over the labor process. By focusing on the role that skills play in the struggle between experts and artisans over the labor process, I show how the dynamics within state-run production apparatuses can make workers and experts face dilemmas about productivity, profit, and effectiveness, leading to such projects' implosion. This mode of analysis exposes the contradictions within projects of governance as well as in their relational intersection with the people they subjugate and exclude.

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Lam Yee Man

authority; risk will disrupt modernity and modernization; risk will lead to changes ( Beck 1992 ). However, if risk is subversive, and is a driving force for change, why do some countries react promptly whereas others are slow in response to risk? Why does

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Catherine Mei Ling Wong

In East Asia, climate change as a policy concern has been a late developer. The last decade, however, has seen the mainstreaming of environmental issues in core policy circles, but in the form of market-friendly, pro-industrial development framings. This paper problematizes such environmental framings by looking at the politics of state-led ecological modernization and the institutional reforms that have emerged out of it. It argues that State-led ecological modernization necessarily leads to environmental framings that are too narrowly defined by state and industrial interests - hence the focus on carbon emissions, energy security and the impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The State-driven assumption that society can modernize itself out of its environmental crisis through greater advancements in technological development also ignores the fact that this process often leads to the creation of other environmental and social problems, which in turn undermines the fundamental goals of stability and sustainability. Civil society needs to be given greater space in the policy and framing processes in order to have a more balanced policy approach to environmental reform in a more equitable way.

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Sacred Journeys

A Lucrative Revenue Stream

Shadia Taha

Pilgrimage has been performed by members of all religions, and all beliefs, from prehistoric times to the present. The visitation of religious and sacred sites represents a significant economic resource for many faith establishments and organizations. In this article, I will explore the Muslim Hajj to Mecca as a case study. The study is based on ethnographic research using interviews and observation. The economic impact of pilgrims is a multifaceted and complex subject. Pilgrims spend money on transport, accommodation, and other services; hence, they contribute to the economy of the host state. My research suggests that there is a particular type of relationship between the economic and the spiritual aspects of pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

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Environmental Expertise as Group Belonging

Environmental Sociology Meets Science and Technology Studies

Rolf Lidskog and Göran Sundqvist

sociology: the treadmill of production, risk society, and ecological modernization. We conclude that these theories are not clear about either what expertise is or how to balance scientism and powerism. Therefore, we turn to science and technology studies

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Shelling from the ivory tower

Project Camelot and the post–World War II operationalization of social science

Philip Y. Kao

. According to Nils Gilman, “Like early anthropological theory, modernization theory transposed temporal categories onto geographic categories” (2003: 27). Project Camelot consisted of several parts: (1) a theoretical design focusing on developing a model of a

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Landscapes and Races in Early Twentieth-Century Peru

The Travels of José Uriel García and Aurelio Miró Quesada Sosa

Rupert J. M. Medd

In this article I discuss the modernization of Peru during the 1930s and 1940s by focusing on the variety of ways in which Peru’s interior regions, natural resources, and people were being perceived and written about. I reflect on two narratives

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Franziska von Verschuer

-twentieth century modernization of global agriculture, the international debate on the need for conservation efforts was still in its infancy. Since then, new international regulatory frameworks have consolidated a global system of conservation in which most

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Claudia Weiss, Wie Sibirien “unser” wurde. Die Russische Geographische Gesellschaft und ihr Einfluss auf die Bilder und Vorstellungen von Sibirien im 19. Jahrhundert. Kristina Kuentzel-Witt

Niobe Thompson, Settlers on the Edge: Identity and Modernization on Russia’s Arctic Frontier Patty A. Gray

Susan A. Crate, Cows, Kin, and Globalization: An Ethnography of Sustainability John P. Ziker

Athol Yates and Nicholas Zvegintzov, Siberian BAM Guide: Rail, Rivers & Road David Lempert

Rane Willerslev, Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism and Personhood among the Siberian Yukahgirs Joseph Long

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