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  • EnviroSociety

    Studying African Floodplains as Coupled Systems

    The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.

    — Gregory Bateson

    The quote from Gregory Bateson, from the documentary Ecology of Mind (2011) that Nora Bateson made about her father, captures one of the key themes in his work: the way we perceive and conceive of the world is poor match for how the world really works (Bateson 1972, [1979] 2002). The mismatch between our theoretical models and the world we are studying is a key problem in scientific research. I tell students that “theory world” and the “world out there” are two very different worlds and that theoretical models are simply thinking tools that allow us to get a better handle on the world. Some of these thinking tools are better for some problems than for others, and most problems require multiple tools to get the job done.

    In the past few years, I have been using the thinking tool of coupled systems to study the world of the Logone floodplain in Cameroon. The framework of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) (Liu et al. 2007) has been tightly linked with the Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) program at the National Science Foundation, which has been in existence for 15 years (Baerwald et al. 2016). The core idea of the coupled systems approach is that human and natural systems are linked, processes in one system affect the other system, impacts occur in both directions, and, as a result, systems are highly dynamic.

    The Logone floodplain, where I have been studying mobile pastoralists for the past 20 or so years, is an excellent example of a coupled human and natural system in that dynamic feedbacks occur between different human and natural systems. The most important driver is the annual flood that directly impacts fish populations and vegetation, which in turn affect the livelihoods of fishers and pastoralists. But the floodplain is also an anthropogenic landscape that has been modified by fishers, farmers, and herders who have made it a highly productive landscape for humans and animals. While flooding is the main driver in this coupled system, humans are continuously changing the flooding patterns with dams, dikes, and canals.

    The canals and their impact on the floodplain are what prompted me to pursue a CNH grant in 2010. Fishers in the Logone floodplain have used canals for centuries. The canals connect depressions with the rivers in the floodplain (see figure 1). When the annual floods recede, fish swim with the water from the depression through the canals to the rivers, where they are caught in fishers’ nets at the end of the canals. The canals are highly efficient ways to catch fish in our study area, and their number has increased from a few hundred in the 1970s to more than 1,200 in 2015. However, in the early 2000s, floodplain residents started to complain that fish canals were negatively impacting the fish populations, directly through catches and indirectly by changing the hydraulic landscape of the floodplain and thus the habitat of fish. At that time, I was working with mobile pastoralists, and they too noted the impact of canals, particularly that the floodplain dried much quicker than before and that there was much less regrowth of grasses after they set fire to pastures.


    Figure 1: (a) Map of the floodplain showing locations of the thousands of fish canals; (b) illustrations of how fishers use natural flooding patterns to fish by digging canals that link depressions to the rivers—when the floods recede, fish swim with the flow of the water through the canals into the fishing nets; and (c) fish canals in the dry season (top), canals when the floods reach their peak (middle), and when the floods recede and fish swim into the nets (bottom). Photographs by Association Camerounaise pour l’Education Environnementale (ACEEN) and figures by Sarah Laborde.

    The CNH program was a good fit for a study of the canals’ impact on the floodplain because they were at the intersection of human and natural systems. As we made the argument that it was critical to study the Logone floodplain as a coupled system in our proposals, we framed our study in terms of the analytical framework of the CNH program: (1) focus on analyses of dynamic processes within and couplings between human and natural systems; (2) an interdisciplinary team with experts for human and natural systems; and (3) a quantitative, integrative model of the coupled systems. Since then (our second, revised submission was funded in 2011), I have been thinking of the floodplain—and the world in general—as a coupled system that can be modeled quantitatively. In my presentation at the 2016 American Anthropological Association (AAA) meeting, I noted—only partly as a joke—that the solicitation of the CNH program is my conceptual framework.

    In our ongoing study of the role of canals in the coupled systems of the floodplain, the big question is whether the cumulative effect of the thousands of canals is equivalent to that of large-scale dams. In the last decades, a number of natural experiments have resulted in multiple regime shifts. First, the construction of the Maga Dam and levees along the Logone River in 1979 dramatically reduced flooding downstream with severe consequences for the human and natural systems of the floodplain, which forced hundreds of herders and fishers to move elsewhere. Second, the reflooding efforts of the Waza Logone Project (IUCN) in the 1990s led to a rebounding of the system (Scholte 2005). The question we are exploring is whether the exponential growth of fish canals in the floodplain is leading to another regime shift pushing the system to a state with lower productivity (Fernandez et al. 2016; Laborde et al. 2016).

    The CNH framework is highly appropriate for our research question. We assembled an interdisciplinary team of US and Cameroonian scholars that studies the hydroclimate of the watershed, hydraulics of the floodplain, dynamics of the fish population, and socioeconomic decision-making of fishers. We are developing models for each of these systems and building an integrative, quantitative model that couples all the systems: hydroclimatic, hydraulic, fish populations, and fishers. The integrated model forces us to specify not only how processes in one system affect processes in another system but also how much. This is critical for study of regime shifts in coupled systems. Otherwise, it is nearly impossible to tell whether a regime shift is linear, nonlinear, or critical (Scheffer 2009). This is important because it may be relatively easy to reverse a linear or nonlinear regime shift but very difficult to reverse a critical transition. If our integrated model indicates that the exponential increase in canals is leading to critical transition in fish populations, stakeholders may be convinced that collective action is needed to avoid a potential catastrophe.

    In the middle of our study, the floodplain changed dramatically, again, because of the construction of levees by Chad and Cameroon along the Logone River, which resulted in extreme flooding events. This made it very difficult for us to study and model the impact of fish canals. (That was on top of not being able to travel to the field because of insecurity caused by Boko Haram.) However, “every disadvantage has its advantage” (Johan Cruyff). As we started to study the ways floodplain residents were adapting to changes in flooding and fish dynamics, we became less fixated on the canals and started seeing canals within the larger context of innovations and adaptations that fishers have pursued in the last decades. Using the analytical framework of coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) and an Iterative Recursive Abductive (IRA) approach (Agar 2006), we are able to adapt and leverage our studies and models to examine new research problems in the floodplain. It also allowed us to develop a new proposal for the CNH program to examine the impact of extreme hydroclimatic events on the resilience of the floodplain and its residents.

    I think the way we conceptualize the floodplain as a coupled system matches well the world we are studying (Moritz et al. 2016). However, there is a problem. Because we are using a coupled systems approach to study a dynamic system, that is, a system that is constantly changing, we have entered a never-ending, spiraling fish hole. Of course, this problem is not limited to the study of coupled systems; most studies generate more questions than answers. The intellectual challenge of the coupled systems approach is that there are no boundaries: no disciplinary boundaries and no spatial or temporal boundaries. In our project, we examine the role of climate change, marriage patterns, and fish behavior, so, as we come to understand one part of the system, new question emerge. I fear that someday we may be studying microbiomes in the floodplain. It keeps us busy, but the goal of understanding the floodplain seems forever out of reach. Or, in the words of Gregory Bateson, “learning never stops” (2011).

    Mark Moritz
    is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Ohio State University, and he is involved in multiple interdisciplinary research projects that use a coupled systems approach.


    Agar, Michael. 2006. “An Ethnography by Any Other Name …” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research 7(4).

    Baerwald, Thomas J., Penelope L. Firth, and Sarah L. Ruth. 2016. “The Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program at the U.S. National Science Foundation: Lessons Learned in Interdisciplinary Funding Program Development and Management.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 19: 123–133.

    Bateson, Gregory. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Bateson, Gregory. (1979) 2002. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

    Bateson, Nora. 2011. An Ecology of Mind. Documentary, 60 min. Bullfrog Films.

