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  • EnviroSociety

    Where the Grass Is Greener: The Case for Anthropology in an Age of Populist Sentiment

    In a presidential election year such as this, I as an American citizen am constantly inundated by the displays of political theater that have come to mark the quadrennial spectacle of our democracy: the conventions, photo ops, caricatures, impassioned speeches, and more. 2016 has been unique in that the specter of populism—which, to paraphrase Marx, has long haunted the United States of America—has come to overshadow “politics as usual.” Americans have watched in wonder on television and social media as populists Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders took the nation by storm (albeit with a few major ideological and strategic differences between them). However, with all of the showmanship and wonder surrounding the election of our country’s most powerful individual, it cannot be forgotten that the currents that drive national waves are playing out in unique ways across our country, in communities large and small alike.

    During the summer of 2015, I had the opportunity to watch these currents unfold at the local level. I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Ashtabula County, Ohio, with a small group of social justice activists who called themselves the Vincina Protocol Project (VPP). They had a history of engaging in anti-drug activism in their community and were beginning to change fronts to focus on public health and environmental justice. VPP’s leader, Mike, founded the project in response to his experience with his wife Vincina’s diagnosis with and eventual death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). At the beginning of my research tenure, I was both alarmed and confused by the seemingly random directions VPP leaders took: the group was notable for sudden changes in course, and it quickly became clear to me that the ragtag group was stretched thin by other commitments in addition to being largely inexperienced activists.

    However, as I dug deeper, I discovered that the motivations for VPP’s actions could only be explained as a series of relationships among people. VPP activism was driven by subjective motivations in their relationships to community members, loved ones, and what they called broadly “politicians.” The attachments have varying degrees of affection associated with them: some attachments are affinitive and loving, while others are antagonistic. For instance, while Vincina served as the inspiration for the project and was used as a means of connecting to residents, an equally important relationship was the one of distrust for local government and corporations. Nonetheless, I consider the entanglements that bind people’s social worlds together to be of the utmost importance in understanding how populist movements—characterized by their rejection of technocratic elites—fruit and frolic in contemporary America (see Nading 2014). The antipathy Ashtabula County residents convey toward governance by science is not limited to environmental justice, which I initially set out to understand. Instead, it is a form of embodied inequality, visible in bodies inscribed by chemicals—drugs and effluents alike. Anthropologists understand how and why certain bodies become inscribed through relations of power among individuals, particularly their affections and affinities for them.

    As anthropologists, we refer to this process by which ordinary people engage and attempt to change the political context of their lives as cultural activism (Ginsburg 2004). Mike formed VPP in response to his wife’s death from ALS; the stated mission of VPP has two tenets:

    • Assist medical professionals in designing a universal protocol for diagnosing ALS, especially focusing on achieving an early diagnosis. According to my interviews with both the professional caretakers and family members of ALS sufferers, ALS is notoriously difficult to diagnose because it manifests differently for different patients. The symptoms often mimic other less severe and more common illnesses. This means that Mike and Vincina’s experience, in which she was sent to several specialists and given a litany of diagnoses over the course of a few months, is common.
    • Mobilize citizens not only of Ashtabula County but also statewide and nationally to become aware of and challenge what VPP activists see as political and economic exploitation by a class of elites. This exploitation is far-reaching in its implications for Ashtabula County residents’ lives. My interviews revealed that not only activists but also non-activists in this area see their lives as dictated by powerful politicians, drug lords, corporations, industrialists, and bankers. Control is exerted literally over and inscribed into the bodies of Ashtabula residents in the form of pollution-borne illness, drug addiction, malnutrition, an aging populace, and other markers of poor health.

    You might immediately notice the grandiosity and breadth of each goal, let alone the feasibility of achieving them in tandem. However, my fieldwork revealed an even broader mission than that. As it turns out, many of the individuals who worked on VPP were previously involved in Mike and Vincina’s project called the Conneaut Drug-Free Commission (CDFC). CDFC’s goal was similar to VPP’s: “awaken” residents of Ashtabula County (particularly the city of Conneaut, in which the Helfinstines lived) to the plight of power drug traffickers afflicting the health and bodies of their quaint little town (Media Magic Ohio 2012). And even now, one year later, while VPP has mostly disintegrated due to the daily commitments of those initially on board (including, admittedly, myself) Mike has redirected to fighting a bank foreclosure that stemmed from financial difficulties incurred during Vincina’s illness and death.

