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  • EnviroSociety

    Present Progressive?: Of Cell Phones and Energy Transitions in the Anthropocene

    The first week of September was a rather busy one, beginning with the announcement by the Subcomission on Quaternary Stratigraphy’s Working Group on the Anthropocene (AWG), reporting their vote for the onset of the Anthropocene Epoch. In their report to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the Working Group favored the nuclear fallout of 1950s as a defining moment, though only one of several candidates that must still be considered before the designation of type location for the Anthropocene’s golden spike. A “golden spike” is a physical marker for the lower boundary of a geologic period, as defined by a Global Boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP), which must be specified by a unit of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. So, the AWG must decide what signal demonstrates most clearly and continuously the reality of anthropogenic dominance on the geologic processes of the planet. Most often, this is done by designation of a type fossil; in the case of the Anthropocene, a leading candidate is the domestic chicken. Just think about that one: dinosaurs have literally come home to roost…

    That was on Sunday, 4 September. On Tuesday, the first day of classes for Environmental Anthropology, 30 students from 16 different majors leapt into a debate about nature and culture, hubris and responsibility, and the colonization of nature. Then, on cue, two days later hurricane Hermine swept through the neighborhoods of friends and relations in Florida, leaving us all with questions about what it means to be a hurricane in the Anthropocene, with rising tides and post-tropical cyclones that demonstrated some of the caprice that accompanies a changing climate. With Hermine, the questions of if and how climate change can be seen as a driver for specific weather events were raised once again. For me, the shifting sands of both humanity’s physical relationships with other parts of the planet and the ethics and politics of choosing our actions (for no action is still a choice) regarding those relationships came into focus through these examples. We have left our marks on this planet and its atmosphere in many ways, and whether through a sense of hubris, guilt, responsibility, or necessity, we will make choices in the coming decades that will determine the direction and extent of those marks, however defined.

    In the middle of all this upheaval that evoked the mix of geologic and human timescales of the Anthropocene, I spent two hours at the cell phone store on a sadly necessary but dreaded task—transplanting the brain of my old phone into a new one.[1] As the electrons coursed from one device to the next, I tried to use the dead time to focus on my assigned reading for the next class session—Laura Ogden’s excellent book, Swamplife, which details the complex relationships between people and other living beings in the water world that is the Everglades. The cover caught the attention of the salesman, and he asked about it. Our conversation leapt from the Everglades, Florida, and hurricane Hermine to his single undergraduate class in anthropology, which had left him with a passion for archaeology that he had felt could not be congruent with his desire for a family and a stable job. I suggested that if he still had an interest, our department was always happy to have volunteers and he could perhaps take a week in the summer to follow his dream. We talked on and on, first about the “control of nature” in our national parks and elsewhere, then about climate change and the need for an energy transition. He paused thoughtfully and asked, “Can we stop it? Is it too late?” and then, “Is there any point to trying, when all of these technologies are in the future?”

    I smiled. This was another variation on a conversation I love to have, and it is especially good when it comes at a time and place that I don’t expect. I tell my students that my goal for any course is for them to take the readings home and give them to friends and family, to start conversations with neighbors and co-workers, and in general, to take the ideas and practices that have engaged them out into the wider world. This wasn’t a university course, but such a random interaction in the cell phone store offered a wonderful opportunity for me to follow my own advice. Cell phones, as icons of transnational consumer society that reflect so much of the positive and negative elements of the world we have wrought of rare Earth elements and the sands of time (well, silicon, anyway), seemed an ideal starting point for a conversation about energy transitions in the Anthropocene. The salesman asked if coal was “coming back” (a reasonable question given the number of bankruptcies among global coal companies that have severely impacted Wyoming of late), and I replied that, while it hadn’t yet “gone away” and wouldn’t for quite a while, the trend away from a carbon-intensive society was a reality in many places and that Wyoming had a wonderful set of renewable resources in our 300 days of sun each year and our ferocious winds.

    The opportunities for moving forward using presently existing technologies are wide open for those who would seize them; we do not need to wait for new inventions and more dire forecasts to start the move toward lower carbon lifestyles. The salesman was surprised. Everything he had heard about climate change was depressing and made worse by the rather scarce information available about the current realities of the energy transition underway around the globe. Solar and wind technologies have become more and more competitive over the past few years and will only continue to gain momentum in the coming decade. As new ways of combining energy sources and storage strategies develop, the ability to replace some or all of the current coal-fired electricity production capacity with lower carbon alternatives will become even more accessible and indeed desirable, making use of existing transmission capacity for new kinds of electricity production, as well as co-generation of heat and power. And these new alternatives can be integrated at different scales and in accordance with the specific attributes of particular sites, thus maximizing on the opportunities for local and regional solutions. For those with an entrepreneurial bent, there are many ways to help this essential and inevitable energy transition along. We can encourage such engagements by highlighting the existing positive stories that illuminate some of these paths (for example, “Canada’s energy transition success story”), rather than wallowing in the sadly outdated mythologies that say we must wait for the ever-distant deus ex machina that is always another 10 years away. When steam engines ruled the world, no one could imagine how they might be replaced, yet in less than 15 years, from 1946 to 1959, steam locomotive transport went from nearly 80 percent to less than 1 percent of the rail freight capacity in the United States. Technology revolutions can and frequently have taken place quickly, and like I said to my new friend in the cell phone store, it’s worth knowing which way the train is heading. As I packed up my phones and thanked him for the cell phone transplant and the opportunity to chat, he told me that his eyes were opened to new opportunities in renewables—and in archaeology.

    Sarah Strauss
    is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming. Author of Positioning Yoga (2004) and editor of Weather, Climate, Culture (2003, with Ben Orlove) and Cultures of Energy (2013, with Stephanie Rupp and Thomas Love), her research focuses on energy, climate change, water, and health issues in India, Europe, and the United States.


    [1] And yes, I am completely aware of the social, energy, and other environmental costs of cell phones, but at this point, am still entirely subject to the systemic forces that require us to be available 24/7. In this case, our university’s budget problems are forcing the loss of departmental landlines, and forwarding from a VOIP number is obligate.

    Cite as:
    Strauss, Sarah. 2016. “Present Progressive? Of Cell Phones and Energy Transitions in the Anthropocene.” EnviroSociety, 28 September.

  • FocaalBlog

    Jonathan DeVore: Reflections on crisis, land, and resilience in Brazil’s politics of distribution

    Brazil is at a critical juncture. Improvements in social welfare that have been achieved over the past two decades threaten to recede as the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is removed from power. Yet the goods that have been objects of Brazil’s various social programs recede and persist in different ways. Once given, some things are harder to take away.

    Brazil’s ongoing crisis highlights varying conditions of defeasibility across goods of different kinds, which are consequential for distributive programs and politics. In this post, I examine these issues relative to Brazil’s redistributive land reform programs and draw attention to the resilience that land can provide people when all else seems to fail. I frame these insights in critical conversation with James Ferguson’s (2015) recent book, Give a Man a Fish.