    Fernández, Alfonso, et al. 2016. “Testing the Skill of Numerical Hydraulic Modeling to Simulate Spatiotemporal Flooding Patterns in the Logone Floodplain, Cameroon.” Journal of Hydrology 539: 265–280.

    Laborde, Sarah, et al. 2016. “Social-Ecological Feedbacks Lead to Unsustainable Lock-in in an Inland Fishery.” Global Environmental Change 41: 13–25.

    Liu, Jianguo, et al. 2007. “Complexity of Coupled Human and Natural Systems.” Science 317(5844): 1513–1516.

    Moritz, Mark, et al. 2016. “Studying the Logone Floodplain, Cameroon as a Coupled Human and Natural System.” African Journal of Aquatic Sciences 41(1): 99–108.

    Scheffer, Marten. 2009. Critical Transitions in Nature and Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Scholte, Paul. 2005. “Floodplain Rehabilitation and the Future of Conservation and Development: Adaptive Management of Success in Waza-Logone, Cameroon.” PhD diss., Centre for Environmental Studies, Leiden University.

    Cite as: 
    Moritz, Mark. 2016. “Studying African Floodplains as Coupled Systems.” EnviroSociety, 6 December.

  • FocaalBlog

    Focaal Volume 2016, Issue 76: Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India

    focaal_coverWe are pleased to announce that the latest issue of Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology has recently published and is available online at its new home,

    This issue’s theme section, titled “Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India” and guest edited by Nicolas Jaoul and Alpa Shah, shows how political ethnographers of “insurgent citizenship” among Dalits and Adivasis offer a view from the suppressed margins of Indian society. The articles illustrate the way political subjectivities are being produced on the ground by confronting, negotiating, but also exceeding the state and its policed frameworks. The editors’ introduction is available to all readers for free.

    Focaal 76 also includes a regular articles section, which features articles on informalization and differential subsumption in Thailand’s garment sector, transnational practices of Albanian migrants in Athens, and migrants’ imaginaries in Italy. Two book review articles round out the issue.

    Volume 2016, Issue 76: Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India

    Guest Editors: Nicolas Jaoul and Alpa Shah


    Beyond citizenship: Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India
    Nicolas Jaoul

    Emancipation as social equality: Subaltern politics in contemporary India
    Indrajit Roy

    “Real, practical emancipation”?: Subaltern politics and insurgent citizenship in contemporary India
    Alf Gunvald Nilsen

    Citizenship in religious clothing?: Navayana Buddhism and Dalit emancipation in late 1990s Uttar Pradesh
    Nicolas Jaoul


    Putting-out’s return: Informalization and differential subsumption in Thailand’s garment sector
    Stephen Campbell

    Migration, residential investment, and the experience of “transition”: Tracing transnational practices of Albanian migrants in Athens
    Gera Dalipaj

    Moving on: Italy as a stepping stone in migrants’ imaginaries
    Anna Tuckett


    Engaged anthropology in the time of late liberalism: Activists, anthropologists, and the state in India
    Moyukh Chatterjee

    Of dispossessions and reclamations: Anthropology in the time of crisis
    Elisabeth Schober

    Recommend Focaal to your library

    As a key researcher in your field, you can recommend Focaal to your library for subscription. A form for this purpose is provided on the Focaal website here.

  • Museum Worlds

    Museum News: October 2016

    Nixon museum makeover puts visitors in his shoes, via USA Today

    Five Paintings Stolen in 2005 Return to Dutch Museum, via The New York Times

    Prince’s Paisley Park to be turned into a permanent museum, via CNN

    Qatar retrospective exhibits Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi, via Al Jazeera

    Jamaica celebrates reggae legend Peter Tosh with new museum, via The Washington Post

    176 original emoji will become part of the Museum of Modern Art’s collection, via The Verge

    Art exhibit presents traditional Native American story, via The Washington Times

    Museums, the New Social Media Darlings, via The New York Times


  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Visit Berghahn booth #316 at the African Studies Association Meeting 2016


    We are delighted to inform you that we will be present at 59th Annual Meeting of the ASA in Washington DC, December 1 – 3, 2016. Please stop by our booth #316 to browse the latest selection of books at discounted prices & pick up some free journal samples.

    If you are unable to attend, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. For the next 30 days, receive a 25% discount on all African Studies titles found on our website. At checkout, simply enter the discount code AfSA16. Browse our newly published online African Studies 2017 Catalog or use the subject searching features on our website­ for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.

    The AfSA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of Africanist scholars in the world, with an attendance of about 2,000 scholars and professionals. For more information on the program, events, theme, other exhibitors and location please visit African Studies Association webpage.


    Here is a preview of some of our newest releases:


    The Decolonial Mandela
    Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life
    Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni


    “This is a completely original contribution to our understanding of Mandela. It provides a long overdue decolonial perspective that situates Mandela’s life and thought within current academic debates and the political and ethical challenges facing global humanity. It will be essential reading across multiple disciplines.” · Ramon Grosfoguel, University of California, Berkeley –

    A significant contribution to the emerging literature on decolonial studies, this concise and forcefully argued volume lays out a groundbreaking interpretation of the “Mandela phenomenon.” Contrary to a neoliberal social model that privileges adversarial criminal justice and a rationalistic approach to war making, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni identifies transformative political justice and a reimagined social order as key features of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Mandela is understood here as an exemplar of decolonial humanism, one who embodied the idea of survivor’s justice and held up reconciliation and racial harmony as essential for transcending colonial modes of thought.

    Read Introduction: Mandela Phenomenon as Decolonial Humanism 


    Violent Becomings
    State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique
    Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

    Volume 4, Ethnography, Theory, Experiment


    This is a valuable contribution to the literatures on African political history at both the macro and micro scales… It represents what many Africanist anthropologists today hope to achieve – a monograph that is both ethnographically rich and theoretically engaged.” · Danny Hoffman, University of Washington

    Violent Becomings conceptualizes the Mozambican state not as the bureaucratically ordered polity of the nation-state, but as a continuously emergent and violently challenged mode of ordering. In doing so, this book addresses the question of why colonial and postcolonial state formation has involved violent articulations with so-called ‘traditional’ forms of sociality. The scope and dynamic nature of such violent becomings is explored through an array of contexts that include colonial regimes of forced labor and pacification, liberation war struggles and civil war, the social engineering of the post-independence state, and the popular appropriation of sovereign violence in riots and lynchings.

    Violent Becomings: State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique by Bjørn Enge Bertelsen is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

    This edition is supported by the University of Bergen. full text


    Thresholds of Identities and Illusions on an African Landscape
    Stuart A. Marks


    “This is a superb book. It brings together Stuart Marks’ detailed long-term work on hunting and other issues among the Bisa of the Manyamadzi Corridor of Zambia since the 1960s.” · Robert K. Hitchcock, Michigan State University

    The “extensive wilderness” of Zambia’s central Luangwa Valley is the homeland of the Valley Bisa whose cultural practices have enriched this environment for centuries. Beginning with the intrusions of warlords and later British colonials, successive generations have experienced the callousness and challenges of colonialism. Their homeland, a slender corridor surrounded by three national parks and an escarpment, is a microcosm of the political, economic and cultural battlefields surrounding most African protected areas today. The story of the Valley Bisa diverges from the myths that conservationists, administrators, and philanthropists, tell about Africa’s environmental and wildlife crises.

