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bears ears |berz irz| (noun) def. (1) the organs of hearing in a bear; (2) a geological feature over 8,700 feet tall consisting of two sandstone buttes in southeastern Utah; (3) a prominent landmark featured in the sacred geography of several Native American tribes in the Four Corners region of the United States; (4) the newest National Monument in the United States that has become central to struggles over land rights in the western United States
On 28 December 2016, US President Barack Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate a 1,351,849 acre National Monument called Bears Ears in southeastern Utah. In his public statement, he did so
to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes. Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes. Importantly, today I have also established a Bears Ears Commission to ensure that tribal expertise and traditional knowledge help inform the management of the Bears Ears National Monument and help us to best care for its remarkable national treasures.
Within a week after taking office, President Donald Trump met with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to discuss his “eagerness” to begin work on undoing the “travesty” of protecting these sacred lands, as reported in The Washington Post. And to that end, on 26 April 2017, Trump signed a Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act, declaring that all designations of National Monuments of areas greater than 100,000 acres made since 1 January 1996 would come under review. Quite tellingly, Bears Ears is the only National Monument specifically mentioned in the executive order.
The management of Bears Ears is unique in that it includes the formation of a five-person tribal commission—the Bears Ears Commission, comprising one member each from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah Ouray, the Hopi Nation, the Navajo Nation, and the Zuni Tribe—to partner with the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service in overseeing the monument. The inclusion of Native American knowledge and opinions has never been done in the history of public lands management in the United States. The singling out of Bears Ears in Trump’s executive order as such is deeply troubling for a number of reasons
As Patrick Wolfe (2006: 387) writes in “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of The Native,” “contests for land can be—indeed, often are—contests for life.” The outcomes of land contests often depict whose lives are considered more important. I think about this constantly as I drive across the landscape of the US West. In the Lower 48 western states, about 47 percent of the total land area is public land. This is just less than 350 million acres, an area of land about the size of Alaska, or an area of land that includes not only the entire Eastern seaboard, but also the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Today, as one drives through these 350 million acres of land, often all one sees are a few rangy cattle, a whole lot of trees, and vast deserts. These public lands are part of the 750 million acres of land making up the 11 western states that were seized from Native Americans. As I drive past a few head of cattle scattered across a vast arid landscape, I can’t help but ask, “And we forced the Native Americans off this land and onto reservations for what purpose?” The purpose, of course, as Wolfe notes, has to do with “the logic of elimination.” Settler colonialism “strives for the dissolution of native societies,” and the settler “invasion is a structure not [a one-off] event” (388). Transforming Native lands into public lands is an obvious process of “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey 2005; West 2016) that perhaps generates some income for the US government, but largely underwrites the Western myth of self-sufficiency, a myth that is increasingly being challenged in new ways.
Shifting cultural and economic winds in the western US are changing how people think about and relate to the land. The demise of ranching, mining, petroleum development, and logging has left many people blaming public lands and the federal government for the dire economic circumstances that face many western communities. Witness the recent occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in which the leaders of the illegal occupation claimed to be demonstrating in order to return the lands to their rightful owners. As Burns Paiute tribal chair Charlotte Roderique said in exasperation over this claim, “I’m sitting here trying to write an acceptance letter for when they return all this land to us.”
The attack on public lands is also taking place on the state government level, led by Utah’s congressional delegation. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) as the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee has long been leading a fight for the Public Lands Initiative as an attempt to turn protected federal public lands over to the state of Utah in order to allow increased resource extraction and detrimental uses of the land. Luckily, his proposed bill failed to come up for a vote in last year’s House of Representatives. It only had one other supporter in the house, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and no Senate supporter. Nevertheless, Utah’s congressional representatives intend to keep trying. On 24 January 2017, Chaffetz submitted H.R. 621, which would have transferred 3 million acres of federal lands to western states. The bill was pulled a week later because of outcry from conservationists, hunters, hikers, and multitudinous others desiring public lands to remain public.
In response to Utah’s leaders’ stance on public lands, the Outdoor Retailer trade show announced it would be abandoning Salt Lake City as the site of its lucrative annual show after 20 years. The Outdoor Industry Association and executives from REI, the North Face, and Patagonia had warned Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to abandon efforts to transfer public federal lands to the state. This alone cost the local economy in $45 million in direct spending from the trade show. Moreover, a study done in 2014 by Utah university economists projected that the cost to manage these lands would total almost $280 million in 2017—most of which would be used for wildfire-related expenditures. A poll conducted in 2017 among voters in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming found that 58 percent of people opposed transferring control of federal lands to states.
In late March 2017 over spring break, I drove to Bears Ears to see for myself the contested landscape. I backpacked into Dark Canyon Wilderness, a designated Wilderness Area in the heart of the national monument. My car was the only car at the trailhead. As the route into the upper canyon was blocked by snow, I had the 47,000-plus acre wilderness area to myself that night. The following day I picked my way carefully up the narrow, trail-less canyon. As I sat and ate lunch, the only sounds I heard were canyon wrens, ravens, and the occasional overhead jet. Canyon wren … [long pause of silence] … canyon wren … [long pause of silence] … jet … canyon wren. The purpose of national monument designation is to prevent the new development of mining, oil exploration, and grazing; existing rights are still valid. I chewed my trail mix and thought back to two different trips I took through northern New Mexico a few years back. In March 2013, I drove to Chaco Canyon to see the amazing ancestral Puebloan ruins. It was an uneventful drive to the canyon. The following year in March 2014, I drove the same route again (US Hwy 550) on my way to Dark Canyon Wilderness in an unsuccessful attempt to hike in on the upper canyon route (too much snow again). The area around Chaco had been completely transformed by fracking development. What had been a serene, peaceful landscape the year before was now choked with mining rigs, trucks, and the burning flare-offs of methane from the fracking process. I was thankful that the Bears Ears region would not suffer the same fate.
After a few days in Dark Canyon, I hiked out and drove to Natural Bridges National Monument—itself now surrounded by Bears Ears National Monument. Natural Bridges is located on the Cedar Mesa Plateau, named for the creamy white, 250-million-year-old sandstone capping the plateau. Humans have been living in the canyons around Cedar Mesa for more than 10,000 years—from Clovis people to Basketmaker to Puebloan to modern-day Native Americans and Euro-Americans. Most of the 56,000-plus archaeological sites on Cedar Mesa were left by ancestral Puebloans. Thousands of rock art images and panels decorate the canyon walls. Before its designation as part of Bears Ears National Monument, Cedar Mesa was America’s largest and most significant unprotected archaeological site. That night, I camped on the cliffs above Natural Bridges—courtesy of the thousands of free, informal campsites dotting our public lands.