    There are three inescapable parallels between the two narratives. First, there is a perception of a threat in the form of a chemical intruder; the chemical intruder, whether it is a drug or the byproduct of some industrial process, inflicts harm upon and alters the bodies of those it inhabits against their will (Deluca 2014). Second, the flow of chemicals into and out of the Ashtabula County environment is controlled by power brokers generally outside of the county: local politicians are viewed as puppets to state and national politicians, drug traffickers, and businesspeople, resulting in a perception of geographic alienation from the individuals and decisions that implicate the lives of real people living in this rural area. Third and finally, there is a barrier of uncertainty erected by both the risks involved in the possibility of exposure and the distance between elite technocrats and Ashtabula County residents (Pillsbury-Foster 2012).

    The vision of an elite class, geographically isolated from the consequences of their decisions and seemingly unaccountable to the public at large, mimics many of the themes we have been seeing and hearing in this year’s presidential election. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and (increasingly) Hillary Clinton have all rallied around campaign themes such as rejecting the status quo, kicking unaccountable bureaucrats out, and putting the wants and needs of average working Americans first. Examples of this not only apply to environmental justice and the presidency but also occur in countless other movements like Black Lives Matter. People around the country, not just in Ashtabula County, feel as though the people who are supposed to protect them—police, scientists, politicians, and the list goes on—are not doing so. “Expert knowledge” counts less and less when the experts are seemingly wrong; the decisions made are less trusted when populations feel they have little control and are subjected to bear the consequences (Szerszynski et al. 1996).

    I argue that the process by which individuals are alienated from one another in democratic society is driven by fraying interpersonal relationships. Distrust of elites is both symptomatic and causal. At present, these relationships are founded on disagreements and misunderstandings that place much of the public at odds with the scientific class. Part of the nature of ALS is its inherent uncertainty: as yet, scientists do not know what causes it, and so identifying risk factors is uncertain, in addition to the earlier anecdote indicating uncertainty in its diagnosis. VPP, for instance, seemed hitched to a hypothesis that toxins released during algal blooms had caused the illnesses in Ashtabula County. Algal blooms often appear when large amounts of phosphorus leech into freshwater from agricultural and industrial waste. Because both of these economic drivers are present in the county, this idea made sense to VPP. However, when evidence contradicts assumption, the tendency is to fill in those knowledge gaps with some other explanation. To VPP, a lack of algal blooms in Lake Erie near Ashtabula County could be explained by the possibility that algal blooms near Toledo, Ohio, had caused the toxins to travel. Uncertainty translates to unboundedness, which manifests in the form of fear and anxiety.

    Populist movements like VPP activism are driven primarily by a belief in power and inequality, namely that power is being concentrated and usurped by a privileged few whose decisions are consequential for many. The perception of inequality transcends typical lines of race, sex, and ethnicity: most of the activists with whom I worked were white, which is reflective of Ashtabula County’s 93 percent white populace (US Census Bureau 2015). Knowing how people come to understand environmental illness is instrumental if we wish to engage our public in behaviors that will result in improved environmental health for both individuals and the landscape. Through my work, I hope to show how what may be conceived as objective scientific knowledge is actually laced with political, social, and emotional understandings about community, nature, and self-determination.

    As anthropologists, we have an indispensable tool—cultural relativism—at our hands that allows us to compare and contrast differing strains of thought in order to explain behavior. By approaching science communication as a form of intercultural communication and citizenship, it may be possible for scientists to find ways of bridging this divide so they can work with the public to establish a scientifically informed democracy. I argue that the responsibility for this lies with the scientific class and could have important benefits for our national struggles to address such issues as climate change, water quality, Superfund cleanup, and more. As an activist ethnographer, I share my informants’ conviction that greater participation in the democratic process is necessary to liberate the oppressed; in terms of environmental justice, this can only be possible by disintegrating barriers between the academic and working class and by including the public in the social relations of science making.