    Read Introduction: On Poaching an Elephant: Calling the Shots and Following the Ricochets


    Edited by Axel Fleisch and Rhiannon Stephens

    Volume 25, Making Sense of History


    “This pioneering volume is the first to apply the methods of conceptual history to the languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, and as such will be welcomed by a wide variety of scholars. It is a major achievement.” · Willibald Steinmetz, Bielefeld University

    Employing an innovative methodological toolkit, Doing Conceptual History in Africa provides a refreshingly broad and interdisciplinary approach to African historical studies. The studies assembled here focus on the complex role of language in Africa’s historical development, with a particular emphasis on pragmatics and semantics. From precolonial dynamics of wealth and poverty to the conceptual foundations of nationalist movements, each contribution strikes a balance between the local and the global, engaging with a distinctively African intellectual tradition while analyzing the regional and global contexts in which categories like “work,” “marriage,” and “land” take shape.

    Read Introduction: Theories and Methods of African Conceptual History


    Uncertainty in North-Eastern Sudan
    Sandra Calkins


    “The book is a rich ethnographic and theoretical contribution to the anthropology not only of uncertainty but of the future, which is after all where much of our uncertainty lies. It substantiates the point that ‘culture’ and ‘institutions’ are not completed and stabilized products of the past but are ongoing accomplishments of the present, oriented to circumstances of imperfect knowledge, contested interests and perspectives, and open horizons.” · Anthropology Review Database

    Although uncertainty is intertwined with all human activity, plans, and aspirations, it is experienced differently: at times it is obsessed over and at times it is ignored. This ethnography shows how Rashaida in north-eastern Sudan deal with unknowns from day-to-day unpredictability to life-threatening dangers. It argues that the amplification of uncertainty in some cases and its extenuation in others can be better understood by focusing on forms that can either hold the world together or invite doubt. Uncertainty, then, need not be seen solely as a debilitating problem, but also as an opportunity to create other futures.

    Read Introduction: Taming Unknowns in Sudan


    Conservation and the Politics of Wildlife in Colonial East Africa
    Bernhard Gissibl

    Volume 9, Environment in History: International Perspectives


    “This is a truly outstanding study of a topic that has been only tangentially treated in the literature. Gissibl draws upon an impressive body of evidence, weaving sources together seamlessly without letting the details occlude the main arguments and conceptual direction.” · Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa

    Today, the East African state of Tanzania is renowned for wildlife preserves such as the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Selous Game Reserve. Yet few know that most of these initiatives emerged from decades of German colonial rule. This book gives the first full account of Tanzanian wildlife conservation up until World War I, focusing upon elephant hunting and the ivory trade as vital factors in a shift from exploitation to preservation that increasingly excluded indigenous Africans.

    Read Introduction: Doorsteps in Paradise


    Edited by Jacqueline Knörr and Christoph Kohl

    Volume 12, Integration and Conflict Studies


    “The contributions to this volume cover a great diversity of topics from multiple perspectives. It constitutes a welcome addition to the literature on the Upper Guinea Coast, particularly by taking an anthropological approach to a region that has for the most part been studied historically.” · Philip Jan Havik, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical, Portugal

    For centuries, Africa’s Upper Guinea Coast region has been the site of regional and global interactions, with societies from different parts of the African continent and beyond engaging in economic trade, cultural exchange, and various forms of conflict. This book provides a wide-ranging look at how such encounters have continued into the present day, identifying the disruptions and continuities in religion, language, economics, and various other social phenomena that have resulted. These accounts show a region that, while still grappling with the legacies of colonialism and the slave trade, is both shaped by and an important actor within ever-denser global networks, exhibiting consistent transformation and creative adaptation.

    Read full text


    Power, State and Camps in Rwanda’s Unity-Building Project
    Andrea Purdeková

    Volume 34, Forced Migration


    Since the end of the Rwandan genocide, the new political elite has been challenged with building a unified nation. Reaching beyond the better-studied topics of post-conflict justice and memory, the book investigates the project of civic education, the upsurge of state-led neo-traditional institutions and activities, and the use of camps and retreats shape the “ideal” Rwandan citizen. Rwanda’s ingando camps offer unique insights into the uses of dislocation and liminality in an attempt to anchor identities and desired political roles, to practically orient and symbolically place individuals in the new Rwandan order, and, ultimately, to create additional platforms for the reproduction of political power itself.



    ‘Afrinesian’ Perspectives on Networks, Relationality, and Exchange
    Edited by Knut Christian Myhre


    Questions regarding the origins, mobility, and effects of analytical concepts continue to emerge as anthropology endeavors to describe similarities and differences in social life around the world. Cutting and Connecting rethinks this comparative enterprise by calling in a conceptual debt that theoretical innovations from Melanesian anthropology owe to network analysis originally developed in African contexts. On this basis, the contributors adopt and employ concepts from recent studies of Melanesia to analyze contemporary life on the African continent and to explore how this exchange influences the borrowed anthropological perspectives. By focusing on ways in which networks are cut and connections are made, these empirical investigations show how particular relationships are created in today’s Africa. In addition, the volume aims for an approach that recasts relationships between theory and place and concepts and ethnography, in a manner that destabilizes the distinction between fieldwork and writing.

    Read Introduction: Cutting and Connecting: ‘Afrinesian’ Perspectives on Networks, Relationality, and Exchange



    Development Paradoxes, Belonging and Participation of the Baka in East Cameroon
    Glory M. Lueong


    Development interventions often generate contradictions around questions of who benefits from development and which communities are targeted for intervention. This book examines how the Baka, who live in Eastern Cameroon, assert forms of belonging in order to participate in development interventions, and how community life is shaped and reshaped through these interventions. Often referred to as ‘forest people’, the Baka have witnessed many recent development interventions that include competing and contradictory policies such as ‘civilize’, assimilate and integrate the Baka into ‘full citizenship’, conserve the forest and wildlife resources, and preserve indigenous cultures at the verge of extinction.



    Music, Ideology and Economic Collapse, from Paris to Kinshasa
    Joe Trapido

    Volume 19, Dislocations


    “This is a highly impressive, utterly original, often brilliant book on both the empirical and theoretical levels… A wonderful ethnography of music production, performance, spectacle, and deceit.” · Nancy Rose Hunt, University of Michigan

    Based on fieldwork in Kinshasa and Paris, Breaking Rocks examines patronage payments within Congolese popular music, where a love song dedication can cost 6,000 dollars and a simple name check can trade for 500 or 600 dollars. Tracing this system of prestige through networks of musicians and patrons – who include gangsters based in Europe, kleptocratic politicians in Congo, and lawless diamond dealers in northern Angola – this book offers insights into ideologies of power and value in central Africa’s troubled post-colonial political economy, as well as a glimpse into the economic flows that make up the hidden side of the globalization.



    Mensah Adinkrah


    “By attending to witch hunts in all its facets in Ghanaian society, [the author] offers the most in-depth examination of witchcraft to date… Although the author focuses on Ghana, the work draws attention to the fact that witchcraft-related violence is not unique to the country, but very much a part of global history, past and present. The wide variety of sources it pulls together and the human face it gives to witchcraft related violence are the biggest strengths of Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence. This is a valuable book for both undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and African studies.“ · International Journal of African Historical Studies (IJAHS)

    This book provides a detailed account of Ghanaian witchcraft beliefs and practices and their role in fueling violent attacks on alleged witches by aggrieved individuals and vigilante groups.

    Read Introduction: Witchcraft Violence in Comparative Perspective


    Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields
    Michaela Pelican


    The Cameroon Grassfields, home to three ethnic groups – Grassfields societies, Mbororo, and Hausa – provide a valuable case study for the anthropological examination of identity politics and interethnic relations. In the midst of the political liberalization of Cameroon in the late 1990s and 2000s, local responses to political and legal changes took the form of a series of performative and discursive expressions of ethnicity. Confrontational encounters stimulated by economic and political rivalry, as well as socially integrative processes, transformed collective self-understanding in Cameroon in conjunction with recent global discourses on human, minority, and indigenous rights. The book provides a vital contribution to the study of ethnicity, conflict, and social change in the anthropology of Africa.



    Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another
    Eva Keller

    Volume 20, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    “This book will make a great addition to undergraduate courses on Anthropology of the Environment and/or Development or Political Ecology. Keller’s highly readable style, in turn, will satisfy both those new to the subject and scholars already familiar with the topics of conservation practice in Madagascar. It could even become an important resource for those conservation experts who are trying – and (as the study shows) failing – to establish connections between distant places and people.” · Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute

    The study investigates how the Malagasy farmers living at the edge of the park perceive the conservation enterprise and what people in Switzerland see when looking towards Madagascar through the lens of the zoo exhibit. It crystallizes that the stories told in either place have almost nothing in common: one focuses on power and history, the other on morality and progress. Thus, instead of building a bridge, Nature conservation widens the gap between people in the North and the South.

    Read Introduction


    Screening the German Colonies
    Wolfgang Fuhrmann

    Volume 17, Film Europa


    “Woldgang Fuhrmann succeeds with this impressive overview of German colonial film, largely neglected in the scholarly literature, to present convincingly the interaction of individual protagonists with various institutions. The bibliography conveys the depth of his research that can be considered exemplary. This also applies to the filmography that will inspire future research. The few illustrations are well selected and expressive.” · Filmblatt

    By promoting business and establishing a new genre within the fast growing film industry, films of the colonies were welcomed by organizations such as the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). The films triggered patriotic feelings but also addressed the audience as travelers, explorers, wildlife protectionists, and participants in unique cultural events. This book is the first in-depth analysis of colonial filmmaking in the Wilhelmine Era.

    Read Introduction 


    The Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa
    Edited by P. Wenzel Geissler and Catherine Molyneux


    “Each of the chapters is noteworthy. Together, they offer a promising opportunity to broaden the field of postcolonial science studies in ways that remind us how ethicality is at the heart of these encounters of science… the volume will be useful to medical anthropologists, science studies scholars, and generalist scholars of Africa and global health. Individual chapters, as well as whole sections of the book, will be particularly useful for teaching at the upper-division undergraduate or graduate levels.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly

    Global debates about the politics and ethics of this research are growing and local concerns are prompting calls for social studies of the “trial communities” produced by this scientific work. Drawing on rich, ethnographic and historiographic ­­­material, this volume represents the emergent field of anthropological inquiry that links Africanist ethnography to recent concerns with science, the state, and the culture of late capitalism in Africa.

    Read Introduction: Studying trial communities: anthropological and historical inquiries into ethos, politics and economy of medical research in Africa

    Of Related Interest from Berghahn Journals:

    An Interdisciplinary Journal

    Democratic Theory is a peer-reviewed journal published and distributed by Berghahn. It encourages philosophical and interdisciplinary contributions that critically explore democratic theory-in all its forms.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 3, Issue 2



    Regiones y Cohesión / Régions et Cohésion

    Regions and Cohesion is a needed platform for academics and practitioners alike to disseminate both empirical research and normative analysis of topics related to human and environmental security, social cohesion, and governance.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 6, Issue 3



    Advances in Research

    Religion and Society: Advances in Research responds to the need for a rigorous, in-depth review of current work in the expanding sub-discipline of the anthropology of religion.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 7, Issue 1



    A Journal of Social and Political Theory

    Theoria is an engaged, multidisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal of social and political theory.

    Current Issue:
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  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Visit Berghahn Booth #712 at AAA 2016

    We are especially excited to invite you to join us on Friday November 18th at 3:30pm in the exhibit hall for a wine reception to celebrate some of our newly published titles. We hope to see you there!

    If you are unable to attend the conference, we would like to extend a special discount offer. For the next 30 days, receive a 25% discount on all Anthropology titles. Visit our website and use discount code AAA16 at checkout.

    For more information on New and Forthcoming titles please check out brand new interactive online Anthropology & Sociology 2017 Catalog.

    Below is a preview of some of our newest releases on display.


    Environmental Knowledge in the Northeast Kula Ring
    Frederick H. Damon

    Volume 21, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    This book is accompanied by a large online repository of images

    Trees, Knots and Outriggers (Kaynen Muyuw) is the culmination of twenty-five years of work by Frederick H. Damon and his attention to cultural adaptations to the environment in Melanesia. Damon details the intricacies of indigenous knowledge and practice in his sweeping synthesis of symbolic and structuralist anthropology with recent developments in historical ecology. This book is a long conversation between the author’s many Papua New Guinea informants, teachers and friends, and scientists in Australia, Europe and the United States, in which a spirit of adventure and discovery is palpable.

    Read Introduction


    Gender, Power and Law in Southern Pakistan
    Nafisa Shah

    Volume 39, New Directions in Anthropology


    The practice of karo kari allows family, especially fathers, brothers and sons, to take the lives of their daughters, sisters and mothers if they are accused of adultery. This volume examines the central position of karo kari in the social, political and juridical structures in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. Drawing connections between local contests over marriage and resources, Nafisa Shah unearths deep historical processes and power relations. In particular, she explores how the state justice system and informal mediations inform each other in state responses to karo kari, and how modern law is implicated in this seemingly ancient cultural practice.

    Read Introduction: Honour Violence, Law and Power in Upper Sindh


    On an International Anthropology of the U.S.
    Edited by Virginia Dominguez and Jasmin Habib
    Afterword by Jane C. Desmond


    There is surprisingly little fieldwork done on the United States by anthropologists from abroad. America Observed fills that gap by bringing into greater focus empirical as well as theoretical implications of this phenomenon. Edited by Virginia Dominguez and Jasmin Habib, the essays collected here offer a critique of such an absence, exploring its likely reasons while also illustrating the advantages of studying fieldwork-based anthropological projects conducted by colleagues from outside the U.S. This volume contains an introduction written by the editors and fieldwork-based essays written by Helena Wulff, Jasmin Habib, Limor Darash, Ulf Hannerz, and Moshe Shokeid, and reflections on the broad issue written by Geoffrey White, Keiko Ikeda, and Jane Desmond. Suitable for introductory and mid-level anthropology courses, America Observed will also be useful for American Studies courses both in the U.S. and elsewhere.


    State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique
    Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

    Volume 4, Ethnography, Theory, Experiment

    Violent Becomings: State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique by Bjørn Enge Bertelsen is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

    This edition is supported by the University of Bergen. full text


    Violent Becomings conceptualizes the Mozambican state not as the bureaucratically ordered polity of the nation-state, but as a continuously emergent and violently challenged mode of ordering. In doing so, this book addresses the question of why colonial and postcolonial state formation has involved violent articulations with so-called ‘traditional’ forms of sociality. The scope and dynamic nature of such violent becomings is explored through an array of contexts that include colonial regimes of forced labor and pacification, liberation war struggles and civil war, the social engineering of the post-independence state, and the popular appropriation of sovereign violence in riots and lynchings.


    The New American Empire and Global Warring
    Stephen P. Reyna


    “This is an amazing book, a page-turner, a true game-changer, one of those grand oeuvres that an academic discipline produces once a decade at best.” · Patrick Neveling, Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University

    As US imperialism continues to dictate foreign policy, Deadly Contradictions is a compelling account of the American empire. Stephen P. Reyna argues that contemporary forms of violence exercised by American elites in the colonies, client state, and regions of interest have deferred imperial problems, but not without raising their own set of deadly contradictions. This book can be read many ways: as a polemic against geopolitics, as a classic social anthropological text, or as a seminal analysis of twenty-four US global wars during the Cold War and post-Cold War eras.