The proclamation designating Bears Ears National Monument is a document that the nature writer Terry Tempest Williams points out is “more akin to poetry that public policy.” She notes that to merely read the opening sentence of each paragraph is to read into a poem depicting the geology, anthropology, ecology, and history of a truly amazing place. She writes:
What appears is a region so vast and mysterious where the handprints of past people can still be found on canyon walls, a landscape so chockful [sic] of earthly delights, why wouldn’t we as modern-day stewards move to protect it? … The proclamation of Bears Ears National Monument reminds us what native people have never forgotten: We are not the only species that lives and loves and breathes on this planet we call home.
Places like Bears Ears, islands of green in a red rock landscape, that capture water from the storms, the Navajo (Diné) called nahodishgish, “places to be left alone.”
To close this essay, as I mentioned, the public lands in the western United States are the shameful legacy of a century and a half of settler colonialism. As I write these words, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is flying over the Bears Ears region as part of the executive order reviewing the designation of National Monuments. The creation of Bears Ears National Monument was a small step toward rectifying this legacy of removing people from their homelands. I doubt that the people of the United States have the political will to actually return the public lands to the indigenous groups who once lived on them. The next best thing to that, though, is to ensure that these stunning landscapes remain in the commons, public lands owned by us all, protected by us all, and used by us all in ways that ensure they will remain for future generations.
Dr. Jerry K. Jacka is Assistant Professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder. His book Alchemy in the Rain Forest: Politics, Ecology, and Resilience in a New Guinea Mining Area (Duke University Press, 2015) draws on theories of political ecology, place, and ontology and ethnographic, ecological, and spatial methods to examine the making of a resource frontier in the Porgera Valley, PNG. His work has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Science Foundation.
Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
West, Paige. 2016. Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea. New York: Columbia University Press.
Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8 (4): 387–409.
Cite as: Jacka, Jerry K. “Bears Ears: In Defense of Public Lands.” EnviroSociety, 17 May. www.envirosociety.org/2017/05/bears-ears-in-defense-of-public-lands.
Der Spiegel, a well-thought-of magazine, ran in February 2017 a cover depicting the newly elected President Donald Trump, standing with one arm upstretched brandishing a bloody knife and the other arm raised flaunting Lady Liberty’s severed head, blood dripping from its wound. Lady Liberty is the Statute of Liberty. The cover came after Trump’s ban on immigration and refugees to the US from seven Muslim countries. Lady Liberty—at whose base is the line “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—stands for principles of compassion, welcoming, and openness, values said to those of the “American Way.” The cover was advising viewers that The Donald—confessed pussy grabber (Mathis-Lilley 2016)—was destroying those values. If Lady Liberty no longer represents the “American Way,” she should be replaced with one that does. One way of deciding what sort of a replacement to build is to examine the dispositions and actions of the Trump-o-crats, because it is they who are busy making Trump-world. So consider The Donald and some of his appointees.
The Donald gave voice to the Ur-Trump disposition when, responding to the presence of a protester at one of his rallies, he enthused, “I’d like to punch him in the face” (Schreckinger 2016). Speaking about ISIS he proclaimed, “I would bomb the shit out of ’em” (Hains 2015). Advising—presumably while bombing the shit out of them—”you have to take out their families” (LoBianco 2015). On the campaign trail he had a kind word for torture, confiding, “We should go for waterboarding.” Actually, at a campaign rally in NH, he said he “would bring back a hell of a lot worse” (Keating 2017).
He shared this affection for inflicting hurt with his Secretary of Defense, the ex–marine general—variously called “Badass” and/or “Mad Dog”—James Mattis. Mad Dog is claimed by supporters to be a true military hero. Hero? His combat commands included colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US artfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. But Badass sure loves his violence, remarking on one occasion, “It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people” (Revesz 2016). At another time, he instructed his audience, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” warning at another event, “if you fuck with me I’ll kill you all” (Conway 2016).
Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former Army tank officer, who, as a member of the House of Representatives, defended enhanced interrogation techniques (torturer-speak for torture) as constitutional. Actually, torture is illegal due to a provision in US law (18 U.S.C. 2340) that took effect in 1994. He denounced President Obama’s 2009 decision to close the CIA’s “black sites.” These are locations where the CIA tortured its victims in secrecy. In 2014, speaking about the personnel manning the black sites, Mike said, “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots” (Keith 2016). At his confirmation hearings, Pompeo assured the senators questioning him that he would respect the law bearing upon torture, though—and this is a sly part—he said he was open to changing the law to make the illegal legal, bringing back enhanced interrogation techniques. At the same time, reports spread of the existence of a draft executive order circulating in the White House to reconstitute black sites, so idle torturers could get back in business.
Contemplate who The Donald appointed as Pompeo’s Deputy Head (the CIA’s second-in-command). This is Ms. Gina Haspel, notable for her command in the early 2000s of a dark site in Thailand called Cat’s Eye (Rosenberg 2017). Here she tortured and videotaped her victims’ suffering, in what appears to have been a quirky S&M pornography. Be clear: Torture is a form of human sacrifice. Victims’ lives are sacrificed to torturers’ gratifications, and—to be blunt—the torturers’ humanity is sacrificed to the monstrosity of their acts. In 2005, when it became clear that bringing back human sacrifice was not so nice, dutiful Gina ordered her videotapes destroyed. So nobody would ever know. However, people found out. But in the Trump-world it didn’t matter, just part of “making America great again.” He rewarded her torturing with the Deputy Directorship of the CIA—way to go, Gina!
The Trump-o-crats, then, are disposed to bombing “the shit out of ’em,” punching opponents “in the face,” planning “to kill everybody,” and running dark sites to do dark deeds. What a dream team of action heroes. The “American Way” disposed to cruelty. Of course, action speaks louder than disposition.
Towards the end of February, the new president announced his budget proposal. It projected slashing spending on the environment, education, science, health care, and poverty reduction while increasing military funding by $54 billion, a 9 percent increase (Shear and Steinhauer 2017). A month later, The Donald cryptically announced “total authorization” for his military (Shane 2017). The emphasis on totality was ominous—one interpretation making the rounds was “they can do whatever they fucking want.”