    The populist waves making their way through our country present anthropologists an opportunity to make our case as drivers of social change who are able to negotiate the lines between experts and laypeople. By conceiving science as a form of culture, it becomes possible to understand why binaries of “right” and “wrong” create opposition and animosity for an average citizen with little to no formal scientific training. Instead, today’s environmental challenges demand the cultural sensitivity and inclusive communication style of anthropologists if we are to work toward public goals that ensure the prosperity and safety of all people.

    The author would like to thank Mike Helfinstine and Joshua Smalley for their feedback and contributions in writing this blog post.

    Richard Bargielski
    is a PhD student in applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. He researches environmental justice, democracy, and the anthropology of knowledge in the United States.


    Bargielski, Richard. 2016. Attachment, Risk, and Entanglement in Ashtabula County, Ohio. M.A. thesis, The Ohio State University.

    Deluca, Dave. 2014. “Occurrences of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) High in Conneaut.” Star Beacon, 14 July.

    Ginsburg, Faye. 2004. “Foreword.” Pp. ix–xvii in Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power, and Public Life in America, ed. M. Checker and M. Fishman. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Media Magic Ohio. 2012. Meth-dot-Com: A Documentary Film by Media Magic Productions and the Conneaut Drug Free Commission. 4 March.

    Milton, Kay. 2002. Loving Nature: Towards an Ecology of Emotion. London: Routledge.

    Nading, Alex M. 2014. Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Pillsbury-Foster, Melinda. 2012. “Ashtabula: A Sacrifice Zone to Greed.” Freedom’s Phoenix, 12 April (accessed 23 February 2016).

    Szerszynski, Bronislaw, et al. 1996. “Ecology, Realism and the Social Sciences.” Pp. 1–26 in Risk, Environment and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology, ed. S. Lash et al. London: SAGE.

    United States Census Bureau. 2015. “Ashtabula County, QuickFacts, 5 December 2015 (accessed 23 February 2016).

    United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2016. “What Is Environmental Justice?” EPA Environmental Justice Home, 22 February (accessed 23 February 2016).

    Cite as: 
    Bargielski, Richard. 2016. “Where the Grass Is Greener: The Case for Anthropology in an Age of Populist Sentiment.” EnviroSociety, 11 August.

  • FocaalBlog

    Bruce Kapferer: Brexit and Remain: A pox on all their houses

    A crisis is always good for humor. The English satirical magazine Private Eye caught the spirit of uncertainty and the possible tragedy of Brexit—that many of those who voted for it may have intensified their abjection as a result. One spoof comment for The Daily Turkeygraph (a composite of the conservative Daily Mail and Telegraph papers) written by Jeremy Paxo (a reference to the news commentator Jeremy Paxman, also a brand of stuffing mix) was headlined “TURKEYS VOTE FOR CHRISTMAS IN REFERENDUM CLIFFHANGE.R. Another for The Indepandent (sic, The Independent, a liberal/conservative paper) headlined “BRITAIN VOTES TO LEAVE FRYING PAN AND JUMP INTO FIRE.”

    Karl Marx might have made much of Brexit and the tragedy and farce of its still unfolding events. Indeed, for many commentators it fits into a global pattern, echoing, in some of its key respects, what is happening elsewhere in this era of globalization. In other words, Brexit is one act in a global theater of the absurd that receives enthusiastic applause in some quarters and cries of grim foreboding in others. The characters of its play share qualities with others elsewhere as does its narrative. In combination, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage bear comparison with Donald Trump whose opponent, Hillary Clinton, increasingly parallels the establishment-saving direction of the Tory shape change from David Cameron to Theresa May, perhaps the shadow of Margaret Thatcher in more patronizing and empathetic gloss. The plot line—virtually Shakespearian in proportion, as many comment—is of ruling elites, the “Establishment,” in crisis.

