Volume 93, #3

Summer 2020

SPECIAL COLLECTION:
Gender Panics in the Global South

 

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

 

Volume 93, #3 • Summer 2020

 

ARTICLES

 

Time with/out Telos: Eritrean Refugees’ Precarious Choice of Im/possible Futures in Ethiopia and Beyond

Amanda Poole, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Jennifer Riggan, Arcadia University

ABSTRACT—Why do so many refugees engage in irregular onward movement despite grave risks and the presence of programs intended to stop them from migrating? We argue that refugees’ active engagement with projects of time-making frames their decision making. Refugees’ time-making projects involve ordering time in linear or non-linear sequences through orienting themselves towards the past, present, near future, or distant future and, in doing so, creating a relationship between distinct temporalities, refugee bodies, and the spaces they inhabit. Based on over two years of multi-sited, multi-leveled ethnographic research which analyzed the relationship between refugee discourse about onward movement and its relationship with educational programming intended to stop it, we identify the interplay of three distinct forms of temporality among refugees: the empty or “animal” time endemic in the camp; teleological time such as is inherent to educational processes; and “prophetic time,” a concept we draw from Jane Guyer’s (2007) work on futurity to describe a form of time that organizes the present through attachment to distant futures and faraway places. We push theories of temporal trauma and precarity by considering the ways in which refugees are not merely “stuck.” While empty time is traumatic because it is an index of precarity, teleological time embedded in education programs is a violent illusion that shifts the blame to refugees for their mis/use of time. In response to traumatic empty time on one hand and the violence of teleological time on the other, refugees turn to various incarnations of prophetic time, which we argue often frame decision making about migration. [Keywords: Refugee education, irregular migration, temporality, precarity, futurity, Ethiopia, Eritrean refugees]

 

Displaced Children, Silence, and the Violence of Humanitarianism in Cold War Italy

Stavroula Pipyrou, University of St Andrews

ABSTRACT—In early 1950s Calabria, South Italy, thousands of children were displaced as a consequence of severe flooding. Under the banner of humanitarianism, children were relocated by the political left and center-right to live with communist families in the north of Italy or to reside in summer camps and Church institutions. For the left, the humanitarian initiative was framed in terms of solidarity and a vision of the future based on close-knit family and party ties. For the centre-right, the humanitarian effort demonstrated “the caring state” and Catholic charity in action. Today, the events of the 1950s are shrouded in an interwoven veil of structural and embodied silence. From national historiography, through societal absence, to personal struggles with the traumatic past, the displaced children inhabit silence as a space in the world. This silence must be analyzed within the context of Cold War politics, the sedimenting of post-war collective consciousness, and the race between the left and center-right to claim the future generation of Italian citizens. [Keywords: Silence, Cold War, displacement, children, humanitarianism, Italy]

 

Becoming Stone: On the Coming-into-Being of Fossils in the American West

Elana Shever, University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Study and Colgate University

ABSTRACT—This down-to-earth examination of a few crucial moments in the formation of Triceratops skull fossils exposes the more-than-human process through which stones come into being. Anthropological/paleontological fieldwork at a quarry in the Dakota Badlands and a laboratory in Denver, Colorado reveal how fossil stones emerge through a complex and unpredictable process that involves much more than human acts of discovering and reconstructing prehistoric nature, or ascribing meaning and value to inert matter. Fossil-making involves acts of creation that are thoroughly physical and conceptual, human and nonhuman. Fossils come into being through the mixing of biological and geological forces, tools and glues, and people’s somatic and intellectual labors. This article fuses insights from the anthropology of resource extraction and a post-humanist analytic of material vibrancy in order to rethink making in more-than-human terms. Yet it also draws attention to the neglected political economy of more-than-human making by demonstrating both the asymmetric collaborations among the human and nonhuman forces, and the importance of upper-class philanthropists’ capital and middle-class volunteers’ labor, in the coming-into-being of fossils.

 

Concrete Peace: Building Security through Infrastructure in Colombia

Austin Zeiderman, London School of Economics

ABSTRACT—Public and scholarly debates in Colombia have often framed the work required to achieve peace as la construcción del posconflicto, or “the construction of the post-conflict.” This focuses attention on the imperative to build the legal and bureaucratic institutions necessary for transcending a half-century of violence and ensuring a stable and lasting transition. At the same time, this framing also encapsulates the work of building post-conflict Colombia in a physical sense. Focusing on a nationwide process of development aimed at laying the infrastructural foundations of “the Colombia of the future,” this article examines the expectations attached to the built environment at this critical conjuncture. Taking inspiration from a felicitous phrase coined by the Ministry of Transport’s Twitter account, #PazEnConcreto, it highlights the real-and-imaginary work of building a “concrete peace” through the construction of roads, airports, and bridges. By analyzing infrastructure projects expected to mediate the transition to a new stage of history, the first objective is to examine the cultural, political, and economic logics according to which Colombia’s future has been imagined and built. The second objective is to consider what this case suggests about the political agency of the material world in the domain of violence, peace, and security. As a notoriously intractable armed conflict continues alongside periodic peacebuilding efforts, substances like concrete, and the construction projects they support, become material and symbolic resources in the struggle to control a deeply uncertain process of historical change. [Keywords: Security, violence, peacebuilding, infrastructure, material politics, Colombia, concrete]