What the military appear to have wanted was to increase military action globally. On 13 April 2017, they dropped the MOAB (the “Mother of All Bombs”) a 21,000-pound explosive device in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The MOAB is the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the Americans. In Yemen, the President began “rapidly expanding military operations.” He increased logistical and intelligence support for Saudi Arabia’s warring against the Houthi, who are said to be supported by the Iranians, thereby using the Saudi’s as proxies to get at Washington’s enemy in Tehran. Simultaneously, operations against the Yemeni Al-Qaeda were increased, with 49 airstrikes in March, more strikes than America has ever undertaken in a year in that country (Democracy Now 2017).
Meanwhile, Iraq became a scene of increased US support for the Iraqi government’s Mosul offensive against ISIL. Assistance involving use of US and French artillery, helicopters firing Hellfire missiles, drones, and fixed-wing aircraft. Additional US combat personnel were sent ranging from combat engineers to Special Ops commandos (Gordon 2017). Concomitantly, there has been augmented assistance to Kurdish fighters advancing against ISIL in Syria (Cole 2017). Support has involved additional US soldiers providing training, artillery assistance, and airstrikes. A considerable escalation of US-Syrian operations was indicated in an 8 April report claiming that the Trump administration was leaving the Incirlik airbase in Turkey and moving to five airfields in Syria, largely in Kurdish territory (Debkafile 2017). The 4 April sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria—hotly disputed as to who executed it—killed in the order of 90 people (BBC 2017). Trump’s people insisted President Assad of Syria’s military did it, with Russian connivance. Assad’s people, backed by the Russians, declared it a black flag operation, of which the US was not innocent. Analysis of a White House report a MIT chemical warfare expert that blamed the Syrians and Russians concluded the White House document was an “obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report” (Postol 2017). Lost in the blame game is the actuality that The Donald’s military killed about 11 times more civilians (i.e., approximately 1,000 civilian deaths) in March than were lost in the Khan Shaykhun tragedy (Le Miere 2017).
Africa has not been ignored. Seventy days into his administration, Trump issued a directive permitting US Special Ops to work directly with the Somali military in their operations against Al-Shabaab, a Sunni Muslim militant group linked to Al-Qaeda. The directive classified areas in southern Somalia as “war zones” allowing US forces the ability to call in airstrikes without higher-level approval, increasing the potential for civilian casualties.
Russia and China are the two chief impediments to US military dominance. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has attempted to counter these two countries by following what can be termed a Eurasian Strategy. In the western part of the Eurasian continent, it meant moving NATO forces eastward until they border on Russia. In the eastern region of the Eurasian continent, it involved adoption of an Asian Pivot, strongly advocated by Hillary Clinton (2011), involving the redeployment of US diplomatic and military—largely naval—assets to the Asian Pacific. Russia’s response to the Eurasian Strategy, among other reactions, has been hybrid war in Ukraine and reincorporation of the Crimean peninsula into Russia. China’s countering of the strategy has been to fortify certain islands in the South China Sea, in order to thwart US naval activity.
The Trump administration has continued this strategy. Even while speaking of reconciliation with Russia, it put 4,000 American troops in early 2017 into Eastern Europe in Operation Atlantic Resolve on, or near, the border with Russia (Gigova 2017). This was the “biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War” (MacAskill 2017). The Donald’s moves toward China have been intimidating. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—he of “don’t look me in the eyes” reputation (Link 2017)—has advocated a US naval blockade of the fortified islands in the South China sea. Blockades are acts of war. North Korea has continued development of its nuclear armament program. The US has threatened North Korea with war if it does not disarm. It has sent an aircraft carrier battle group to Korean waters. Should such a conflict begin, it would directly threaten China, which would enter on the side of the north. Additionally, the US has deployed a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) antiballistic system in South Korea. China worries that THAAD will be employed to counter their missile capabilities. Deployment of THAAD has been argued to be “part of a network of integrated anti-missile systems designed to facilitate nuclear war with China or Russia” (Symonds 2017). China is rumored to have deployed 150,000 troops to its North Korean border (Hong Soon-do 2017). Russia is reported to have sent S400 antiaircraft missiles from Vladivostok in the direction of the North Korean border. Actions speak louder than dispositions. Trump-o-crats are disposed to harsh pugnacity. Their actions in the first months of The Donald’s rule turn out cruel realizations of their dispositions. But hang on—what is occurring as actually the same old same old!
The Same Old, Same Old
The phrase “same old, same old” is US slang indicating the something is a reiteration of an earlier iteration of that something. If your every dinner consists of spaghetti, you might say in anticipation of your next repast “it’ll be the same old, same old spaghetti.” The Trump-o-crats military activity is pretty much the same old, same old.
Recently I published Deadly Contradictions (2016). It argues that following World War II the US was organized as an informal empire, one intended to have global reach. Like all empires it was designed to achieve, and maintain, domination by both nonmilitary and military means. Military means were to be used when the empire faced contradictions that buffeted it, and when other ways of addressing the contradictions proved ineffective. The years since 1950 have revealed that running an empire is hard going. The US has faced serious economic and political contradictions. These have intensified and coalesced since the 1970s, and that this has led the US into a prodigious amount of overt and covert, direct and proxy global warring (i.e., warring in different areas of the world where it intends to achieve some form of control).
What are the dimensions of this warring? The US military does not keep accurate accounts of it military operates. So accounts of their frequency and lethality should be understood as estimates. John Tures, working with a data set generate, by the Federation of American Scientists, reported the US was involved in 263 interstate military operations between 1945 and 2002—roughly 4.6 operations per year—though he notes that since 1991 there have been on the average 16 operations annually (Reyna 2016). I have conservatively estimated that that this warfare killed 9,700,000 people, a high percentage of whom were civilians, since World War II. Other estimates put deaths from US warring much higher at 20 to 30 million persons (Lucas 2007). It is further estimated that this warring has led to 73 million people becoming refugees. The numbers of deaths and refugees provoked by warring serve as indicators of the terror they provoke. The figures for US global warring suggest that US to have been the greatest state terrorist agency since World War II. All of which suggests the The Donald is just the same old, same old, a reiteration of his predecessors. They were, and are, brutal killers servicing a rickety empire, built for global control. So what should be Lady Liberty’s replacement?
