Religious organisations that secularise their community outreach to gain European Union (EU) funding, border-city residents whose consumption practices exploit cross-border economic disparities, EU member states that protect their domestic labour market by restricting access to legal work and medical care for citizens of new member states, recently admitted citizens who nevertheless take advantage of increased opportunities for mobility to improve their economic and social standing, and even in some cases use their scepticism about membership to promote their personal or national interests within the EU – all of these examples point to the complex and varied ways in which instrumentality figures in day-to-day dealings with the European Union. This special issue of AJEC seeks to contribute to the anthropological study of the European Union by examining ways in which various individuals, groups and institutions use the EU to pursue their political, economic and social goals at local, national and transnational levels within Europe.
Practices of Daily Engagement with the European Union
Marysia Galbraith and Thomas M. Wilson
Gazing Across Borders
Geographical, political, and historical contexts foreground the relationship between Americans of Mexican heritage and Mexican citizens. Contemporary US struggles over Mexican immigration and the focus on border studies also mark the significance of this relationship. This article analyzes chicano author Gary Keller's short story, "The Raza Who Scored Big in Anáhuac," with a specific focus on this crucial relationship. Employing the work of John Urry and others, this article takes a critical look at the mechanism of the 'gaze' and the way that it functions in heritage tourism. In doing so, it calls into question the presumed innocence of tourism and its constant companion, photography - an extension of the 'gaze.' Moving beyond the protagonist's illusion of the potential for a cultural connection across borders, this article culminates in an analysis of class, the final denominator between the Mexican American and the mexicano.
Toing and Froing the Social
Understandably, one would think, the social is the heartland of ritual studies. What is ritual, if not the Durkheimian effervescence of the social? Still, a number of the essays in this volume move towards the borders of the social. Perhaps this has occurred because the contributors were asked to think of ritual in its own right, thereby freeing them from the so deeply embedded anthropological stricture that ritual is social because it must be attached to, relate to, or service some group. Ritual is created by groups and expressive of groups, otherwise it is insignificant. This complicity of ritual and groupness implicitly demands that rite have meaning or function for the social, the raison d’être of ritual’s existence. Thus, the structures, dynamics, and processes of ritual are immediately oriented to the social. Rarely considered is that taking this tack eliminates other possibilities in which thinking on ritual ignores the borders of the social.
Ravi K. Raman
Through a case study of an anti-cola struggle in a south Indian village, this paper promotes the conceptual treatment of subaltern cosmopolitanism in the contemporary context of anticorporate social movements. In this situation the multiple issues raised by a local movement, such as livelihood, sustainability, and human rights, sensitize each of the new social agencies involved, within and outside the borders of the local state, and help forge a solidarity network across borders with their universally relevant concerns of environmental ethics and livelihood rights. It is further suggested that it is precisely the new politics of ecology and culture articulated by the subalterns that constructs an enduring and viable future for social movements.
Walter Benjamin at Portbou
As we returned south in the gloaming to Portbou, the doubts resurfaced. The Right is gathering strength again, not least in France and Spain. The borders may be open within Europe, but they remain largely closed to refugees and asylum-seekers from beyond Europe's borders. These nameless people include the bodies washed up every week on the shores of the Straits of Gibraltar, Africans trying in vain to escape tyranny, war and hatred and - the greatest oppression of all - poverty. What happened at Portbou is important to all of us. We all need to descend that staircase, confront our own mortality, confront the harm we do every day to one another and to our planet. The crimes that are committed by soldiers, police and bureaucrats - in our names.
Materialities, Histories, and the Spatialization of State Sovereignty
Valentina Napolitano, Nimrod Luz and Nurit Stadler
In the introduction to this special section of Religion and Society, we discuss existing and potentially new intersections of border theories and religious studies in relation to two contested regions—US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine (as part of the history of the Levant)—respectively. We argue for a recentering of borderland studies through an analysis of political theologies, affective labor, and differing configurations of religious heritage, traces, and materiality. We thus define 'borderlands' as translocal phenomena that emerge due to situated political/economic and affective junctures and that amplify not only translocal but also transnational prisms. To explore these issues, we put into dialogue studies on religion, borderlands, walls, and historical/contemporary conditions in the context of US-Mexico and Israel-Palestine borders. In particular, we argue for recentering analyses in light of intensifications of state control and growing militarization in contested areas.
Religious Pluralism in the City of Tijuana
Alberto Hernández and Amalia Campos-Delgado
A double referent connoting both movement and immobility, the border region has been, for more than a century, the setting for those who come to stay, those who try to cross over into the United States, and, more recently, those who are deported from the US. Accordingly, the religious practices in this area flow along with the shifting populations and are transformed by them. From a socio-anthropological perspective, this article examines the main religious figures venerated in the city of Tijuana, located just south of the US-Mexico border, and the social contexts of their devotees, who have come from other parts of Mexico. This religious panorama does not display a homogeneous group of creeds, but rather reflects a variety of regional traditions in which religion is practiced and divine figures are revered.
(Post)Migrant Productions of Transnational Space
With reference to anthropologist Ina-Maria Greverus’ pioneering analyses of human-environment relations since the 1970s, the article pushes the idea of Heimat further to the more processual concept of Beheimatung. This is especially relevant for an anthropology of the transnational worlds of (post-)migrant societies with their current negotiation of cross-border migration in the present and concerning colonial objects from the past in museums.
The Hustle-Bustle of a Hindi Romeo and Juliet
Jonathan Gil Harris
This article builds on Terence Hawkes' 'jazz' reading of Hamlet to suggest ways in which music can shed light on radical aspects of Shakespeare's theatrical and linguistic craft. Turning specifically to Hindi cinema and the convention of the 'item number', the article considers the latter's translingualism and how it can help us understand the relations between Shakespeare's own polyglot language and the border-crossing nature of desire in Romeo and Juliet.
Laurent Dubois and Achille Mbembe
This article offers a genealogy of the impact of French and Francophone Studies during the past decades in order to offer suggestions about how the field might be reconfigured and re-imagined in the present. We argue that the best way forward will be to dispense with traditional boundaries and borders within the field and instead embrace a general identity as Francophonists in order to bring together work on and from different regions of the globe.