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Planning, state building, and the days after in Palestine

Kareem Rabie

onto local political, and global economic logics, and help clarify state building and its political economic assumptions and goals. First, in the post-Oslo period, technocratic planners presupposed a functioning state with some kind of sovereignty and

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Toward an Anthropology of ‘State Failure’

Lebanon’s Leviathan and Peace Expertise

Nikolas Kosmatopoulos

The sizable amount of academic and policy-oriented literature on socio-political violence in Lebanon could be said to have rendered the country a 'prestige zone' for theorizing on the powerful image of the Leviathan, the Hobbesian idea that a secular social order is achievable only within a strong sovereign state. Building on the insights of the anthropology of the state, this article argues for the necessity of a critical assessment of contemporary expert discourses of 'state failure'. Based on archival research and anthropological fieldwork, the article addresses the metaphor of the failed Leviathan as an empirical question. Overall, it seeks to explore its productivity as an applied expert category and to highlight both the conditions of its construction and dissemination, as well as some of its particular effects.

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Israel as a Case Study in Processes of Nation-Building

Avi Bareli and Tal Elmaliach

The process of nation- and state-building in Israel could be viewed as unique because of its pace and intensive character. This is evident in much that is related to immigration, forging cultural coherence, the establishment of institutions, and

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Militarizing Women in the Ukrainian Nationalist Movement from the 1930s to the 1950s

Olesya Khromeychuk

women’s active involvement in the army, therefore, was only beneficial for their symbolic inclusion into the state-building myth “in song, literature and rhetoric.” 51 In reality, little actual power or authority was transferred to women, and their

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Rebranding Desolation

The Allure of Israel’s Desert Landscapes

Amelia Rosenberg Weinreb

particular, I show how historical narratives are connected through curating images and emotionally meaningful experiences of desolation, and how the strategic use of desolation as a currency has supported—and continues to support—Israel’s state-building

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Cutting the Face

Kinship, State and Social Media Conflict in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Hughes


The local uptake of new media in the Middle East is shaped by deep histories of imperialism, state building, resistance and accommodation. In contemporary Jordan, social media is simultaneously encouraging identification with tribes and undermining their gerontocratic power structures. Senior men stress their own importance as guarantors (‘faces’), who restore order following conflicts, promising to pay their rivals a large surety if their kin break the truce. Yet, ‘cutting the face’ (breaking truces) remains an alternative, one often facilitated by new technologies that allow people to challenge pre-existing structures of communication and authority. However, the experiences of journalists and other social media mavens suggest that the liberatory promise of the new technology may not be enough to prevent its reintegration into older patterns of social control.

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The Miscarriage of Peace: Israel, Egypt, the United States, and the "Jarring Plan" in the Early 1970s

Gershon Shafir

This article asks whether the Yom Kippur War was avoidable. The intense diplomatic efforts of the 1971-1973 years that are examined include plans and counterplans offered by special United Nations representative Gunnar Jarring, US Secretary of State William Rogers, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The article concludes that since settlement was the method of Israeli state-building and served as the basis of the Labor Movement's hegemony within the Israeli society, once Israel embarked on a settlement project in the Sinai it was unwilling to accept full territorial withdrawal to the borders on 5 June 1967 in return for an Egyptian promise of non-belligerence. At the same time, the US was deterred by its conflicting global and regional interests from exerting pressure on Israel to accept the Egyptian proposal.

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The Anti-Empire of General de Boigne

Sentimentalism, Love, and Cultural Difference in the Eighteenth Century

William M. Reddy

Sentimentalism became a widely accepted practical code among the educated European elite in the late eighteenth century. In the 1790s, however, it went into rapid decline. One reason is that when Europeans tried to establish families and polities in line with the dictates of sentimentalism, these efforts often ended in failure. A noteworthy example is provided by the career of Benoît Leborgne, later known as Bennett de Boigne, who rose to fame as a soldier of fortune in India, founding a kind of anti-empire in collaboration with Mahadaji Sindhia between 1784 and 1795. The collapse of his state building efforts—and of his marriages—clearly demonstrate the pitfalls of "following one's heart" in the eighteenth-century manner.

Open access

Pioneers of the plantation economy

Militarism, dispossession and the limits of growth in the Wa State of Myanmar

Hans Steinmüller

The characteristic mobility of highland populations in Southeast Asia relied to a large extent on their particular adaption to an ecological environment: swidden cultivation of tubers on mountain slopes. This ecology corresponded to cosmologies in which potency was limitless, or at least had no fixed and delimited precinct (as did the rice paddies and Buddhist realms in the valleys). Military state building, modern transport, and new crops and agricultural technologies have effectively ended swidden cultivation. In this article, I follow the pioneers of the plantation economy in the Wa State of Myanmar, who dispossess local populations of their land and employ them as plantation labour. The limits of growth and potency they encounter are (a) in the natural environment and (b) in the resistance of local populations. Yet, even though there are such limits, the potency to which these pioneers aspire is still limitless. It is however channelled through a new economy of life, epitomised in the plantation, nourished in excessive feasting, and maintained by the kinship dynamics of capture and care.

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Public Health in Eastern Europe

Visible Modernization and Elusive Gender Transformation

Evguenia Davidova

of the Eastern bloc; and the usual emphasis on ruptures and neglect of continuities across time and space. The first part examines the intertwined processes of public health policy and nineteenth-century state building. Whereas the predominant role