Through an ethnography of undocumented migrants from Latin America to London, I explore the temporality of illegality as a piecemeal process in which migrants find themselves embodying new ways of being in the world. I investigate the power of illegality beyond its legal connotations and through the analysis of the everyday experiences of migrants in London, I show how it affects the external structure of migrants’ worlds, as well as their subjectivities. I show how the illegal status is imagined, embodied, and sustained over an indefinite and uncertain length of time. Undocumented migrants in London are required to slowly adapt, to wait through anxious engagements with other people, and to deal with a legal system that controls their fractured presents and their uncertain futures.
Experiences of undocumented Latin American migrants in London
Ana Gutiérrez Garza
Articulation of Political Subjectivities among Workers
The article examines the political mobilisation and construction of modern political identities among workers during the 1905-1907 Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland. Political process, creation and alternation of the political subjectivities of workers are explained in terms of hegemonic articulations as presented by the political discourse theory of Ernesto Laclau. While social claims merged with resistance against the national oppression of the Tsarist regime and the struggle for social and political recognition, political subjectivities took various contingent and competitive forms; thus the same demands could be integrated into different political narratives and collective identities. Combining discourse theory and process tracing makes alternations of the political field in time intelligible.
Subjects of Luck—Contingency, Morality, and the Anticipation of Everyday Life
Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey
This introduction illustrates the modalities in which different societies imagine the tension between the impersonal and individual- ized aspects of fortune and fate. After briefly discussing the role of contingency, fortune, and gambling in the formation of subjectivities, we outline how different societies confront the moral conundrums arising from fortune's unequal distribution in the world. We highlight how luck orientations presentify the future by the deployment of what we name 'technologies of anticipation'. Luck and fortune can be seen as conceptual techniques for short-circuiting temporal subjectivities by creating a crack in time-a space of 'compossibility'-where events deemed to be fatal and inevitable become negotiable. We conclude with a reflection on dice, randomness, and acts of gambling in which not merely subjectivities but the fate or fortune of larger social aggrega- tions-including the cosmos-is deemed at stake.
Elizabeth Justice’s A Voyage to Russia and Amelia
Matthew W. Binney
Despite the fact that others questioned her credibility in the two editions of A Voyage to Russia (1739 and 1746) and her semi-autobiography, Amelia (1751), particularly her use of biographical details, Elizabeth Justice increases “subjective” descriptions with each successive publication. These “subjective” details offer the credibility for her travel experiences by depicting the circumstances in which the author-narrator’s persona experiences phenomena. Her life’s circumstances depict a coherent persona and consequently reflect John Locke’s notion of personal identity, which defines a consciousness through its temporality. This temporally defined consciousness at once demonstrates how and why she describes phenomena in relation to her singular perspective and affirms her independence, indicating the authority and authenticity of her “objective” travel experiences.
In 1988, Michelle Fine explored the ways in which damaging patriarchal discourses about sexuality affect adolescent girls, and hinder their development of sexual desire, subjectivities, and responsibility. In this article, I emphasize the durability and pliability of those discourses three decades later. While they have endured, they shift depending on context and the intersections of girls’ race, class, and gender identities. Calling on ethnographic research, I analyze the intersectional nuances in these sexual lessons for Latina girls in one (New) Latinx Diaspora town.
On the Adaptive and Mimetic Nature of Subjective Well-Being
‘Quality’ and ‘well-being’ are topical issues and part of their success is based on the suggestion that we have here hard and solid notions on which one can built a new and better society. As normative standards, they anticipate an ideal state from which the actual reality of things can be evaluated as deficient. In this light poverty appears as a sore phenomenon, an infringement of what the quality of life and well-being are all about. In an attempt to qualify this quality of life, the present article focuses on western poverty and its (lacking) sense of well-being. Turning these notions into norms, one should check if ‘quality’ and ‘well-being’ are transparent i.e., referring to unambiguous evaluations that can be assessed objectively. While common and moral sense supposes so, science has to doubt this assumption. The following is based on empirical research in different fields and some theoretical reflections. Bringing these together we try to identify the subjective mechanisms that trouble the notions of quality and well-being. Indeed, there are distorting forces at work, which create and abort the subjective experiences of quality and well-being and thereby nullify their evaluative potential.
Collective Action and Subjective Power in the Greek Anti-Austerity Movement
Atalanti Evripidou and John Drury
Greece has been one of the countries which most severely suffered the consequences of the global economic crisis during the past two years. It has also been a country with a long tradition of protest. The present paper reports a study in which we examined the ways in which people talk about subjective power and deal with the outcome of collective action in the context of defeat. Subjective power has recently become a prominent field of research and its link to collective action has been studied mainly through the concept of collective efficacy. The current study explored questions based on recent social identity accounts of subjective power in collective action. We examined participants’ experiences of subjective power before and after Mayday 2012, in Greece. Two different collective action events took place: a demonstration against austerity and a demonstration to support steel workers who were on strike. In total, 19 people were interviewed, 9 before the demonstrations and 10 after. Thematic analysis was carried out. Protest participants talked about power in terms of five first-order themes: the necessity of building power, unity, emotional effects, effects of (dis)organization, and support as success. The steel workers we spoke to experienced the events more positively than the other interviewees and had different criteria for success. Theories of collective action need to take account of the fact that subjective power has important emotional as well as cognitive dimensions, and that definitions of success depend on definitions of identity.
William L. Remley
In a little remembered event in December 1961, Sartre entered into a debate with Roger Garaudy, as well as other representatives of the Parti Communiste Française (PCF), on the topic of the existence of a universal dialectical law applicable to nature as well as to human thought. In the debate, Sartre seeks to rebut the notion that humankind is merely an “alien addition“ to nature, as Engels maintained, and instead argues that individual subjectivity cannot be reduced to an object of knowledge. This paper highlights the importance of the debate for both sides, but particularly for Sartre and his Critique of Dialectical Reason.
Erica L. Fraser
With the onset of the Cold War and a new nuclear world order, Soviet physicists found themselves at the nexus of scientific research and weapons development. This article investigates the subjectivity of these physicists as an issue of masculinity. Influenced by Connell's models of subordinated, complicit, and hegemonic masculinity, the article finds that the stories nuclear physicists tell about their research in the 1950s are inconsistent and shifting, with the narrators simultaneously remembering unfreedom and privilege. They tell of being conscripted to military work against their will but then enjoying (and deserving) the resulting power, all while maintaining strong homosocial networks in the laboratory predicated on excluding women. Evidence from personal narratives provides unique insight into these multiple masculinities and the way the authors position themselves as (masculinized) Cold War subjects.
The Politics/People Dichotomy in the Ethnography of Post-Yugoslav Nationalization
Ethnographers working in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been at the forefront of the struggle against the identitarianism that dominates scholarship and policymaking regarding the country. Tirelessly foregrounding patterns of life that exceed, contradict, complicate or are oblivious to questions thus framed, we have—unsurprisingly—paid a price for this contribution: explorations of the appeal of nationalism are left mostly to others. Th is article identifies anemic and etic politics/people paradigm that facilitates our timidity to register the ways in which “ordinary people” may enact nationalist subjectivity. Seeking to retain the paradigm’s strengths, I call for a recalibration of how we understand it to function and explore conceptual tools to make this work. Starting from two cases of “foot soldier narratives,” I suggest that hegemony theory can help us trace not only how people are subjected to nationalization but also how they may seek subjectification through it.