A De-cloaking Device
Readers might at this point take a trip down memory lane and recall the television series Star Trek. Occasionally, Captain Kirk found himself up against an enemy starship with a cloaking device that made it invisible. So he did not know his opponent. However, he did have de-cloaking technology that rendered the hidden visible. All the discourse about the American Way might be imagined as a cloaking device. It portrays the US as the bringer of freedom, prosperity, tolerance, and lots and lots of other good stuff. However, make no mistake about it, America is actually a serial perpetrator of state terrorism, right up there with Nazis.
Then along came The Donald—a crude, pussy-grabbing, punch them out, bomb the shit out of them, kill their families sort of guy. Along came his myrmidons—Old Maddog, who thinks it is “fun” to shoot people; Pompeo, defender of “enhanced interrogation techniques”; Ms Haspel performing those techniques secretly in “dark sites.” They are a walking, talking de-cloaking device, revealing what the American Way is all about—terror in support of empire. Der Spiegel’s cover had it right. Consequently, out with the old, in with the new. With the new a gigantic statue of The Donald holding aloft a severed head, and carved in its base the line “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and we’ll bomb the shit out of them.”
This article originally appeared on CounterPunch on 21 April 2017. Punctuation, spelling, and citations were amended to conform the FocaalBlog style guide.
BBC. 2017. Syria “chemical attack”: What we know. BBC News, 20 April.
Clinton, Hillary, 2011. America’s Pacific century. Foreign Policy, 11 October.
Cole, Juan. 2017. In 3 months, Trump has charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no avail. Informed Comment, 14 April.
Conway, Madeline. 2016. 9 unforgettable quotes by James Mattis. Politico, 1 December.
Democracy Now. 2017. Yemen: Trump expands U.S. military role in Saudi War as Yemenis brace for famine. Democracy Now, 30 March.
Debkafile. 2017. US Air Force to quit Incirlik, move to Syria base. Debkafile, 8 April.
Gigova, Radina. 2017. US troops deploy to Bulgaria as part of NATO operation to support Eastern European allies. CNN, 17 February.
Gordon, Michael. 2017. U.S. forces play crucial role against ISIS in Mosul. New York Times, 26 February.
Hains, Tim. 2015. Trump’s updated ISIS Plan: “Bomb the shit out of them,” send in Exxon to rebuild. Real Clear Politics, 13 November.
Keating, Vincent. 2017. Will Donald Trump bring back torture? The Wire, 21 January.
Keith, Tamara. 2016. On waterboarding, a President Trump could face resistance from some republicans. NPR, 21 November.
LoBianco, Tom. 2015. Trump’s updated ISIS plan: “Bomb the shit out of them,” send in Exxon to rebuild. CNN, 13 November.
Mathis-Lilley, Ben. 2016. Trump was recorded in 2005 bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Slate, 7 October.
Le Miere, Jason. 2017. Under Trump, U.S. military has allegedly killed over 1,000 civilians in Iraq, Syria in March. Newsweek, 31 March.
Link, Taylor. 2017. Do not look Rex Tillerson in the eyes if you work at the State Department: report. Salon, 31 March.
MacAskill, Ewen. 2017. Russia says US troops arriving in Poland pose threat to its security. The Guardian, 12 January.
Postol, Theodore A. 2017. An assessment of the White House intelligence report about the nerve agent attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Counterpunch, 14 April.
Revesz, Rachael. 2016. “It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot some people”: Meet Donald Trump’s likely defence secretary. The Independent, 20 November.
Reyna, Stephen. 2016. Deadly Contradictions: The New American Empire and Global Warring. New York: Berghahn Books.
Shane, Leo. 2017. Trump: I’m giving the military “total authorization.” Military Times, 13 April.
Schreckinger, Ben. 2016. Trump on protester: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Politico, 23 February.
Shear, Michael, and Jennifer Steinhauer. 21017. Trump to seek $54 billion increase in military spending. New York Times, 27 February.
Smith, Oli. 2017. SPOTTED: Putin ‘moves military forces’ to North Korean border as world prepares for WAR. The Express, 18 April.
Soon-do, Hong 2017. China increasing troops on North Korean border. Huffington Post, 10 April.
Symonds, Peter. 2017. Is the US preparing for war against North Korea? World Socialist Web Site, 13 March.
Steve Reyna is coeditor of Anthropological Theory and an associate at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology. He is the author of Deadly Contradictions: The New American Empire and Its Global Warring (Berghahn Books, 2016).
by Rod Clare, Elon University
It has been over forty years since the mostly successful conclusion of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. While some may have thought the election of an African-American president in 2008 heralded a “postracial” America, continued violence and oppression has brought about a rebirth of activism, embodied by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Now that nascent movement is preparing to be part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The NMAAHC is located at 1400 Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington DC.
The museum’s overriding goals are to make people aware of African-American history and to foster understanding and reconciliation about race in America and the world. The fact that the BLM movement is so new gives rise to concerns that the museum is collecting material that is too recent, topical, and potentially controversial. Nevertheless, as the director of the NMAAHC, Lonnie Bunch, has made clear, collecting and promoting such material helps “people to realize … that these are not isolated moments. They are part of a long history—a long history of tragedy, but also a long history of resilience and protest.”1
Though seemingly radical, Bunch’s approach is not without precedent when it comes to museums representing African-American lives (and deaths). A recent example of this is Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, presented from February to May 2015, at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Superimposing modern blacks onto classical Western art reliefs, Wiley’s work made one patron comment that “the fact that they have an exhibit like this maybe could revitalize that conversation again about Black Lives Matter.”2
A symposium on “History, Rebellion, and Reconciliation,” held at the Smithsonian in April 2015, discussed in part the fatal shooting of an African-American youth in Ferguson, Missouri, in the previous year. A reoccurring theme at the symposium was that museums could offer neutral “‘safe,’ or even ‘sacred’ spaces, within which visitors could wrestle with difficult and complex topics.”3 Currently, there is no better example of a more controversial and nuanced topic in America than the Black Lives Matter movement.