    Distributive resilience and defeasibility
    Early in September, I made a long phone call to Joana and Damião in Bahia’s cacao region. They are farmers in one of several squatter and land reform communities where I first began conducting research in 2002. We talked at length about recent events in Brazil ranging from the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff (see also Saad-Filho 2016) and the Zika virus to the threats posed by looming budget cuts.

    Damião and Joana told me about the effects the crisis was having on life in the cacao region. Many plantation workers have been laid off, and they wondered if there wouldn’t soon be more land occupations like those in the 1990s (DeVore 2014: 603–644). Joana and Damãio explained, however, that they didn’t feel the effects of the crisis as acutely as others. In the early 1990s, when they still lived from plantations labor, they would have surely felt the squeeze. Since 1997, however, their lives had changed significantly. That year, they joined a dozen families to occupy the forests on an abandoned plantation called Nossa Senhora, which they would spend the next two decades transforming into diversified agroforests (see DeVore forthcoming).

    Squatter agroforest at Nossa Senhora in early stages of cultivation (Photo: Jonathan DeVore, 2002)

    Today, much like the “peasantries” that commanded so much anthropological ink in previous decades, they are smallholding farmers who creatively allocate land and labor in response to crisis. Earlier this year, for example, when the price of beans began to skyrocket, they planted a plot of their own. They haven’t had to buy beans in months.

    Farmer at Nossa Senhora drying a bean harvest in the sun (Photo: Jonathan DeVore, 2003)

    Joana and Damião benefitted directly from the land rights activism and occupations that swept across Bahia’s cacao lands in the 1990s. Although their squatter settlement was neither affiliated with a specific social movement nor part of a government program, land reform was in the air and they were among its champions. To paraphrase the idea of “autoconstruction” (Holston 1991), theirs was an “auto-agrarian reform” of sorts.

    The families who became involved in these land occupations could characterize their years working on the plantations as a life they lived “in the world” (no mundo) and under the authority of plantation managers. Their experiences of life in the world—without being at home there—informed their search for a place where they could live and work, free from control by others. So far as they were concerned, owning a small plot of land was a necessary (if not sufficient) element of a good life, and an important step toward achieving freedom from the plantations.

    The independence that Joana and Damião achieved on the land was resilient in the face of layoffs, rising prices, and threats of budget cuts. This highlights varying conditions of resiliency and defeasibility among those goods that have been objects in Brazil’s politics of distribution. This leads to some observations about the durability of goods and distributions that are prompted by James Ferguson’s (2015) recent book, Give a Man a Fish.

    Resilience of the lion’s share
    Ferguson explores an apparent paradox: while “neoliberal” capitalism reigns, new forms of social protection proliferate. These range from conditional cash transfer programs, like Brazil’s Bolsa Família program (see below), to experiments with unconditionalbasic income grant” programs that Ferguson examines in several southern African states. Ferguson’s reflections turn on the proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Ferguson suggests that we reexamine the distributive import of the first clause (“give a man a fish”) to move beyond problems in the productivist logic of the second (“teach a man to fish”).

    There are two interrelated points in the background of Ferguson’s argument. The first is the fading specter of “full employment” (2015: 15, 61, 82, 140, 157, 201). Long understood as a condition of possibility for the welfare state, full employment is no longer (or was never) a stable condition in many parts of the world. In a world where the aquaculture industry produces most of the world’s fish, with only a fraction of workers, it makes no sense to teach people how to fish (36). The second point is the “radical deterioration of agrarian livelihoods” (78). Ferguson is concerned with regions where full industrial employment did not follow from the evacuation of the countryside, as had been posited by different theories of capitalist development (192). This gives rise to a contemporary Lumpenproletariat that compels new concerns for distribution.

    In this context, Ferguson considers the consequences of reconceiving distribution as a “binding entitlement” (38) that ceases to be conditionally predicated upon work, merit, or “dependent” statuses. This significant shift in the logic of social welfare and distribution develops in tandem with a novel idea of “ownership,” related to what Ferguson calls the “rightful share.” One close analogue to this idea of ownership is the corporate shareholder who, by virtue of being a member of the shareholding group, receives a periodic dividend (51–52). The analogous, but more radical, idea that Ferguson recovers from different sources is the notion that all people are guaranteed a share, not as a return on investment, but by the sheer fact of being in society. This brings an unexpected convergence in claims to “ownership of the means of production” and the “merely ameliorative politics normally associated with social assistance” (168). Unlike the corporate shareholder, however, claimants to a “rightful share” do not appear to claim ownership over productive enterprises, but rather a share in revenue that is collected and distributed by the state (209). The majority may receive their rightful share of fish, but the owners of the ponds still get the lion’s share. The roots of distributive conflict remain.

    For a distribution of fishing poles
    I suggest, therefore, to open the focus on ownership to a third position that expands the scope of implicated rights. Instead of giving people fish, or teaching them how to fish, give them fishing poles. By this I mean to refer to various material means of production. This move significantly escalates the scope of shareholdership, while advancing growing concerns for effective freedom. With a fishing pole in hand, and place to go fish, people can catch fish themselves. They depend neither on a job at the local aquaculture firm nor upon distributions from the state. This is substantially the situation in which Joana and Damião find themselves.

    Family at Nossa Senhora fishing in a hand-built pond (Photo: Jonathan DeVore, 2003)

    Ferguson gives less attention to distributions of fishing poles, and real property in land or houses, as this is not what the book is primarily about. One reason for this is the deterioration of agrarian livelihoods, mentioned above, as a condition with which planners have had to “come to terms” against “dreams” of “re-agrarianization” (Ferguson 2015: 78). Ferguson adds that the “decisive political defeat” with which such dreams were met in previous decades made it “only too clear how limited were the possibilities for a rural ‘fix’ to the problems of poverty and unemployment.” This appears as a substantive reason why this particular politics of distribution does not figure into the account.

    This is not an idiosyncratic aspect of Ferguson’s thinking. Writing from Brazil, Zander Navarro (2014) has recently suggested that redistributive land reform is not only a dream but more like a pipe dream, which runs against the historical grain (e.g., demographic trends, urbanization, land concentration). Indeed, in regions of Brazil where soybean economies of scale dominate the rural landscape, this particular politics of distribution—the redistribution of land—appears to be entirely off the table.

    Distributive distinctions without dogmatism
    Facing a perennially uncertain future, rural families in Bahia’s cacao region are not dogmatic purists but rather pragmatic pluralists in their politics of distribution. Only a couple years ago, for example, Damião began to receive his first rural retirement payments, which his family now combines with modest harvests and income from their farm. Multitude and variety are the rule rather than exception in their livelihood. But when push comes to shove, people can and do draw phenomenologically motivated distinctions among goods and combinations of goods (e.g., DeVore 2015: 1208–1211). These distinctions form preferences among goods, which are partially grounded in their conditions of defeasibility.