    Read Introduction


    Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century
    Edited by Helena Wulff


    Writing is crucial to anthropology, but which genres are anthropologists expected to master in the 21st century? This book explores how anthropological writing shapes the intellectual content of the discipline and academic careers. First, chapters identify the different writing genres and contexts anthropologists actually engage with. Second, this book argues for the usefulness and necessity of taking seriously the idea of writing as a craft and of writing across and within genres in new ways. Although academic writing is an anthropologist’s primary genre, they also write in many others, from drafting administrative texts and filing reports to composing ethnographically inspired journalism and fiction.

    Read Introducing the Anthropologist as Writer: Across and Within Genres


    Religion, Sorcery, and Performance
    Edited by D. S. Farrer


    This compelling volume explores how war magic and warrior religion unleash the power of the gods, demons, ghosts, and the dead. Documenting war magic and warrior religion as they are performed in diverse cultures and across historical time periods, this volume foregrounds embodiment, practice, and performance in anthropological approaches to magic, sorcery, shamanism, and religion. The authors go beyond what magic ‘represents’ to consider what magic does. From Chinese exorcists, Javanese spirit siblings, and black magic in Sumatra to Tamil Tiger suicide bombers, Chamorro spiritual re-enchantment, tantric Buddhist war magic, and Yanomami dark shamans, religion and magic are re-evaluated not just from the practitioner’s perspective but through the victim’s lived experience. These original investigations reveal a nuanced approach to understanding social action, innovation, and the revitalization of tradition in colonial and post-colonial societies undergoing rapid social transformation.

    Read Introduction: War Magic: Religion, Sorcery, and Performance


    An Ethnography of the Degraded in Postsocialist Poland
    Tomasz Rakowski
    Translated from Polish by Søren Gauger
    Foreword by Jan Kubik

    Volume 6, European Anthropology in Translation


    The socio-economic transformations of the 1990s have forced many people in Poland into impoverishment. Hunters, Gatherers, and Practitioners of Powerlessness gives a dramatic account of life after this degradation, tracking the experiences of unemployed miners, scrap collectors, and poverty-stricken village residents. Contrary to the images of passivity, resignation, and helplessness that have become powerful tropes in Polish journalism and academic writing, Tomasz Rakowski traces the ways in which people actively reconfigure their lives. As it turns out, the initial sense of degradation and helplessness often gives way to images of resourcefulness that reveal unusual hunting-and-gathering skills.

    Read Introduction: The Anthropologist as a Poverty Inspector


    Zsuzsa Berend

    Volume 35, Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives


    Zsuzsa Berend presents a methodologically innovative ethnography of, the largest surrogacy support website in the United States. Surrogates’ views emerge from the stories, debates, and discussions that unfold online. The Online World of Surrogacy documents these collective meaning-making practices and explores their practical, emotional, and moral implications. In doing so, the book works through themes of interest across the social sciences, including definitions of parenthood, the symbolic role of money, reproductive loss, altruism, and the moral valuation of relationships.

    Read Introduction

    New Series from Berghahn


    Critical Engagements
    Edited by Noel B. Salazar and Kiran Jayaram


    Scholars from various disciplines have used key concepts to grasp mobilities, but as of yet, a working vocabulary of these has not been fully developed. Given this context and inspired in part by Raymond Williams’ Keywords (1976), this edited volume presents contributions that critically analyze mobility-related keywords: capital, cosmopolitanism, freedom, gender, immobility, infrastructure, motility, and regime. Each chapter provides an historical context, a critical analysis of how the keyword has been used in relation to mobility, and a conclusion that proposes future usage or research.

    Read Introduction: Keywords of Mobility: A Critical Introduction


    Luck, Spirits and Ambivalence among the Siberian Orochen Reindeer Herders and Hunters
    Donatas Brandišauskas


    Nowhere have recent environmental and social changes been more pronounced than in post-Soviet Siberia. Donatas Brandišauskas probes the strategies that Orochen reindeer herders of southeastern Siberia have developed to navigate these changes. “Catching luck” is one such strategy that plays a central role in Orochen cosmology — luck implies a vernacular theory of causality based on active interactions of humans, non-humans, material objects, and places. Brandišauskas describes in rich details the skills, knowledge, ritual practices, storytelling, and movements that enable the Orochen to “catch luck” (or not, sometimes), to navigate times of change and upheaval.

    Read Introduction: Luck, Spirits and Places


    Paperback Original

    Edited by Gregory V. Button and Mark Schuller


    Contextualizing Disaster offers a comparative analysis of six recent “highly visible” disasters and several slow-burning, “hidden,” crises that include typhoons, tsunamis, earthquakes, chemical spills, and the unfolding consequences of rising seas and climate change. The book argues that, while disasters are increasingly represented by the media as unique, exceptional, newsworthy events, it is a mistake to think of disasters as isolated or discrete occurrences. Rather, building on insights developed by political ecologists, this book makes a compelling argument for understanding disasters as transnational and global phenomena.

    Read Introduction


    Action Research in Higher Education
    Morten Levin and Davydd J. Greenwood


    Public universities are in crisis, waning in their role as central institutions within democratic societies. Denunciations are abundant, but analyses of the causes and proposals to re-create public universities are not. Based on extensive experience with Action Research-based organizational change in universities and private sector organizations, Levin and Greenwood analyze the wreckage created by neoliberal academic administrators and policymakers. The authors argue that public universities must be democratically organized to perform their educational and societal functions. The book closes by laying out Action Research processes that can transform public universities back into institutions that promote academic freedom, integrity, and democracy.


    New in Paperback 

    Perspectives from the Global South
    Edited by Keith Hart and John Sharp


    “A striking element of the volume is the interdisciplinarity of its textual form. While most of the contributors are in fact sociocultural anthropologists, the appropriation of templates and literary conventions within and across the fields of history, sociology, political economy and geography reflects the seriousness of the authors’ coalition building aspirations.” · Anthropological Forum

    Nine case studies — from Southern Africa, South Asia, Brazil, and Atlantic Africa – examine economic life from the perspective of ordinary people in places that are normally marginal to global discourse, covering a range of class positions from the bottom to the top of society. The authors of these case studies examine people’s concrete economic activities and aspirations.

    Read Introduction


    New in Paperback

    A.M. Hocart and W.H.R. Rivers in Island Melanesia, 1908
    Edited by Edvard Hviding and Cato Berg


    “[With this] very cohesive set of essays, Hviding and Berg h ave done an excellent job lifting an important expedition out of the archival oblivion where it reposed for the better part of a century. This is an appropriate volume to introduce the new Pacific Perspectives series. As such, this work appeals to readers interested in the histories of anthropology and Pacific worlds.” · Oceania

    In 1908, Arthur Maurice Hocart and William Halse Rivers Rivers conducted fieldwork in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in Island Melanesia that served as the turning point in the development of modern anthropology. Contributors to this volume—who have all carried out fieldwork in those Melanesian locations where Hocart and Rivers worked—give a critical examination of the research that took place in 1908, situating those efforts in the broadest possible contexts of colonial history, imperialism, the history of ideas and scholarly practice within and beyond anthropology.

    Read Introduction: The Ethnographic Experiment in Island Melanesia


    Reflecting on Democracy’s Troubles
    Edited by Joanna Cook, Nicholas J. Long, and Henrietta L. Moore


    What makes people lose faith in democratic statecraft? The question seems an urgent one. In the first decades of the twenty-first century, citizens across the world have grown increasingly disillusioned with what was once a cherished ideal. Setting out an original theoretical model that explores the relations between democracy, subjectivity and sociality, and exploring its relevance to countries ranging from Kenya to Peru, The State We’re In is a must-read for all political theorists, scholars of democracy, and readers concerned for the future of the democratic ideal.

