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Iñigo Sagardoy de Simón

To reach a proper understanding of what are the social challenges currently facing the European Union, one must first take a short look at what has happened in recent years, analysing both the successes and the difficulties which the union has had to confront. We have all been able to appreciate the profound changes which have taken place in Europe over the course of the past decade, due in the main to the two successive enlargements which increased the number of member-states to fifteen, and the two significant amendments to the treaties, the Single European Act and the Treaty on European Union, which made profound changes to the institutional and political framework of the union. Nor, however, can we overlook the two substantial financial packages which redefined the aims of the integration which have accompanied these developments and the resources for this.

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Stanley Chojnacki

Venetian patrician wives of the late Middle Ages brought to their marriages material goods and family loyalty, both vitally important to the prosperity of conjugal families. The crucial resource was the dowry. During the marriage it sustained the family economy under the husband’s administration. Afterward, as the wife’s inherited property, it returned to her, supporting her widowhood and benefiting her children and kin. The economic connection established by the dowry, which included a corredo, a gift to the groom, encouraged collaboration between families, demonstrated in spouses’ appointment of both agnates and affines as testamentary executors. Moreover, accompanying the financial contents of the dowry were trousseaux consisting of clothing and furnishings for the bride, bestowed by her family and supplemented by the groom. These items further enhanced the relationships forged in marriage by giving visual testimony of a married woman’s position as the bridge between her natal and marital families.

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Christine McCourt

In opening this 2009 volume of Anthropology in Action, it seems important to comment on what are self-consciously interesting times. The first quarter of the year has already witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president, bitter and destructive bombing campaigns in Gaza, and further financial shocks in the world’s markets, with a seeming domino effect of wealthy capitalist institutions turning to national governments for support. Global and local relations, networks, identities and conflicts have been brought into sharp focus by world events, but anthropology is rarely visible in the news, and anthropologists rarely called upon to comment, despite a wealth of potentially valuable knowledge. Applications of anthropology are becoming gradually more accepted within the academy, but seem to have come only a short distance in terms of public profile or ability to influence national and trans-national policies.

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Editorial

A Note from the Editor and the Publisher

Christine McCourt

We are delighted to announce that Anthropology in Action (AiA) will be published as an open access journal as of 2018. Thanks to the generous support that we have received from a global network of libraries as part of the Knowledge Unlatched Select programme, there are no submission charges or article-processing charges (APCs) for authors of articles published under this arrangement. The initial funding is for three years (2018–2020), and during this time we will also make the backfiles of the journal freely available. This is an exciting moment not just for the journal but for its authors, as it offers them a great opportunity to further enhance the reach of their articles. We greatly appreciate the support of Knowledge Unlatched and its Title Selection Committee in choosing AiA and would like to express our thanks to the supporting institutions whose collective resources have removed the financial burden of open access from the journal’s authors.

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Mustafa Abdalla

This article explores a specific kind of student–patient interaction in Egypt. It demonstrates how the increasing need for patients in medical schools and the shift to a neoliberal economy have generated a population of 'bioavailable' professional patients who find meaning in their diseases and sell knowledge about them in medical schools. The encounter with these patients causes tensions and has its high financial costs for the students; yet, some perceive it as a solution to the shortcomings of the medical system. Furthermore, students view professional patients as a cooperative group who possess extensive medical knowledge and relate to their bodies differently compared to 'ordinary' patients. The encounter highlights the inadequacies pertinent to medical education in this system and shows that the rhetoric of patient-centred training, a common model around the world, can lead to inverted power relations and imbalances in the student–patient encounter.

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Gérard Grunberg

The radical component is still alive in French socialism. It finds expression notably in the anti-liberal economic perspective that the international financial crisis has recently reawakened. It is also expressed in the critique of the institutions of the Fifth Republic that Nicolas Sarkozy's "hyper-presidency" has revived. The tendency toward radicalization, however, is also heavily constrained these days for several reasons. The Socialist Party, first of all, has become a party of government. The centrality of the presidential election in the French system and the presidentialist character that the Socialist Party has taken on make a presidential victory a top priority for the party. Too radical a discourse can become, for such a party, counter-productive. The economic environment, moreover, and the situation the country faces makes less and less credible as a political objective the large-scale, state-led redistribution that has traditionally been how French socialism has translated its radicalism into a program of government.

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‘Love Merchandized’

Money in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Manfred Pfister

Although analysing Shakespeare’s sonnets in the context of ‘Shakespeare and money’ is not an obvious choice, I believe that Karl Marx’s ‘The Power of Money’ in his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts are as relevant to the sonnets as they are to plays such as Timon of Athens. My reading of them will foreground their dialogue with terms and developments in early modern banking and focus on metaphors of economic transaction that run through the whole cycle; indeed, a third of them figure love, its wealth and truth, use and abuse, in terms of investment in order to project an alternative economy beyond the self-alienating world of banking/financial gain. This imbrication of the erotic with the economic comprises also the writing of love sonnets, a competitive game-like economic transaction. Soneteering is a way of ‘merchandizing love’ that inevitably casts a capitalist shadow across the supposedly most sincere expression of love.

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Democratising Global Governance

Democratic Theory and Democracy beyond Borders

Anthony G. McGrew

The prospect of a global economic recession, in the wake of the financial crises in the world’s emerging economies, has injected a sense of renewed urgency into longstanding discussions about the reform of global economic governance. But the calls for greater transparency and openness in the deliberations of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are largely symptomatic of a deeper legitimation crisis which afflicts all the key institutions of global governance, including the United Nations itself. For there is a growing perception that existing mechanisms of global governance are both ineffectual in relation to the tasks they have acquired, especially so in managing the consequences of globalisation, whilst also being unaccountable sites of power.

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Martin Carnoy

Few dispute the notion that the rapid development of industrialising economies in Asia and Latin America, new information technologies, liberalisation of trade, and global financial markets have contributed to the emergence of a truly global economy in the past ten years. Neither do they dispute that national economies almost everywhere in the world have become increasingly less ‘national’. Most countries’ foreign trade has increased, and in many, foreign investment and payment on foreign debt have become more prevalent than in the past. Labour movements also appear to be increasing, especially the movement of highly skilled labour. But does this mean that nation-states have decreased influence over the definition of economic and social life? Does globalisation imply the demise of the nation-state?

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Robert Pirro

In the aftermath of unification, the loss of job security and other forms of social support under East Germany's comprehensive (if increasingly inefficient and corrupt) system of welfare state paternalism, coupled with a newfound dependence on West German financial largesse, not only disoriented former East Germans, but also led to pressures on them to repress their past experiences of solidarity and distinctiveness. Schultze Gets the Blues, the critically acclaimed box office hit from director Michael Schorr, relates the story of a retired mineworker and accordionist for a town band in the economic backwaters of eastern Germany who undergoes a lifechanging conversion to the Cajun folk music of Zydeco. Drawing from Joseph Roach's notion of surrogation and Cornel West's articulation of an African-American tragic sensibility, this article casts Schultze in the role of a postunification mediating figure reconciling East German solidarity and localism with West German individualism and multiculturalism.