Home 603Seminar in the Anthropology of Power


Week 2 Vincent, Focault, Marx

Week 3 Vincent II

Week 4 Kertzer-Anderson

Week 4 Essay 1

Week 5 Kertzer

Week 6 Anderson

Week 7 Scott

Week 8 Vincent III

Week 9 Said

Week 10 Crehan

Week 10 Essay 2

Week 11 Vincent IV

Week 12 Vincent IVb

Week 14 Swartz

Week 14 Mohanty Analytic Summary

Resource Links

Victoria Kline
Anthropology 583: Politics and Power
Instr: Dr. Ramona Pérez
November 10, 2005

Week 11: The Anthropology of Politics: Part IVa – Cosmopolitics: Confronting a New Millenium

Chapter 21: The New World Disorder by Benedict Anderson
    Anderson shows the evolution of the nation-state, beginning with the United States in America, which occurred through armed conflict with England over independence from her, and the subsequent need to form solidarity of those who resided together for strength in unity of purpose. Anderson shows how the movement of peoples and conflicts between countries, and the need for the state leaders to unite those migrant peoples with varying ethnicities and religions together was at the root of the beginning** of nationalism. Because of the fracturing and reforming of social communities in new countries caused (or forwarded) by the need to emigrate from the old country in present times, new communities of nationalists have formed in foreign countries. Nationalists remain loyal to their country of origin, even if they have never seen nor visited their country of origin, and even if they no longer have ties to it. Ties to the country of origin have been reinvented via new communities of emigrants in the new country.     The old country may move on, change, modernize, but the memory of the old nation remains strong in the hearts of those who have left. 
    This chapter relates to one of the themes of political anthropology: the study of the foundation of nationalism.

Question: Through other readings I have the idea that nationalism also means resistance. Is this resistance always present with nationalism?

I also thought that nationalists could live in their country of origin, and that ** finish this, find definition for nationalism etc** that nationalism is tied to impoverishment and needs for unsupplied services, and that nationalists are revolutionary and demanding.

Chapter 22: Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination by Arjun Appadurai
    This essay begins with the statement that talking and thinking and knowing about globalization and all its machinations causes anxiety in the academy, for workers in first world countries, and for academics in third world countries, each group with its own set of questions about the phenomenon. Then there are those concerned with the global aide organizations wondering what irreversible damage or possible good they may be doing in the quest to “help” impoverished areas of the world become more self-sustaining. There is a well-founded fear that the people they aim to help, are left “outside and behind” (Vincent 2002:272).
    Appadurai says that with this widening gap in access there is fuel for academic argument: “The academy (especially in the United States) has found in globalization an object around which to conduct its special internal quarrels about such issues as representation, recognition, the ‘end’ of history, the specters of capital (and of comparison)…” (Vincent 2002:272). He calls it apartheid. But, there is hope in “grassroots globalization” or bottom up globalization as opposed to the normal top down globalization. On that positive note Appadurai tells his readers that the purpose of “this essay is an argument for the significance of this kind of globalization, which strives for democratic and autonomous standing in respect to the various forms by which global power further seeks to extend its dominion” (Vincent 2002: 272). He says that without this kind of globalization, there will be no “international civil society” (272). The future of this bottom up globalization relies on academia to push forward research projects created solely for the benefit of the subaltern.        
    He breaks the essay in to parts from this point on, as his challenge seems to be to American academics to make the world a better place. There are three arguments he presents: the difficulty in deciphering globalization, how area studies in academia are tied to globalization, and how academics speak of their areas of study as research.
    His whole point is to find some way to change the balance of power so that the great rift between the classes slows down and begins to come together. This must be done with the academy and third world intellectuals in combination, working together in service to humanity instead of for capital gain.

Question: The thing about grassroots globalization or grassroots development is that it takes an anthropologist or team of anthropologists to help design the project with the beneficiaries in mind. How often are anthropologists involved with development projects? Can grassroots globalization projects be successful without an anthropologist on board?   

Chapter 23: Transnationalization, Socio-political Disorder, and Ethnification as Expressions of Declining Global Hegemony by Jonathan Friedman
    He has a drawing that is supposed to show “the inverse relationship between cycles if hegemony and cycles of cultural identity” (Vincent 2002:286). To me it seems to represent the idea that when global hegemony declines, transnationalization, disorder, ethnification go up. That seems counter intuitive. Figure 2 seems much more explanatory in defining modernism as culture minus nature, postmodernism as culture plus nature, primativism as nature, and traditionalism as culture; and are defined as “four poles of potential identification that define a space of identity variation” (Vincent 2002:287).