    The multitude and variety of a vegetable garden and fishpond surrounded by agroforest (Photo: Jonathan DeVore, 2009)

    Push came to shove in another squatter community at Sapucaia, just across the creek from Nossa Senhora, where another group of families was compelled to choose between distributions of land or food baskets. Their story begins in 1996, about a year before the occupation at Nossa Senhora, when the workers at Sapucaia were handed the figurative keys to the plantation. The absentee owner, who lived in Europe, had never made much of what was supposed to be an investment in natural rubber (DeVore 2014: 204–241), so most of the several-hundred-hectare property remained under forest cover. With the owner’s unceremonious withdrawal, the workers began to live independently on the land, tapping the extant rubber trees for themselves, and hunting in the forest.

    By the end of 1997, however, the squatters at Sapucaia were drawn into the surge of land activism that had overtaken the region, which was most visibly led by Brazil’s famous Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, or MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra). When the MST arrived, the leaders asked the squatters at Sapucaia for permission to establish a base camp (acampamento) along the road in front of their settlement. From that location, the MST eventually coordinated the occupation of several other plantations.

    MST encampment from a 2002 land occupation (Photo: Jonathan DeVore 2002)

    When the dust settled following these planned occupations, a couple dozen families remained leftover in the MST encampment, as there was no room left on the occupied plantations. Although not part of their original plan, the MST leaders decided that these families would occupy Sapucaia. The squatters there were angry about their involuntary assimilation into the MST, but they had little choice. As one squatter later recalled, however, they eventually accepted the new families, seeing how they “lived with their bags upon their heads, searching for somewhere to go.” Overnight, the number of families living at Sapucaia increased by 400 percent. The extant rubber trees would barely be enough to sustain everyone.

    The situation continued until about 2002 when tensions mounted. Unable to make ends meet, many families were forced back into plantation labor. Some others, however, began to clear agricultural plots in the forest, but the MST leadership did not want its members found destroying stretches of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest: a biodiversity hotspot, nearly 90 percent deforested, rich with endemic species, many facing extinction.

    The leaders proposed a compromise: the families occupying the forest could remain in the plots they already cleared, but they had to stop further incursions into the forest. This meant that the families at Sapucaia would be unable to cultivate diversified agroforests—like those their neighbors were cultivating at Nossa Senhora—that could offer a reliable and independent livelihood. As compensation for the loss in productive capacity, the leaders proposed to deliver food baskets (cestas básicas) to them into the indefinite future. But the families at Sapucaia were unhappy with these restrictions. Living from promises of food baskets amounted to an undesirable form of dependency, and undermined their project of liberating themselves from their status as “landless” (sem terra) people.

    Not long after this episode, the families at Sapucaia severed their ties with the MST and set out to make their own fate. When push came to shove, they chose redistributions of land over distributions of food.

    From budget cuts to durable goods
    To understand these families’ decision, we can draw a parallel with one of the Workers’ Party’s signature programs, Bolsa Família, which is currently facing two constitutive kinds of defeasibility: budget cuts and roll cuts.

    Bolsa Família enrolls some 14 million Brazilian families who receive small cash transfers on a monthly basis. To receive the benefit, parents must ensure that their children attend school and receive regular medical care including vaccinations. As such, the program operates upon what economists call “human capital,” or the knowledge, skills, habits, and dispositions that make people good wage earners. The program has led to undeniable improvements in children’s health and education, and given millions of women greater access to household finances. Brazil’s Gini coefficient dropped significantly between 2001 and 2011, nearly 13 percent of which may be attributable to Bolsa Família (Mendes 2015: 77, 85).

    Gregory Duff Morton (2013a) highlights beneficiaries’ fears about both kinds of defeasibility (budget and roll cuts). First, he describes a run on the bank that occurred in 2013 when rumors spread that the government was going to end the program. The current political crisis has renewed similar concerns. Back in May, Dilma Rousseff warned that Bolsa Família could be cut if Michel Temer assumed the presidency; in July, Temer retorted by announcing a 12.5 percent increase in benefits but also suggesting that the program’s rolls would be culled over eligibility issues. These roll cuts—the second form of defeasibility—promise to deepen what Morton calls the “thousand tiny humiliations” (2013a: 926) to which people are subject as their compliance is placed under scrutiny.

    The prospect of such cuts highlights what would, and would not, be lost if the program were to end. If the program were cut, children would not suddenly forget how to read or relinquish the benefits that better nutrition provided during early childhood development. But the durability of the program’s effects on distributions of other goods is less clear. Bolsa Família recipients tend to spend large proportions of payments on food (Duarte et al. 2009; Morton 2013b). Because of their size, payments seem to be less often (or easily) converted into durable goods like land—or cattle (see Morton 2013b: 64). This means that budget cuts could have immediate impacts on family nutrition, women’s access to household budgets, and previous achievements in reducing wealth inequality.

    The promise to deliver food baskets at Sapucaia was subject to similar failures and losses. As these provisions come from the state, they are subject to impersonal budget cuts. Because families’ access was mediated both by movement leaders and bureaucrats, they could also be subject to analogous roll cuts (e.g., DeVore 2015: 1213). Finally, food baskets are also subject to rising food prices, diversions, and bureaucratic mismanagement. Failures such as these, which inform occasional protests over the delivery of food baskets, do not occur to land that one holds.

    Equitable shares
    This is not to deny that families at Nossa Senhora and Sapucaia are vulnerable in other ways. Indeed, this is the point: in their distributive politics, they are attentive and responsive to the durability and defeasibility of different goods. Their auto-agrarian reforms, moreover, have enabled them to more definitively exit the world of plantation labor, and to endure layoffs, rising prices, regime change, and other likely cuts to social programs.

    They are also oriented by notions of ownership that look beyond rightful shares to the bounty of apples and fish, and toward equitable claims to land, trees, ponds, and other means of life. But perhaps these claims are not so far apart. Ferguson notes that the ideas of ownership he explores find substantial expression in Kant’s moral philosophy (2015: 44, 49, 195), drawing upon Lucy Allais’s (2015) compelling account of beggars. This latter account appears to operate within what Kevin E. Dodson (2003) describes as the “welfare-state liberal” reading of Kant, which sustains a view of “private property” that leaves the lion’s share intact. As Dodson indicates, however, this same tradition offers resources for broader restorative notions of ownership (2003: 530; cf. Allais 2015: 770). This suggests “outlines of a rapprochement” (Dodson 2003: 538) between the concerns of liberalism and socialism, a few things about which might be learned from families like those at Sapucaia and Nossa Senhora.

    Jonathan DeVore was a recent Postdoctoral Associate in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University and will be lecturing at the University of Bonn later this fall. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 2014 and is currently working on his first book.


    Allais, Lucy. 2015. What properly belongs to me: Kant on giving to beggars. Journal of Moral Philosophy 12(6): 754–771, doi: 10.1163/17455243-4681042.

    DeVore, Jonathan. 2014. Cultivating hope: Struggles for land, equality, and recognition in the cacao lands of southern Bahia, Brazil. PhD diss., University of Michigan,

    DeVore, Jonathan. 2015. The Landless invading the landless: Participation, coercion, and agrarian social movements in the cacao lands of southern Bahia, Brazil. The Journal of Peasant Studies 42(6): 1201–1223, doi: 10.1080/03066150.2014.990447.

