This article uses the analytical tool of divine kinship to explore political charisma across Indian and Venezuelan democratic social revolutions. In both contexts, charismatic elected political leaders build their image of strength and action on a wide repertoire of cultural and religious resources that are legitimated by divine kinship. The juxtaposition of the Indian and Venezuelan political ethnographies shows how charismatic kinship inflects lived understandings of popular sovereignty and opens up spaces for holding personality politics accountable.
Charismatic kinship and leadership across India and Venezuela
British Women Travel Writers and Sports
Precious McKenzie Stearns
The big game hunt contributed to the morale of the British Empire, as this sport was seen as the battle between men and nature. If Englishmen (and women) could triumph over animals, this demonstrated English superiority over inferior creatures. Florence Dixie and Isabel Savory proved that the overseas Empire allowed women to have greater access to hunting - and to grander displays of hunting prowess - than was allowed in England. Savory and Dixie, women who proved competent in the hunt, encouraged Victorian society to reevaluate their assumptions of womanhood. Their travel writing provided evidence to the Victorian reading public that women could effectively participate in the hunt, without sacrificing their femininity and denigrating the sport.
Immigration and Class in Contemporary South Asian/American Fiction
This article explores the representation of non-elite immigrants from South Asia to the United States in the fiction of Kiran Desai and Ameena Hussein. The works of these two writers shift the conventional representation of South Asian immigration to the United States as a middle and upper class phenomenon to a representation of the ways that non-elite South Asian immigrant experiences connect with the experiences of immigrants from around the world whose mobility is limited and whose imagined version of their prospective host country is shaped by incomplete and even illusory information.
Samuel Baron's Description of Tonqueen (1686)
Samuel Baron's A Description of the Kingdom of Tonqueen (1686) contains many tropes of the European travel narrative. However, its author was no stranger to the country, but was born to a Vietnamese mother and Dutch father in mid-seventeenth-century Hanoi. Here I discuss how Baron fashioned his identity during his life to attract multiple patrons in the unstable maritime world of Southeast and East Asia. I re-read his Description as an example of “auto-ethnography,” showing how the author shaped his work to achieve certain ends. A comparison with a contemporary Chinese description of northern Vietnam reveals many similarities in tone and approach and helps situate Baron's text within the commercial and diplomatic exchanges of the region.
Materiality and the Morality of Atheist Materialism
Jacob Copeman and Johannes Quack
Atheists are not the only people who donate their bodies, yet the practice is strikingly prevalent in a variety of atheist circles. We concentrate here on the Indian case, exploring body donation as a key instance of the material culture of atheism. Recent efforts to reinvigorate study of the material culture of religion are to be welcomed, but they should be extended to non-religion in order to address the irony that sees scholars representing materialism as an abstract doctrine and, hence, as immaterial. Body donation holds value for Indian atheists as a bridge between 'positive' and 'negative' modes of atheist thought and action. It also provides a ready-made solution for atheist activists keen to circumvent the cadaver-centered death rituals they find so redundant.
African immigrants in twentieth-century Spain and Indians in nineteenth-century Ecuador
The article simultaneously explores three lines of reflection and analysis woven around the comparative reverberations (in space and time) between citizenship and the administration of populations (states of exception) in the Republic of Ecuador during the nineteenth century and the Kingdom of Spain in the twenty century. The first thread tries to answer the question whether it is possible for concepts generated in a country of the Global South to be used usefully in analyzing a different Northern reality, inverting the usual direction in the flows of transfer and importation of “theory.“ The second theme of comparative reverberation explores a network of concepts concerning the citizenship of common sense and the administration of populations, that is the “back-patio“ aspect of citizenship, particularly its historical formation in the domination of populations in the Republic of Ecuador during the nineteenth century. It is centered on the process of identification in the daily exchanges between interpares citizens and extrapares non-citizens. The last section involves testing concepts forged in the author's studies of Ecuadorian history for their utility in analyzing the current situation of modern sub-Saharan immigrants in Spain (using concrete examples), and their reclusion to the private sphere in spaces of exception and abandonment. Here, the article concentrates on the difference between the public administration of populations and the private administration of citizens. The article uses documentary material relating to nineteenth-century Ecuador and twentieth-century Spain and Senegal.
Affirmative action and trajectories of the indigenous
Bengt G. Karlsson
In this article I examine the ways in which the term “indigenous peoples“ is reworked in a specific South Asian context. I focus on the new, hybrid category of “indigenous tribe“ in the Indian state of Meghalaya. I argue that we can think of the indigenous tribe category as a strategic conflation of two different regimes of rights or political assertions. The first relates to the existing nation-state framework for affirmative action as expressed in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, while the second relates to the emerging global framework for asserting the rights of indigenous peoples. While the benefits of asserting the status of indigenous tribes is obvious, for example, preventing other, nonindigenous tribes from owning land in the state, the long-term gains seems more doubtful. Both affirmative action programs and indigenous peoples frameworks are motivated by a moral imperative to redress historical injustices and contemporary social inequalities. To evoke them for other ends might eventually backfire. The larger point I seek to make, however, is that political categories tend to take on a life of their own, escaping their intended purposes and hence applied by people in novel and surprising ways.
Optimizing the Dynamic Conflict of Interest in Transnational Migration
In the traditional discourses on modern international migration, the 'sending' countries of the South are supposed to derive three kinds of static benefits—remittances, transfer of technology, and return migration. In today's postmodern transnationalization-through-migration context, the stakes are no longer static but dynamic, and the relative benefits to the 'receiving' countries of the North are much bigger than those that they 'concede'. Does the South have a say in assessing these benefits for the North? Only in an equitable adversary analysis—that is, in a strategic rather than standard cost-benefit assessment, in which each party steps into each other's shoes while on a level playing field—would the dynamic conflict of interest be addressed in ways that would produce a truly global quest for development.
Growing up Disabled, Transnationally
Shonali Bose. 2014. Margarita, with a Straw. India
Shah, A. (2018), Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas (London: Hurst Publishers). ISBN: 978-1-849-04990-0.