    Read Introduction: When Democracy ‘Goes Wrong’


    Land Reform, Authority and Value in Postsocialist Europe and Asia
    Thomas Sikor, Stefan Dorondel, Johannes Stahl and Phuc Xuan To


    Governments have conferred ownership titles to many citizens throughout the world in an effort to turn things into property. Almost all elements of nature have become the target of property laws, from the classic preoccupation with land to more ephemeral material, such as air and genetic resources. When Things Become Property interrogates the mixed outcomes of conferring ownership by examining postsocialist land and forest reforms in Albania, Romania and Vietnam, and finds that property reforms are no longer, if they ever were, miracle tools available to governments for refashioning economies, politics or environments.

    Research Methods for Anthropological Studies of Food and Nutrition Volume I-III

    Editors: Janet Chrzan, University of Pennsylvania and John A. Brett, University of Colorado, Denver

    Published in Association with the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) and in Collaboration with Rachel Black and Leslie Carlin

    The dramatic increase in all things food in popular and academic fields during the last two decades has generated a diverse and dynamic set of approaches for understanding the complex relationships and interactions that determine how people eat and how diet affects culture.  These volumes offer a comprehensive reference for students and established scholars interested in food and nutrition research in Nutritional and Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Food Studies and Applied Public Health.

    Buy All Three Volumes for 20% Discount


    Nutritional Anthropology and Archaeological Methods
    Edited by Janet Chrzan and John A. Brett


    Biocultural and archaeological research on food, past and present, often relies on very specific, precise, methods for data collection and analysis. These are presented here in a broad-based review. Individual chapters provide opportunities to think through the adoption of methods by reviewing the history of their use along with a discussion of research conducted using those methods. A case study from the author’s own work is included in each chapter to illustrate why the methods were adopted in that particular case along with abundant additional resources to further develop and explore those methods.


    Anthropology, Linguistics and Food Studies
    Edited by Janet Chrzan and John A. Brett


    This volume offers a comprehensive guide to methods used in the sociocultural, linguistic and historical research of food use. This volume is unique in offering food-related research methods from multiple academic disciplines, and includes methods that bridge disciplines to provide a thorough review of best practices. In each chapter, a case study from the author’s own work is to illustrate why the methods were adopted in that particular case along with abundant additional resources to further develop and explore the methods.


    Nutrition, Technology, and Public Health
    Edited by Janet Chrzan and John A. Brett


    Nutritional Anthropology and public health research and programming have employed similar methodologies for decades; many anthropologists are public health practitioners while many public health practitioners have been trained as medical or biological anthropologists. Recognizing such professional connections, this volume provides in-depth analysis and comprehensive review of methods necessary to design, plan, implement and analyze public health programming using anthropological best practices. To illustrates the rationale for use of particular methods, each chapter elaborates a case study from the author’s own work, showing why particular methods were adopted in each case.

    New in Paperback

    An American Cultural Dilemma
    Cecília Tomori

    Volume 26, Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives


    “This work will be useful for medical anthropologists and professionals at all levels of reproductive health care and family medicine. It offers important ethnographic analysis relevant to feminist anthropology, women’s and gender studies, and cross-cultural and bio-evolutionary perspectives on kinship and family.” · Medical Anthropology Quarterly

    Through careful ethnographic study of the dilemmas raised by nighttime breastfeeding, and their examination in the context of anthropological, historical, and feminist studies, this volume unravels the cultural tensions that underlie these difficulties.

    Read Introduction


    Immigrant Transnational Organizations in Four Continents
    Edited by Alejandro Portes and Patricia Fernández-Kelly


    “This impressive book… offers a very easy introduction and overview of the topic. It is, therefore, recommended not only to specialists with prior knowledge but to all interested in the topic. What makes this book special is the presentation and inclusion of the first completed, comprehensive studies of various migration groups in the US… [It] provides exhaustive documentation of how transnational immigrant organizations emerge and interact with home and host countries, presenting immigrants as vital agents of development. There is no doubt that [this volume) should be purchased by all university libraries and that it can enlighten readers in a domain in urgent need of attention.” · European Planning Studies

    The book outlines the principal positions in the migration and development debate and discusses the concept of transnationalism as a means of resolving these controversies.

    Read Introduction: Immigration, Transnationalism, and Development: The State of the Question


    A Centenary Celebration of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
    Edited by Sondra L. Hausner

    Volume 27, Methodology & History in Anthropology


    “This volume is a timely contribution in rethinking the socially immanent dimensions of religion in contemporary times and I would recommend it to any student or scholar studying religion and its various relationships with both classical and contemporary anthropology.” · Social Anthropology

    A dialogue between theory and ethnography, this book shows how Durkheimian sociology has become a mainstay of social thought and theory, pointing to multiple ways in which Durkheim¹s work on religion remains relevant to our thinking about culture.

    Read Introduction: Durkheim in Disciplinary Dialogue


    The Politics of Memorialization in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland
    Elisabetta Viggiani
    Foreword by Hastings Donnan


    “Viggiani’s text is a thorough examination of many of the iconic artefacts of a forty-year-long conflict that has shaped the politics and memories of generations of people from all sides of The Troubles. In addition to her text, she has developed an extensive website which more fully examines the quantitative data she has collected… her work will not only add to the compendium of extant work but expand our existing knowledge on memorialization in areas of conflict and recovery.” · Journal of Anthropological Research 

    This book examines how collective memory and material culture are used to support present political and ideological needs in contemporary society. Using the memorialization of the Troubles in contemporary Northern Ireland as a case study, this book investigates how non-state, often proscribed, organizations have filled a societal vacuum in the creation of public memorials.

    Additional images and information available from Elisabetta Viggiani’s website

    Read Introduction: Memorials as Silent Extras or Scripted Actors?


    Berghahn Journals


    Social Analysis is now under the editorship of Martin Holbraad.

    Social Analysis is an international peer-reviewed journal devoted to exploring the analytical potentials of anthropological research.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 60, Issue 3




    Anthropological Journal of European Cultures engages with current debates and innovative research agendas addressing the social and cultural transformations of contemporary European societies.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 25, Issue 1: Literature and Anthropology




    Anthropology in Action is a peer-reviewed journal publishing articles, commentaries, research reports, and book reviews in applied anthropology.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 23, Issue 2 Towards Communities of Practice in Global Sustainability, Part Two




    Anthropology of the Middle East is a peer-reviewed journal provides a forum for scholarly exchange between anthropologists and other social scientists working in and on the Middle East.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 10, Issue 2 Transnationalism and Transgenerationalism in the Middle East and Its Diaspora





    Boyhood Studies

    Boyhood Studies is a peer-reviewed journal providing a forum for the discussion of boyhood, young masculinities, and boys’ lives by exploring the full scale of intricacies, challenges, and legacies that inform male and masculine developments.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 9, Issue 2





    The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology is a peer-reviewed journal providing a forum for the discussion of boyhood, young masculinities, and boys’ lives by exploring the full scale of intricacies, challenges, and legacies that inform male and masculine developments.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 34, Issue 2 Everyday Diplomacy: Insights from Ethnography





    Conflict and Society expands the field of conflict studies by using ethnographic inquiry to establish new fields of research and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 2, Issue 1





    Durkheimian Studies expands the field of conflict studies by using ethnographic inquiry to establish new fields of research and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 21, Issue 1





    Environment and Society publishes critical reviews of the latest research literature on environmental studies, including subjects of theoretical, methodological, substantive, and applied significance.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 7, Issue 1: Plants and People





    Focaal is a peer-reviewed journal advocating an approach that rests in the simultaneity of ethnography, processual analysis, local insights, and global vision.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 2016, Issue 76: Adivasi and Dalit political pathways in India