    The Brexit/Remain fight began as a struggle for control of the executive machinery of state within bourgeois fractions of the Tory right. This was/is mirrored in similar in-fighting and backstabbing among bourgeois factions of the Labour Party. The struggles as a whole developed in an effort to win the support of the general population of cross-cutting and opposed class interests, especially of the economically and occupationally vulnerable, most significantly, those in the deindustrialized areas extending from the Midlands into the North of England. This, indeed, echoes in certain broad structural respects, what Marx wrote regarding the events after 1848 leading to Louis Napoleon’s dictatorial counter coup in which alliances and commitments, made by elements of the bourgeoisie with the excluded and the exploited (farmers, peasants, and urban proletariat) in France at the time, were broken, and oppressive forces at the root of the problems extended their sway.

    The farcical tragedy of Louis Napoleon occurred in the early stages of the formation of the nation-state and one kind of democratic parliamentary system in the making. Its flaws were exposed in its bourgeois subversion. Brexit’s farcical tragedy and the events reverberating from it are one further instance of the crisis of the nation-state and of its democratic claims at a moment very probably at the end of its cycle and the emergence of new assemblages of the political on the ever transforming or transmutational bed of capital.

    The Brexit/Remain rhetoric expressed contradictions at the heart of the social order of the nation-state driven by the further expansion of corporate power: the corporations being institutions for the protection and pursuit of bourgeois economic interest (including a degree of unity with other class interests) outside those of the executive machinery of the state. When Marx wrote, and for a long time after, the bourgeoisie needed the apparatuses of the state and fought over it. They still do, of course, but the development of the modern banking, business, and industrial corporation has assumed virtual political-societal proportion of its own to rival that of nation-states. Nation-states themselves have been infiltrated by corporatism, their bureaucratic infrastructure is reflecting this supported by the ideology of neoliberalism. The Brexit/Remain opposition is the manifestation of the contradiction of the nation-state by the corporate state, the EU.

    This was lurking in the bowels of the nation-state (certainly its Western forms but also in different manner in state orders elsewhere in the world) from its development, and before.

    The antecedents of many contemporary corporations, at least in practice, were free-booting virtually piratical bands, or privateering organizations, working outside or at the edges of the political orders of states, often their unregulated extension but operating with state protection. The most powerful manifestations of this were the joint stock companies operating from the sixteenth century in Asia, America, the Pacific, and so on. They were the raw face of capitalism, legendary in their greed for profit and the corruption of the polities they constructed (or infiltrated) for the pursuit of their enterprise. Elizabethan England, if not a pirate state was a pirate haven that preyed on imperial states such as Spain who unsuccessfully launched its Armada in an effort of suppression. What began with a bang of England’s modern imperial beginnings might now look a little like ending with the whimper of Brexit—England (the United Kingdom threatened with collapse) cast outside larger agglomerates of state-ordered or protected enterprise but potentially reverting to a kind of pirate haven of before, a place for relatively unregulated piratical or privateering corporate organizations to operate freely in the plundering for profit. Hence, the city of London might eventually thrive under Brexit. There are reports that London has long been a major global hub for the Mafia anyway and certainly a sanctuary for Russian oligarchs—the equivalent of the robber barons (past and more recent) vital in the building of US corporate power and its ruling bourgeoisie.

    It was Thomas Hobbes, strange as it might seem to many, who saw the imminent threat of the corporate bodies (business/commercial/mercantile conglomerates) to the state and also to society. His imagination of the destructive, fragmenting forces of society—an essential, natural, tension against social coherence born of individual/group self-interested competition—is produced in part by Hobbes’s observation of merchant corporations at the time. Hobbes’s stress on a transcendent sovereign polity as the condition for an ordered society (wherein its economic forces are subdued) can be read not only as a recommendation for the subordination of the economic to the political for the pursuit of the commonweal but also as recognition of the contradiction of state political (social) order by the corporate.

    But back to Brexit.

