Anthropological literature on crises and social and solidarity economies can benefit from integrated approaches that assess grassroots cooperatives formed during critical periods of capitalist recession. This article debates on why it is problematic to conceptualize the Greek crisis as exceptional and then examines the relationship between the solidarity economy and cooperatives and argues that the latter is a development of the former in the future plans of people struggling against the crisis being witnessed in Greece. It moreover makes a case for there being a need to pay more attention to the distribution sector. Its main aim is to point out how participants engaged in initiatives related to the solidarity economy tend to imagine that their activities are inspired by larger aims and claims than the immediate significance of their material actions. This is done by ethnographically analyzing organized social responses against crises through the rise of popular solidarity economies associated with distribution of food without middlemen.
Human trafficking has become a key site for intervention in global politics. Although anti-trafficking claims to mobilize resources for the combat against structural inequality within labour relations, anti-trafficking is intertwined with a fixation with the “trafficking survivor” resulting in notable individuated policy responses. Based on long-term ethnographic research of anti-trafficking interventions in the Mekong region, this essay suggest biolegitimacy is a fruitful heuristic device as it elucidates how anti-trafficking constructs “life” along multiple modalities and expressions. This in turn helps explain why anti-trafficking constitutes a mixed assemblage comprising actors with different ideological, moral and political positions. As such, anti-trafficking constitutes an important case study of how life legitimates and is legitimated within transitional networks of governance.
Croatia has experienced a marked boom in household debt in the 2000s. Much of this lending took high-risk and predatory forms that transferred significant risks to debtors, which in turn became the target of contestation by debt activists. This paper uses the Polanyian idea of “double movement” to show how the Croatian debt contestations responded to the distinctively peripheral form of financialization in Eastern Europe, characterized by unequal geoeconomic relationships and an intensified expropriation of debtors. This framework further highlights the importance of money in contemporary credit/debt relationships and their contestation, which has so far received insufficient attention in relevant anthropological scholarship. Instead of the currently fashionable credit theories of money, the paper uses the Marxian concept of the fetishism of money to unpack the roles of money in these processes. The analysis of discourses and practices of two groups of debtors and activists reveals how they used nationalist ideological frameworks and institutional channels such as litigation, again largely ignored by existing anthropological literature, to challenge the particular inequalities of peripheral financialization and the expropriation of debtors through the lenders’ predatory manipulations of the money fetish.
Neoliberal reforms in Mexico entailed a transition from a state-managed economic model to one oriented towards the free market. These reforms also triggered the dismantling of the corporate structures of the twentieth century. Some of these reforms, such as the amendments made to Articles 2 and 4 in the Constitution, officially recognized cultural diversity. Drawing from eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork and six months of archival research, the aim of this article is to present the case study of a group of intellectuals from the locality of Cherán, Michoacán, who were trained during the decline of the post-revolutionary state and its clientelist practices. The members of this group managed to adapt to the neoliberal transition by shifting from political militants of a national movement that demanded democratization, universal citizenship, and rights, to managers of ethnicity who claimed the right to self-determination. By taking a group of intellectuals from Cherán as a case study, I intend to show the articulation between local and national political processes. The introduction of multicultural policies in Mexico is often hailed as a step towards ensuring greater respect for human rights. However, this paper argues that the implementation of multicultural policies, during a period of state reforms, ended up reinforcing political fragmentation given the different political processes at play at both the local and national level.
In 2010, a group of teenagers in the rural Yucatecan town of Dzitas were reportedly possessed by the devil while playing with a Ouija board in a local cemetery. This fed into a moral panic regarding the corrupting moral influence of transnational media and consumerism on local young people whose livelihood prospects look increasingly precarious. This bore a superficial resemblance to the 1980s “Satanic Panic” of the United States, which also embodied parental fears of cultural change and neoliberal precarity. However, the Yucatecan case bears the particular mark of a culture in which belief in divination and sorcery is more wide-spread than in the United States on the 1980s, and where neoliberal precarity did not emerge amidst the decay of an older Fordist stability. A comparison of the cultural dimensions of these two moral panics highlights important differences in the experience of neoliberalism at different points in the global system.
Marx conceived of the reproduction of labor-power as a circuit in which the wage must suffice to purchase the commodities necessary to meet the worker’s “so-called necessary requirements,” which are “products of history.” In this article, I argue that, through ethnographic investigation of the wage as a sign of these requirements, we can arrive at a wealth of knowledge about how the wage helps to construct different groups of workers as belonging to different human types, which are often “bundled” together with categories such as race and citizenship. I make my case through the investigation of two groups of workers: young Jewish-Israeli citizens engaged in logistics work and earning the minimum wage, and migrant farmworkers from Thailand who are paid far below that minimum for their labor. I argue that the first group represents a “zero degree” of labor-power, defined by the legal and biopolitical concern of the state for its reproduction, while the latter is understood by its members, their employers, and the surrounding society as undeserving of such concern. Deploying the Marxist-feminist problematic of the social reproduction of labor power, I argue that, by affording different groups of workers, and their children, different standards of living and opportunities for integration into labor markets, the wage works together with other forces to lock people into embodied, inherited “types.” From this perspective, I suggest, some categories of oppression do not “intersect” at right angles but rather run almost parallel, and at times coming close to cohering—a finding with implications for both analysis and political practice.
This paper addresses the (post)-memories of the generations of offspring of survivors of the genocidal processes in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. About 12,000 Yezidis managed to flee to Armenia and establish a diasporic community. Based on ethnographic fieldwork within this community, including interviews with members of subsequent generations, this article focuses on the narratives and experiences of women as well as gender-specific violence. The gathered empirical data makes it possible to elaborate on the hardly documented history, on its lasting effects, and on gender-specific differences in these narrations. Despite certain politics of silencing, memories of genocidal persecution were passed down from one generation to the next. The most recent case of genocidal persecution of Yezidis in Shingal (Iraq) 2014 affected the very foundations of the Yezidi community both in Armenia and the transnation—and at the same time revived their joint remembrance of the fate of their ancestors who had once sought refuge in Armenia.
Though American anthropologists have long engaged in radical political activities, there remains a poorly documented history of American Marxist anthropologists’ engagements with national and global socialist and communist political parties. This article draws on an interview with American anthropologist John Moore, as well as material from Moore’s FBI file, recently released under the Freedom of Information Act, with records from a 1960s Military Intelligence investigation of Moore to document and explore Moore’s involvement in communist and socialist organizations from the 1960s to the 1990s. Moore’s reflections on his political activities highlight a continuity.