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Aimar Ventsel

This field report summarizes an international interdisciplinary research project in Saidy, Republic of Sakha, in the Russian Far East. The aim of the research was to study ecological adaptations of communities in northern Sakha, combining methods of anthropology, archaeology, and ecology. Most indigenous communities in this region demonstrate a high level of self-organization—for example, forbidding sales of alcohol and transforming drinking to a hidden activity. These communities are actively engaged in the informal economy where officially unemployed people run informal grocery stores, hunting, and transport enterprises. Local practices are a mixture of Evenki and Sakha culture with emphasis on individualism. People in these communities are not nostalgic about Sovietera collective farms—something that is unusual in Siberia—and see current life as better than that in the Soviet era.

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Migrantes y vida pública en Cuba

Estrategias transnacionales de ciudadanos cubanos residentes en Ecuador

Liudmila Morales Alfonso and Liosday Landaburo Sánchez

*Full article is in Spanish

English abstract: The article analyzes how the participation of migrants in Cuban public life has been reconfigured, starting with the process of updating the economic, political and social model that began in 2008. This group, which had been excluded from national public life through an intersection of official policies and discourses—which supported the viewpoint of migration without return, due to political causes, and an “us vs. them” opposition—now benefits from a Cuba that is more open to the world and consistent with transnational migration. Although the road to full citizenship continues to be full of obstacles, there are new opportunities for participation in public life, which the article measures from the integration of Cubans residing in Ecuador in the formal and informal economies to their maintenance of a migratory status in Cuba and the flow of information and communication with their native country.

Spanish abstract: El artículo analiza cómo se reconfigura la participación de los migrantes en la vida pública cubana, a partir del proceso de actualización del modelo económico, político y social que inició en 2008. Este grupo, que había sido excluido de la vida pública nacional por una conjunción entre políticas y discursos oficiales —que sustentó el imaginario de una migración sin retorno, por causas políticas, y de una oposición nosotros/ellos— se beneficia de una Cuba más abierta al mundo y consecuente con la migración transnacional. Aunque el camino hacia una ciudadanía plena continúe lleno de obstáculos, existen nuevas oportunidades de participación en la vida pública, que el artículo mide desde la inserción de cubanos residentes en Ecuador en la economía, formal e informal; el mantenimiento de un status migratorio en Cuba y el flujo de información y comunicación con su país natal.

French abstract: L’article analyse la façon dont la participation des migrants à la vie publique cubaine est reconfigurée, en commençant par la mise à jour du modèle économique, politique et social qui a débuté en 2008. Ce groupe, exclu de la vie publique nationale conjointement par les politiques et discours officiels - qui ont soutenu l’imaginaire d’une migration sans retour, en raison de causes politiques et d’une opposition nous / eux - bénéficie d’un Cuba plus ouvert au monde et compatible avec les migrations transnationales. Et bien que le chemin vers la pleine citoyenneté continue d’être semé d’obstacles, il existe de nouvelles possibilités de participation à la vie publique que l’article met en évidence, depuis l’insertion des Cubains résidant en Équateur dans l’économie, formelle et informelle ; le maintien d’un statut migratoire à Cuba et le flux d’informations et de communication avec leur pays natal.

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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

This article concerns the formation of price in Kathmandu’s land market. In Nepal, land has been for generations the bedrock of savings and household finance, an objectification of social status and a subject of intense political debate, up to and including the recent Maoist insurrection. In Kathmandu, however, the meaning of land has begun to change, mostly because of the rapid fluctuations in its monetary value. This article demonstrates how residents have used localized understandings of price and value formation to explain these changes, understandings that take as their reference point historical landlord-tenant relationships and not the machinations of market equilibrium. This article interrogates the notion that the market animates price, instead arguing that price can index a multitude of value formations.

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From Crime to Cultural Heritage

Cross-border Activities and Relationships in the Tornio River Valley

Helena Ruotsala

This article concentrates on one particular local cross-border activity carried on after the Second World War. This was a type of smuggling called joppaus in the local dialect, a practice which was enabled by the post-war economic recession and the scarcity of goods from which Finland suffered. This form of unauthorised economy is said to have been responsible for the rapid revival of the region and its inhabitants after the destruction inflicted by the war. The standard of living in the Tornio River Valley has been better than in the north of Finland in general, and this has been explained in part by this type of smuggling. Furthermore, in the last few decades joppaus has become part of the local cultural heritage.

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Buy or barter?

Illegal yet licit purchases of work in contemporary Sweden

Lotta Björklund Larsen

This article explores the tensions between buying and bartering a ser vice in contemporary Sweden by analyzing the acceptable purchase of svart arbete -informal exchanges of work. It is a commonplace phenomenon, but also widely debated, as it is seen as detrimental to welfare society, eroding taxpaying morals and solidarity with fellow citizens. Settling the svart deal with money makes the links to market and state domains more pertinent. Even cash-settled deals are therefore often referred to as barters to create a reverse disentanglement, away from the formal market and moved closer to the realm of social exchanges. The informants express a verbal creativity in a joking manner. Exploring synonyms and metaphors reveals the informality, but the talk also shows that, as exchanges, they are part of everyday life. The article thus describes how illegal yet licit exchanges of work are articulated.

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Solidarity's Tensions

Informality, Sociality, and the Greek Crisis

Theodoros Rakopoulos

During times of crisis, economic practices organized on principles of reciprocity often arise. Greece, with the vibrant sociality pertaining to its 'solidarity economy', is a case in point. This article is premised on the idea that crises make contradictions in societies more visible. I suggest that a central contradiction is at play in Greece between informal and formalized economic activity, as demonstrated in the tension between the fluid features of 'solidarity' networks and the formalization proposed or imposed on them by state institutions. In Thessaloniki, the informal solidarity economy proves to be more efficient than the work of NGOs. Arguing that such economic activities are built around the rise of new forms of sociality rather than a tendency toward bureaucratization, the article contributes to anthropological understandings of solidarity and welfare, as well as their relation.

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Color-Coded Sovereignty and the Men in Black

Private Security in a Bolivian Marketplace

Daniel M. Goldstein

The appearance of effective security making—demonstrated through surveillance, visibility, and ongoing performance—is significant to contemporary sovereign authority in urban spaces characterized by quotidian violence and crime. This article examines La Cancha, Cochabamba, Bolivia’s enormous outdoor market, which is policed not by the state but by private security firms that operate as nonstate sovereign actors in the space of the market. The article provides an ethnographic account of one of these firms (the Men in Black), and documents the work of both municipal and national police—all of them distinguished by differently colored uniforms—in the management of crime, administration of justice, and establishment of public order in the market. Sovereignty here is derived through public performance, both violent and nonviolent, through which the Men in Black demonstrate and maintain their sovereign power.

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Mobility in the Margins

Hand-pulled Rickshaws in Kolkata

Gopa Samanta and Sumita Roy

This article examines the marginal mobilities of hand-pulled rickshaws and rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata, India. It traces the politics of rickshaw mobilities, showing how debates about modernity and the informal economy frequently overshadow the experience of the marginalized community of hand-rickshaw pullers. It shows how the hand-pulled rickshaw rarely becomes the focus of research or debate because of its marginal status—technologically (being more primitive than the cycle rickshaw); geographically (operating only in Kolkata city); and in terms of the social status of the operators (the majority being Bihari migrants in Kolkata). Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative research, this study focuses on the backgrounds of the rickshaw-pullers, their strategies for earning livelihoods, the role of social networks in their life and work, and their perceptions of the profession—including their views of the state government's policy of seeking to abolish hand-pulled rickshaws. The article concludes by addressing the question of subalternity.