In this essay I briefly explore three themes I find important for an engaged anthropology of development. First, social reproduction: Anthropologists have a long track record of examining processes of social reproduction—how it is that particular patterns of inequality are actively sustained through practices and relations at multiple scales (Smith 1999).
Tania Murray Li
My goal in this forum essay is to brush the dust off Claude Meillassoux’s (1981) magnum opus, Maidens, Meal and Money, by demonstrating its relevance for the present day. While Meillassoux wrote primarily about precapitalist agricultural communities, he had sketched on their basis a model of social reproduction that incorporates social investments and powers, and he foregrounded the hierarchical and exploitative reproductive orders by which capitalism sustains accumulation. In the context of a renewed interest by feminist scholars in questions of social reproduction, I argue that the analytical tools developed by Meillassoux are at least as helpful in making sense of the age of financialization.
The Global Idea of 'the Commons'
Donald M. Nonini
What is now at stake at this point in world history is control over ‘the commons’—the great variety of natural, physical, social, intellectual, and cultural resources that make human survival possible. By ‘the commons’ I mean those assemblages and ensembles of resources that human beings hold in common or in trust to use on behalf of themselves, other living human beings, and past and future generations of human beings, and which are essential to their biological, cultural, and social reproduction.
The Analytical Contribution of Marxist-feminism
Matthew J. Smetona
Contemporary social and political theorists generally recognise that Marx and Engels’ critical analysis of capitalist society centres on the production of value through the production of things. However, what is often unrecognised in considerations of Marx and Engels is how their analysis is based on the interrelation of production and reproduction. Nevertheless, the implications of this interrelation for feminist critique are explored in the writings of Marx and Engels only tangentially. These implications are developed from Marx’s analysis by Leopoldina Fortunati and Silvia Federici into a singular synthesis of the Marxist and feminist modes of critique. This development deserves greater recognition, and this essay will seek to articulate how the social implications of this interrelation (1) are expressed to a limited extent in the classical texts of Marxism and (2) are developed by Fortunati and Federici into the analytic framework of social reproduction as the core of Marxist-feminist revolutionary struggle.
Environmental social scientists should analyze ideologies that reproduce ecologically unsustainable societies through the method of ideology critique. Ideology refers to ideas and practices that conceal contradictions through the legitimation and/or reification of the social order. Ideology critique is a method that allows the researcher to unmask systemic contradictions concealed by ideology. While the primary purpose of this project is to revisit and revise conceptual and methodological tools for the environmental social sciences, I provide examples of ideologies that may aid in the reproduction of the “treadmill of production” or the expansionistic production cycle that accelerates resource use and pollution.
The Construction of a Shrine in Postwar Kosovo
Anna Di Lellio and Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers
The site of an infamous Serb massacre of a militant Albanian extended family in March 1998 has become the most prominent sacred shrine in postwar Kosovo attracting thousands of Albanian visitors. Inspired by Smith's (2003) 'territorialization of memory' as a sacred source of national identity and MacCannell's (1999 ) five-stage model of 'sight sacralization', this article traces the site's sacred memorial topography, its construction process, its social and material reproductions, and adds a sixth stage to the interpretation - the 'political reproduction'. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, the commemorative literature emanating from this shrine and on numerous interviews with core protagonists (including former guerrilla) and visitors, the article explores the ways in which the religious themes of martyrdom and sacrifice, as well as traditionalist ideals of solidarity and militancy, are embodied at the site and give sense to a nation-wide celebration of ethno-national resistance, solidarity and independence.
Conditions of Social Transformation, 1990s–early 2000s
Based on a comprehensive analysis of census data, this article examines social and demographic development in one of the youngest regions of Russian Federation, the Republic of Tuva, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The given statistics provide the characteristics of the quantitative and qualitative changes in the population, and the socioeconomic conditionality and the laws of its reproduction are analyzed in order to reveal various issues in the implementation of social policy in modern Russia and its regions.
On Reproducing, Destabilizing and Interrupting Majority Memories
Johanna Ahlrichs, Katharina Baier, Barbara Christophe, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Patrick Mielke and Roman Richtera
This article draws on memory studies and media studies to explore how memory practices unfold in schools today. It explores history education as a media- saturated cultural site in which particular social orderings and categorizations emerge as commonsensical and others are contested. Describing vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork in German secondary schools, this article identifies different memory practices as a nexus of pupils, teachers, blackboards, pens, textbooks, and online videos that enacts what counts as worth remembering today: reproduction; destabilization without explicit contestation; and interruption. Exploring mediated memory practices thus highlights an array of (often unintended) ways of making the past present.
Violence, viral images and questioning the rule of law in Brazilian favelas
Jason B. Scott
In the past decade, images of fatal police shootings shared on social media have inspired protests against militarised policing policies and re-defined the ways marginalised communities seek justice. This article theorises the repetition of violent images and discusses how social media has become an important tool for localising popular critiques of the law. I provide an ethnographic account of a police shooting in a Brazilian favela (shantytown). I am particularly interested in how residents of the favela interpret law and justice in relationship to contemporaneous movements such as Black Lives Matter. Reflecting Walter Benjamin’s concept of mechanical reproduction, this case study demonstrates an ‘aura’ that is shaped by the social and legal context in which a violent image is produced, consumed and aggregated. This case study suggests the possibility for research examining the ways inclusionary social media platforms are increasingly co-opted by oppressive political institutions.
The tropical rainforest houses a wealth of both ecological and cultural diversity, and the species richness, ecosystem services, genetic wealth, and repository of indigenous and local environmental knowledge stored in this endangered region represent a global commons at risk. As articulated by Donald Nonini in the introduction to this forum, ‘the commons’ refers to those assemblages and ensembles of resources that human beings hold in common or in trust on behalf of themselves, other living human beings, and past and future generations of human beings, and that are essential to their biological, cultural, and social reproduction. In the Amazon, many ecological resources lend themselves to being held in a commons because of practical reasons, such as the difficulty of dividing it into smaller pieces (e.g., due to resource unpredictability, mobility, or the loss of ecological functioning if broken into pieces), and/or the costliness of excluding potential users. But social reasons and values foster the communal management of resources as well: various commons exemplify shared identity, provide economic buffering, mitigate subsistence risk, foster cooperation and conflict resolution, and serve as a pillar in the edifice of societies supporting socialization and social reproduction.