Volume 88, #1

Winter 2015

ARTICLES BY:

Paja Faudree, Anna Fournier, Melissa Johnson, Mário Machaqueiro, and Jaesok Kim

 

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Volume 88, #1 • Winter 2015

 

ARTICLES

 

What is an Indigenous Author?: Minority Authorship and the
Politics of Voice in Mexico

Paja Faudree, Brown University

ABSTRACT—This article examines the politics of voice in Mexican indigenous authorship for the insights it might offer anthropological theory. I consider the multiple barriers of access indigenous authors face in participating in authorship as a general project, noting the importance of authorship as a point of entry into such universal projects as citizenship, modernity, human rights, democracy, and intellectual property rights. That resonance places this case within an established line of anthropological inquiry examining universal projects ethnographically. I suggest that the particular politics of voice in Mexican indigenous authorship depends on multiple forms of “vocal constriction”—a reduction of heteroglossia that indigenous authors try to reverse through assorted strategies aimed at expanding the vocalic field of indigenous authorship. I analyze how particular indigenous authors have deployed such strategies, and indicate some effects of their efforts. I focus in particular on one “strategy” that very few indigenous authors would recognize as such nor consciously adopt: the cultivation of conflict, through opposing models of indigenous authorship. I claim that indigenous authors routinely instantiate and expand upon indigenous authorship through an agonistic semiotic process whereby their own models of authorship are opposed to those embodied by other indigenous authors. While participants themselves rarely see such conflicts as productive, these disputes perform crucial labor in expanding the field of possibility for indigenous authors. I suggest that attending to the politics of voice surrounding authorship offers a new and relatively untapped vein of inquiry for the ethnographic analysis of large-scale social projects. Furthermore, given the discipline’s disproportionate interest in authorship as a reflexive rather than ethnographic endeavor, engaging with authorship ethnographically offers a new opportunity for moving outside entrenched grooves in disciplinary discourse and practice.

 

Immature Publics: Democratic Revolutions and Youth Activists
in the Eye of Authority

Anna Fournier, University of Manitoba and Johns Hopkins University

ABSTRACT—In the last decade or so, we have witnessed the spread of so-called democratic revolutions across post-Soviet states, Northern Africa, and the Middle East, and young people have often been at the forefront of these protest movements. This article tracks ruling elite discursive responses to youth-led protests, and particularly elites’ constructions of the political agency of youth in Ukraine (the Orange Revolution of 2004) and in the Russian Federation (the anti-government protests of 2011–2012). I propose that it is the slippage between different figurations of youth agency (as both pawn and threat, dangerous and defenseless) that makes tropes of youth useful for elites to think and act with. Drawing on Jean and John Comaroff’s work on millennial capitalism (2001), I argue that ruling elites’ use of these tropes reveals their anxiety about governing post-Soviet “citizen-consumers” who appear youth-like in their susceptibility to seduction by Western goods, values, and practices. Through their depictions of protesters as pre-moral and pre-rational (mindless, senseless, easily brainwashed or “bought” by the West), elites in Ukraine and Russia equate the advance of neoliberalism on their territories with the (re)infantilization of their citizenries. On the one hand, these elite discourses provide local audiences with a critical perspective on neoliberalism, but on the other hand, they also articulate a powerful logic of civic exclusion—one that extends not only to young people but also potentially to dissenters of all ages. [Keywords: Protests, youth, agency, neoliberalism, elites, Ukraine, Russian Federation]

 

Creolized Conservation: A Belizean Creole Community Encounters
a Wildlife Sanctuary

Melissa Johnson, Southwestern University

ABSTRACT—In this article, I analyze the implementation and management of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary in rural Creole (Afro-Caribbean) Belize as a process of creolization. Encounters between different villagers, Belizean and international conservationists, and government officials in creating and running the sanctuary generated both synthesis and disjuncture in the conservation policy and practice that emerged. Differently positioned actors shifted their claims depending on context, reflecting the ambivalence that characterizes rural Creole culture, to further their interests as they created conservation in Belize. I use the metaphor of creolization to capture the ambivalence of subjects as they adopt varying and, sometimes, contradictory positions in fields of uneven relations of power. The metaphor shows how temporary syntheses emerge out of the encounters between these subjects. My analysis thus reveals how “local” peoples, often imagined as pawns in global processes, can be creative agents in the generation of global forms [Keywords: Creolization, globalization, conservation, Belize, Caribbean, environment]

 

Ambiguities of Seduction: Photography and the “Islamic” Policy
of Portuguese Colonialism

Mário Machaqueiro, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

ABSTRACT—In Guinea-Bissau—since the late 1950s—and in Mozambique—from the mid-1960s until the collapse of the dictatorship and end of the colonial wars—the Portuguese colonial administration developed a conciliatory approach to Muslim leadership with the purpose of co-opting them into the colonizer’s side of the war that was being waged against local nationalist movements. This manipulative strategy, based upon an idea of identity promotion, was not only documented in photographs but also used them in order to construct and expand its propaganda’s effects. Muslim chieftains and Islamic dignitaries in public ceremonies, or on their way to pilgrimages to Mecca sponsored by the Portuguese state, were pictured side by side with governors, ministers, and the President of the Republic. Such photos were tailored to stage those Muslims’ “proximity” to the core of colonial rule. Other photographs displayed them in historical sites in the metropolis, suggesting their full membership in an idealized Portuguese nation. Drawing on this sort of visual material and contrasting it with other sources, this paper addresses the way photographs were strategically constructed to depict an idea of harmony between Muslims, particularly those from Guinea-Bissau and the Portuguese colonial regime. Its reading method will try to analyze the images beyond their manifest content, disclosing the embarrassment or annoyance of the authorities, the subtle suggestion of colonial hierarchies, as well as the framing and control of the colonized. [Keywords: Photography, Portuguese colonialism, colonized Muslims, colonial Islamic policies, Guinea-Bissau]

 

From “Country Bumpkins” to “Tough Workers”: The Pursuit of Masculinity Among Male Factory Workers in China

Jaesok Kim, University of Pennsylvania

ABSTRACT—This article explores the formation of a new industrial underclass in post-Mao China, focusing on a group of young male workers’ gendered interpretation of their subjection to an exploitative factory regime. I examine the experiential and performative dimensions of this subjection, which are intricately linked to China’s insertion into the global capitalist economy. The transformation of China into the “world’s factory” depended on the dramatic increase of foreign direct investment and the rapid expansion of labor-intensive, low-skilled factory jobs that favored the labor of rural migrant women. While the “feminization of production labor” generated some positive outcomes among the women workers, it turned a group of unskilled young male migrants into an industrial underclass. These men assumed menial jobs that drained their physical strength while offering virtually no chance of promotion or improvement in their future lives. Male workers reacted to the exploitative factory regime by engaging in binge drinking and extreme forms of anti-social behavior. This case study shows how class solidarity is sometimes deflected into the domain of gender conflict. [Keywords: Labor, gender, masculinity, multinational corporations, China, garment industry, globalization]