    DeVore, Jonathan. Forthcoming. Trees and springs as social property: A Perspective on Degrowth and Redistributive Democracy from a Brazilian Squatter Community. Journal of Political Ecology.

    Dodson, Kevin E. 2003. Kant’s socialism: A philosophical reconstruction. Social Theory and Practice 29(4): 525–538, doi: 10.5840/soctheorpract200329429.

    Duarte, Gisléia Benini, Breno Sampaio, and Yony Sampaio. 2009. Programa Bolsa Família: Impacto das transferências sobre os gastos com alimentos em famílias rurais. Revista de Economia e Sociologia Rural 47(4): 903–918, doi: 10.1590/S0103-20032009000400005.

    Ferguson, James. 2015. Give a man a fish: Reflections on the new politics of distribution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Holston, James. 1991. Autoconstruction in working-class Brazil. Cultural Anthropology 6(4): 447–465, doi: 10.1525/can.1991.6.4.02a00020.

    Mendes, Marcos. 2015. Inequality, democracy, and growth in Brazil: A country at the crossroads of economic development. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Morton, Gregory Duff. 2013a. Protest before the protests: The unheard politics of a welfare panic in Brazil. Anthropological Quarterly 87(3): 925–934, doi: 10.1353/anq.2014.0037.

    Morton, Gregory Duff. 2013b. Acesso à permanência: Diferenças econômicas e práticas de gênero em domicílios que recebem bolsa família no sertão Baiano. Política & Trabalho, Revista de Ciências Sociais 38: 43–67.

    Navarro, Zander. 2014. Por que não houve (e nunca haverá) reforma agrária no Brasil? In Antônio Márcio Buainain, Eliseu Alves, José Maria da Silveira, and Zander Navarro, eds., O mundo rural no Brasil do século 21: A formação de um novo padrão agrário e agrícola, 697–724. Brasília, DF: Embrapa.

    Saad-Filho, Alfredo. 2016. “Overthrowing Dilma Rousseff: It’s class war and their class is winning.” FocaalBlog, 22 March.

    Cite as: DeVore, Jonathan. 2016. “Reflections on crisis, land, and resilience in Brazil’s politics of distribution.” FocaalBlog, 6 October. www.

  • Museum Worlds

    Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975–1990

    by Petra Mosmann

    foucault-gogo      kookas-and-the-gents

    Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975–1990

    Curated by Katie Yuill, University Art Museum, Sydney: 24 January–24 April 2015

    Girls at the Tin Sheds (Duplicated)

    Curated by Louise R. Mayhew, Verge Gallery, Sydney: 26 February–21 March, 2015


    The Sydney University Art Workshop, known as the “Tin Sheds,” was an experimental art space established in 1969. From a series of dilapidated tin sheds on the edge of the Sydney Univer­sity campus, artists taught an alternative radical arts program; musicians played at legendary dances; potters worked a kiln; activist/artist collectives screen printed sophisticated posters, bypassed the gallery, and pasted them across Sydney. Women’s Liberation was integral to the Tin Sheds experiment. In 2015, two sister exhibi­tions at Sydney University acknowledged this influence. Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975–1990 was curated by Katie Yuill at the Sydney University Art Gallery. Girls at the Tin Sheds (Duplicated) was the second iteration, curated by art historian Louise R. Mayhew at Verge Gallery, which is located on the site where the Tin Sheds once stood. The two exhibitions presented a selection of screen prints by women who worked at the Tin Sheds workshop. They were developed to coincide with the 40-year anniversary of International Women’s Year. Both exhibitions were curated by relatively young curators and consciously renegotiate feminist activist/art legacies. Rather than being viewed through a postfeminist lens, these exhibitions invite feminist art/activism in the present.1

    Across Australia, several exhibitions have included a significant number of feminist posters from the 1970s and 1980s. Curator Macushla Robinson included several in See You at the Bar­ricades at The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney in 2015. In Adelaide in 2014, Celia Dottore prominently featured feminist prints in Mother Nature is Lesbian: Political Printmaking in South Australia 1970–1980s at Flinders University Art Museum. Like Girls at the Tin Sheds, each of these exhibitions was curated by relatively young curators without first-hand memory of Women’s Liberation. In each exhibition, the curator expressed hope that past activisms can inform the present.2 Despite significant differences between each exhibition, they shared a common thread; the political and visual possibilities of feminist protest posters are stressed rather than their specific historical context.

    As sister exhibitions, the two iterations of Girls at the Tin Sheds are related but different. Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975–1990 carefully represented key women artists working at the Tin Sheds and included a chronological poster hang, with calendar posters acting as date markers. The chronological hang subtly tracks the visual development of feminist poster-making in Sydney. An exhibition catalogue with essays from both curators provides some historical context. Screen printing produces multiple copies of the same image for presen­tation in different contexts, and the second exhibition Girls at the Tin Sheds (Duplicated) played with this concept, drawing on the duplicates collection held by Sydney University Archives. The exhibition did not include a salon or poster hang; instead, posters were presented individually, focusing attention on each poster as an artwork. Furthermore, instead of presenting the posters chronologically or thematically, the posters were categorized by color. This reduced the possibility of reading posters in terms of the development of feminist poster making.

    After the formal speeches concluded at the joint-opening of Girls at the Tin Sheds: Sydney Feminist Posters 1975-1990 and Girls at the Tin Sheds (Duplicated), Anne Bickford hijacked the microphone. Bickford was part of Sydney Women’s Liberation and sang at the Tin Shed’s dances in a band called the “Early Kookas”; she is also an established archaeologist and museologist. Mayhew braced, expecting criticism. During Bickford’s rowdy intervention in the formal proceedings, she drew attention to “The oo oo ah ah oo ah ah Dance” poster, produced by Jan Mackay and Chips Mackinolty, which had not been included in the exhibitions.3 This beautiful five-colour screen-printed poster was created to advertise a dance at the Tin Sheds, but the poster was and is understood as an artwork. Furthermore, for people who were part of the Tin Sheds crowd in the late 1970s it has a specific meaning. The “Oo oo ah ah oo ah ah” in the title refers to a song, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”, which was originally recorded by Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and covered by Bickford’s band in the late 1970s. Bickford then sang the “oo oo ah ah oo ah ah” section in the gallery. The band’s name refers to an Australian made stove, the Early Kooka, which featured an Australian bird called the kookaburra. In an Australian context “oo oo ah ah” is reminiscent of a kookaburra’s birdcall. A series of Kookaburras are printed on the poster, across the man’s jacket.

