The Anthropocene can be understood as a crisis of blame: it is not only a geological era but also a political zeitgeist in which the marks of human agency and culpability can be perceived nearly everywhere. Treating global climate change as a metonym for this predicament, I show how life in the Anthropocene reconfigures blame in four ways: it invites ubiquitous blame, ubiquitous blamelessness, selective blame, and partial blame. I review case studies from around the world, investigating which climate change blame narratives actors select, why, and with what consequences. Climate change blame can lead to scapegoating and buck-passing but also to their opposites. Given that the same ethical stance may lead to radically different consequences in different situations, the nobleness or ignobleness of an Anthropocene blame narrative is not a property of the narrative itself, but of the way in which actors deploy it in particular times and places.
A Guilt-Free Explanation
It is becoming widely recognized that far fewer young males than females are entering university. Blame is directed, for example, to the school system, feminism and parenting, but the fundamental reason is not something for which anyone should be blamed; rather, it is a mathematically inevitable result of the relentless expansion of the university system. Other factors might be important, and some are very important, but they accentuate, rather than cause, the imbalance. The true root cause has to be recognized and tackled if we are to make progress concerning what is becoming a massive social problem.
Brigitte Young and Willi Semmler
Only a decade ago, slow growth and high unemployment plagued Germany, but the "sick man of Europe" has now moved to outperform the Eurozone average growth since the second quarter of 2010. This confirms Germany's recovery and its status as the growth engine of the continent. This surely is a success story. While Germany (also Austria and the Netherlands) is prospering, the peripheral countries in the Eurozone are confronted with a severe sovereign debt crisis. Starting in Greece, it soon spread to countries such as Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. In the course of the debate, Germany was blamed for the imbalances in Europe. In short, German export performance and the sustained pressure for moderate wage increases have provided German exporters with the competitive advantage to dominate trade and capital flows within the Eurozone. Thus, Germany is seen as the main beneficiary of the EURO. This argument, however, is vehemently disputed within Germany. Many economists and political leaders reject this argument and point to the flagrant lack of fiscal discipline in many of the peripheral countries. Some prominent economists, such as Hans-Werner Sinn, even disputes that Germany was the main beneficiary of the Eurozone. The paper analyzes the two sides of the controversy, and asks whether we are witnessing a more inwardlooking and Euroskeptic Germany. These issues will be analyzed by first focusing on the role of Germany in resolving the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, and the European Union negotiations for a permanent rescue mechanism. We conclude by discussing some possible explanations for Germany's more assertive and more Euroskeptic position during these negotiations.
Amy Adele Hasinoff
Sexualization might seem like a sympathetic explanation for sexting because it positions girls as innocent victims of mass culture. However, there are problematic unintended consequences with understanding sexting, the practice of sharing personal sexual content via mobile phones or the internet, in this particular way. One troubling implication is that it provides a rationale for holding girls who sext criminally responsible for producing child pornography. A second is that when girls' acceptance of sexualization is positioned as a key social problem, the solution that emerges is that girls must raise their self-esteem and gain better media literacy skills. Despite the value of such skills, a focus on girls' deficiencies can divert attention from the perpetrators of gender- and sexuality-based violence. Finally, discourses about sexualization often erase girls' capacity for choice, relying instead on normative assumptions about healthy sexuality. Interrogating the pathologization of girls' apparent conformity to sexualization and mass culture highlights the complexity of agency.
A Taiwanese Case Study
Drawing primarily on ethnographic material from Taiwan, this article focuses on misfortune and, more especially, on the ques- tion of whether people are felt to deserve what happens to them-be it bad or good. I examine the cases of several people who have suffered misfortune in life, exploring ways in which they might actively try to make good things happen as a way of convincing others, and indeed themselves, that they are, after all, good. In considering these cases, I discuss three intersecting accounts of fate that are widely held by ordi- nary people in Taiwan and China: a cosmological one, a spirit-oriented one, and a social one.
Stereotypes, Risk and National Identity in a Spanish Enclave in North Africa
How do stereotypes – as rhetorical, homogenising claims about the Self and Other – survive despite their users having personal experiences that contradict them? This article addresses this question by examining why the Christian and Muslim inhabitants of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta insist the ‘moro’ is a cunning, hostile antagonist, even when their interactions with Moroccans tend to be profitable, and even as ethnographers of mainland Spain report widespread revisions of the Moorish migrant’s negative image and the country’s Islamic past. Building on the interpretative model of stereotypes developed by Herzfeld, Brown and Theodossopolous, I argue that the ‘moro’ persists as an unequivocally malevolent character because it (1) is cultivated by a number of financially interested actors and (2) is central to the discursive strategies Ceutans use to respond to the political threats to their españolidad from both north and south.
Constructing the Villain in Narrative Film
Many narrative films feature villains, major characters that audiences are meant to condemn. This article investigates the cognitive-affective underpinnings of audience antipathy in order to shed light on how filmic villainy is constructed. To that end, the article introduces an analytical framework at the intersection of cognitive film theory and moral psychology. The framework analyzes villainy into three categories: guilty intentionality, consequential action, and causal responsibility.
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Stephan Feuchtwang and Susan Bayly
The Bad, Fear and Blame? Comment on Bayly’s Mapping Time, Living Space Stephan Feuchtwang
Reply Susan Bayly
Reconfiguring Culpability in Melanesia and Africa
This article examines the significance of witchcraft accusations during the South African AIDS epidemic. In search of broader intercontextual understanding, I compare experiences of AIDS in Bushbuck ridge, where I have done fieldwork, with anthropological studies of kuru, a transmissible degenerative disease, in Papua New Guinea. Whereas scientists blamed the spread of kuru on the practice of cannibalism, those who were affected attributed it to sorcery. These dynamics resonate with the encounters between health workers and host populations during the AIDS epidemic in Bushbuckridge. Health propaganda attributed the rapid transmission of HIV to sexual promiscuity. In response, sufferers and their kin invoked witchcraft, shifting blame onto outsiders and reinforcing the relations that medical labeling threatened to disrupt. The comparison enables us to see witchcraft accusations as a means of reconfiguring culpability, cutting certain networks, and strengthening other existing configurations.
The making of Roma/Gypsy migrants in post-industrial Scotland
Drawing on research among Slovak Roma labor migrants to the UK, this article examines differentiated modalities of belonging and a crystallization of the category of Roma/Gypsy in one neighborhood in a post-industrial Scottish city. This originally working-class, predominantly white area has been transformed, through several waves of migration, into a multicultural neighborhood. Established residents of the neighborhood express a sense of growing crisis and blame for local decline is frequently placed on migrants and, in particular, Gypsy migrants from Eastern Europe. The article focuses on the shifting forms of ethnocultural categorization that mark Roma difference in Glasgow.