American Ethnologist

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ISSN / EISSN : 0094-0496 / 1548-1425
Published by: Wiley-Blackwell (10.1111)
Total articles ≅ 7,185
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Latest articles in this journal

Published: 30 August 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13022

Abstract:
What is the relationship between climate change and criminal predation? Bangladesh's Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, has, over the past decade, emerged as a climate frontier. It is a space viewed not only as a climate hot spot but also as a zone where control and opportunity emerge out of friction between long-standing political economies, new conservation interventions, and the materialities of the mangrove forest. Concomitantly, those who work in the Sundarbans have reported a dramatic increase in banditry and kidnapping. This article proposes the concept of an “ecology of capture” to chart the articulations between such kidnappings and other attempts to control rents, resources, and territory. Seen through the lens of capture, the Sundarbans highlights how the global rush to secure climate hot spots against degradation and displacement produces new configurations of expropriation and exploitation. [climate change, piracy, capture, conservation, Sundarbans, Bangladesh]
Published: 13 August 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13030

Abstract:
In Libya's context of fragmented state authority, what does it mean for sub-Saharan migrants to be legible to state and criminal actors through their bodies rather than through the law? How do they experience and navigate precarity? Examining informal bordering practices in Libya reveals a mode of migration governance that is based less on legally restricting mobility and more on allowing uncertainty to proliferate and on exploiting migrants’ lives. In this system, certain bodies become targets for policing according to their skin color, documents, and blood tests, which can lead migrants to be extorted for money and detained. Migrants cope with such informal borderwork through affective labor. This plays a vital role in shaping their mobility decisions. By linking informal bordering practices with affect and mobilities, we can recast formal, state-centered ideas about migration governance. [mobility, migration, bordering practices, affect, Libya]
Published: 5 August 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13031

Abstract:
For decades Arab Muslims have engaged in pan-Islamic solidarity aid work in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In delivering aid from the Middle East to a European country, they disrupt the racial and civilizational hierarchies that structure most international relief work. Their experiences demonstrate the utility of a more capacious anthropological understanding of universalism. Rather than dismiss universalism as mere ideology or as a set of homogenizing processes, I highlight how universalist projects put into practice complex idioms that are notionally directed at all of humanity. Ethnographic attention to these relief workers’ material conditions reveals that they lack many of the privileges of the white, Western, and highly mobile protagonists of most ethnographies of aid. Moreover, it illuminates how spiritual practices coalesce with considerations of transnational mobility, class, and political action—considerations that are often neglected in anthropological work on Islamic piety. [universalism, solidarity, humanitarianism, charity, aid, Islam, pan-Islamism, Bosnia-Herzegovina]
Published: 4 August 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13029

Abstract:
At an addiction shelter called La Casita, in Puerto Rico, male residents espouse an ethic of busyness. Initially, La Casita's ideology of moralized work patterns and time discipline seems like a throwback to the 19th-century factory floor: a tool of market discipline. But a closer look at residents’ experiences reveals that busyness has less to do with capitalist subject formation than with finding an alternative way of living when one is excluded from the labor market. If the capitalist project turns on the productive commodification of time, La Casita's work ethic—despite official avowals to the contrary—aims to convert unproductive time into an ascetic practice of ceaseless self-work. Though not always successful, keeping busy becomes a way for residents to carve out a meaningful way of living from an overabundance of time. [labor, work ethic, boredom, time, addiction treatment, Puerto Rico]
Published: 3 August 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13023

Abstract:
In 2019 anti-racism protests erupted across the Indonesian-controlled region of West Papua. Organized largely by Papuan students, the protests expressed Papuans’ frustration with their oppression at the hands of the Indonesian state. During the protests, Papuan demonstrators repurposed the racialized figure of the monkey—a species routinely deployed in Indonesian discourse to deprecate Papuans as primitive and backward. In doing so, they harnessed the monkey's animality to support their demands for emancipation from Indonesian rule and to redeem nonhuman beings as consequential and meaningful entities in their own right. In this context, the monkey as political symbol undermined, legitimized, and enabled processes of collective identification among Indigenous activists. The animal's symbolic mobilization in turn foregrounded the more-than-human dimensions of Papuans’ struggle for sovereignty—one in which humans and nonhumans sit in alternately indexical or antithetical relation to each other as contested cosmopolitical actors and world makers. [racism, political symbols, monkeys, cosmopolitics, sovereignty, West Papua, Indonesia]
Published: 27 July 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13027

Abstract:
In the lives of injured US veterans of the post-9/11 wars, rehabilitation and heteronormativity are intertwined. Straight time names the ways these imperatives come together in fantasies of the heteronormative life course. This life course is central to the middle-class, white-coded American Dream, in which disability appears only at life's end. Chasing this dream brings many into the US military, but military service often imperils, rather than secures, that dream. Attention to efforts to straighten out life's temporality in the long aftermath of injury reveals a tension between a desire for a heteronormative life course and the experience of living otherwise. As these tensions surface, the cruelty of normative aspirations and their temporal frames become clear. The framework of straight time thus highlights how normative desires are complicated by sometimes-unexpected attachments to queerness and disability, even in the intensely normative cultural space of the US military. [disability, veterans, heteronormativity, temporality, United States]
Published: 20 June 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13021

Abstract:
How does a big cat in India come to be identified as the one guilty of preying on humans? Indian conservationist law stipulates that the big cat must be identified before it is hunted down. But as I demonstrate ethnographically, there is no possible means of establishing the correct identity of a big cat before it is killed. Through an account of the impossibility of beastly identification, this article demonstrates the limits of both bureaucratic action and conservation in the government of big cats. What operates, instead, is a form of knowing the nonhuman Other, a knowing that is localized, personalized, affective, and momentary. Such forms of knowledge and living-besides are called for by the Anthropocene. Indeed, an analytic potential of the Anthropocene lies in rendering untenable the continual disciplinary sequestering of the nonhuman and environmental from the political, bureaucratic, and legal. [bureaucracy, nonhuman animals, conservation, identification, government, Anthropocene, India]
Published: 20 June 2021
American Ethnologist; https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.13014

Abstract:
According to some recent analyses, the ethnographic encounter takes place between a complicit, colonialist, white discipline and “natives” who are colonized and implicitly nonwhite. But by insisting that anthropology is an inherently white discipline, such binary frameworks ultimately recenter Westernness and whiteness, reinforcing the centrality of Western and white anthropology. In doing so, they conflate phenotypic and structural whiteness, flatten out how anthropological whiteness compels nonwhite bodies to adopt a white habitus, and obfuscate the shifting, unstable role played by phenotype in this process. For anthropologists of color, even those born and trained in the West, the whiteness of anthropology is variable, context-dependent, and unevenly distributed. This is illustrated with vignettes from ethnographic work in Peru, a country where racialization has typically been framed in terms of a white-indigenous binary, and as operating like class rather than determined through descent or phenotype. [race, whiteness, ethnography, Asian American, Peru, Andes]
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