    The decontextualization that Bickford reflected on at the opening at Verge Gallery seems somewhat deliberate. In recent years there has been renewed interest in the Women’s Lib­eration archive, and Girls at the Tin Sheds seeks to redeploy past feminist activism in the present. This remembering in a Sydney gallery context is part of an international shift in western feminist memory. Despite curatorial differences, Mayhew and Yuill speak with the same intent. Mayhew writes: “the posters function as time capsules of vitality, conviction and earnestness. To consume them is motivating and uplifting. They beckon us to dance, panic, kiss and sabotage . . . again. In a similar manner but with a different focus, Yuill hopes that “such exhibitions re-engage with feminism and activism in the digital age”. Each exhibition, like other recent memory practices, renegotiates feminist activist legacies, but rather than framed by “third wave” angst and critique or by a sense of failure, there is a celebration of 1970s and 1980s activism. Recent practices scramble rather than reiterate the waves model. For example, women working at the Tin Sheds during the 1970s and 1980s would have resisted the term “girl”. As Bickford said in the interview, “we were girls,” but the term was used to trivialize adult women and was therefore resisted. “Girl” and “grrrl” are mostly associated with third wave feminisms, but here the term is applied to second wave feminist poster makers. Although the specificity and context of posters dissolves in the exhibition space, the emphasis is on the visual and political possibilities in the present. Rather than reading through a post-feminist lens, these two exhibitions invite contemporary feminist readings and tentatively call for action. Quite suddenly, it has become possible for younger women to celebrate rather than ironically perform liberation.



    This exhibit review originally appeared in Volume 3 of Museum Worlds: Advances in Research.



    1. Thanks to Anne Bickford and Louise R. Mayhew for their contribution to this review.
    2. The Melbourne University Archives also held an exhibition titled Protest!: Archives from the Uni­versity of Melbourne that also included feminist posters, but it was framed differently to the other exhibitions referenced here.
    3. Jan Mackay, Chips Mackinolty, and Earthworks Poster Collective, “The oo oo ah ah oo ah ah Dance”, screen-print, MAAS: 2007/56/72. MAAS Collection Search. (accessed 9 November 2015).

  • 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.




  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Honoring Andrzej Wajda


    Andrzej Wajda, Polish film and theatre director, passed away on October 9, 2016.

    Recipient of an Honorary Oscar and the Palme d’Or, he was a prominent member of the “Polish Film School“. He was known especially for his trilogy of war films consisting of A Generation (1954), Kanał (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).

    Four of his films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film: The Promised Land (1975), The Maids of Wilko (1979), Man of Iron (1981) and Katyń (2007).


    To honor Wajda and his contributions to Polish Cinema, we’ve highlighted relevant titles below.


    History, Politics & Nostalgia In Polish Cinema
    Janina Falkowska

    Falkowska’s comprehensive survey of Wajda’s artistic evolution is a worthwhile addition to the growing critical literature on this exceptional filmmaker. In practical terms, the monographs is also useable as a textbook and…can serve as a point of departure for the continuing discourse von Andrzej Wajda and his films.”  ·  Slavic and East European Journal

    The work of Andrzej Wajda, one of the world’s most important filmmakers, shows remarkable cohesion in spite of the wide ranging scope of his films, as this study of his complete output of feature films shows. Not only do his films address crucial historical, social and political issues; the complexity of his work is reinforced by the incorporation of the elements of major film and art movements. It is the reworking of these different elements by Wajda, as the author shows, which give his films their unique visual and aural qualities.


    Dialogism in Man of Marble, Man of Iron, and Danton
    Janina Falkowska

    Andrzej Wajda is considered one of Poland’s – many would say the world’s – greatest film directors. During the thirty-five years of his activity in film, theatre or television, his work, whether strong or weak, always arouses strong emotions and provokes intense debates in the media. His films deal with historical and political issues concerning Polish character and the nature of political power. Controversial, painful, stimulating and cinematically beautiful, they never fail to fully engage the spectator. This is particularly true for his major political films, which form the basis of the study. Applying Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism, the author shows how a creative interaction between the image on the screen and the viewer is established through Wajda’s films. At the same time, she offers a detailed analysis of the historical events leading up to the collapse of the Socialist system in Poland.




    Now in Paperback

    Politics and Memory
    Marek Haltof

    “In this excellently researched, highly informative survey of Polish films about the Holocaust, Haltof… expands on a chapter in his valuable Polish National Cinema… His measured assessments, conveyed in clear, accessible prose, are rooted in an enviable command of both the relevant production documents and important secondary literature. The select list of relevant films and television programs is very useful. The ample notes and fine bibliography incorporate many Polish sources as well as all the available literature in English.” · Choice

    This book is the first to address the representation of the Holocaust in Polish film and does so through a detailed treatment of several films, which the author frames in relation to the political, ideological, and cultural contexts of the times in which they were created. Following the chronological development of Polish Holocaust films, the book begins with two early classics: Wanda Jakubowska’s The Last Stage (1948) and Aleksander Ford’s Border Street (1949), and next explores the Polish School period, represented by Andrzej Wajda’s A Generation (1955) and Andrzej Munk’s The Passenger (1963). Between 1965 and 1980 there was an “organized silence” regarding sensitive Polish-Jewish relations resulting in only a few relevant films until the return of democracy in 1989 when an increasing number were made, among them Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Decalogue 8 (1988), Andrzej Wajda’s Korczak (1990), Jan Jakub Kolski’s Keep Away from the Window (2000), and Roman Polański’s The Pianist (2002). An important contribution to film studies, this book has wider relevance in addressing the issue of Poland’s national memory.



    Ewa Mazierska and Elzbieta Ostrowska

    “… an important contribution to film studies not only in Poland, but in Eastern and Central Europe in general. The authors demonstrate that women are both revered and despised in Polish culture, a phenomenon Mazierska and Ostrowska attribute to the persistence of overt patriarchy in both social relations and culture. This system of thought, they aver, has ‘shaped and policed the lives of Polish women’ for generations.”  ·  Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

    Polish film has long enjoyed an outstanding reputation but its best known protagonists tend to be male. This book points to the important role of women as key characters in Polish films, such as the enduring female figure in Polish culture, the “Polish Mother,” female characters in socialist realistic cinema, women depicted in the films of the Polish School, Solidarity heroines, and women in the films from the postcommunist period. Not less important for the success of Polish cinema are Polish women filmmakers, four of whom are presented in this volume: Wanda Jakubowska, Agnieszka Holland, Barbara Sass and Dorota Kędzierzawska, whose work is examined.

    Read Introduction


    The Films of Walerian Borowczyk
    Edited by Kamila Kuc, Kuba Mikurda, and Michał Oleszczyk

    There has been a recent revival of interest in the work of Polish film director Walerian Borowczyk, a label-defying auteur and “escape artist” if there ever was one. This collection serves as an introduction and a guide to Borowczyk’s complex and ambiguous body of work, including panoramic views of the director’s output, focused studies of particular movies, and more personal, impressionistic pieces. Taken together, these contributions comprise a wide-ranging survey that is markedly experimental in character, allowing scholars to gain insight into previously unnoticed aspects of Borowczyk’s oeuvre.

