Volume 92, #3

Summer 2019

SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Remuneration in an Unequal World

 

phone: 202-994-3215  e-mail: ifer@gwu.edu

 

Volume 92, #3 • Summer 2019

 

ARTICLES

 

Becoming Animal People: Empathy Pedagogies and the Contested Politics of Care in Jordanian Animal Welfare Work

Kate McClellan, Mississippi State University

ABSTRACT—A common refrain among animal welfare and protection workers in Jordan is that Jordanians are not “animal people.” This article explores the implications of this statement, and argues that such claims are closely connected to neoliberal practices of care increasingly found in the world today. I examine the educational methods of three transnational animal welfare groups in Jordan as they work to transform Jordanians into animal people, focusing in particular on the cultivation of empathy for animals. I follow this pedagogical approach as it entangles with other discourses of care central to neoliberal humanitarianism, and as it challenges different models of human-animal relationality and humanity in Jordan. I suggest that the criticisms some Jordanians make of animal NGOs reveal the slippage points that accompany global animal welfare work as it inculcates particular versions of humanity and animality. Amidst these conflicting discourses and practices—what I refer to throughout the article as the economies and politics of care—empathy is used as a common language that is both an arguing point and proof of humanity for different discourses of animal and human care. What on the surface are clashing models of care are in fact mutually constitutive discourses that bolster one another by providing evidence of opposing claims. With empathy as a common language, animal welfare and human welfare as global, moral projects are deeply entwined, even as they conflict on local scales. [Keywords: Animal welfare, Middle East, multispecies, empathy, pedagogy, care, morals, ethics]

 

Mad Kids, Good City: Counterterrorism, Mental Health, and the Resilient Muslim Subject

M. Bilal Nasir, Northwestern University

ABSTRACT—In his magnum opus, A Secular Age (2007), philosopher Charles Taylor argues that the process of secularization in the West has gradually and contingently replaced pre-modern “porous” selves, vulnerable to the cosmic and causal forces of an “enchanted” world, with modern “buffered” selves that assume a clear boundary between “the mind” and the outside “disenchanted” world. Rather than take Taylor’s binary at face-value, this article queries which sensibilities, behaviors, and practices constitute buffered and porous selves in the current age of national security. More specifically, it examines the debates surrounding the implementation of the “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) program in Los Angeles, California, to probe how domestic policing apparatuses in the War on Terror construct and shape improper or racialized US Muslims as proper religious subjects. To discipline Muslim youth deemed susceptible to extremism, secular rule in the US counterterror state draws on, as well as amends, the discursive grammar of the secular to include the sensibility of resiliency, and its other, risk, from the psychiatric and psychological sciences. However, this secular sensibility has not only shaped the logics of counterterrorism, but has also come to inform pious US Muslim responses to policing interventions in their immigrant communities in LA, authorizing what they identify as the practices and virtues of a resilient Islamic subject. In this way, by exploring the intimacies between counterterrorism and the secular, and how these intimacies enable and disable certain forms of life in the current age of national security, this article argues that the styles of reasoning, values, and/or virtues belonging to distinctive traditions differentially articulate in what ways and for what purposes a proper subject must cultivate buffered and/or porous sensibilities. [Keywords: Islam, policing, secularism, race, science and technology, US State, War on Terror]

 

Righteous Paths: Performing Morality in South African Morning Assemblies

Christina Cappy, Central Oregon Community College

ABSTRACT—In many schools across South Africa, teachers and youth gather together at the start of the school day to sing hymns, say prayers, give speeches, present poetry, and watch performances by invited guests. These morning assembly performances, which are not recognized in the formal curriculum, last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of every school day. In this article, I examine how youth from three former black secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, perform their moral selves through morning assemblies. I identify and analyze four morning assembly performance styles, including: references to Christian beliefs, critiques on society, demonstrations of success, and commemoration of historical moments. By building on Butler’s theory of performativity (1990, 1993), I argue that morning assemblies represent crucial spaces where youth enact messages of morality and ideas surrounding how they must think, behave, and act, and with whom they must associate. These daily repetitive acts further generate contrasting models of moral personhood. At times morning performances emphasize how youth must work hard as individuals to achieve future success, while other demonstrations center on how youth ought to live as moral beings in relation to those around them. Through these contrasting performances of their moral selves, youth advance visions of the “right” kind of future—their righteous paths forward. In stepping beyond the confines of curricular evaluation, this study contributes to anthropological studies of personhood, youth, and education by demonstrating how the often-overlooked in-between educational spaces of morning assemblies contribute to youths’ moral selves. [Keywords: South Africa, morality, morning assemblies, secondary schools, education, personhood, performativity]

 

Dancing Energies: Music, the Ineffable, and State Power in Venezuela

Yana Stainova, McMaster University

ABSTRACT—This article explores how Venezuelan musicians experience and speak about music’s “ineffability,” frequently contrasting it with the linguistically fixed state discourses about music. I approach this topic through my ethnographic work on El Sistema, a state-funded program that provides free classical music education and instruments to 900,000 young people across Venezuela. Studying the ways in which El Sistema participants experience and discuss ineffability in music captures the unpredictable, unruly, multiple, and contradictory dimensions of how they inhabit state power. Using a combined phenomenological and discursive approach, I think of music practice as simultaneously the locus of state and symbolic power, and a social experience that transcends and escapes it. I trace how young musicians appeal to the ineffability of music to make sense of their own experiences as barrio (popular sector) residents who are suspended in the cracks of polarized discourses and in the double bind of state power and its opposition. I read young musicians’ determination to experience music as ineffable, or detached from the political context, as a medium for confronting the dilemma of being simultaneously dependent on and critical of a state that aims to defend their interests. In summoning musicians’ verbal testimonies of music and the concepts that emerge from them as a key to understanding experiences that are thought to be ineffable, I respond to recent calls to articulate a more nuanced place for language in studies of affect and embodiment. [Keywords: Music, social exclusion, youth, Venezuela, state power]

 

SOCIAL THOUGHT

 

Writing Thin

Talia Dan-Cohen, Washington University in St. Louis