    Girlhood Studies is a peer-reviewed journal providing a forum for the critical discussion of girlhood from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 9, Issue 2





    Journeys is an interdisciplinary journal that explores travel as a practice and travel writing as a genre, reflecting the rich diversity of travel and journeys as social and cultural practices as well as their significance as metaphorical processes.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 17, Issue 1





    Learning and Teaching is a peer-reviewed journal that uses the social sciences to reflect critically on learning and teaching in the changing context of higher education.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 9, Issue 2: Digital Media and Contested Visions of Education





    Museum Worlds is a multidisciplinary, refereed, annual journal that publishes work that significantly advances knowledge of global trends, case studies, and theory relevant to museum practice and scholarship around the world.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 3




    Nature and Culture is a forum for the international community of scholars and practitioners to present, discuss, and evaluate critical issues and themes related to the historical and contemporary relationships that societies, civilizations, empires, regions, nation-states have with Nature.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 11, Issue 3: Socialities of Nature Beyond Utopia





    Regions and Cohesion is a needed platform for academics and practitioners alike to disseminate both empirical research and normative analysis of topics related to human and environmental security, social cohesion, and governance.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 6, Issue 2 Women, Peace and Development





    Religion and Society responds to the need for a rigorous, in-depth review of current work in the expanding sub-discipline of the anthropology of religion.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 7





    Sibirica is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal covering all aspects of the region and relations to neighboring areas, such as Central Asia, East Asia, and North America.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 15, Issue 2





    Transfers is a peer-reviewed journal publishing cutting-edge research on the processes, structures and consequences of the movement of people, resources, and commodities.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 6, Issue 3






  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Museum Studies Resources


    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, opened on October 21, 1959 at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, though both Guggenheim and Wright would die before the building’s 1959 completion. Since its first day, the Frank Lloyd Wright building has been an iconic space for the display of art as well as a cherished landmark, providing a striking silhouette to countless images, from tourist snapshots to feature films, and becoming an essential part of New York’s architectural landscape.

    Visit the Guggenheim museum website for more on the museum’s history, schedule of events, locations and current exhibitions.

    Be sure to check out the Museum Worlds website for more on museums, such as exhibit reviewsvirtual museum tours, image galleries, and a special Virtual Journal Issue featuring select Museum Studies articles from Berghahn Journals!


    While the Guggenheim celebrates its birthday, Berghahn is delighted to present some of our latest Museum Studies titles:


    Museums and Collections Series:

    This series explores the potential of museum collections to transform our knowledge of the world, and for exhibitions to influence the way in which we view and inhabit that world. It offers essential reading for those involved in all aspects of the museum sphere: curators, researchers, collectors, students and the visiting public.


    Issues of Participation, Sustainability, Trust and Diversity
    Ana Luisa Sánchez Laws


    Online activities present a unique challenge for museums as they harness the potential of digital technology for sustainable development, trust building, and representations of diversity. This volume offers a holistic picture of museum online activities that can serve as a starting point for cross-disciplinary discussion. It is a resource for museum staff, students, designers, and researchers working at the intersection of cultural institutions and digital technologies. The aim is to provide insight into the issues behind designing and implementing web pages and social media to serve the broadest range of museum stakeholders.

    Read Introduction


    The Second World War in Eastern European Museums
    Zuzanna Bogumił, Joanna Wawrzyniak, Tim Buchen, Christian Ganzer and Maria Senina


    Eastern European museums represent traumatic events of World War II, such as the Siege of Leningrad, the Warsaw Uprisings, and the Bombardment of Dresden, in ways that depict the enemy in particular ways. This image results from the interweaving of historical representations, cultural stereotypes and beliefs, political discourses, and the dynamics of exhibition narratives. This book presents a useful methodology for examining museum images and provides a critical analysis of the role historical museums play in the contemporary world. As the catastrophes of World War II still exert an enormous influence on the national identities of Russians, Poles, and Germans, museum exhibits can thus play an important role in this process.

    Read Introduction: The Enemy on Display


    Volume 6 New in Paperback!

    Transnational Networks, Collections, Narratives, and Representations
    Wolfram Kaiser, Stefan Krankenhagen and Kerstin Poehls
    Translated from the German


    “Exhibiting Europe marks the first critical analysis of the process of Europeanization of museums. I recommend the book to anyone interested in Europe and museum practitioners.” · H-Soz-Kult

    Museums of history and contemporary culture face many challenges in the modern age. One is how to react to processes of Europeanization and globalization, which require more cross-border cooperation and different ways of telling stories for visitors. This book investigates how museums exhibit Europe. Based on research in nearly 100 museums across the Continent and interviews with cultural policy makers and museum curators, it studies the growing transnational activities of state institutions, societal organizations, and people in the museum field such as attempts to Europeanize collection policy and collections as well as different strategies for making narratives more transnational like telling stories of European integration as shared history and discussing both inward and outward migration as a common experience and challenge. The book thus provides fascinating insights into a fast-changing museum landscape in Europe with wider implications for cultural policy and museums in other world regions.

    Read Introduction: Exhibiting Europe? Europeanisation as Cultural Practice


    Volume 5

    Experiencing History, War and Nation at a Danish Heritage Site
    Mads Daugbjerg


    In an era cross-cut with various agendas and expressions of national belonging and global awareness, “the nation” as a collective reference point and experienced entity stands at the center of complex identity struggles. This book explores how such struggles unfold in practice at a highly symbolic battlefield site in the Danish/German borderland. Comprised of an ethnography of two profoundly different institutions – a conventional museum and an experience-based heritage center – it analyses the ways in which staff and visitors interfere with, relate to, and literally “make sense” of the war heritage and its national connotations. Borders of Belonging offers a comparative, in-depth analysis of the practices and negotiations through which history is made and manifested at two houses devoted to the interpretation of one event: the decisive battle of the 1864 war in which Otto von Bismarck, on his way to uniting the new German Empire, led the Prussian army to victory over the Danish. Working through his empirical material to engage with and challenge established theoretical positions in the study of museums, modernity, and tourism, Mads Daugbjerg demonstrates that national belonging is still a key cultural concern, even as it asserts itself in novel, muted, and increasingly experiential ways.


    Encounters with Material Culture from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
    Claire Wintle


    In the late-nineteenth century, British travelers to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands compiled wide-ranging collections of material culture for scientific instruction and personal satisfaction. Colonial Collecting and Display follows the compelling history of a particular set of such objects, tracing their physical and conceptual transformation from objects of indigenous use to accessioned objects in a museum collection in the south of England. This first study dedicated to the historical collecting and display of the Islands’ material cultures develops a new analysis of colonial discourse, using a material culture-led approach to reconceptualize imperial relationships between Andamanese, Nicobarese, and British communities, both in the Bay of Bengal and on British soil. It critiques established conceptions of the act of collecting, arguing for recognition of how indigenous makers and consumers impacted upon “British” collection practices, and querying the notion of a homogenous British approach to material culture from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    Please visit our website for a complete list of titles in this series.

    Homes and Museums in Israel
    Judy Jaffe-Schagen

    Volume 5, Material Mediations: People and Things in a World of Movement


    The home and the museum are typically understood as divergent, even oppositional, social realms: whereas one evokes privacy and familial intimacy, the other is conceived of as a public institution oriented around various forms of civic identity. This meticulous, insightful book draws striking connections between both spheres, which play similar roles by housing objects and generating social narratives. Through fascinating explorations of the museums and domestic spaces of eight representative Israeli communities—Chabad, Moroccan, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Russian, Religious-Zionist, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab—it gives a powerful account of museums’ role in state formation, proposing a new approach to collecting and categorizing particularly well-suited to societies in conflict.

