Since the early 1990s, language used to speak of cultural practices once thought of as "folklore" has become increasingly standardized around the term intangible heritage. Supranational intangible heritage policies promote a contradictory package that aims to preserve local identity and cultural diversity while promoting democratic values and economic development. Such efforts may contribute to the deployment of language that stresses mutual exclusivity and incommensurability, with important consequences for individual and group access to resources. This article examines these tensions with ethnographic attention to a Hungarian folk revival movement, illuminating how local histories of "heritage protection" meet with the global norm of heritage governance in complicated ways. I suggest the paradoxical predicament that both "liberal" notions of diversity and ethno-national boundaries are co-produced through a number of processes in late capitalism, most notably connected to changing relations of property and citizenship regimes.
The making and unmaking of a rural moral economy
This paper draws on the work of E. P. Thompson to understand anticapitalist resistance in northern California in the 1960s and 1970s. Through an analysis of the back-to-the-land movement in a region I call “Claytown,” I show how the making of a rural moral economy was in part enabled by the presence of a nascent marijuana industry. However, whereas a relatively small-scale marijuana industry helped forge anticapitalist resistance in the 1960s and 1970s, this industry has become a form through which values of capitalist political economy are being instantiated and reasserted. I situate my ethnographic analysis within a broader historical and legal framework to show how a contemporary moral economy is made and increasingly unmade in the context of late capitalism.
Italy as a stepping stone in migrants’ imaginaries
This article explores feelings of disappointment and failure among migrants in Italy. It argues that the ubiquitous circulation of discourses of disappointment can be traced to restricted possibilities for upward mobility produced by the legal, economic, and social forms of marginalization that migrants in Italy encounter. Disappointment, it contends, is the product of an imaginary migration trajectory that views moving on from Italy as the only way to be successful. Arguing that some low-status migrants can be considered “flexible citizens,” I examine how my respondents’ desires for mobility are shaped by opportunities and restrictions that are integral to late capitalism, as well as by the differentiated inclusion into the global market that these produce. By their very nature, however, I show how these desires neglect other kinds of future imaginaries and arguably impede the chance to build greater equality for migrants and their children in the future.