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Rohan Bastin

Developing Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of territorialization and the apparatus of capture, this article explores the role that Sri Lankan Hindu temples have played in the formation of ethnicity and ethnic conflict. Analyzing three contemporary events, the article introduces ways in which many different Sri Lankans (Sinhalese and Tamil) interpret their country's predicament and seek to resolve or prolong it. The events also reveal how scholarship becomes entangled in ethnic nationalism. I then examine in greater detail a village in which temple construction was a critical feature of identity formation during the creation of Sri Lanka as a colonialist and capitalist bureaucratic space. Through this account, I argue that the formation of polarized ethnicity in Sri Lanka is the product of multiple refractive forces, of which temples are one, and not the end result of a singular colonialist bureaucratic agency.

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Tending to Suspension

Abstraction and Apparatuses of Atmospheric Attunement in Matsutake Worlds

Timothy Choy

Scenes from mushroom technosciences illuminate forms, practices, and temporalities of atmospheric attunement. This article reanimates moments from scientific literature where chemists and mycologists chase elusive smells and spores, explicating how scientists’ experimental apparatuses of attunement arrange conditions for matsutake to be reduced and concentrated toward the goal of sensibility. Reduction and concentration do more than translate atmospheric elusiveness into specification; achieved through grinding, evaporating, and remixing, they condition a ‘tending to suspension’. Tending to suspension amplifies qualities and throws subjects and sensorial attention into the middle of volumes and durations. ‘Tending’ implies care as well as a ‘tending toward’—the sense that something may develop a tendency. Experimental apparatuses of atmospheric attunement, tending to such tendings, model a method for anthropological study of diffuse objects.

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Response

Reveal the apparatus

Michael Hardt

I am grateful to the authors of these articles for their critical engagements with my and Toni Negri’s books. A friend once told me that you can judge the worth of a book by the quality of the critical responses it elicits: that is how productive debate proceeds. These articles are excellent examples of such productive intellectual exchanges, and I am proud to have these authors as critics and interlocutors. I am also grateful for their generosity. When reading work from disciplinary perspectives other than our own, it is not uncommon to experience not only bewilderment but also irritation. I recognize it as an act of generosity, then, that these anthropologists engage the kind of political theorizing that Toni and I practice on its own terms, and then relate it to the way they see the issues we treat from an anthropological perspective.

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Dan Brockington

Measuring and being measured are some of the fundamental aspects of our worlds. Without them, we cannot live in our environments or function as social beings. But how we measure, and are measured, and to what ends and purposes, matters a great deal. Measurement does not just record; it shapes, changes, and constitutes things. It is not merely descriptive. It is creative. This introduction to the special issue explores how these themes of measurement are played out in diverse settings, including counting fish stocks, migration, social resilience, local measures of sustainability, oil exploitation, forest conservation, calculating ecosystem services, and measuring heat. Collectively, they provide a better understanding of how crucial measurements are formulated, and how they are and can be contested.

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Loren Ryter

To speak of ‘asylum’ is to speak of an intense fear released upon arrival in a sheltered place of calm. With political asylum, both the fear and the subsequent calm are politicized, because the origins of fear are typically understood to be identified with a state apparatus, and the umbrella of shelter is defined by the territorial boundaries of another nation-state. Seeking asylum involves more than escaping trouble in one’s homeland. It links that trouble to government and severs a connection between homeland and nationality. Defection, an extreme variant of asylum, is a politicized trade of nationality. However, in any asylum request, one’s prior nationality, if not repudiated altogether, must be placed in abeyance until such a time that the state apparatus of one’s homeland no longer persecutes dissent. Even so, rarely do those granted political asylum reclaim their prior nationality and return to their homeland once the conditions of persecution have vanished.

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The Swiss Paradox

Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy

Marina Gold

The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.

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Hunting for Justice

An Indigenous Critique of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

Lauren Eichler and David Baumeister

Within the mainstream environmental movement, regulated hunting is commonly defended as a tool for preserving and managing populations of wild animals for future generations. We argue that this justification, encapsulated in the seven principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, perpetuates settler colonialism—an institutional and theoretical apparatus that systemically eliminates Indigenous peoples, expropriates Indigenous lands, and disqualifies Indigenous worldviews— insofar as it manifests an anthropocentric ideology that objectifies hunted animals as “natural resources” to be extracted. Because this ideology is antithetical to Indigenous views, its imposition through hunting regulation interrupts Indigenous lifeways, contributing to the destruction of Indigenous identity.

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Mita Marra

In the last two years, a new period of reform has charged the Italian

public administration system with three principal objectives: modernizing

its organizational structure at the national and local levels,

reorganizing public employment, and improving the services rendered

by public institutions. To this end, the year 2009 signaled the initial

intensification of policies promoted by Minister Renato Brunetta—initiatives

that had been in the developmental stages in 2008. The reform

spirit of the government has given life to a first series of measures that

are urgently needed to remedy some of the most evident and critical

weaknesses in the public apparatus, such as absenteeism. At the same

time, these initiatives have been accompanied by the definition of the

principles and boundaries that will guide the process, as provided for

in Law No. 15 of 2009. This law came about in response to Legislative

Decree No. 150/2009, regarding the reorganization of public employment

and collective bargaining in the public sector.

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The Making of Modern Afghanistan

Reconstruction, Transnational Governance and Gender Politics in the New Islamic Republic

Julie Billaud

This article seeks to characterise the nature of the post-Taliban 'reconstruction' project in Afghanistan through an analysis of observations and interviews collected in the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) in 2007. Based on a case study of a 'gender empowerment' training programme administered by the MoWA and funded by an international aid agency, I underline some intricacies in the relationships that are built in development encounters. I argue that the current efforts to include gender issues in politics are part of a broader cultural project aimed at setting up the conditions of possibility for the creation of a modern Afghan state. I show how reconstruction does not simply consist in the formation of a bureaucratic apparatus based on Western models of liberal democracies but primarily involves cultural and symbolic production.

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Jean-Pascal Daloz

This article is an extension of my book on The Sociology of Elite Distinction. In this work, I sought to offer a discussion on the merits and limits of the major models of interpretation dealing with social distinction when confronted with empirical realities in a large number of environments. Here, I propose some reflections about the way historians have been using these sociological models. Although universalistic propositions were often developed, I argue that most grand theories were typical products of their time and also of the societies respectively taken into consideration. The question therefore arises as to what extent their (retrospective) use by historians seeking a conceptual apparatus is always pertinent. It is concluded that many theoretical models are valuable providing we do not see them as “reading grids” that could be systematically applied but rather as analytical tools which are more or less operational according to the contexts studied.