    The absurdity of the present moment, not to say its bathos, is of various fractions of the ruling or would-be ruling bourgeoisie fighting over the control of apparatuses connected to state function. The Tories under Theresa May have done a momentary patch-up job (a fragile unity of conflicting elements) whereas Labour’s factional contest is widening with deepening impotent effect. This is likely to continue with the camp around Jeremy Corbyn, the pious principled center, in sharpening conflict with the parliamentary members of Labour. This is part of the effort to reconnect, as with May for the Tories, with those alienated from the bourgeoisie of the parliamentary establishment. This move within the ranks of Labour (and apparently drawing anew from youth across the classes—themselves alienated as indicated in the 2011 London riots) is an intimation and reflection of a much broader—international in fact—disillusionment and discontent with the “democratic” institutions of the nation-state.

    The foregoing brawling within the bourgeoisie masks another and more sinister bourgeois and class process, that of the economic political order of the corporations. They more than rival state power. They are, in many respects, in their social organizational dimensions, social systems in themselves with structures of sociopolitical mobility within (vertical) and between (horizontal) them—the circulation or musical chairs of CEOs across corporations. The corporations and the system they are increasingly coming to form (like the capitalism of their foundation) continually expand and transform through their logics of competition. There is a tendency, I suggest, to the formation of socioeconomic orders parallel to those of nation-states, expressive of the crisis of their contradictions and the hardening social cleavages.

    Schismatic tendencies are indicated—an in-society of the corporate and an out-society of those at the fringe. The populations of the latter are placed virtually outside the society corporate and left to fend or forage for themselves. This often seems to be the meaning of privatization, austerity. It is among the outs that the Uber economies are developing that express a corporate business ethos—the new false consciousness of ideological inclusion masking and facilitating the forces of the social cleavage that is occurring. In this regard, such populist TV shows as The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, with their message of ruthless social and moral indifference, achieve great ideological significance. The in-society of increasingly corporate domination is the truly disciplined society made famous by Foucault. Once a dimension of the world of the industrialized realities antecedent to contemporary corporate orders (I am thinking of company towns, the social orders of the Levittowners in the United States, postwar New Towns and Garden Cities in Britain, like Letchworth), the disciplinary process of the corporation is directed to the disciplining of the middle and professional classes rather than the working classes (for whom the Uber economies and a business ethos are becoming relevant as they are being made redundant in the wake of corporate collapse and takeover). The celebritization of intellectuals is an aspect of the expansion and disciplinary control of the societal corporatizing process as Sheldon Wolin has excellently described in Democracy Incorporated. The corporations overall may be understood as machines of bourgeois domestication and for the production of more members of the bourgeoisie (at least in style of life and attitude) reinventing society in the image of the ideals of corporate order—the current transformations occurring in the universities, their corporatization, is an example worth considering.

    The old bourgeoisie is scrapping over the fast diminishing potency of the machineries of the nation state. But new fractions of the bourgeoisie have arisen, those dominant within them capturing control over the executive functions of the nation state but without any need to participate in electoral processes. The Brexit campaigners played to such a consciousness in highlighting EU bureaucratic rule, and it is a strong aspect of the anti-Establishment resentment that often confuses or mixes the new Establishment with the old. The anger expressed at London and Westminster, it might be suggested, is not so much a continuing fury at the “Great Wen,” in Cobbett’s sense, but a recognition that London is a center of the kind of corporate power, antidemocratic managerial force, that has supplanted the political orders of an older traditionalist bourgeoisie. The corporate is antipolitics and/or uses the political to subvert its processes—engaging democratic practice often in an effort to subvert it (what Wolin refers to as inverted totalitarianism).

    Unlike in the context of Marx’s analysis of the bourgeois crisis surrounding Louis Napoleon, the new corporate bourgeoisie can operate outside the executive structures of the state (or infuse themselves into it via privatization policies) and without forming class alliances. Rather they target individuals and sectional interests, buying their acquiescence or commitment, tying them to contract by legal means or thuggish threat, with the effect of dividing class action and fracturing communities. The way was cleared by Thatcher and compounded by Blair and his minions in their attacks on the power of the unions. Corbyn’s Labour is attempting to overcome this legacy but may be hopelessly and stagnantly gripped in a party order that has itself been corporatized.

