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 17, 2005

Week 12: The Anthropology of Politics: Part IVb – Cosmopolitics: Confronting a New Millenium

Chapter 28: Long-distance Nationalism Defined by Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Fouron
    Fouron is a “long-distance nationalist” whom resides in New York, but participates actively in the politics of his native Haiti. The two authors define and discuss their newly coined term “long-distance nationalism” as a combination of transnational (coined by Arjun Apparduri), and nation state (Vincent 2002:358). This way of living as members legally or not-legally, of two nations and contributing to both nations in terms of economics and emotional attachment, is a way of life for many in this period of world history. As economic and political conditions force or allow the immigration/emigration from one state to another, people in transition form different allegiances to their native state. In some instances there is a total acceptance of the new. But these are not the instances the authors are concerned about. The instances where the new situation does not produce the expected results in terms of protection and services by the new nation, there is attachment and longing for the old country and the way things were there, however imaginary.
    Schiller and Fournon give five aspects of long-distance nationalism: first, it resembles local nationalism in linking people to their homeland; second, it is not only emotional or imaginary, but manifests in concrete actions such as voting, demonstration, and donations of money to the homeland; third, long-distance nationalists challenge traditionally accepted values of separate nations with borders; fourth, political conditions in the homeland dictate whether the long-distance nationalist is labeled a traitor, or a loyalist; and last, there are now volumes of scholarly writing on the subject of the long-distance nationalist (Vincent 2002:358-360).
There is the question of citizenship and how many countries can on vow allegiance to. They point out that long-distance nationalists come from every social class. 

Question: The borders may be being challenged, but in order to keep some order, the separations must be kept in place I think. If borders were removed, how could the state protect those citizens that are already within the boundaries? They could not. It would be a free for all. Physically weaker would definitely be taken advantage of or eliminated. Humans are much too fecund to spread out unchecked onto the land.        

Chapter 29: Theorizing Socialism: A Prologue to the “Transition” by Katherine Verdery
    Verdery’s fieldwork was in the country of Romania (Vincent 2002:367). Her interest is in the politics of transitioning socialist countries. Her essay describes a theoretical model based on “a Marxist analysis” (367). The framework, she says, “can be used to analyze…many aspects of life in socialist societies” (367). She is able to explain a main difference in the economic factors pushing the system of Socialism vs Capitalism along. The difference that is explained here is in the relationship to goods and services. Socialist political systems seek to control the means of production for the reason of not selling the product, whereas Capitalist systems move to control the product and the sales of it. There is not control on the output of consumer goods in Socialist societies, hence the long lines for consumer essentials, a state that we in the west find appalling. Socialist consumer goods are also of shoddy construction, as the consumer does not drive the market. The reason for the Socialist control of production is to justify control of distribution (allocation) (Vincent 2002:368-369).
    The Socialist state destroys what would stand in the way of control of resources including small industry, and punishes those that sell outside their limitations and controls, or are caught stockpiling resources for personal use. This is another area where we westerners would cringe at the thought of that degree of control. The control exerted by the state is in its bureaucrats focusing on their jobs of “fulfilling planned target outputs” (369). The cumulative affect of many bureaucrats with this same mission is towards centralization of allocation, and Verdery explains the outcome as the unconscious product of many bureaucrats working towards their individual goals. **370  

Chapter 30: Marx Went Away but Karl Stayed Behind by Caroline Humphrey
    Community based collective farms in the Soviet Union after the collapse of communitism. One is in Barguzin, the other in Buryatia. The one in Buryatia, the residents do not despair of the old socialist order, but consider that it was a legitimate experiment in government; these people are traditionalists and want to remain a collective. Residents of Barguzin hold opposite beliefs and wish to go the route of individual land holdings and feel their family security more stabilized in that direction.
    Humphrey wrote a book delineating her studies of collective farming in the Soviet Union that first published in 1983. She goes back to that original study to compare what is happening now with collective farming. The conditions and attitudes in Buryatia are different than that of much of the rest of Russia after the collapse of the soviet state. Humphrey goes back in history to what happened in Buryatia at the Communist take over in the 1920s to 1930s. Take over was by force; those who dissented were imprisoned or executed. The correct attitude towards the state was begun at that point. That is why there is so little complaining about the state of affairs in Buryatia now as explained by Humphrey, even though they are in economic collapse.