    Read Introduction: A Private Universe





    The Cinema of a Nonconformist
    Ewa Mazierska

    Jerzy Skolimowski is one of the most original Polish directors and one of only a handful who has gained genuine recognition abroad. This is the first monograph, written in English, to be devoted to his cinema. It covers Skolimowski’s career from his early successes in Poland, such as Identification Marks: None and Barrier, through his émigré films, Deep End, Moonlighting and The Lightship, to his return to Poland where, in 2008, he made the internationally acclaimed Four Nights with Anna.

    Ewa Mazierska addresses the main features of Skolimowski’s films, such as their affinity to autobiographism and surrealism, while discussing their characters, narratives, visual style, soundtracks, and the uses of literature. She draws on a wide range of cinematic and literary texts, situating Skolimowski’s work within the context of Polish and world cinema, and drawing parallels between his work and that of two directors, with whom he tends to be compared, Roman Polański and Jean-Luc Godard.



    Nominated for the 2003 American “Theatre Library Award”!

    Marek Haltof

    “Sources in English [on Polish cinema] are especially scant … What a relief, then, to read such an informed and concise yet exhaustive account of Polish cinema.”  · Slavic Review

    In the years since World War II, Poland has developed one of Europe’s most distinguished film cultures. However, in spite of the importance of Polish cinema this is a domain in need of systematic study.

    This book is the first comprehensive study of Polish cinema from the end of the 19th century to the present. It provides not only an introduction to Polish cinema within a socio-political and economic context, but also to the complexities of East-Central European cinema and politics.



    Black Peters and Men of Marble
    Ewa Mazierska

    Ewa Mazierska has set herself an ambitious task with this her new well researched book…[Her] study excels in the breadth of its comparison of Czech and Polish films…The volume also makes a valuable contribution to the study of how Socialist Realism was implemented in Czech and Polish cinema.  ·  Slavonic and East European Review

    Gender, especially masculinity, is a perspective rarely applied in discourses on cinema of Eastern/Central Europe. Masculinities in Polish, Czech and Slovak Cinema exposes an English-speaking audience to a large proportion of this region’s cinema that previously remained unknown, focusing on the relationship between representation of masculinity and nationality in the films of two and later three countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The objective of the book is to discuss the main types of men populating Polish, Czech and Slovak films: that of soldier, father, heterosexual and homosexual lover, against a rich political, social and cultural background. Czech, Slovak and Polish cinema appear to provide excellent material for comparison as they were produced in neighbouring countries which for over forty years endured a similar political system – state socialism.

    Visit Berghahn Film Studies website to few a full selection of Film Studies titles.

    Berghahn Journals:


    Screen Bodies
    An Interdisciplinary Journal of Experience, Perception, and Display


    Screen Bodies is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the intersection of Screen Studies and Body Studies across disciplines, institutions, and media. It is a forum promoting research on various aspects of embodiment on and in front of screens through articles, reviews, and interviews. The journal considers moving and still images, whether from the entertainment industry, information technologies, or news and media outlets, including cinema, television, the internet, and gallery spaces. It investigates the private experiences of portable and personal devices and the institutional ones of medical and surveillance imaging. Screen Bodies addresses the portrayal, function, and reception of bodies on and in front of screens from the perspectives of gender and sexuality, feminism and masculinity, trans* studies, queer theory, critical race theory, cyborg studies, and dis/ability studies.


    The Journal for Movies and Mind


    Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that explores the way in which the mind experiences, understands, and interprets the audio-visual and narrative structures of cinema and other visual media. Recognizing cinema as an art form, the journal aims to integrate established traditions of analyzing media aesthetics with current research into perception, cognition and emotion, according to frameworks supplied by psychology, psychoanalysis, and the cognitive and neurosciences.








  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Indigenous Peoples’ Day


    Indigenous Peoples Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths to promote Indigenous culture and commemorate the history of indigenous people. 


    “Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of indigenous people and a celebration of social justice … allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day,” Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant said.




    Berghahn recognizes the significance of indigenous cultures and is happy to present some of its relevant titles:

    The Image of Native Americans, National Identity, and Nazi Ideology in Germany
    Frank Usbeck


    “Usbeck’s study is very impressive. He has collected a great number of facts…[and] presents a most interesting book…An extensive bibliography concludes an important work that is also attractively illustrated.” · AmerIndian Research

    Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Germans exhibited a widespread cultural passion for tales and representations of Native Americans. This book explores the evolution of German national identity and its relationship with the ideas and cultural practices around “Indianthusiasm.” Pervasive and adaptable, imagery of Native Americans was appropriated by Nazi propaganda and merged with exceptionalist notions of German tribalism, oxymoronically promoting the Nazis’ racial ideology. This book combines cultural and intellectual history to scrutinize the motifs of Native American imagery in German literature, media, and scholarship, and analyzes how these motifs facilitated the propaganda effort to nurture national pride, racial thought, militarism, and hatred against the Allied powers among the German populace.

    Read Introduction

    The Gwich’in Natives of Alaska
    Steven C. Dinero


    The Gwich’in Natives of Arctic Village, Alaska, have experienced intense social and economic changes for more than a century. In the late 20th century, new transportation and communication technologies introduced radically new value systems; while some of these changes may be seen as socially beneficial, others suggest a weakening of what was once a strong and vibrant Native community. Using quantitative and qualitative data gathered since the turn of the millennium, this volume offers an interdisciplinary evaluation of the developments that have occurred in the community over the past several decades.

    Read Introduction


    Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations
    Edited by Marc Brightman, Carlos Fausto, and Vanessa Grotti
    Foreword by James Leach


    The first book to address the classic anthropological theme of property through the ethnography of Amazonia, Ownership and Nurture sets new and challenging terms for anthropological debates about the region and about property in general. Property and ownership have special significance and carry specific meanings in Amazonia, which has been portrayed as the antithesis of Western, property-based, civilization. Through carefully constructed studies of land ownership, slavery, shamanism, spirit mastery, aesthetics, and intellectual property, this volume demonstrates that property relations are of central importance in Amazonia, and that the ownership of persons plays an especially significant role in native cosmology.

    Read Introduction: Altering Ownership in Amazonia


    The Ewenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya
    Edited by Åshild Kolås and Yuanyuan Xie
    Foreword by F. Georg Heyne


    The reindeer herders of Aoluguya, China, are a group of former hunters who today see themselves as “keepers of reindeer” as they engage in ethnic tourism and exchange experiences with their Ewenki neighbors in Russian Siberia. Though to some their future seems problematic, this book focuses on the present, challenging the pessimistic outlook, reviewing current issues, and describing the efforts of the Ewenki to reclaim their forest lifestyle and develop new forest livelihoods. Both academic and literary contributions balance the volume written by authors who are either indigenous to the region or have carried out fieldwork among the Aoluguya Ewenki since the late 1990s.

    Read Introduction: Writing the ‘Reindeer Ewenki’


    Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields
    Michaela Pelican

    Volume 11, Integration and Conflict Studies


    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.

