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Senses of Spatial Equilibrium and the Journey

Confounded, Discomposed, Recomposed

Andrew Irving

This special issue of Journeys brings together writers whose origins and research expeditions lie in different parts of the world (United Kingdom, Germany, India, Africa, Japan and the Caribbean) to explore the relationship between different kinds of movement (walking, voyaging, bus-tours, animal-tracking) and the accompanying transformations in body and perception that emerge when journeying near and far from home. Journeys are indelibly associated with movement through lands and across seas, but like songs and stories, they also are works of composition, sometimes carefully crafted, other times improvised, often unique, and frequently unfinished. Although a journey, like any other work of composition, unfolds over time and can be thought to have a narrative structure of beginning, middle, and end, it is likely to contain many unstructured moments: unexpected detours, various contingencies and chance encounters, moments of social and cultural disorientation, and unresolved questions that are neither planned nor initiated by the author. Journeys, therefore, can often take us into strange “inner” places. Perhaps then we might say that journeys involve a process of discomposition, an unravelling and disordering of habitual thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and normative presuppositions, which are made explicit in the face of new lands and may become temporarily reconstituted amid the diversity of people one encounters there.

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Bruce Kapferer

Gluckman and the Manchester School pioneered approaches in anthropology that are now commonplace. But they were interested in achieving generalizations of both a local and more global kind. Their central methodology was that of situational analysis and extended-case analysis, which are examined here as attempts to make anthropology, via its ethnographic field method, a scientific discipline that opened out to novel ideas and theories concerning the human condition. This essay critically assesses the thinking that underpinned the methodology of situational analysis and suggests some areas of redirection. The overall idea is to impart some sense of the spirit that motivated various aspects of the Manchester innovation, especially the politics that gave it some coherence, and the wider importance of its directions that are occasionally overlooked in reflections on the history of social anthropology.

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Can a financial bubble burst if no one hears the pop?

Transparency, debt, and the control of price in the Kathmandu land market

Andrew Haxby

prices never go down in Kathmandu. Financial bubbles rest on the assumption of price equilibrium: that in a functioning market, a commodity’s price will naturally trend toward a balancing of supply and demand (e.g., Friedman 1976 ; Kindleberger and

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Comment: Socialism's Mal(e)contents

Masculinity as Performance Art in Postwar and Late Socialism

Marko Dumančić

operating as a “third gender,” the persistence of longstanding patriarchal norms, the rapidly changing postwar gender equilibrium, and the continuing significance of war and martial masculinity. It was, and remains, important to consider normative

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Laughter in the Ghetto

Cabarets from a Concentration Camp

Lisa Peschel

them preserve their psychological equilibrium in a potentially traumatising environment. The archival documents that make this kind of analysis possible have only recently resurfaced. Musical compositions and drawings created in Theresienstadt have

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From Morality to Psychology

Emotion Concepts in Urdu, 1870—1920

Margrit Pernau

upon notions of equilibrium and balance, which accorded a crucial role to the will and to rationality, fifty years later concepts celebrated the elementary power of emotions and their capacity to overwhelm the individual. This can be read as an

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Arthur Goldhammer

It is argued that the concept of “French studies” originally embodied in this journal was born of a unique constellation of social, cultural, and political forces characteristic of the middle years of the Cold War. The unity of the field defined by that moment was subsequently challenged by tensions inherent in the shift to a more transnational comparative perspective. A return to a ”reflective equilibrium” between the local and the global anchored in an emphasis on language and culture is advocated.

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Changing Paradigms

Flux and Stability in Past Environments

Liliana Janik

This article introduces and illustrates the need to reassess the way we conceive of human 'adaptation' to the natural environment. The primary case considered is the south-eastern Baltic Sea region during the mid-Holocene. The article argues for the importance of the notion of a metastable ecosystem in debate about climatic and environmental changes. Through a discussion of the culturally governed choices made by human communities in non-equilibrium ecosystems, we are able critically to examine highly influential theories of environmental determinism.

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Isabelle Petit

The EU has as its motto “United in Diversity.“ To what extent does reality reflect this federal ideal as inscribed in the European treaties? Although the Lisbon Treaty introduces reforms and legitimizes processes that reinforced the federal character of the European project, it remains difficult at this stage to define the EU as a social and political structure in which power rests on a fragile equilibrium between unity and diversity as well as on a struggle to maintain it. If unity has been reinforced through successive institutional reforms, there is still disequilibrium in favor of diversity.

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'Seeing' Environmental Process in Time

Questions of Evidence and Agency

David Sneath

This introduction reviews the articles collected in this special section, articles that explore different visions of the environment and how they engender particular ways of seeing evidence of climatic and environmental change. A key aspect of such distinctive understandings seems to be the attribution of agency within conceptions of the environment that in each case are entangled with humans. Notions of anthropogenic and non-equilibrial environments are explored in several of the articles collected here, along with ongoing debates surrounding the concept of the Anthropocene. An awareness of climate change has brought new urgency to the project of grasping our entangled environments in the diversity of their human understandings.