Some contemporary authors have witnessed the flourishing of the Sinophilia of the Early Enlightenment and the direct impact of Daoist and Chinese thought on the ideas of Spinoza, Leibniz, Voltaire, Quesnay and the philosophes and have proceeded to make overt connections between the Daoist notion of 'non-action' or Wu wei and Enlightenment doctrines of laissez-faire. In contrast to such approaches, I argue that these frequent conceptual comparisons have often been inappropriate where touchstone humanist notions devoid of the Dao de Jing's fundamental spiritual and metaphysical commitments are brought forward as evidence of interconnection.
Humanism and Anti-Humanism in Daoist and Enlightenment Political Thought
This article puts Dumont’s ‘hierarchy’ into the context of Marcel Mauss’s conception of civilization as a correction to Dumont’s ahistorical and structuralist approach. First, it introduces and elaborates Mauss’s ‘civilization’ into a descriptive and analytic concept. It then proposes a loosened conception of different hierarchies of encompassment and ideology. What follows as extended examples is a selection of long processes of transformation of the hierarchical structure of civilization in China. The article concludes by broaching the big historical questions that anthropology should be asking about hierarchies, that is, how they are formed and transformed.
Minor Traditions, Shizen Equivocations, and Sophisticated Conjunctions
Casper Bruun Jensen and Atsuro Morita
This introduction examines the interrelations between the possible existence of multiple nature-cultures and the indisputable existence of distinct anthropological traditions. After offering some preliminary remarks on the problems with nature-culture, the article offers as an example the complex translations required for the Western idea of nature to gain foothold in Japanese anthropology. Patched together from Western and Chinese notions, Japanese ‘nature’ remains equivocal to this day. This equivocation, however, has also been generative of minor anthropological traditions. As this suggests, the advance of different concepts into new territories holds the potential for shaping ‘sophisticated conjunctions’ in which traditions are mutually modified, allowing new forms of nature and culture emerge.
New Freedoms, Old Worries, and Unfinished Democratic Reform
Michael Nieto Garcia
Indonesia is in the midst of a publishing renaissance. The number of published titles doubled in 2003 to a sum greater than any year under Suharto. Titles unimaginable 10 years ago now line bookstore shelves: books about Marx, books by and about ethnic Chinese, and books with the words ‘sex’ or ‘homosexual’ and ‘Islam’ in the same title. In 2000, the publisher of Nobel Prize–nominated author Pramoedya Ananta Toer released a special Emancipation Edition of the previously banned Buru Quartet, named after the island on which the Suharto regime had imprisoned the writer for almost 14 years.
Indonesia seems perpetually condemned to “live in interesting times,” as the famous Chinese curse goes. The past decade has seen the country attract global notoriety as a land of recurrent economic shocks, ethnic conflicts, terrorist bombings, separatist rebellions, and natural catastrophes. Political authorities have appeared too corrupt and inept to respond effectively. Thus, when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), a retired general, scored a landslide victory in Indonesia’s first-ever direct presidential election in September 2004, the political rise of a military man was widely portrayed as a small blow for stability in a highly unstable nation.
Recreating Meaning in Transnational Context
Denise L. Spitzer
Migrating to another country is potentially fraught with both challenges and potential opportunities. This article examines ways in which mature Chilean, Chinese and Somali women who migrated to Canada deploy personal and communal resources to imbue shifting relations and novel spaces with new meanings. Through these activities, they create a place for themselves on Canadian soil while remaining linked to their homelands. I argue that the ability of immigrant and refugee women to reconstruct their lives—often under conditions of systemic inequalities—is evidence of their resilience, which consequently has a positive effect on health and well-being.
Han Tao and Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
Queer/Tongzhi China: New Perspectives on Research, Activism and Media Cultures
Elisabeth L. Engebretsen and William F. Schroeder (eds.) with Hongwei Bao, Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2015, ISBN 978-877-694-155-0, 274 pp., Hb: £60, Pb: £20.
Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China
Hongwei Bao, Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2018, ISBN 978-87-7694-236-6, 265 pp., Hb: £65, Pb: £22.50.
White Gold: Stories of Breast Milk Sharing
Susan Falls, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017, ISBN 978-1-4962-0189-8. 242 pp., Hb: $65, Pb: $25.
Rosa E. Ficek, Shanshan Lan, Walter Gam Nkwi, Sarah Walker and Paula Soto Villagrán
Decentering the State in Automobility Regimes
Kurt Beck, Gabriel Klaeger, and Michael Stasik, eds., The Making of an African Road (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 278 pp., 34 illustrations, $78 (paperback)
Understanding Globalization from Below in China
Gordon Mathews, with Linessa Dan Lin and Yang Yang, The World in Guangzhou: Africans and Other Foreigners in South China’s Global Marketplace (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 256 pp., $27.50 (paperback)
Rethinking Mobility and Innovation: African Perspectives
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, ed., What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 256 pp., 25 black-and-white illustrations, $36 (paperback)
When Is a Crisis Not a Crisis? The Illegalization of Mobility in Europe
Nicholas De Genova, ed., The Borders of “Europe”: Autonomy of Migration, Tactics of Bordering (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 376 pp., $27.95 (paperback)
City, Mobility, and Insecurity: A Mobile Ethnography of Beirut
Kristin V. Monroe, The Insecure City: Space, Power, and Mobility in Beirut (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016), 204 pp., 7 photographs, $27.95 (paperback)
Social Quality, Environmental Challenges, and Indicators
Laurent J. G. van der Maesen
The first three articles of this issue are dedicated to aspects of the current debate about and the praxis of environmental questions, and thus of the ecosystems. The fourth article concerns the application of social quality indicators in China. The gaining hypothesis is that a disconnection of the social quality approach of daily circumstances in Japan, Russia, China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or India from environmental processes results into anachronisms. Without a global consciousness of the unequal consequences of these environmental processes, people in rich countries may be tempted to positively judge the nature of the social quality of their localities or country “as such.” Unknown remains that, seen from a global perspective, macrodetermined reasons for the positive outcomes in rich countries may go at the expense of ecosystems. They may cause, also because of the exportation of substantial elements of problematic (and partly environmental) aspects of the dominant production and reproduction relationships, serious forms of exploitation. Under the same conditions (ceteris paribus), this attack on ecosystems, as well as this exportation and exploitation cause increasingly declining social quality of daily circumstances in poor countries and regions. This will also result into an increase of “climate refugees.” Because of advancing technologically driven transformations—especially regarding communications systems—the interdependencies of countries between the West and the East, as well as between the North and the South, accelerate. Autarkic situations are becoming, or have already been for a long time, a myth.
One of the principal means by which state management of rapid economic development has been attempted in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) has been the creation and maintenance of special economic zones (SEZs). The purpose of SEZs is to encourage domestic and international investment in specific areas to promote mainly export-oriented manufacturing. They have been created in large numbers in Thailand, Vietnam and the Yunnan Province of China, and they are being built across Cambodia, Laos and now Myanmar. Negative effects, such as pollution and the forcible clearances of people, are balanced by the provision of new jobs and better income-generating opportunities for people and their families. SEZs in the GMS are being increasingly drawn together by the large-scale creation of the Asian Highway Network, in addition to investment by domestic governments and by capital from Chinese corporations and the state. The creation of these linkages will have additional changes on the economic geography of the region and on the distribution of the factors leading to uneven development. This article seeks to identify the social and human implications of the spread of SEZs across the GMS. It seeks to draw together conclusions that lead to recommendations for public policy that will reduce the risks that people will face as a result.