The BLM movement, born in 2013, was indirectly created out of decades of frustration within the African-American community over the legal system’s continual exoneration of those who had taken black lives. Often, those killed had transgressed supposed spatial boundaries, an issue in the past (for example, when a black youth “strayed” into a white section of a public beach, and responses by whites instigated the Chicago riots of 1919 that took thirty-eight lives), as much as the present. BLM’s direct genesis came as a result of the not-guilty verdict against George Zimmerman, who stalked and killed Trayvon Martin, a seventeen-year-old black youth who Zimmerman thought was in the wrong part of town in Sanford, Florida. Three black women (Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi), all activists in the African-American community, viewed the verdict with shock, anger, and an underlying belief that something had to be done. Due to their drive and to further instances of black lives being taken, with ensuing rebellions in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, the movement has quickly taken off. Currently the BLM movement has approximately two dozen chapters throughout the United States as well as chapters in Ghana and Canada.
Implicit in the rise of BLM and its attendant demands and concerns is the long-standing issue of black mobility. That is, where can black people go and when can they go there? This question is not only relevant for African Americans currently but also in their arduous history in America. The idea of black mobility has been a fundamental query since African Americans were brought to America as enslaved people. As such, their movements and associations were always strictly monitored and in many cases, prohibited by laws, slave patrols, and other means. After the end of slavery, this remained the case in the South and indeed in other parts of the country well into the twentieth century through the implementation of Black Codes, Ku Klux Klan terrorism, sharecropping contracts, city zoning laws, segregation, and various other means.
In fact, it can be said that blacks gained any semblance of true mobility in the country only in the early 1970s when the last host of Civil Rights laws became implemented and enforced. Two generations later, it is fitting that some have described the BLM protests as the new Civil Rights movement. In a sense, BLM seeks to answer the question of whether or not some fifty years later black lives are truly valued as equal to all others in the country. From the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO assassination and disruption programs against black activists in the late 1960s and 1970s to the “stop and frisk” police sweeps since the 1990s and incidents such as the arrest of Sandra Bland in 2015, the curtailment of black movement makes the answer decidedly mixed.
The relevancy and emotions concerning the lasting effects of what has been labeled America’s “original sin” makes it a timely yet somewhat uncomfortable issue for a museum to embrace. This then begs the question, “what exactly is the purpose of a museum?” The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines it as “a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”4 Most people would tend to define a museum as a place where old, if not ancient, objects are put on display to be reviewed in a genteel fashion. This might make it seem that only the elite patronize museums but nothing could be further from the truth. According to the American Alliance of Museums, some 850 million visits occur each year in American museums, more than all major organized sports put together.5
What Lonnie Bunch, NMAAHC’s director, wants to do is bring a current and controversial topic to the most respected of American museums, the Smithsonian. As Bunch put it in an interview with National Public Radio,
One of the jobs of a museum is to not only look back, but to look forward. And so once I heard about [the demonstrations] I knew it was very important to make sure that we collected material that might help a curator 20 years from now or 50 years from now look back and tell the story of the changing notions of race in America.6
Some of the items Bunch prioritizes for collection include banners, posters, gas masks, and a 4’ by 7’ panel of wood used to protect stores during the disturbances, which has printed on it “hands up,” along with cell phone videos and photos. A purpose of the NMAAHC, Bunch notes, is to place racial conflict and historical events in context, to make people realize that there are “moments of possibility,” where fundamental change and progress can be made. There will certainly be more material for the NMAAHC to collect based on the BLM’s new (as of August 2015) ten-point policy directive, Campaign Zero, directed at state and federal policing authorities.7 Though many may not link the two, the BLM movement is linked to the Constitution, for both have at their core the idea “to form a more perfect union.” This ideal, encompassing issues of life, liberty, and freedom of movement, is as radical and patriotic as the symbolism of what it means to be free in America.
This exhibit review originally appeared in volume 6, issue 1 of Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies.
- National Public Radio (NPR), “Black Lives Matter: Coming to a Museum Near You?” 1 August 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/08/01/428085104/black-lives-matter-coming-to-a-museum-near-you. National Public Radio (accessed 12 September 2015).
- “At the Brooklyn Museum, Art Helps Show Why Black Lives Matter,” Aljazeera America, http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/2/kehinde-wiley-showat-brooklyn-museum.html (accessed 11 September 2015).
- “Why Museums Should be a Safe Space to Discuss Why #BlackLivesMatter,” Smithsonian.com, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/whymuseums-should-be-safe-space-discuss-why-black-lives-matter-180955114/?-no-ist (accessed 12 September 2015).
- “Museum Defi nition,” International Council of Museums, http://icom.museum/the-vision/museum-defi nition/ (accessed 12 September 2015).
- “Museum Facts,” American Alliance of Museums, http://www.aam-us.org/about-museums/museum-facts (accessed 16 August 2015).NPR, “Black Lives Matter: Coming to a Museum Near You?”
- “Solutions Overview,” Solutions: Campaign Zero, http://www.joincampaignzero.org/solutions/#solutionsoverview (accessed 13 September 2015).
The worldwide community of museums celebrates International Museum Day on and around 18 May each year. This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the enrichment of cultures, development of society, and cooperation and peace among people. For more information on the theme and calendar of events for this year’s observance, visit the International Council of Museums webpage.
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Please see a range of our latest titles and a key series on our Museum Studies list:
WINNER OF THE 2016 PROSE AWARD FOR ANTHROPOLOGY
Making and Unmaking Heritage in Cyprus
“Despite modernization and growing tourism, regardless of class, [Cypriot society has retained social practices]; people are helpful and inviting. Visitors can enjoy much in this very good, well-written book, not the least being a very impressive culinary selection. For readers at all levels, and probably a number of individuals who are not academics or social scientists. Highly recommended.” · Choice
On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, rural villages, traditional artefacts, even atmospheres and experiences are considered heritage. Heritage making not only protects, but also produces, things, people, and places. Since the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, heritage making and Europeanization are increasingly intertwined in Greek-Cypriot society. Against the backdrop of a long-term ethnographic engagement, the author argues that heritage emerges as an increasingly standardized economic resource, a “European product.” Implemented in historic preservation, rural tourism, culinary traditions, nature protection, and urban restoration projects, heritage policy has become infused with transnational market regulations and neoliberal property regimes.
Homes and Museums in Israel
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.
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. Extending his theory into new territory – from music to literary technology and ontology to technological change – the contributors do not simply take stock, but also provoke, critically reassessing this important work while using it to challenge conceptual and disciplinary boundaries.
FROM ANTIQUITIES TO HERITAGE
Transformations of Cultural Memory
“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.
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.
