While deportability has elicited interest as a legal predicament facing migrant workers, less attention has been given to the way in which this condition of temporal uncertainty shapes migrants' everyday encounters with state agents. Drawing on ethnography among Kyrgyzstani migrant workers in Moscow, I show that in conditions of documentary uncertainty 'legal residence' depends upon successfully enacting a right to the city and the personalization of the state. Alongside fear and suspicion, this space of legal uncertainty is characterized by a sense of abandon and awareness of the performativity of law. I explore 'living from the nerves' as an ethnographic reality for Kyrgyzstani migrant workers and as an analytic for developing a more variegated account of state power and its affective resonances in contemporary Russia.
Deportability, Indeterminacy, and the 'Feel of Law' in Migrant Moscow
The Aesthetics of Coaching in the Golden Age of Horse and Carriage
Drawing on the work of Alfred de Vigny and Thomas De Quincey, this article examines the aesthetic appeal of coaching, a ubiquitous but little theorized mode of transport, in the golden age of horse and carriage (c. 1805–1825). The roots of Vigny's nostalgia for the shepherd's caravan and De Quincey's thrill ride on the mail-coach lie in the sympathetic connections that coaching, unlike train travel, establishes between living beings. These connections or “inter-agencies” serve in vital ways to rupture the solipsism and self-assurance of the solitary traveler, revealing his limited role in the vast plexus of nineteenth-century transport and motion.
This article examines Margaret Oliphant's Salem Chapel (1863), the author's only foray into the sensation genre. It argues that the novel's focus on the dangers of gossip and public exposure reveals Oliphant's fraught relationship with sensationalism. Two key characters represent sensational readers and authors in the novel: Arthur Vincent and Adelaide Tufton. By emphasising their eager, voyeuristic desires for sensation, Oliphant marks such modes of reading and interpretation - and the genres which encourage such desires - as problematic. The novel also constructs gossip and public media as troubling, and thus questions sensationalism's reliance on voyeuristic thrills.
What Do We Learn and What Do We Teach about Ourselves and about Others?
When I was a little girl, years before I went to school, I taught myself reading and writing by asking about the meaning of letters and words that I found around me. One day I asked my mother about the meaning of that circular sign in ‘OMO’ (a soap powder) and she said it was a letter O. Later on I asked my father, a scientist, and he said it was a zero. I was thrilled to find out that, each in its own context, both were right. The impact of this discovery never left me.
‘And how should I begin?’ Naturally, or post-naturally enough, at the end. We have been hearing for some time recently of the end of things and this paradoxically, is where we must start. Book titles have warned us of the End of the Nation and Nation State, the End of Print, the End of Architecture, The End of Work, the End of Man, the End of Economic Man, the End of Time, the End of the Future, the End of History and yes, the End of the World. It doesn’t take a salaried cultural critic to see here the symptom of an encroaching mood, the expression on the part of marooned journalists and intellectuals of what Raymond Williams termed a ‘structure of feeling’. It expresses not so much conviction – though these scenarios of the end could not in one way be more final – as the waning of common beliefs and values. Hence the appearance world-wide of millennial sects, outcrops of New Age mysticism, the thrill of out of body experiences and the paranormal; even if, thanks to postmodernism, these tend to be more normal than para, and to come at you via the X Files or the Virgin multiplex than anywhere more distant. New media combine oddly with the new mysticism, advanced technologies with advancing teleologies. This is the way then that we are seeing in the fin de siècle, the beckoning end of century when Bakhtinian carnival will at last take to the streets, fleeing its confinement in works of cultural theory, and we shall all go belly up and dance our heads off. Or when half the world will fall into poverty, disease, and starvation and the other half wear itself out in vainglorious in-fighting, leaving a sybaritic residue to enter upon a computer-aided decadence of virtual existence. Or when we shall go up in smoke in a bang and whimper all at once.