    Read Introduction


    Now in Paperback

    Challenging Practices for 21st Century Museums
    Edited by Graeme Were and J. C. H. King


    “We learn a lot [in this volume] about how museums think and work and by implication the self-representation of societies.” · Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

    By exploring the processes of collecting, which challenge the bounds of normally acceptable practice, this book debates the practice of collecting ‘difficult’ objects, from a historical and contemporary perspective; and discusses the acquisition of objects related to war and genocide, and those purchased from the internet, as well as considering human remains, mass produced objects and illicitly traded antiquities. The aim is to apply a critical approach to the rigidity of museums in maintaining essentially nineteenth-century ideas of collecting; and to move towards identifying priorities for collection policies in museums, which are inclusive of acquiring ‘difficult’ objects. Much of the book engages with the question of the limits to the practice of collecting as a means to think through the implementation of new strategies.

    Read Extreme Collecting: Dealing with Difficult Objects


    New in Paperback

    Transformations of Cultural Memory
    Anne Eriksen

    Volume 1, Time and the World: Interdisciplinary Studies in Cultural Transformations


    “Eriksen is a lucid writer. Her case studies are highly informative and reveal a detailed knowledge of Norway’s past that few scholars could match.” · Museum Anthropology

    Eighteenth-century gentleman scholars collected antiquities. Nineteenth-century nation states built museums to preserve their historical monuments. In the present world, heritage is a global concern as well as an issue of identity politics. What does it mean when runic stones or medieval churches are transformed from antiquities to monuments to heritage sites? This book argues that the transformations concern more than words alone: They reflect fundamental changes in the way we experience the past, and the way historical objects are assigned meaning and value in the present. This book presents a series of cases from Norwegian culture to explore how historical objects and sites have changed in meaning over time. It contributes to the contemporary debates over collective memory and cultural heritage as well to our knowledge about early modern antiquarianism.

    Read Introduction


    Now in Paperback

    Meaning and Mattering after Alfred Gell
    Edited by Liana Chua and Mark Elliott


    “…profound scholarly reflections on the distributed effects of Alfred Gell’s endeavor to identify an anthropological theory of …a captivating pendant piece to Gell’s original publication. Itis not meant as a guidebook to understanding Gell’s work; rather it is a collection of complex studies that capture distinct engagements with Gell’s ideas around an anthropology of art.” · Material World

    One of the most influential anthropological works of the last two decades, Alfred Gell’s Art and Agency is a provocative and ambitious work that both challenged and reshaped anthropological understandings of art, agency, creativity and the social. It has become a touchstone in contemporary artifact-based scholarship. This volume brings together leading anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians and other scholars into an interdisciplinary dialogue with Art and Agency, generating a timely re-engagement with the themes, issues and arguments at the heart of Gell’s work, which remains salient, and controversial, in the social sciences and humanities.

    Read Introduction: Adventures in the Art Nexus





    Advances in Research

    Editors: Sandra Dudley, University of Leicester
    Conal McCarthy, Victoria University of Wellington

    Visit the Museum Worlds Companion Site for resources and a special Virtual Journal Issue


    Museum Worlds: Advances in Research aims to trace and comment on major regional, theoretical, methodological and topical themes and debates, and encourage comparison of museum theories, practices, and developments in different global settings. Each issue includes a conversation piece on a current topic, as well as peer reviewed scholarly articles and review articles, book and exhibition reviews, and news on developments in museum studies and related curricula in different parts of the world. Drawing on the expertise and networks of a global Editorial Board of senior scholars and museum practitioners, the journal will both challenge and develop the core concepts that link different disciplinary perspectives on museums by bringing new voices into ongoing debates and discussions.



    Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society

    Editor: Eckhardt Fuchs, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research

    Special Issue: Museums and the Educational Turn: History, Memory, Inclusivity


    The Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society (JEMMS) explores perceptions of society as constituted and conveyed in processes of learning and educational media. The focus is on various types of texts (such as textbooks, museums, memorials, films) and their institutional, political, social, economic, and cultural contexts. The construction of collective memory and conceptions of space, the production of meaning, image formation, forms of representation, and perceptions of the “self” and the “other,” as well as processes of identity construction (ethnic, national, regional, religious, institutional, gender) are of particular interest. Special importance is given to the significance of educational media for social cohesion and conflict. The journal is international and interdisciplinary and welcomes empirically based contributions from the humanities and the social sciences as well as theoretical and methodological studies.




Top Article Downloads

  1. Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigenous Girls' Presencing as Decolonizing Force
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  2. Forget Dawkins: Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
    Social Analysis, vol. 59, #2, Summer 2015
  3. Blaming Sexualization for Sexting
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  4. Out of the Closet? German Patriotism and Soccer Mania
    German Politics & Society, vol.24, #3, Autumn 2006
  5. Rape Culture and the Feminist Politics of Social Media
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  6. Less Than One But More Than Many: Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making
    Environment and Society, vol. 6, #1, Summer 2015
  7. Staging "small, small incidents": Dissent, gender, and militarization among young people in Kashmir
    Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011
  8. An Inquiry into the Roots of the Modern Concept of Development
    Contributions to the History of Concepts, vol. 4, #2, Autumn 2008
  9. Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested? Anthropological knowledge production in question
    Focaal, vol. 2015, #72, Summer 2015
  10. Theatres of virtue: Collaboration, consensus, and the social life of corporate social responsibility
    Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011

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Berghahn Journals New Online Platform

Berghahn Journals is pleased to announce the launch of our new journals online platform starting April 1. We will be working with all subscribers to make the transition process as seamless as possible and will contact you in the coming weeks with more information about access procedures.

March 31 is the last day Berghahn will be hosting its journal content on IngentaConnect. Starting April 1, all Berghahn journal content will be hosted by PubFactory on the new Berghahn Online platform.

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Recent Blog Articles


We’re delighted to offer a selection of latest releases from our core subjects of Anthropology, History, and Urban Studies, along with our New in Paperback titles.   CREATING A NEW PUBLIC UNIVERSITY AND REVIVING DEMOCRACY Action Research in Higher Education Morten Levin and Davydd J. Greenwood NEW SERIES: Volume 2, Higher Education in Critical Perspective: Practices […]

Visit Berghahn booth #316 at the African Studies Association Meeting 2016

  We are delighted to inform you that we will be present at 59th Annual Meeting of the ASA in Washington DC, December 1 – 3, 2016. Please stop by our booth #316 to browse the latest selection of books at discounted prices & pick up some free journal samples. If you are unable to […]

“No Savage Shall Inherit the Land”: The Indian Enemy Other, Indiscriminate Warfare, and American National Identity, 1607-1783

by Walter L. Hixson   John Quincy Adams warned Americans not to search abroad for monsters to destroy, yet such figures have frequently habituated the discourses of U.S. foreign policy. U.S. Foreign Policy And The Other focuses on counter-identities in American consciousness to explain how foreign policies and the discourse surrounding them develop. This excerpt, adapted […]

Five Myths about Anorexia

By Richard O’Connor, author of From Virtue to Vice   Richard O’Connor, professor of anthropology at the University of the South, is the author of From Virtue to Vice: Negotiating Anorexia. His book, written with Penny van Esterik, is Volume 4 in our Food, Nutrition and Culture Series that takes an anthropological perspective to human nutrition […]

Why do so many American Parents Struggle with Nighttime Breastfeeding and Sleep?

by Cecília Tomori   Nighttime Breastfeeding addresses the central question: why do so many American parents struggle with nighttime breastfeeding and sleep? I set out to answer this question, which emerged from my preliminary fieldwork, using the classic anthropological technique of participant observation. I spent many months immersed in fieldwork, and then many more surrounded by […]