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Diplomat, Landlord, Con-artist, Thief

Housing Brokers and the Mediation of Risk in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

market after a previous business venture had failed in the cut-throat world of late-1990s Moscow. After a stint working for a large real-estate firm she now worked as an independent broker [ rieltor , from U.S.-English ‘realtor’, or posrednik

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Steve Kwok-Leung Chan

from the sex sector to the labor sector ( Chuang, 2015 ). The role of brokers in the transnational labor migration process is crucial in facilitating the flow. Several Southeast Asia countries have bilateral agreements, or memoranda of understanding

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Paul Robert Gilbert

encouraged by the Better Regulation agenda was found to be complicit. Here, I examine the attempts that financiers made to act as brokers, that is, to create opportunities for profit and national development by “rebranding” Bangladesh in the wake of Rana

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Elizabeth Strom and Margit Mayer

National and world events shape all cities, but in Berlin they have a

physical presence. For Berliners, the Cold War was tangible, manifested

as a wall and death strip guarded by armed soldiers and attack

dogs. Today that wall is gone and, if national power brokers and the

real estate development community have their way, Berlin will soon

be a “normal” European city and German capital. Not only will the

ghosts of the Nazi past be exorcised, but any tangible inheritance of

the postwar period—in East Berlin the legacies of state socialism, in

West Berlin the strange fruits of a subsidized economy—will disappear.

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Doing <em>bizness</em>

Migrant smuggling and everyday life in the Maghreb

Line Richter

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.

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Rebecca Hardin

Relationships emerging between corporate actors and environmental conservation organizations range from partnerships in field operations to gifts brokered at the upper echelons of corporate and nongovernmental organization (NGO) management. Drawing on Mauss’s original formulation of “the gift,” I consider the social consequences and contexts of these relationships, over various territorial and temporal scales. I argue that recent critiques of conservation NGOs for having “sold out” to corporate interests obscure a more nuanced view of such relationships, their roots in the history of wildlife conservation under colonial circumstances, and their connections to new modes of hybrid environmental governance. These latter include transformations in corporate practice vis-à-vis consumer preference, processes of certification, and educational impacts on professional training for industry personnel, as well as the adoption by many NGOs of terminologies and planning processes from the corporate world. These relational norms and institutional transformations make any oversimplified notion of corporate responsibility insufficient with respect to environmental sectors.

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Eva Johanna Holmberg and Chloë Houston

What did early modern English people think about “strangers”? This speech from the play Sir Thomas More, written by Anthony Munday and others and first performed in the early 1590s, gives an emphatic answer to this question. Strangers were “aliens” who “braved and abused ... freeborn Englishmen” (1.1.111, 74, 72). By their presence in London they stole both food and women from their rightful English owners, committing “vild enormities” and “insolencies” against the native people (1.1.81, 90). The extract above comes from a playbill designed by the broker John Lincoln, who calls on the “worshipful lords and masters of the city” to bring these injustices to an end (1.1.106-7). The text of the bill is taken verbatim from Holinshed’s 1587 Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, which related the events dramatized in the play, the “Ill May Day” protests of 1517.

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Fragile Transfers

Index Insurance and the Global Circuits of Climate Risks in Senegal

Sara Angeli Aguiton

In recent years, Senegal’s developed a program of index insurance to cover farmers from economic losses due to drought. I investigate this emerging market in light of Jane Guyer’s question: “What is a ‘risk’ as a transacted ‘thing’?” To grasp the social practices required to make “rainfall deficit” a transferable risk, I explore the climate and market infrastructure that brings it into existence and follows actors who function as brokers allowing the risk to circulate from Senegalese fields to the global reinsurance industry. I show that the strategies set up to convince farmers to integrate a green and rational capitalist management of climate risks are very fragile, and the index insurance program only endures because it is embedded in the broader political economy of rural development based on debt and international aid.

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Gwyn Williams

This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.

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Postface

Anthropology, bureaucracy and paperwork

Thomas Bierschenk

This postface links the contributions to this special issue to wider concerns in the anthropology of bureaucracy and the history of this disciplinary subfield. Anthropologists focus on documentary practices: how documents are produced, how they are being used (not always in the sense originally given to them by the producers), how they might be ‘brokered’ and how they are being contested – mostly by the production of other documents. The postface points to the epistemological implications of an anthropology of bureaucracy, under the term of ‘complicit positioning’, and argues for acknowledging the double face of bureaucracy and paperwork, as a form of domination and oppression, as well as of protection and liberation, and all the ambivalences this dialectic entails.