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British Indians in colonial India and Surinam

Transnational identification and estrangement

Ellen Bal and Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff

The authors present a case study of Indian nationalists who drew from a discourse on ‘exploited overseas Indian migrants’ to serve their own political interests. At the same time, overseas British Indians, in this case in Surinam, advocated the continuation of transnational relations between (British) India and Surinam in order to strengthen the position of their community locally. Clearly, for some time, transnational identification served the (national) interests of both groups in the two different nations. Yet the authors also show that when such transnational ‘solutions’ did not serve any longer to solve local problems, estrangement between the two communities followed. Theoretically, this article constitutes a synthesis of approaches that connect identities to specific places and theories that have abandoned the study of geographically-based national societies. It demonstrates how the politics of place is dominant even within the field of transnational alliances.

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Carl Plantinga

“engagement theory” in order to distinguish it from the “estrangement theory” that emerged from apparatus theory and that still holds much influence today. I am careful to note that this book does not introduce the idea of an ethics of engagement. Many

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Jennifer Craig-Norton


The Kindertransport has long been interpreted as a heroic response to the refugee crisis of the 1930s and has recently re-entered the British national conversation as a model to be applied to the current Middle East refugee crisis. Kinder case files are utilized to argue that an unambiguously celebratory narrative is a misreading of the Kindertransport, especially when considering the plight of parents who had to make agonizing choices to send their children away. The majority of Kinder were never reunited with their families after the war, and even those who were suffered various traumas related to their long estrangement. An examination of the fate of parents and siblings who were not welcomed to Britain suggests that it is a mistake to call for the reimplementation of the Kindertransport on any scale to respond to the wave of religious and political refugees currently crossing into Europe in large numbers.

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“Always Toward Absent Lovers, Love's Tide Stronger Flows”

Spiritual Lovesickness in the Letters of Anne-Marie Martinozzi

Jennifer Hillman

In February 1654, Anne-Marie Martinozzi, a niece of Cardinal Mazarin, married Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. The newlyweds went on to experience almost concurrent pious conversions that would transform their social behavior for the remainder of their lives. Shortly afterward, Armand was posted to northern Italy as commander of the French army, necessitating a six-month estrangement of the couple between May and October 1657. This article explores a corpus of “love letters” penned by the princess during this separation. It argues that Anne-Marie not only claimed to be suffering from “melancholy” as a result of her separation from her lover and spouse, but that she also constructed an image of herself as spiritually lovesick on account of her deprivation from her mentor and confidant. In doing so, this article sheds light on the centrality of copenitents to the direction of spiritual lives in the aftermath of a pious conversion.

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Requiem for a Waria

Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experience

Sylvia Tidey

This article engages recent queries in anthropology regarding where to find openings for reimagining, recreating, or rearticulating a moral and political otherwise. I suggest we can find such openings in the political potentiality of ironic experiences—intensely unnerving confrontations with the discrepancy between accepted norms and cherished ideals, of which these norms fall short. Through a person-centered account of one of Indonesia’s most well-known waria (transgender woman), I demonstrate how an out-of-the-ordinary woman’s pursuit of a pious, ordinary life occasions a profound estrangement from common understandings of what it means to be Muslim. This, then, facilitates the possibility of reimaging religious and political orientations despite a national political context of growing incommensurability between Islam and non-heteronormativity.

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Civilization as the Undesired World

Radical Environmentalism and the Uses of Dystopia in Times of Climate Crisis

Stine Krøijer

Unlike the concept of utopia, an explicit concern with dystopia is almost completely absent from anthropology. This article describes the technologies or uses of dystopia among a group of radical environmental activists in Germany. Dystopia means an undesired or frightening society or place, and, according to the activists, describes our current society and civilization—a consumerist lifestyle and overexploitation of nature that will inevitably lead to environmental collapse. This image is used politically to create estrangement and to make distance from undesired others and their practices. The article suggests that an analytical attention to the political technologies of dystopia might be of broad relevance for efforts to understand politics at our present historical conjuncture where utopias seem to have disappeared from mainstream political life.

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Jane Stadler

culture is affecting spectatorship, the television industry, and the media environment. Engagement and Estrangement Screen Stories posits an ethics of engagement that “relates emotion to belief and value” (131) and that is distinct from what

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Carl Plantinga

tension between the active and passive viewer. Freeland correctly notes that one of the charges of estrangement theorists is that mainstream films encourage passivity on the part of the spectator, and that this passivity is key to their power over

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John Storey

, the book introduces a certain estrangement in which what had seemed natural and inevitable in sixteenth-century England now seems historical and the result of the human agency of those with power. I will return to this important point later

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Ethical Engagement with Movies

Response to Carl Plantinga's Screen Stories

Cynthia Freeland

: Plantinga criticizes estrangement theorists who laud only difficult or art films in saying that “ethical good intentions count for little if the film attracts only a small and self-selecting audience” (241). I laughed when reading Plantinga's remark that