Thing theories, object-human recursion, and materiality already seem familiar and domesticated. All to the good, as it’s often not until the fickle winds of theoretical fashion shift that the most serious work can begin. We are still just scratching the surface in discerning and understanding the agencies or other capacities of things, and their limits—whether theorizing them, understanding their implications from different disciplinary perspectives, or documenting their configurations in the world. Many of this issue’s essays undertake the reckoning of things and the challenges they pose of value, risk, calculation, and commensurability. None of the essays are predictable, none follow well-worn paths.
CSSH has been host to an impressive gathering of essays on the cultural and historical aspects of law. During the last decade, we have published influential pieces on Islamic law, on states and their jurisdictions, on spaces beyond the law, on legal practitioners, criminals, police, and prisons.
Bart Klem and Sidharthan Manauguru reflect on the experiences and research that informed the writing of their CSSH essay, “Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars”.
Mischa Suter and Ceyda Karamursel in Conversation: Maintaining a clear ontological demarcation between persons and things is arduous work, as Latour and others remind us. It requires classification work, purification work, boundary work, language work, social work, and more. Even so, certain historical contexts and situations have rendered the clear line fuzzy, and persons and things remained thoroughly entangled.
Karen Hébert, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Congratulations are in order for CSSH’s Editorial Committee Member, Paolo Squatriti, who was selected to receive a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship to support his work on the impact on plant communities of such deeply human activities as barbarian invasions, state formation, and conversion to Christianity. Read more.
In 1995, Sherry Ortner published an essay in CSSH that continues to attract readers today. “Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal” (37/1: 173-193), explored a trend, emergent at the time, in which resistance-oriented scholars were abandoning fine-grained accounts of local, subaltern worlds for critical analysis of external, impinging powers: the empire, the state, the…
Congratulations are in order for Michael Low for winning a second prize for his CSSH article “Ottoman Infrastructures of the Saudi Hydro-State: The Technopolitics of Pilgrimage and Potable Water in the Hijaz” (CSSH 57-4, 2015). This one is the international prize awarded biannually by Comité International des Études Pré-Ottomanes et Ottomanes (CIEPO) for the best article by an early-career scholar in Ottoman and/or Pre-Ottoman Studies. Read more.
Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer (CSSH 53-1, 2011, “The Nature of Sleep“) has just published The Slumbering Masses: Sleep, Medicine, and Modern American Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Read more.
Tania Li and R. Alan Covey in conversation about land and labor regimes in Indonesia and Peru. In each case, there are elaborate social worlds that must be neutralized, manipulated, or destroyed before they can produce workers. In 16th century Peru, people are turned into peasants by Spanish taxation and land tenure policies. In colonial and contemporary Southeast Asia, plantation labor becomes more or less free as local subsistence systems, global markets, and modes of state investment change.