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Volume 90, #3 • Summer 2017




Obituaries Without Biographies: Death and Healthcare in Roma Camps in Rome

Lorenzo Alunni, Independent Researcher

ABSTRACT—The treatment of Roma groups is one of the most significant social equality issues in contemporary Europe. This article draws on the analysis of the Roma presence in Rome. It combines the ethnographic observation of a mobile medical unit operating in the Roma camps and shanties with the analysis of public and political reactions regarding a tragic accident that happened in one of these settlements. On the one hand, the focus of the article is on the medical unit’s involvement in the reproduction of the marginalization of Roma citizens, and on the other, it draws on the case of the death of four Roma children, analyzing the political turn to grief of those individuals whose lives are subjected to different calculations of values. [Keywords: Italy, Rome, Roma, camps, health care, death]


How to Rename a Hospital: Biomedical Technologies and New Combinations
of Business and Charity in Cambodian Public Health

Jenna Grant, University of Washington

ABSTRACT—This article explores how technologies forge new combinations of business and charity within health-related aid, particularly in post-socialist and post-humanitarian conjunctures. This is an ethnography of two cases in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: a multinational corporation donating biomedical technologies to government hospitals, and a local NGO providing training in ultrasound imaging and free ultrasound services. I focus on the “commissioning ceremony” as a site of multiple enunciations about public and private, wealth and poverty, giving and receiving, and the role of technologies in “bringing healthcare to an acceptable level.” Combinations of aid and entrepreneurialism are commonplace in Cambodian biomedicine, as they are in development more broadly. Yet humanitarianism is a lingering force. It can be seen in how a corporation entering an emerging market separates its donations from its sales, and how an NGO foregrounds its training over its sales. In these two cases, discourse of need and service to the poor enable technologies to circulate in private markets. [Keywords: Cambodia, medical technology, public health, business, charity, development]


Oblivious Title: On the Political Time of Land Tenure in Postwar Peru

Richard Kernaghan, University of Florida

ABSTRACT—How does political time inflect legal titles to property no less than the possibilities of their falsification? In this article, I consider historical entanglements of rural land tenure in a coca-growing area of central Peru during the twilight years of the Shining Path insurgency. Where regionally the Maoist movement’s claim to Revolution had long ceased to be plausible and its own disappearance loomed, I share an episode in which Shining Path surreptitiously manipulated the Peruvian state’s administrative power so that parcels seized from a local farmer would be registered as the future legal property of its members and sympathizers. My reflections on this event unfold as a discussion of falsification and its camouflaging effects, through which I ask how shifts in political time at once animate and selectively obscure the multiplicity of social relations that bind people to material things. The bestowal of legal title itself arguably participates in obscuring the plurality of those relations—through an oblivion engendered when legal rights of other, competing, claimants are disregarded. If so, the traces of a former order of insurgent land tenure, persisting into the times of post-conflict, surely complicate such oblivion-effects. Here the notion of that insurgent order, lingering as it were into the aftermath, serves a heuristic purpose: it draws ethnographic attention to the afterlives of defeated land claims and to the life plans those claims once conveyed. [Keywords:  Postwar, insurgency, land, property, falsification, camouflage, Peru]


Strengthening the Family through Television: Islamic Broadcasting, Secularism, and the Politics of Responsibility in Turkey

Hikmet Kocamaner, Brandeis University

ABSTRACT—Turkey has witnessed a proliferation of Islamic television channels since the liberalization of broadcasting in the 1990s. The programming of these Islamic channels was initially distinctly theological in character, with shows focusing on the doctrinal, scriptural, and ritualistic aspects of Islam. More recently, however, they have started producing family-friendly entertainment programs as well as family-related shows aimed at solving domestic problems and “strengthening the family.” Islamic broadcasters intend their family-focused programming as civil initiatives against what they see as the increasing corrosion of the “moral fabric of the family” and devaluation of “family values” in contemporary society. In shows aimed at solving family problems, audiences are provided with guidance and techniques that would help them cultivate ethical dispositions, knowledge, and skills so that they could assume autonomy and responsibility for administering their families more effectively. Anthropologists studying Islamic media have mostly tended to emphasize the alternative or oppositional character of such media in terms of how they circulate and promote discourses, practices, and ethical sensibilities that are incommensurate with secular norms and national state power. However, such an approach is not an adequate framework to characterize Islamic television in Turkey, since Islamic broadcasters explicitly identify their role as assisting the state in fighting social problems through their programming, and the discourses and sensibilities promoted on television articulate with the biopolitical concerns of the nation-state and the emerging rationalities of governance. While Islamic television professionals’ self-ascribed mission to “strengthen the family” by stressing the significance of familial responsibility emerges from a religiously inspired moral imperative to provide service, it simultaneously indicates their internalization of neoliberal rationalities of governance that promote the responsibilization of non-governmental actors as stakeholders for providing social services as well as that of individuals for providing financial, physical, and psychological support and care for their family members. [Keywords: Islam, television, media, family, family values, secularism, neoliberalism, Turkey]



Volume 90, #3

Summer 2017

Obituaries Without Biographies: Death and Healthcare in Roma Camps in Rome

by Lorenzo Alunni