Edited by Christoph Brumann and David Berliner
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 set the contemporary standard for cultural and natural conservation. Today, a place on the World Heritage List is much sought after for tourism promotion, development funding, and national prestige. Presenting case studies from across the globe, particularly from Africa and Asia, anthropologists with situated expertise in specific World Heritage sites explore the consequences of the World Heritage framework and the global spread of the UNESCO heritage regime. This book shows how local and national circumstances interact with the global institutional framework in complex and unexpected ways. Often, the communities around World Heritage sites are constrained by these heritage regimes rather than empowered by them.
Museum collections are increasingly being recognized as material archives of human creativity and as invaluable resources for interdisciplinary research. Museums provide powerful forums for the expression of ideas and are central to the production of public culture: they may inspire the imagination, generate heated emotions and express conflicting values in their material form and histories. 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.
MUSEUM WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA
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.
THE ENEMY ON DISPLAY
The Second World War in Eastern European Museums
Zuzanna Bogumił, Joanna Wawrzyniak, Tim Buchen, Christian Ganzer and Maria Senina
“The study contains a multitude of interesting details and observations pertaining to various regimes of collective memory, the specifics of national and local commemorations, and the inclusion of contested past into the fabric of museum exhibitions.” · Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research
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.
EXHIBITING EUROPE IN MUSEUMS
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.
BORDERS OF BELONGING
Experiencing History, War and Nation at a Danish Heritage Site
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.
Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 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.
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We’re also offering a 25% discount off all Environmental Studies titles by using the promo code ED17, also available until April 29.
In celebration of Earth Day, we are delighted to offer free access to a selection of journal articles for a limited time. To access these articles, please visit the EnviroSociety blog.
The relationship between human society and the natural world is being studied with increased urgency and interest. Investigating this relationship from historical, cultural, and political perspectives, the monographs and collected volumes in this series showcase high-quality research in environmental history and cognate disciplines in the social and natural sciences. The series strives to bridge both national and disciplinary divides, with a particular emphasis on European, transnational, and comparative research.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Conservation and Globalization in the Twentieth Century
Edited by Wolfram Kaiser and Jan-Henrik Meyer
Pollution, resource depletion, habitat management, and climate change are all issues that necessarily transcend national boundaries. Accordingly, they and other environmental concerns have been a particular focus for international organizations from before the First World War to the present day. This volume is the first to comprehensively explore the environmental activities of professional communities, NGOs, regional bodies, the United Nations, and other international organizations during the twentieth century. It follows their efforts to shape debates about environmental degradation, develop binding intergovernmental commitments, and—following the seminal 1972 Conference on the Human Environment—implement and enforce actual international policies.
IN THE NAME OF THE GREAT WORK
Stalin’s Plan for the Transformation of Nature and its Impact in Eastern Europe
Edited by Doubravka Olšáková
Beginning in 1948, the Soviet Union launched a series of wildly ambitious projects to implement Joseph Stalin’s vision of a total “transformation of nature.” Intended to increase agricultural yields dramatically, this utopian impulse quickly spread to the newly communist states of Eastern Europe, captivating political elites and war-fatigued publics alike. By the time of Stalin’s death, however, these attempts at “transformation”—which relied upon ideologically corrupted and pseudoscientific theories—had proven a spectacular failure. This richly detailed volume follows the history of such projects in three communist states—Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia—and explores their varied, but largely disastrous, consequences.
THE NATURE OF GERMAN IMPERIALISM
Conservation and the Politics of Wildlife in Colonial East 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. Analyzing the formative interactions between colonial governance and the natural world, The Nature of German Imperialism situates East African wildlife policies within the global emergence of conservationist sensibilities around 1900.
State, Peasants, and the Politics of Land in Postsocialist Romania
“This is clearly the best study on the environmental history of Romania published to date. It is a paragon of vivid, illustrative, and intimate local history combined with an international outlook.” · Joachim Radkau, Universität Bielefeld
The fall of the Soviet Union was a transformative event for the national political economies of Eastern Europe, leading not only to new regimes of ownership and development but to dramatic changes in the natural world itself. This painstakingly researched volume focuses on the emblematic case of postsocialist Romania, in which the transition from collectivization to privatization profoundly reshaped the nation’s forests, farmlands, and rivers. From bureaucrats abetting illegal deforestation to peasants opposing government agricultural policies, it reveals the social and political mechanisms by which neoliberalism was introduced into the Romanian landscape.
The Greenpeace Anti-Whaling Campaign in Norway
Volume 21, Protest, Culture & Society
In the popular imagination, no issue has been more closely linked with the environmental group Greenpeace than whaling. Opposition to commercial whaling has inspired many of the organization’s most dramatic and high-profile “direct actions”—as well as some of its most notable failures. This book provides an inside look at one such instance: Greenpeace’s decades-long campaign against the Norwegian whaling industry. Combining historical narrative with systems-theory analysis, author Juliane Riese shows how the organization’s self-presentation as a David pitted against whale-butchering Goliaths was turned on its head. She recounts how opponents successfully discredited the campaign while Greenpeace struggled with internal disagreements and other organizational challenges, providing valuable lessons for other protest movements.
Edited by Gregory V. Button and Mark Schuller
NEW SERIES: Volume 1, Catastrophes in Context
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.
NIMBY IS BEAUTIFUL
Cases of Local Activism and Environmental Innovation around the World
Edited by Carol Hager and Mary Alice Haddad
NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) protests are often criticized as parochial and short-lived, generating no lasting influence on broader processes related to environmental politics. This volume offers a different perspective. Drawing on cases from around the globe, it demonstrates that NIMBY protests, although always arising from a local concern in a particular community, often result in broader political, social, and technological change. Chapters include cases from Europe, North America, and Asia, engaging with the full political spectrum from established democracies to non-democratic countries. Regardless of political setting, NIMBY movements can have a positive and proactive role in generating innovative solutions to local as well as transnational environmental issues. Furthermore, those solutions are now serving as models for communities and countries around the world.
Interest in environmental anthropology and ethnobiological knowledge has grown steadily in recent years, reflecting national and international concern about the environment and developing research priorities. `Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology’ is an international series based at the University of Kent at Canterbury. It is a vehicle for publishing up-to-date monographs and edited works on particular issues, themes, places or peoples which focus on the interrelationship between society, culture and the environment.
