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From Cutting to Fading

A Relational Perspective on Marriage Exchange and Sociality in Rural Gambia

Tone Sommerfelt

Based on 21 months of field research on the northern bank of the Gambia River, this study deals with ceremonial exchange and sociality among rural Wolof speakers. In exploring the procurement and distribution of bridal trousseaus, I examine the process of exchange that shapes and limits these potentially endless affinal networks and analyze the social forms that arise from these complex sets of transfers. It is argued that redistributions of objects and money do not establish definite boundaries around units based on categorical exclusion and inclusion, but rather gradual distinctions of social proximity. In effect, I question the appropriateness of the concept of the 'cutting' of networks in this West African setting, proposing instead that 'fading' paints a clearer picture of the particular ways in which affinal networks are limited and relationships are rendered recognizable.

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Les Ambivalences de la Rationalisation

À propos du rôle joué par les médias dans la présidentielle 2012

Eric Lagneau and Cyril Lemieux

By comparison with 2002 and 2007, does the 2012 presidential election reveal significant changes in French media functioning and their relations with the political sphere? To answer this question, this article challenges four statements heard during the campaign. They deal with the contribution of the media to François Hollande's victory, the way journalists reported on the campaign, the role played by the polls and finally, the candidates' strategies in media agenda setting. Even if the features traditionally ascribed to the French media (social proximity between journalists and politicians, importance of state regulation and public service, orientation toward the intellectual viewpoint in the patterns of media coverage) have not completely vanished, they describe reality less and less. Indeed, as shown in the article, both the media and the political sphere are today subjected to a converging process of rationalization that transforms their practices and mutual relations.

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Diplomat, Landlord, Con-artist, Thief

Housing Brokers and the Mediation of Risk in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

This article explores the role of brokers in the market for accommodation in contemporary Moscow. Drawing on fieldwork with Kyrgyz migrant workers and the variety of intermediaries [posredniki] on whom they depend, it introduces two interventions into a growing anthropological re-engagement with brokerage. First, it highlights the importance of spatial and social proximity for understanding brokerage relations. Second, it attends ethnographically to the kinds of skills that are understood to distinguish ‘successful’ from ‘unsuccessful’ intermediaries. Drawing together recent literature on ‘everyday diplomacy’ with emic identifications of the posrednik’s work as a diplomatic craft, it examines brokerage as a skilled practice for encountering and mediating difference in contexts of political and administrative indeterminacy. The posrednik becomes an important figure in the migrant economy to the extent that economic life is suffused with uncertainty. This has implications for comparative anthropological concern with processes of social navigation in contexts of precarity.

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Belonging in a New Myanmar

Identity, Law, and Gender in the Anthropology of Contemporary Buddhism

Juliane Schober

preaching. Wirathu comes from the rural area in Upper Burma that is also home to Senior General Than Shwe, the head of state from 1992 to 2011. This social proximity between the military leader and Myanmar’s most fervent anti-Muslim provocateur is a reminder