    Read Introduction


    Doing Good in Indigenous Australia
    Emma Kowal

    “Kowal’s work is essential to any project that seeks to change or even imagine a different world.” · Anthropos

    In Australia, a ‘tribe’ of white, middle-class, progressive professionals is actively working to improve the lives of Indigenous people. This book explores what happens when well-meaning people, supported by the state, attempt to help without harming. ‘White anti-racists’ find themselves trapped by endless ambiguities, contradictions, and double binds — a microcosm of the broader dilemmas of postcolonial societies. These dilemmas are fueled by tension between the twin desires of equality and difference: to make Indigenous people statistically the same as non-Indigenous people (to ‘close the gap’) while simultaneously maintaining their ‘cultural’ distinctiveness. This tension lies at the heart of failed development efforts in Indigenous communities, ethnic minority populations and the global South. This book explains why doing good is so hard, and how it could be done differently.

    Read Introduction


    From Territorial Subject to American Citizen
    Judith Schachter


    “Schachter has written a book that models how anthropologists can be responsible and responsive to indigenous people. [It is] massively researched but exceedingly accessible, ethically and methodologically groundbreaking, and yet humble in its ambition and presentation. This book deserves a wide audience, and will appeal to Hawai‘i specialists, as well as scholars of the Pacific and indigeneity. It is also imminently suited to classroom use, if students are ready for ethnographic detail…[and] will leave its own rich legacy for future generations of scholars.” · Asia Pacific Viewpoint

    The book traces the ways that Hawaiian values adapted to changing conditions under a Territorial regime and then after statehood. These conditions involved claims for land for Native Hawaiian Homesteads, education in American public schools, military service, and participation in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. Based on fieldwork observations, kitchen table conversations, and talk-stories, or mo`olelo, this book is a unique blend of biography, history, and anthropological analysis.

    Read Chapter 1. Introduction—A Perspective on Hawai`i-US Relations


    Inuit Perceptions of Animals
    Frédéric Laugrand and Jarich Oosten†


    “This is a beautiful and deeply humbling book whose detailed accounts show the depth, power, and wisdom of a worldview too often dismissed or forgotten. For all scholars of the Arctic and indigenous peoples and of major interest to thoughtful philosophers. Essential.” · Choice

    “… the book is excellent. It is a very strong volume, required reading for any scholar of the Arctic or for those whose work focuses on human animal relationships. The information in the book has provided me with insights about animals that I had never actively considered in my own work.” · Anthropos

    Inuit hunting traditions are rich in perceptions, practices and stories relating to animals and human beings. The authors examine key figures such as the raven, an animal that has a central place in Inuit culture as a creator and a trickster, and qupirruit, a category consisting of insects and other small life forms. After these non-social and inedible animals, they discuss the dog, the companion of the hunter, and the fellow hunter, the bear, considered to resemble a human being.

    Read Introduction


    Leadership, Masculinity and Wealth in the Amazon
    Marc Brightman


    Amerindian societies have an iconic status in classical political thought. For Montaigne, Hobbes, Locke, Hume and Rousseau, the native American ‘state of nature’ operates as a foil for the European polity. Challenging this tradition, The Imbalance of Power demonstrates ethnographically that the Carib speaking indigenous societies of the Guiana region of Amazonia do not fit conventional characterizations of ‘simple’ political units with ‘egalitarian’ political ideologies and ‘harmonious’ relationships with nature. Marc Brightman builds a persuasive and original theory of Amerindian politics: far from balanced and egalitarian, Carib societies are rife with tension and difference; but this imbalance conditions social dynamism and a distinctive mode of cohesion.


    Aref Abu-Rabia


    Modern medicine has penetrated Bedouin tribes in the course of rapid urbanization and education, but when serious illnesses strike, particularly in the case of incurable diseases, even educated people turn to traditional medicine for a remedy. Over the course of 30 years, the author gathered data on traditional Bedouin medicine among pastoral-nomadic, semi-nomadic, and settled tribes. Based on interviews with healers, clients, and other active participants in treatments, this book will contribute to renewed thinking about a synthesis between traditional and modern medicine — to their reciprocal enrichment.

    Read Introduction



    In Paperback

    The Complex Relation between Identity and Statistics
    Edited by Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld


    “Using historical and demographical evidence, the contributors explore the creation and validity of categories for enumerating indigenous populations, the use and misuse of ethnic markers, micro-demographic investigations, and demographic databases, and thereby show how the situation varies substantially between countries.” · International Journal of Anthropology

    When researchers want to study indigenous populations they are dependent upon the highly variable way in which states or territories enumerate, categorise and differentiate indigenous people. In this volume, anthropologists, historians, demographers and sociologists have come together for the first time to examine the historical and contemporary construct of indigenous people in a number of fascinating geographical contexts around the world, including Canada, the United States, Colombia, Russia, Scandinavia, the Balkans and Australia. Using historical and demographical evidence, the contributors explore the creation and validity of categories for enumerating indigenous populations, the use and misuse of ethnic markers, micro-demographic investigations, and demographic databases, and thereby show how the situation varies substantially between countries.

    Read Introduction


    In Paperback!

    Indigenous Peoples and Global Communication
    Valerie Alia


    “…a scholar with extensive knowledge of indigenous life in the Canadian North, has compiled a valuable and timely compendium on how Native societies from the Arctic to Australia use new media technologies to reinforce local cultures and establish global connections…Highly recommended.” · Choice

    Around the planet, Indigenous people are using old and new technologies to amplify their voices and broadcast information to a global audience. This is the first portrait of a powerful international movement that looks both inward and outward, helping to preserve ancient languages and cultures while communicating across cultural, political, and geographical boundaries. Based on more than twenty years of research, observation, and work experience in Indigenous journalism, film, music, and visual art, this volume includes specialized studies of Inuit in the circumpolar north, and First Nations peoples in the Yukon and southern Canada and the United States.


    In Paperback! 

    Ethno-Political Leadership among the Russian Sámi
    Indra Overland and Mikkel Berg-Nordlie


    “[These] excellent chapters detail the emergence of cross-border ties between Russia’s Sámi communities and Nordic Sámi, and assess their contributions to cultural renewal . . . The socioeconomic and cultural portrait [drawn] will likely seem all too familiar to scholars of other Arctic and subarctic indigenous populations in northern Eurasia, but some of the information is unique to Russia’s Sámi, making this an indispensable contribution to the documentation of northern peoples. Essential.” · Choice

    The Sámi are a Northern indigenous people whose land, Sápmi, covers territory in Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. For the Nordic Sámi, the last decades of the twentieth century saw their indigenous rights partially recognized, a cultural and linguistic revival, and the establishment of Sámi parliaments. The Russian Sámi, however, did not have the same opportunities and were isolated behind the closed border until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This book examines the following two decades and the Russian Sámi’s attempt to achieve a linguistic revival, to mend the Cold War scars, and to establish their own independent ethno-political organizations.