    The farce of the Brexit/Remain event is also its tragedy. The whole opposition is a false one—a blowup of a factional fight within one political party whose effect is the paralyzing of those who might best contest it, leading to the social and political field being held by forces that will probably intensify much of the distress to which Brexit/Remain gave rise. Some of the tragedy of the farce is undoubtedly the racism excited by the jingoism of an imperialist rhetoric of yore, bent further as a false consciousness misdirecting class anxieties of the present. The Brexit leaders certainly put such a false consciousness (“Make Britain Great Again,” immigrants as scapegoats of class anguish) if ever there is one, to great use. The racism is an ever-present rhetorical resource of prejudice (harbored in different ways across the classes) spawned by an imperial history that is at an end, and, if not, likely hastened by Brexit itself. But the full tragedy of the event (I leave aside the real likelihood that Brexit may not happen, at least as many might imagine, see Douglas Holmes’s FocaalBlog contribution) has shades of what Marx discussed in The Eighteenth Brumaire—the takeover by antidemocratic forces in the shape of the corporate and its bourgeoisie (composed of new and old elements), the new puppet masters of political institutions of the nation-state emptied of any democratic potency and even more alienated from the populace they are intended to serve.

    Brexit and Remain in this view are different sides of the same coin, very possibly contributing to a new age of reaction that is being manifested in various ways across the globe.

    Bruce Kapferer is Emeritus Professor in Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, and Honorary Professor, Anthropology, University College London. He is currently Director of the ERC Advanced Project on Egalitarianism.

    Cite as: Kapferer, Bruce. 2016. “Brexit and Remain: A pox on all their houses.” FocaalBlog, 19 August.

  • Museum Worlds

    Museum News: May 2016


    LA’s Getty Center Blends Oculus-Ready VR With Ancient Chinese Art In Virtual Reality Museum Exhibit, via International Business Times

    Polish government to take control of WWII museum, via The Washington Post

    Activists Occupy Brooklyn Museum in Protest of Two Exhibitions, via Artforum

    A Verona Museum’s Stolen Paintings Are Found in Ukraine, via The New York Times

    London Museum Hopes To Reboot Eric, Britain’s First Robot, via NPR

    Smithsonian Offers Sneak Peek of Museum of African-American History, via TIME

    National museum aims to preserve Palestinian history, via AlJazeera

    Treasures From the Deep at the British Museum, via Wall Street Journal

  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    World Breastfeeding Week 2016


    World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration which is held yearly from 1st to 7th of August in more than 120 countries.

    Being organized by WABA, WHO and UNICEF, the goal is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases and fostering growth. The World Breastfeeding Week 2016 theme is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share. To learn more please visit

    In marking this year’s observance, Berghahn is pleased to feature a selection of books of related interest and offer a 25% discount on all Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality series titles. For the next 30 days use discount code FRS16 at checkout.

    Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality Series

    Understanding the complex and multifaceted issue of human reproduction has been, and remains, of great interest both to academics and practitioners. This series includes studies by specialists in the field of social, cultural, medical, and biological anthropology, medical demography, psychology, and development studies.


    An American Cultural Dilemma
    Cecília Tomori


    “In this beautifully written ethnography… Cecılia Tomori provides a broad‐ranging yet in‐depth discussion of numerous anthropological topics, including kinship, reproduction, and personhood… This book is a pleasure to read, and will be of interest not only to scholars of gender, kinship, and reproduction, but also to those who work on the subjects of embodiment, authoritative knowledge, expertise, morality, the house, and temporality. It deserves to be read widely, both within the academy and beyond.”Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute

    Nighttime for many new parents in the United States is fraught with the intense challenges of learning to breastfeed and helping their babies sleep so they can get rest themselves. Through careful ethnographic study of the dilemmas raised by nighttime breastfeeding, and their examination in the context of anthropological, historical, and feminist studies, this volume unravels the cultural tensions that underlie these difficulties. As parents negotiate these dilemmas, they not only confront conflicting medical guidelines about breastfeeding and solitary infant sleep, but also larger questions about cultural and moral expectations for children and parents, and their relationship with one another.