INDIGENEITY AND THE SACRED
Indigenous Revival and the Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites in the Americas
Edited by Fausto Sarmiento and Sarah Hitchner
This book presents current research in the political ecology of indigenous revival and its role in nature conservation in critical areas in the Americas. An important contribution to evolving studies on conservation of sacred natural sites (SNS), the book elucidates the complexity of development scenarios within cultural landscapes related to the appropriation of rurality, environmental change in indigenous territories, and new conservation management schemes. Indigeneity and the Sacred explores how these struggles for land, rights, and political power are embedded within physical landscapes, and how indigenous identity is reformed as globalizing forces simultaneously threaten and promote the notion of indigeneity.
TREES, KNOTS, AND OUTRIGGERS
Environmental Knowledge in the Northeast Kula Ring
Frederick H. Damon
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.
This book is accompanied by a large online repository of images: https://pages.shanti.virginia.edu/Trees_Knots__Outriggers/
BEYOND THE LENS OF CONSERVATION
Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another
“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 the 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.
An Appraisal from the Gulf Region
Edited by Paul Sillitoe
With growing evidence of unsustainable use of the world’s resources, such as hydrocarbon reserves, and related environmental pollution, as in alarming climate change predictions, sustainable development is arguably the prominent issue of the 21st century. This volume gives a wide ranging introduction focusing on the arid Gulf region, where the challenges of sustainable development are starkly evident. The Gulf relies on non-renewable oil and gas exports to supply the world’s insatiable CO2 emitting energy demands, and has built unsustainable conurbations with water supplies dependent on energy hungry desalination plants and deep aquifers pumped beyond natural replenishment rates. Sustainable Development has an interdisciplinary focus, bringing together university faculty and government personnel from the Gulf, Europe, and North America — including social and natural scientists, environmentalists and economists, architects and planners — to discuss topics such as sustainable natural resource use and urbanization, industrial and technological development, economy and politics, history and geography.
To mark this year’s Earth Day, Berghahn Journals is offering special access to relevant articles with hope that this will contribute to the overall discussion of the environment, climate, and sustainability. Content is exclusively for the user’s individual, personal, non-commercial use. View full terms and conditions.
Available Until April 29!
Extractive Conservation: Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?
Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing
Environment and Society (Volume 7)
Ecosystem integrity and policy coherence for development: Tools aimed at achieving balance as the basis for transformative development
Harlan Koff, Miguel Equihua Zamora, Carmen Maganda and Octavio Pérez-Maqueo
Regions and Cohesion (Volume 6, Issue 3)
Whose Utopia? Our Utopia! Competing Visions of the Future at the UN Climate Talks
Richard Widick and John Foran
Nature and Culture (Volume 11, Issue 3)
The Influence of Environmental Restrictions on the Socio-Economic Development of the Lake Baikal Region
Gerelma B. Dugarova and Victor N. Bogdanov
Sibirica (Volume 12, Issue 2)
Sustainable Development as a Goal: Social, Environmental and Economic Dimensions
International Journal of Social Quality (Volume 4, Issue 1)
Be sure to check out EnviroSociety—the new blog from Environment and Society!
A multimedia site, EnviroSociety provides insights into contemporary socio-ecological issues with posts from top scholars in the social sciences that engage readers interested in current environmental topics. See more at www.envirosociety.org
Environment and Society publishes critical reviews of the latest research literature on environmental studies, including subjects of theoretical, methodological, substantive, and applied significance. Articles also survey the literature regionally and thematically and reflect the work of anthropologists, geographers, environmental scientists, and human ecologists from all parts of the world in order to internationalize the conversations within environmental anthropology, environmental geography, and other environmentally oriented social sciences. The publication will appeal to academic, research, and policy-making audiences alike.
Nature and Culture (NC) 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. The journal contains a serious interpolation of theory, methodology, criticism, and concrete observation forming the basis of this discussion.
The mission of the journal is to move beyond specialized disciplinary enclaves and mind-sets toward broader syntheses that encompass time, space and structures in understanding the Nature-Culture relationship. The Journal furthermore provides an outlet for the identification of knowledge gaps in our understanding of this relationship.
Due to the dramatic changes in global affairs related to regional integration, studies can no longer be limited to the analysis of economic competitiveness and political power in global geopolitics. 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. It covers themes, such as the management of strategic resources, environment and society, social risk and marginalization, disasters and policy responses, violence, war and urban security, the quality of democracy, development, public health, immigration, human rights, organized crime, and cross-border human security.
Interdisciplinary in nature and multi-lingual in character (English, French, Spanish), the journal promotes the comparative examination of the human and environmental impacts of various aspects of regional integration across geographic areas, time periods, and policy arenas.
“…Solidarity is, literally something which the society possesses.” – Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917)
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, he formally established the academic discipline and and is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.
Access the top articles from our journal Durkheimian Studies/Études Durkheimiennes for FREE until April 22!
Berghahn Books is also happy to invite you to browse some of the relevant titles:
DURKHEIM, THE DURKHEIMIANS, AND THE ARTS
Edited by Alexander Tristan Riley, W.S.F. Pickering†, and William Watts Miller
Published in Association with the Durkheim Press
“The strengths of the book are the featuring of the diversity of the [Durkheim] tradition and the many lines linking broadly Durkheimian themes to current work on the arts… [It] illustrates powerfully how Durkheimian concepts live with us today and how we can benefit by comparisons with this rich tradition. Read and be inspired.” · American Journal of Sociology
Using a broad definition of the Durkheimian tradition, this book offers the first systematic attempt to explore the Durkheimians’ engagement with art. It focuses on both Durkheim and his contemporaries as well as later thinkers influenced by his work. The first five chapters consider Durkheim’s own exploration of art; the remaining six look at other Durkheimian thinkers, including Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert, Maurice Halbwachs, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Leiris, and Georges Bataille. The contributors—scholars from a range of theoretical orientations and disciplinary perspectives—are known for having already produced significant contributions to the study of Durkheim. This book will interest not only scholars of Durkheim and his tradition but also those concerned with aesthetic theory and the sociology and history of art.
Please visit additional blog post where Alexander Tristan Riley shares what brought him to the study of Durkheim, a prediction of the collection’s reception, and what he would ask the philosopher if given the chance.
