Crises of masculinity and wars on boys often deploy the suicides of young males as a rhetorical strategy in raising awareness for a political cause, that is to say a declaration of war, a war that remains dubious at best. Who, for instance, declared “war” on “boys”? This paper argues that theorists of gender, particularly masculinity, must think carefully and critically about suicide as a rhetorical strategy. In particular, this paper seeks to explain why men’s rights activists and scholars prefer the term “boys” to “young men” or “adolescents,” and subsequently aims to work through ideas of temporality, futurity, and slow death to understand the deployment of suicide as strategy.
Jonathan A. Allan
Gender Nonconformity in Middle-Grade Fiction
In this article I use four middle-grade novels to query the relationship between gendered forms of childhood and gender nonconformity in tweens. For the young characters in these novels, objects and spaces of gender enfranchisement— including gendered forms of childhood—are often out of reach. Using conceptual tools such as the orientation of objects, queer futures, and the transgender gaze, this work examines the ways in which these novels narrate their main characters’ yearning for things that will make their gender identities legible, and how they, as agentic subjects, attempt to take revenge on the rules and structures of gender normativity.
Desire for the political in the aftermath of the Cold War
Dace Dzenovska and Nicholas De Genova
In this introduction, we reflect on the proliferation of an amorphous desire for the political in the post–Cold War era. The desire for the political, we argue, is shaped by two sets of tensions: the desire to criticize power via forms of action conventionally characterized as “politics,” but without a clear analysis of how power is organized or exercised; and the desire to overcome the present in the name of an alternative (better) future, but without a clear sense of the form that future might take. We start from the vantage points of critical scholarship that distinguishes itself from the mainstream, and people and places that are geopolitically in Europe, but “not quite” European if viewed in relation to “Europe” as a normative trope.
Towards an Ethics of Possibility
Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp
This afterword to this special issue of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, entitled ‘For an Anthropology of Cognitive Disability’, explores the intersections of disability studies and ethnographic research on cognitive difference. We offer a brief scholarly genealogy, discuss how these articles provide recognition for ‘the disarticulate’, and consider how anthropologists working on this subject might contribute to an ethics of possibility.
Living Species and the Latency of Biological and Environmental Threats
Discourses and practices of anticipation occupy a hypertrophic space in contexts where uncontrolled industrial growth has inflicted grave damage on peoples and territories, even triggering environmental disasters. This article explores the use of nonhuman species as anticipatory devices in a petrochemical terminal in Sicily, focusing on public representations of three species: scavenger bacteria that play a cleansing role and underline citizens’ moral responsibility to secure their best possible futures through bioscience; migrating flamingos that breed under the petrochemical chimneys, raising the possibility of hopefulness by highlighting ecosystem resilience; and fish affected by spina bifida, which reveal human health status in advance, communicating the need to live in preparation for potential diseases. The analysis reveals the highly contentious character of these anticipatory devices and the contested ideas about possible futures they imply, thus shedding light on the ecological frictions that have repercussions locally and globally, in discourse and social practice.
Generation in Physiology, Pedagogy and Politics around 1800
Using the pattern of subsequent generations, contingent processes of historical change can be narrated as if they were something natural. The article explores this naturalizing potential of the modern concept of generation by tracing it back to its origin around the year 1800, when current physiological theories about the “epigenetic” self-organization of life became applicable to pedagogical and political programs of “new” and “forthcoming” generations. The article also discusses the methodological question of how such conceptual transfers can be adequately described.
The modern concept communism emerged in the French public sphere in 1840 and rapidly gained currency in other European countries as well. Though primarily used as a term of derision, its radicalization of already-established senses of accelerating change and worldly futurity secured its incorporation in complex unities of utopian hopes and dystopian fears all over the political spectrum of the time. The Danish public sphere of the 1840s reveals three basic modes of using communism, each linked in its peculiar way to new uses of the concept democracy: conservative equations of democratic political equality (particularly, universal male suffrage) and communist attacks on private property in favor of a community of goods; leftist democratic denials of such equations and the emergence of anticommunist democratic positions; and, between the two extremes, liberal distinctions between their own moderate conception of democracy and the false, “communist” democracy of the left .
Experiencing Anticipation. Anthropological Perspectives
Christopher Stephan and Devin Flaherty
Despite contemporary anthropology’s growing interest in ‘futures’, there has been an absence of sustained dialogue concerning the vital role of anticipation in everyday life. Seeking to bring much needed attention to the first-person perspective on futurity, in this introduction to the special issue we situate anticipation within the temporality of lived experience. Drawing on premises from anthropological studies of experience (particularly phenomenological approaches), we frame the experiential approach to anticipation by highlighting the parameters of its cross-cultural and intercontextual variability. We argue that anticipatory experience provides a crucial locus for ethnographic inquiry into the disparate and polysemous manifestations of futures in everyday life. We then seek to demonstrate how anticipation thus conceived may be productively integrated with numerous ongoing themes within contemporary anthropological scholarship. Finally, we introduce the individual contributions to the issue.