SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

Edited by Christopher Ball and Nicholas Harkness

Volume 88 #2

Spring 2015

Volume 88 #2

Spring 2015

SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

Edited by Christopher Ball and Nicholas Harkness

 

SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

Edited by Christopher Ball and Nicholas Harkness

COMING IN JUNE — vol. 88 #2

Spring 2015

Volume 88, #2 • Spring 2015

 

ARTICLES

 

Beyond Mystification: Hegemony, Resistance, and Ethical Responsibility
in Israel

Erica Weiss, Tel Aviv University

ABSTRACT—This article reevaluates the usefulness of the theoretical continuum between hegemony and resistance in light of recent Israeli experiences. Specifically, through the comparison of “conscientious objection” and “draft evasion,” I find that the breakdown of hegemonic consciousness is not sufficient to understand why some disillusioned Israeli soldiers choose public resistance against the state, while others choose evasive tactics. I argue that the space between ideological discontent and resistance is fraught with social and ethical considerations. The source of political discontent for disillusioned soldiers is problematization of their military service as an ethical dilemma, though the ethical concerns of these soldiers extend well beyond the overtly political sphere. I contend that this presents a challenge to the opposition of hegemony and resistance, but also to many accounts in political anthropology that implicitly privilege the political sphere as a natural site of self-fulfillment. Many accounts of hegemony and resistance isolate political consciousness from the broader ethical life in which people engage, and thus do not recognize that rejecting public action can be based on prioritizing other values, not only mystification. I find that one’s readiness to resist the state is dependent on the degree of “metonymization” of the individual with the state project, and that cynicism is one way that people articulate the differentiation of their interests from those of the state. [Keywords: Hegemony, resistance, ethics, Israel, military, conscientious objection]

 

“By the Time I Get to Arizona”: Citizenship, Materiality, and Contested
Identities Along the US–Mexico Border

Jason De León, University of Michigan
Cameron Gokee, Appalachian State University
Ashley Schubert, University of Michigan

ABSTRACT—Each year hundreds of thousands of people attempt to enter the United States from Mexico without authorization by crossing the Sonoran Desert on foot or using false identification at ports of entry. During this crossing process, people actively construct, contest, and obfuscate a multiplicity of identities through various forms of material culture including clothing, hygiene and cosmetic products, and identification paperwork. These identities include undocumented border crosser, false citizens of various countries (e.g., the US and Mexico), and people with no identification. Those charged with keeping non-citizens out of the US (i.e., Border Patrol) also rely on various forms of material culture that both reflect and construct perceptions of migrants as non-citizens with no federal rights or protections. In this article, we highlight the material correlates of different migrant and law enforcement behaviors and identities, and discuss the ways in which they impact the experiences of border crossers en route. Drawing on Agamben’s “state of exception,” we argue that the concepts of citizenship, sovereignty, and materiality are key to understanding how migrants both resist and succumb to the power of the state to exclude them. [Keywords: Materiality, citizenship, archaeology of the contemporary, Border Patrol, undocumented migration, US–Mexico border]

 

Plant Publics: Multispecies Relating in Spanish Botanical Gardens

John Hartigan, University of Texas at Austin

ABSTRACT—This article examines the place of botanical gardens in the public sphere, historically and currently, analyzing the variety of cultural dynamics shaping these locales. Botanical gardens are complex cultural sites where multispecies relations are cultivated and managed. These sites typically combine scientific inquiry with conservation efforts and public attractions. Botanical gardens in Spain offer a distinctive perspective on these locations because of their regional orientations, histories of empire, and distinctive research programs. Located in Spain’s three largest cities—Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia—these gardens provide an opportunity to think about multispecies relations that unfold in institutional settings located in dense urban zones. This article theorizes multispecies publics as distinctive cultural assemblages that distinctly align humans and nonhumans in relations of care. These publics combine deep historical roots with considerable current transformative potential for reimagining urban space and the nation. [Keywords: Public sphere, botanical gardens, multispecies, Spain, urban ecology]

 

“If You Do Not Visit, We Will Take It Away”: An Analysis of a Communication Campaign for Italian Cultural Heritage

Işılay Gürsu, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca

ABSTRACT—In January 2010, Italy’s famous ancient objects and sites, namely Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” the “Colosseum,” and Michelangelo’s “David,” appeared as protagonists in a communication campaign by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC). Gigantic panels with images of these “superstars” being removed from their original locations were displayed in the main squares of Milan and Rome. This entire virtual symphony—accompanied by the threatening slogan “If you do not visit, we will take it away”—emerged since, according to MiBAC, Italians do not visit national cultural sites as often as they visit foreign ones.

Explaining this particular campaign, the aim of this article is to explore the ways in which cultural heritage becomes subject to contemporary uses under specific political, social, economic, and legal conditions. Official approaches toward cultural heritage are discussed with their political and economic connotations, which are the partial reflections of a “new public management.” Analyzing these recent cultural heritage management practices sheds light on the circumstances, which lead to the creation of such a campaign. These circumstances—be they the assignment of the former CEO of the Italian branch of McDonald’s as the new general director for museums and archaeological sites, or the implementation of various laws and regulations which favor decentralization movements—are analyzed in order to develop a multilayered reading of the campaign. Apart from this political context, the article analyzes the tone and the secondary messages of the visuals via Bourdieu’s concept of “cultural capital.” In addition to being relevant for describing the consumption of culture, “cultural capital” also sheds light on the relationship between citizen and consumer. This article concludes by reconstructing the relationship between the state and the people regarding the ownership and use of cultural heritage, within the framework of Italy’s communication campaign. [Keywords: Cultural heritage, commercialization of culture, cultural capital, new public management, Italy]

 

Elites, Culture, and Power: The Moral Politics of “Development” in Cameroon

Rogers Tabe Egbe Orock, University of Antwerp

ABSTRACT—This article discusses the connections between elites, development, and issues of moral agency in contemporary Cameroon. It argues that, in Cameroon, development is not only a means by which elites are socially created but, more importantly, that it is increasingly the means by which elites are held accountable by their local village or ethnic and regional communities. Integrating detailed observations of an elite figure and popular debates on elites in Cameroon, the article discusses the centrality of development as an idiom through which social inequality between elites and non-elites is internalized, negotiated and legitimated. The article underlines how the expectations that elites should “do development” are critical to the mutual engagements between elites and their local communities, mainly through local development associations in which elites and would-be elites are expected to assume leading roles. By suggesting that development is central to the cultural practice of elite power in Cameroon, the article points to interesting connections between development and age-old idioms of patrimonial politics such as kinship, ethnicity, and patronage as forms of redistribution in which elites are highly implicated. [Keywords: Belonging, development, elites, inequality, morality, local development associations, Cameroon]