This article is about the use of trained Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for transportation, in particular across muddy or flooded terrain, clandestine off-road transportation, and during guerrilla operations or political revolts. In a sense, these are all in fact the same transport task: the terrestrial conveyance of people and supplies when, due to weather or politics or both, roads cannot be used. While much recent work from fields such as anthropology, geography, history, and conservation biology discusses the unique relationship between humans and trained elephants, the unique human mobilities opened up by elephant-based transportation has been for the most part overlooked as a research topic. Looking at both historical and recent (post–World War II) examples of elephant-based transportation throughout South and Southeast Asia, I suggest here that this mode of transportation has been especially associated with epistemologically less visible processes occurring outside of state-recognized, formal institutions.
The Use of Trained Elephants for Emergency Logistics, Off-Road Conveyance, and Political Revolt in South and Southeast Asia
Migrant smuggling and everyday life in the Maghreb
Drawing on extensive fieldwork among Malian migrants and connection men, this article investigates the sociality of facilitating migrant journeys and illegal border crossings in the Maghreb. Dominant discourses portray smugglers as participating in highly organized networks of unscrupulous people taking advantage of innocent migrants. I counter such narratives by zooming in on West African migrants involved in the facilitation of illegal border crossings. This bizness consists of ensembles of temporary practices and relations embedded in everyday life with linkages to historical and regional practices of brokering and hosting. This perspective invites us to move conceptually from focusing on different (stereo) types of smugglers to considering smuggling practices; to make sense of the phenomenon, we need to pay less attention to fixed social positions and more to the transient social poses adopted by those involved.
Cross-border Activities and Relationships in the Tornio River Valley
This article concentrates on one particular local cross-border activity carried on after the Second World War. This was a type of smuggling called joppaus in the local dialect, a practice which was enabled by the post-war economic recession and the scarcity of goods from which Finland suffered. This form of unauthorised economy is said to have been responsible for the rapid revival of the region and its inhabitants after the destruction inflicted by the war. The standard of living in the Tornio River Valley has been better than in the north of Finland in general, and this has been explained in part by this type of smuggling. Furthermore, in the last few decades joppaus has become part of the local cultural heritage.
Between 1983 and 1989, as the two German pop music industries continued to license one another’s properties, and Amiga continued releasing American and British records, five long-playing records were released by independent labels based in Western Europe that contained music recorded in the German Democratic Republic. They were then smuggled out of the country rather than formally licensed for release abroad. Existing outside the legal framework underlying the East German record industry, and appearing in small pressings with independent labels in West Germany and England, these five tamizdat LPs represent intriguing reports from the margins on the mutual entanglement of the two Germanies’ pop music industries. Closely examining these LPs’ genesis and formal aspects, this article explores how independent East German musicians framed their own artistic itineraries with respect to (or in opposition to) the commercial pop circuit, as they worked across borders to self-release their music.
Does it Count as a Rescue When a Jew Saves a Fellow Jew?
This article explores the relief, rescue, and resistance activities of Rabbi Zalman Schneerson and the Association des Israélites pratiquants (AIP) in Vichy France. The rabbi's prior experience in clandestine activities and spiritual resistance in the Soviet Union served as a training ground for the resistance work he eventually undertook in Vichy. Schneerson and his family were able to shelter, feed, and educate more than eighty children during the war, save at least fifty-three children from deportation, and help smuggle at least thirty-five children to Switzerland. That Schneerson and his family survived and rescued Jewish refugees in Vichy France, a regime that willingly deported nearly half of its foreign Jewish population to death camps, demonstrates that he and his wife Sara were not novices in clandestine work. Indeed, their staunch resistance to Vichy antisemitism was largely a legacy of Hasidic resistance to antisemitism under Soviet rule.
