The authors present a case study of Indian nationalists who drew from a discourse on ‘exploited overseas Indian migrants’ to serve their own political interests. At the same time, overseas British Indians, in this case in Surinam, advocated the continuation of transnational relations between (British) India and Surinam in order to strengthen the position of their community locally. Clearly, for some time, transnational identification served the (national) interests of both groups in the two different nations. Yet the authors also show that when such transnational ‘solutions’ did not serve any longer to solve local problems, estrangement between the two communities followed. Theoretically, this article constitutes a synthesis of approaches that connect identities to specific places and theories that have abandoned the study of geographically-based national societies. It demonstrates how the politics of place is dominant even within the field of transnational alliances.
Transnational identification and estrangement
Ellen Bal and Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff
Dissent, gender, and militarization among young people in Kashmir
Thomas van der Molen and Ellen Bal
In this article, we reflect on the gendered contours of young Kashmiris’ dissident practices against the Indian military occupation of the Kashmir Valley. It is largely based on ethnographic research that coincided with the launch of an ongoing, predominantly nonviolent people’s movement in which youth have played a prominent role. The article shows how university students’ and young professionals’ “small activism” is entangled in the gendered dynamics of militarization and dissent, while underlining the threat posed by “security forces” to women’s “honor” and “dignity.” In the context of widespread societal anxiety about “dishonor,” young Kashmiris’ urge to reclaim dignity at once motivates them to practice dissent and narrows the scope for female dissidents’ capacity to act upon this drive overtly. The present case suggests that recent anthropological interest in global youth cultural practices may be supplemented with a recognition of local constraints on young people’s public opposition that arise in circumstances of (gendered) state oppression.
Ellen Bal, Erella Grassiani, and Kate Kirk
This article is based on our own experiences and that of several of our colleagues teaching social and cultural anthropology in different Dutch institutions for higher learning. We focus in particular on teaching and learning in two small liberal arts and science (LAS) colleges, where anthropology makes up part of the social science curriculum and/or is part of the core curriculum. The data collected from our own critical reflections developed during informal discussion and from formal interviews with colleagues, together with literature on recent changes in academia, leads us to argue that neoliberal individualism, shaped by management tactics that constantly measure individual performance and output, is making academia an increasingly insecure place in which to work and study. The consequences of this insecurity include increasing mental health problems among both students and staff, intensifying competition at the expense of collegiality and collaboration and an overall decrease in the quality of academic jobs and teaching. Although the discipline of anthropology can help us better understand our own conditions, the personalisation of problems and the focus on success obscure the anthropological lens, which looks at social and cultural structures of power and depends on critical reflexivity.