In our Spring 2020 issue, Julie Gibbings and Jacob Tropp guide us through several telling cases of cultural, or intercultural, understanding. Our editors saw “expediency” as a theme that unites the essays, but there are many others. Tropp and Gibbings tell us more.
CSSH authors David Mosse and Michal Kravel-Tovi share insights into diasporic anxieties by comparing the contests that arise when ethno-religious communities (Hindus, Jews) reproduce themselves, simultaneously, in diaspora settings (Britain, the US) and in homeland states (India, Israel).
Socialism is alive and well on the pages of CSSH, and its fortunes in the larger world have improved in recent years. Even the “failed” socialisms of the past are attracting new attention. It would seem that much we thought was decided in the history of socialism is worth reconsidering.
James Ferguson and Laurence Coderre tell us more about Commodities and the Proletariat.
Webb Keane and Stephan Palmié discuss divine appearances and materiality.
Fahad Ahmad Bishara and Guo-Quan Seng in conversation
The Indigenous exists at multiple levels: in the historical embedding of a people with a given landsite and ecosystem most obviously, but also in language, politics, religion, and a lived experience of separateness from settler-states and their progeny. Still, Indigenous peoples’ survival depends in key respects on settler-states and their diverse codes and degrees of recognition. Essays by Uditi Sen and Krista Maxwell each explore registers of recognition that, though applied to dispossess indigenous peoples’ of autonomy, were presented as liberal or humanitarian interventions: the construct of “empty land,” or terra nullius, in Sen’s contribution; and the construct of the Indigenous “child-victim,” in Maxwell’s.
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.
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.