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.
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.
Abstraction and Apparatuses of Atmospheric Attunement in Matsutake Worlds
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.
Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy
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.
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.
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.
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.
Black urban insurgency and antisocial security in twenty-first-century Philadelphia
This article focuses on the emergence of a new pattern of black urban insurgency emerging in major US metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia. I locate this pattern in the context of a new securitization regime that I call “antisocial security.” This regime works by establishing a decentered system of high-tech forms of surveillance and monitory techniques. I highlight the dialectic between the extension of antisocial security apparatuses and techniques into new political and social domains on the one hand and the adoption of these same techniques by those contesting racialized exclusions from urban public space on the other. I end the article with a discussion of how we might adapt the commons concept to consider the centrality of race and racism to this new securitization regime.
Reconstruction, Transnational Governance and Gender Politics in the New Islamic Republic
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.
Indigenous Government, Violence, and Comunalidad
Current violence and insecurity have transformed many aspects of social life in Mexico. In this article, I will analyze how the different configurations of indigenous autonomous government in Cherán and Tlahuitoltepec are viable forms of social organization for providing local security through their relationship with communal territory. In the initial theoretic discussion, I define territorialization as a dynamic process that includes multiple actors, involves a collaborative claim over land and is grounded in violence. In the empiric part, I focus on the processes of territorialization that encompass the relation of indigenous autonomous government, violence, and comunalidad. The (violent) conflicts over hegemonic projects are compound in this study by the autonomous indigenous government and their linkages with the state apparatus of representative democracy.