Chapter 24: Deadly Developments and Phantasmagoric Representations by S. P. Reyna
    This chapter introduces a volume on the anthropology of war. The original thinking on the evolution of civilized society defined as capitalistic was that the more organized towards the capitalist state, the more peaceful the society would be, and the need for war would become unnecessary. Reyna remarks, “It turns out that classical social theory’s insistence that capitalist states were pacific is a phantasm, a chimera that hides deadly developments” (Vincent 2002: 302). The articles within the volume “analyze warfare in societies with states” (Vincent 2002: 302). To begin, Reyna defines state, government, civil society, capitalist state, and capitalism, dividing capitalism into commercial and industrial. There are more definitions of international war and internal war, ethnic and non-ethnic civil war.
    “The articles tend to identify determinants or accelerants of the different types of wars” (Vincent 2002: 303) since the introduction also gives a preview of the ten articles that are included in the volume. She goes on to describe what the articles (individually) say are determining factors in the acceleration of war, institutionally, and subjectively and there is enough discussion about each of them that we are given a pretty good summary of what each one is about, the area that each discusses, the people that are involved, and the events that touched off violence group against group.
    There are plenty of explanations, Reyna says that point inter-group conflict as the cause of the violence. Some of the essays from this volume point to the protection of capitalism as the starting point of the downhill slide into conflict, sometimes very “dirty.” I think that we are shown in this introductory essay that the capitalist state is not the road to peaceful existence on the planet.

Question: I do not “buy” every aspect of capitalism, but it is like my religion, or my nationality. I am not a pure capitalist; I do not go to worship weekly in the shrine of the many sales booths. But I do so occasionally and do believe that living in a capitalist society, I may be rich someday. There is no promise, only the possibility.

Chapter 25: Modernity at the Edge of Empire by David Nugent
    This essay is a conclusion to a volume on political anthropology. This volume focuses on the political processes of “nation building and making national cultures” (Vincent 2002:313) in the Chachapoyas region of modern Peru. Here, the modern nation-state was formed through direct action of fringe or subaltern groups (Vincent 2002:313). This is not the normal organizational foundation of the nation-state and so there is a story to tell that sounds interesting.

Chapter 26:  Politics on the Perifery by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
    This is another essay that is an introduction to a book, this one entirely written by Tsing. Her book is an ethnography on the Meratus Dayaks of Indonesia (not sure if this is their true name). Marginality is the focus of her study, the ways in which marginalization is constructed, and “the intersection of three processes within which Meratus marginality is shaped: state rule, the formation of regional and ethnic identities, and gender differentiation…” (Vincent 2002:325).         She talks about how she has done the writing of the book, through the telling of stories and from narratives. She does pay attention to the attitudes and roles that women play in her study area, her research group. The women are supposedly submissive to the men: men hold all the political power. But what Tsing sees is that women resist male dominance through verbal complaint, they are not submissives to dominance. The marginalization has to do with their relationship to the state as swidden agriculturalists, as we have read about before, those who do not contribute to the state coffers, pretty much get pushed to the side.
    Page 333 Tsing talks about the way in which peace and quiet is kept through authoritarian policies that are reminicient of colonial Dutch rule. She says there is “pervasive presence of the army in rural and urban life to guarantee local quietude and cooperation with top-down development plans” (Vincent 2002:333). This is the opposite of the “grassroots globalization” project that Arjun Appadurai recommended in a previous chapter.  

Chapter 27: Flexible Citizenship among Chinese Cosmopolitans by Aihwa Ong
    Ong begins with two excerpts from the business section of the paper: one about a Chinese businessman taking advantage of low real estate prices in the wake of some real or imagined crisis. The other is a comment on the Chinese professional work ethic, and how work-a-holism causes divorce among couples living the American dream. Postmodern elements: displacement, difference, fragmentation, and impermanence stand in opposition to Orientalist descriptions of Chinese culture that has been presented as timeless and unchanging. “Stories about capital, displacements, hybridity explode reigning notions about being Chinese…In what ways have their border-crossing activities and mobility within the circuits of global capitalism altered their cultural values and class strategies?” (Vincent 2002:339).
    This paper is about the way some Chinese are able to take advantage of market globalization, and the effects that the transnational movement has on the stability of the family. Capital is the motivation for this lifestyle change, yet the quest for this has huge implications for family stability. However, what Ong describes through the rest of the chapter is the way that Chinese businessmen are able to use the family and family ties to form mini-empires and make fortunes, raise families and send children to be educated in the best schools. They do this by exploitation of labor forces in countries where the citizenry is not protected by law. Hong Kong is an area that is discussed at length.



Vincent, Joan ed.
2002    The Anthropology of Politics: A Reader in Ethnography, Theory, and Critique. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing.



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last updated on October 9, 2010