    Read Chapter 1. Introduction


    Indigenous Accumulation in Hausaland
    Paul Clough


    “Clough’s large and data-packed book… is directly contesting a truism of contemporary economics and politics, that there is only one way to do markets and that Western-style capitalism will and must sweep all other ways of conducting market behavior before it… One of the most fascinating points that Clough makes is the impact of Islam on labor relations…” · Anthropology Review Database

    The land, labor, credit, and trading institutions of Marmara village, in Hausaland, northern Nigeria, are detailed in this study through fieldwork conducted in two national economic cycles – the petroleum-boom prosperity (in 1977-1979), and the macro-economic decline (in 1985, 1996 and 1998). The book unveils a new paradigm of economic change in the West African savannah, demonstrating how rural accumulation in a polygynous society actually limits the extent of inequality while at the same time promoting technical change. A uniquely African non-capitalist trajectory of accumulation subordinates the acquisition of capital to the expansion of polygynous families, clientage networks, and circles of trading friends. The whole trajectory is driven by an indigenous ethics of personal responsibility. This model disputes the validity of both Marxian theories of capitalist transformation in Africa and the New Institutional Economics.


    New in Paperback

    Perspectives on the Home, Hearth and Household in the Circumpolar North
    Edited by David G. Anderson, Robert P. Wishart, and Virginie Vaté


    “Each chapter offers something interesting for the reader…One can list bright and sometimes provocative ideas put forth by each contributor…The main advantage of this book is the ability to spark interest among the most diverse groups of specialists in the field of indigenous cultures.” · Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale

    Due to changing climates and demographics, questions of policy in the circumpolar north have focused attention on the very structures that people call home. Dwellings lie at the heart of many forms of negotiation. Based on years of in-depth research, this book presents and analyzes how the people of the circumpolar regions conceive, build, memorialize, and live in their dwellings. This book seeks to set a new standard for interdisciplinary work within the humanities and social sciences and includes anthropological work on vernacular architecture, environmental anthropology, household archaeology and demographics.


    In Paperback

    Edited by David G. Anderson


    “The contributors have made excellent use of recently opened archives and interviews with descendants of the people surveyed to provide a uniquely human portrait of this seminal project. While the chapters focus most thoroughly on the Nenets, Khanty, and Yakut, the analysis is of broader relevance to an understanding of Siberian peoples during the first stages of the sovietization of the Far North. This book will prove of unique value to historians of the Soviet period as well as to cultural anthropologists specializing in polar peoples. Highly recommended.” · Choice

    In 1926/27 the Soviet Central Statistical Administration initiated several yearlong expeditions to gather primary data on the whereabouts, economy and living conditions of all rural peoples living in the Arctic and sub-Arctic at the end of the Russian civil war. Due partly to the enthusiasm of local geographers and ethnographers, the Polar Census grew into a massive ethnological exercise, gathering not only basic demographic and economic data on every household but also a rich archive of photographs, maps, kinship charts, narrative transcripts and museum artifacts. To this day, it remains one of the most comprehensive surveys of a rural population anywhere. The contributors to this volume – all noted scholars in their region – have conducted long-term fieldwork with the descendants of the people surveyed in 1926/27. This volume is the culmination of eight years’ work with the primary record cards and was supported by a number of national scholarly funding agencies in the UK, Canada and Norway. It is a unique historical, ethnographical analysis and of immense value to scholars familiar with these communities’ contemporary cultural dynamics and legacy.


    Contemporary Ethnoecological Perspectives
    Edited by Miguel N. Alexiades


    “This impressive compilation exploring multiple faces of ethnoecology and mobility will have broad appeal to audiences of anthropology, cultural geography, ethnoecology, ethnobotany, and Latin American studies…[Its] commendable incorporation of multiple nations and ethnic groups makes it a particularly valuable contribution.  ·  Anthropos

    Contrary to ingrained academic and public assumptions, wherein indigenous lowland South American societies are viewed as the product of historical emplacement and spatial stasis, there is widespread evidence to suggest that migration and displacement have been the norm, and not the exception. This original and thought-provoking collection of case studies examines some of the ways in which migration, and the concomitant processes of ecological and social change, have shaped and continue to shape human-environment relations in Amazonia. Drawing on a wide range of historical time frames (from pre-conquest times to the present) and ethnographic contexts, different chapters examine the complex and important links between migration and the classification, management, and domestication of plants and landscapes, as well as the incorporation and transformation of environmental knowledge, practices, ideologies and identities.


    Development, Democracy, and Indigenous Voices in Southern Africa
    Megan Biesele and Robert K. Hitchcock


    The Ju/’hoan San, or Ju/’hoansi, of Namibia and Botswana are perhaps the most fully described indigenous people in all of anthropology. This is the story of how this group of former hunter-gatherers, speaking an exotic click language, formed a grassroots movement that led them to become a dynamic part of the new nation that grew from the ashes of apartheid South West Africa. While coverage of this group in the writings of Richard Lee, Lorna Marshall, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and films by John Marshall includes extensive information on their traditional ways of life, this book continues the story as it has unfolded since 1990. Peopled with accounts of and from contemporary Ju>/’hoan people, the book gives newly-literate Ju/’hoansi the chance to address the world with their own voices. In doing so, the images and myths of the Ju/’hoan and other San (previously called “Bushmen”) as either noble savages or helpless victims are discredited. This important book demonstrates the responsiveness of current anthropological advocacy to the aspirations of one of the best-known indigenous societies.



    Of Related Interest from Berghahn Journals:



    Anthropology in Action
    Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice

    Anthropology in Action is a peer-reviewed journal publishing articles, commentaries, research reports, and book reviews in applied anthropology. Contributions reflect the use of anthropological training in policy- or practice-oriented work and foster the broader application of these approaches to practical problems.

    Special Issue: Indigenous Knowledge in Development



    Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology

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

    Featured Article: The social life of categories: Affirmative action and trajectories of the indigenous
    Bengt G. Karlsson



    Girlhood Studies
    An Interdisciplinary Journal

    Girlhood Studies is a peer-reviewed journal providing a forum for the critical discussion of girlhood from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, and for the dissemination of current research and reflections on girls’ lives to a broad, cross-disciplinary audience of scholars, researchers, practitioners in the fields of education, social service and health care and policy makers.

    Special Issue: Indigenous Girls

    Museum Worlds
    Advances in Research

    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.

    Featured Article: Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation—A Personal Reflection
    Howard Morphy

    Be sure to check out the Museum Worlds website for more on museums, such as exhibit reviews, virtual museum tours, image galleries, and a virtual journal issue highlighting Museum Studies articles from Berghahn Journals.

    Nature and Culture

    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.

    Featured Article: Legal Pluralism, Forest Conservation, and Indigenous Capitalists: The Case of the Kalanguya in Tinoc, the Philippines
    Adrian Albano, Els van Dongen and Shinya Takeda



    Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

    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.

    Featured Article: Trickster Lessons in Early Canadian Indigenous Communities
    Carolyn Podruchny

    Social Analysis
    The International Journal of Social and Cultural Practice

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

    Featured Article: Representing Mayas: Indigenous Authorities and Citizenship Demands in Guatemala
    Elisabet Dueholm Rasch





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 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.

Berghahn Online will offer a high-performing platform with the following innovative features and services in addition to those already offered to Institutional Users

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