DURKHEIM IN DIALOGUE
A Centenary Celebration of The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
Edited by Sondra L. Hausner
Volume 27, Methodology & History in Anthropology
“The volume conveys the potential of Elementary Forms to inspire new areas of research in the field of cognitive studies and of collective processes and rituals more specifically. As the contributors suggest, there is much to explore in contemporary phenomena by wary of Durkheim’s original approach to the study of religion.” · Durkheimian Studies/Etudes Durkheimiennes
One hundred years after the publication of the great sociological treatise, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, this new volume shows how aptly Durkheim¹s theories still resonate with the study of contemporary and historical religious societies. The volume applies the Durkheimian model to multiple cases, probing its resilience, wondering where it might be tweaked, and asking which aspects have best stood the test of time. 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.
A DURKHEIMIAN QUEST
Solidarity and the Sacred
William Watts Miller
“Watts Miller provides a meticulous, conscientious, and unpretentious reading of Durkheim, rooted in deep acquaintance not only with his unpublished lectures but also with the writing of his contemporaries…The strength of Watts Miller’s book is that it harks back to a Durkheim of complexity and rich ambiguity.” · Choice
Durkheim, in his very role as a ‘founding father’ of a new social science, sociology, has become like a ﬁgure in an old religious painting, enshrouded in myth and encrusted in layers of thick, impenetrable varnish. This book undertakes detailed, up-to-date investigations of Durkheim’s work in an effort to restore its freshness and reveal it as originally created. These investigations explore his particular ideas, within an overall narrative of his initial problematic search for solidarity, how it became a quest for the sacred and how, at the end of his life, he embarked on a project for a new great work on ethics. A theme running through this is his concern with a modern world in crisis and his hope in social and moral reform. Accordingly, the book concludes with a set of essays on modern times and on a crisis that Durkheim thought would pass but which now seems here to stay.
SUFFERING AND EVIL
The Durkheimian Legacy
Edited by W. S. F. Pickering and Massimo Rosati†
Published in Association with the Durkheim Press
“…an impressive collection that makes a strong contribution to sociological theory and Durkheimian scholarship. Its particular strength is how it makes available the robustness and enduring importance of Durkheim’s rich conceptual lexicon… Theoretically sophisticates, yet relatively accessible, this volume is particularly appropriate for inclusion in advanced undergraduate theory courses or graduate level seminars.” · Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers canadiens de sociologie
Until recently the subject of suffering and evil was neglected in the sociological world and was almost absent in Durkheimian studies as well. This book aims to fill the gap, with particular reference to the Durkheimian tradition, by exploring the different meanings that the concepts of evil and suffering have in Durkheim’s works, together with the general role they play in his sociology. It also examines the meanings and roles of these concepts in relation to suffering and evil in the work of other authors within the group of the Année sociologique up until the beginning of World War II. Finally, the Durkheimian legacy in its wider aspects is assessed, with particular reference to the importance of the Durkheimian categories in understanding and conceptualizing contemporary forms of evil and suffering.
Edited by W. S. F. Pickering
With an introduction by Kenneth Thompson
Published by Durkheim Press
Taken as a whole, the collection provides a useful grounding in contemporary Durkheimian studies.” · Choice
There has been a growing interest in Durkheim, founding father of sociology, since the 1970s. This volume takes a look at the current stage of Durkheimian studies, pointing out paths scholars are now following as they examine the various themes of study that Durkheim opened up to the academic world. They clearly demonstrate the continuing importance of Durkheim’s works and the benefits to be derived from re-reading them in the light of contemporary social developments.
Perspectives on Education and Punishment
Edited by Mark S. Cladis
Education and punishment are two crucial sites of the “disciplinary society,” approached by Durkheim and Foucault from different perspectives, but also in a shared concern with what kind of society might constitute an “emancipatory” alternative. This collection of essays explores the issues that are involved and that are illuminated through a comparison and contrast of two social theorists who at first sight might seem an “unlikely couple” – Durkheim and Foucault.
The Intellectual Pursuit of the Sacred Reinvented
Alexander Tristan Riley
“…offers readers a tour of twentieth-century French intellectual 10 history by one of the finest Durkheimian scholars writing today. At the heart of the book is Durkheim’s concept of the sacred. Yet despite the seemingly familiar starting point, Riley’s book sparkles with creative 15 ideas, intriguing concepts, and introductions to a broad class of characters… part of the book’s (mystic) charm is its comprehensive and suggestive nature.” · Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review
The Durkheimians have traditionally been understood as positivist, secular thinkers, fully within the Enlightenment project of limitless reason and progress. In a radical revision of this view, this book persuasively argues that the core members of the Durkheimian circle (Durkheim himself, Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert and Robert Hertz) are significantly more complicated than this. Through his extensive analysis of large volumes of correspondence as well as historical and macro-sociological mappings of the intellectual and social worlds in which the Durkheimian project emerged, the author shows the Durkheimian project to have constituted a quasi-religious quest in ways much deeper than most interpreters have thought. Their fascination, both personal and intellectual, with the sacred is the basis on which the author reconstructs some important components of modern French intellectual history, connecting Durkheimian thought to key representatives of French poststructuralism and postmodernism: Bataille, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, and Deleuze.
Related Link: Other publications from Durkheim Press
Editor: W. Watts Miller
Durkheimian Studies is available online.
Durkheimian Studies / Études Durkheimiennes is the scholarly journal of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. It is concerned with all aspects of the work of Durkheim and his group, such as Marcel Mauss and Robert Hertz, and with the contemporary development and application of their ideas to issues in the social sciences, religion and philosophy. The journal is unique in often featuring first-time or new English translations of their French works otherwise not available to English-language scholars.
Top Article Downloads
Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigenous Girls' Presencing as Decolonizing Force
Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
Forget Dawkins: Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
Social Analysis, vol. 59, #2, Summer 2015
Blaming Sexualization for Sexting
Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
Out of the Closet? German Patriotism and Soccer Mania
German Politics & Society, vol.24, #3, Autumn 2006
Rape Culture and the Feminist Politics of Social Media
Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
Less Than One But More Than Many: Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making
Environment and Society, vol. 6, #1, Summer 2015
Staging "small, small incidents": Dissent, gender, and militarization among young people in Kashmir
Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011
An Inquiry into the Roots of the Modern Concept of Development
Contributions to the History of Concepts, vol. 4, #2, Autumn 2008
Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested? Anthropological knowledge production in question
Focaal, vol. 2015, #72, Summer 2015
Theatres of virtue: Collaboration, consensus, and the social life of corporate social responsibility
Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011
Libraries may purchase at a special discount (with the option to purchase the backfiles in addition) the entire Berghahn collection or Berghahn journals bundled by subjects.
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