June 2021

CSSH congratulates Rebecca Bryant (“Partitions of Memory: Wounds and Witnessing in Cyprus” (CSSH 54-2, 2012) and “An Aesthetics of Self: Moral Remaking and Cypriot Education” (CSSH 43-3, 2001)) for the publication of the new volume, The Everyday Lives of Sovereignty: Political Imagination beyond the State, with Madeleine Reeves (Cornell University Press, 2021). The publisher writes of the book,

Around the world, border walls and nationalisms are on the rise as people express the desire to “take back” sovereignty. The contributors to this collection use ethnographic research in disputed and exceptional places to study sovereignty claims from the ground up. While it might immediately seem that citizens desire a stronger state, the cases of compromised, contested, or failed sovereignty in this volume point instead to political imaginations beyond the state form. Examples from Spain to Afghanistan and from Western Sahara to Taiwan show how calls to take back control or to bring back order are best understood as longings for sovereign agency. By paying close ethnographic attention to these desires and their consequences, The Everyday Lives of Sovereigntyoffers a new way to understand why these yearnings have such profound political resonance in a globally interconnected world.

CSSH also celebrates new work by Malini Sur (“Battles for the Golden Grain: Paddy Soldiers and the Making of the Northeast India–East Pakistan Border, 1930–1970” (CSSH 58-3, 2016)). Jungle Passports: Fences, Mobility, and Citizenship at the Northeast India-Bangladesh Border (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021) is described thusly:

Since the nineteenth century, a succession of states has classified the inhabitants of what are now the borderlands of Northeast India and Bangladesh as Muslim “frontier peasants,” “savage mountaineers,” and Christian “ethnic minorities,” suspecting them to be disloyal subjects, spies, and traitors. In Jungle Passports Malini Sur follows the struggles of these people to secure shifting land, gain access to rice harvests, and smuggle the cattle and garments upon which their livelihoods depend against a background of violence, scarcity, and India’s construction of one of the world’s longest and most highly militarized border fences.

Jungle Passports recasts established notions of citizenship and mobility along violent borders. Sur shows how the division of sovereignties and distinct regimes of mobility and citizenship push undocumented people to undertake perilous journeys across previously unrecognized borders every day. Paying close attention to the forces that shape the life-worlds of deportees, refugees, farmers, smugglers, migrants, bureaucrats, lawyers, clergy, and border troops, she reveals how reciprocity and kinship and the enforcement of state violence, illegality, and border infrastructures shape the margins of life and death. Combining years of ethnographic and archival fieldwork, her thoughtful and evocative book is a poignant testament to the force of life in our era of closed borders, insularity, and “illegal migration.”

Finally, congratulations to Melissa Demian (“On the Repugnance of Customary Law” (CSSH 56-2, 2014)) for the publication of her new manuscript, In Memory of Times to Come: Ironies of History in Southeastern Papua New Guinea (Berghahn Books, 2021). The publisher says the following of the text:

Drawing on twenty years of research, this book examines the historical perspective of a Pacific people who saw “globalization” come and go. Suau people encountered the leading edge of missionization and colonialism in Papua New Guinea and were active participants in the Second World War. In Memory of Times to Come offers a nuanced account of how people assess their own experience of change over the course of a critical century. It asks two key questions: What does it mean to claim that global connections are in the past rather than the present or the future, and what does it mean to claim that one has lost one’s culture, but not because anyone else took it away or destroyed it?