Contraband at the Romania-Serbia border during the Yugoslavian embargoes
This article analyzes actions of the Romanian state officials and the Romania-Serbia border region people during the embargoes imposed on Yugoslavia in the 1990s. It shows that the embargo-related contraband trade with its diverse layers and actors is an excellent window for studying state formations. Getting involved in both big contraband and the criminalization of smugglers, different state factions developed specific logics of privatization, transnationalization, and interstitial relations. These developments were connected to both the fantasies of accumulation in the context of embargo and Romanian European Union accession. The article also suggests how to understand continuities between the embargorelated and present state formations. Looking at the interplays among border posts, state officials, and the EU, it shows that the border posts are increasingly dislocated from the state and that they seem to become interstitial parts of a post-state field of power.
Blabbs and Cryptographers at Elizabeth I's Court
In this essay I argue that the marginalisation of women's work in the early modern period was, sometimes, an enabling condition. Shakespeare's Bianca converses with her lover in a secret language, and Mary Stuart similarly smuggles letters out of prison to her supporters in code, trying to circumvent Elizabeth's spies and cryptographers. Women writers did not always seek to circulate their words or see them in print, in other words, and what looks like illiteracy on the part of women - poor spelling or garbled syntax or a crabbed penmanship - may instead mark a skillful command of letters, a dazzling 'high' literacy which rivals Latin learning, and occasionally disables it. Many women at Elizabeth's court during the years of Mary Stuart's intriguing display a similar expertise in cryptography. I also explore Jane Seager's 1589 New Year's gift to Elizabeth as well as some of Elizabeth's speeches about Mary Stuart as evidence that early modern women writers might represent themselves as practitioners of secret knowledge, disdaining publication, courting misreading.
Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand
Steve Kwok-Leung Chan
English abstract: Thailand is a popular destination for irregular labor migration from Myanmar. Among some three million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand, more than half are undocumented. Undocumented migrant workers rely on brokers to smuggle them into Thailand. Some undocumented migrant workers are lured, tricked, and forced to work but they are not rewarded with a reasonable wage. A conceptual framework of the shadow sector of labor migration is formulated in this study, which attempts to explain why ethnic minorities in Myanmar are socially categorized by the level of their deprived citizenship. Those low in the hierarchy of categorization are likely to fall into the shadow sector of the labor migration process. Ethnic minorities from areas of insurgency are exposed to a high risk of human trafficking.
Spanish abstract: Tailandia es un destino popular para la migración laboral irregular de Myanmar. Entre unos tres millones de trabajadores migrantes birmanos en Tailandia, más de la mitad son indocumentados. Los trabajadores migrantes indocumentados confían en intermediarios para pasar de contrabando a través de la frontera a Tailandia. En este estudio se formula un marco conceptual del sector paralelo de la migración laboral que trata de explicar por qué las minorías étnicas en Myanmar se clasifican socialmente por el nivel de su ciudadanía privada. Aquellos que se encuentran en la jerarquía de categorización baja probablemente caigan en el sector oscuro del proceso de migración laboral. Las minorías étnicas de las áreas de la insurgencia están expuestas a un alto riesgo de trata de personas.
French abstract: La migration irrégulière de main-d’oeuvre et la traite d’êtres humains sont des sujets récurrents des études migratoires, mais le sujet le plus traité jusqu’à présent concerne le mouvement Sud Nord. La Thaïlande, en tant qu’économie en développement de l’Asie du Sud-Est, est une destination prisée pour la migration de main-d’oeuvre irrégulière myanmaraise. Parmi les quelques trois millions de travailleurs migrants birmans en Thaïlande, plus de la moitié sont sans papiers. Les travailleurs migrants sans papiers comptent sur les intermédiaires pour passer clandestinement la frontière de la Thaïlande afin d’y rechercher un emploi. Certains travailleurs migrants sans papiers sont attirés, trompés et forcés à travailler sans la récompense d’un salaire raisonnable. Un cadre conceptuel du secteur parallèle de la migration de main-d’oeuvre est formulé dans cette étude qui tente d’expliquer pourquoi les minorités ethniques du Myanmar sont classées socialement par leur niveau de privation de citoyenneté. Ceux qui sont au bas de la hiérarchie de la catégorisation risquent de tomber dans le marché parallèle du processus de migration de main-d’oeuvre. Les minorités ethniques des zones de l’insurrection sont exposées à un risque élevé de traite d’êtres humains.