Question: To me socialism and communism, first of all what is the difference? Then, both seem to have as the goal, equitable distribution. But, that some are more equal than others. You end up with some having more than others only under much greater restrictions on movement and opportunity. How is this better for society?  I really find a weakness in my knowledge when discussing different political systems.

Chapter 31: The Anti-politics Game by James Ferguson
    Development programs, the truth about development, and how the normal results of development do not give the intended results. Ferguson gives the five parameters that are necessary for a development program to be funded. These parameters are such that the country Lesotho does not have the right criteria for a development program, as they are not agriculturalists.
    This chapter is an introduction to a book about the operation of development programs and the reasons for failure in many instances. Funneling money into a community does not always hit the target poor. He spends some time talking about the failure of the prison system to rehabilitate, quoting from Foucault that the prison system does exactly the opposite producing criminals that are more deviant from the norm than when they went in to prison.
    A development project in Lesotho was withdrawn as ineffectual because the results they were achieving were not registering on the development scale. In hindsight however, the development agency (Canadian) has decided that there was success in areas of road building to connect the rural populations with the urban.
    The four criteria for a development agency to move forward on a project according to Ferguson are these: the target population must be “primitive” and not yet modernized; the basic form of livelihood must be agriculture; the boundaries of the project area “must constitute a national economy;” and the target population must be governable through an existing national government.

Question: One big problem I see with the criteria a development agency uses to choose projects is in the way the money is funneled through the government of that nation. I would say that this is where much funding gets stuck, as not all governments are made accountable to the people as they are in this country.

Question: What is the anti-politics machine?

Chapter 32: Peasants against Globalization by Marc Edelman
    This is an introductory chapter to a book (also as the previous chapter). The book is about how small farmers in Costa Rica struggled against the devastation of their way of life by global economic processes.  The rural activism by Costa Rican peasant farmers from the 1980s-1990s actually worked.
    Edelman first questions the assumption of underdevelopment; the reason development comes into an area in the first place.

Chapter 33: On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below by Paul Farmer
    The idea of structural violence is such that it may not be recognized as violence but the results are the lack of basic human rights of shelter, food, and medical attention to that portion of the population that is classified as poor, and not deserving of basic human rights. The innocents are those who suffer the most from structural violence – mainly children who have the least control over conditions in which they find themselves and who are the most vulnerable. The cause of structural violence: inequality in resource access and distribution inherent in the global economic system.
    This chapter tells the story of two people from Haiti that both die preventable deaths: The woman, Acephie Joseph, is a beauty, and because of circumstance of displacement and poverty, must troll for a main man (to take care of her and her parents). She meets a military man, engages in a brief “affair” with him, they split up, he dies shortly thereafter of AIDS. Her next main man feigns the desire to marry, but once she is pregnant, he splits the scene. Her illness (AIDS contracted through the military main man) becomes manifest. It’s downhill from there. Beauty turns to tragedy in Kay, a refugee settlement on Haiti’s Central Plateau. The creation of Kay is the results of a modernization project in Haiti, a damming of the Riviere Artibonite, which subsequently displaced all who had lived and farmed in the river’s fertile valleys. The displaced persons are called “water refugees”. The US government supported the project.
    The other story of death on the Central Plateau us about is about Chouchou Louis, a man who is beaten to death by the Haitian military for saying something negative against the military powered government. Dr. Farmer saw him in being called to treatment of his fatal bodily lacerations, bruises and subsequent bleeding into the lungs that caused his ultimate death. The descriptions of Chouchou’s wounds were of one chewed up and spat out pile of meat. 

Question: The last three chapters seem to bring up shortcomings in development planning and implementation. Do you think the reasoning or purpose for being in the development world is for the betterment of the world? Is its purpose for the betterment of poor people? Where is there the trickle down?

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

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