    Attachment Parenting and Intensive Motherhood in the UK and France
    Charlotte Faircloth


    Following networks of mothers in London and Paris, the author profiles the narratives of women who breastfeed their children to full term, typically a period of several years, as part of an ‘attachment parenting’ philosophy. These mothers talk about their decision to continue breastfeeding as ‘the natural thing to do’: ‘evolutionarily appropriate’, ‘scientifically best’ and ‘what feels right in their hearts’. Through a theoretical focus on knowledge claims and accountability, the author frames these accounts within a wider context of ‘intensive parenting’, arguing that parenting practices – infant feeding in particular – have become a highly moralized affair for mothers, practices which they feel are a critical aspect of their ‘identity work’. The book investigates why, how and with what implications some of these mothers describe themselves as ‘militant lactivists’ and reflects on wider parenting culture in the UK and France. Discussing gender, feminism and activism, this study contributes to kinship and family studies by exploring how relatedness is enacted in conjunction to constructions of the self.


    Behaviour, Beliefs and Taboos among the Gogo Mothers in Tanzania
    Mara Mabilia
    Translated from the Italian by Mary S. Ash


    “This volume is exemplary in the field of anthropological research…The writing style is clear and reflective…I recommend Breastfeeding and Sexuality for those interested in Tanzanian maternal–child health practices, cross-cultural studies, anthropological research methods, breast-feeding and women’s experiences.”  ·  Journal of Biosocial Science

    Whereas in western countries breastfeeding is an uncontroversial, purely personal issue, in most parts of the world mother and baby form part of a network of interpersonal relations with its own rules and expectations. In this study, the author examines the cultural and social context of breastfeeding among the Gogo women of the Cigongwe’s village in Tanzania, as part of the Paediatric Programme of Doctors with Africa, based in Padua. The focus is on mothers’ behaviour and post partum taboos as key elements in Gogo understanding of the vicissitudes of the breast feeding process. This nutritional period is subject to many different events both physical and social that may upset the natural and intense link between mother and child. Any violation of cultural norms, particularly those dealing with sexual behaviour, marriage and reproduction, can, in the eyes of the Gogo, put at risk the correct development of an infant with serious consequences both for the baby’s health as well as for the woman’s image as mother and wife.

    Read Introduction

    other titles in the Series:


    Zsuzsa Berend


    “This is a much awaited contribution to the surrogacy scholarship as it is the first ethnographic study to look at surrogacy in the United States since the early 1990’s… Berend’s book is also cutting edge in its methodology, since it is based on “online ethnography.” · Elly Teman, author of Birthing a Mother: the Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self

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


    Infertility and Procreative Technologies in India
    Aditya Bharadwaj


    “Surely, the book will become a ‘must’ for research on any related field, in university classes at every level of study, as well as a delightful reading for anyone interested in India, childbirth and infertility or the politics of healthcare, to mention but few.” · Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, University of Haifa

    Infertility and assisted reproductive technologies in India lie at the confluence of multiple cultural conceptions. These ‘conceptions’ are key to understanding the burgeoning spread of assisted reproductive technologies and the social implications of infertility and childlessness in India. This longitudinal study is situated in a number of diverse locales which, when taken together, unravel the complex nature of infertility and assisted conception in contemporary India.


    Bioethics and Care in a Dutch Clinic
    Trudie Gerrits


    Contemporary Dutch policy and legislation facilitate the use of high quality, accessible and affordable assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) to all citizens in need of them, while at the same time setting some strict boundaries on their use in daily clinical practices. Through ethnography of a single clinic in this national context, Patient-Centred IVF examines how this particular form of medicine, aiming to empower its patients, co-shapes the experiences, views and decisions of those using these technologies. Gerrits contends that to understand the use of reproductive technologies in practice and the complexity of processes of medicalization, we need to go beyond ‘easy assumptions’ about the hegemony of biomedicine and the expected impact of patient-centredness.


    Transforming Reproductive Cultures
    Edited by Siân Pooley and Kaveri Qureshi


    Recent literature has identified modern “parenting” as an expert-led practice—one which begins with pre-pregnancy decisions, entails distinct types of intimate relationships, places intense burdens on mothers and increasingly on fathers too. Exploring within diverse historical and global contexts how men and women make—and break—relations between generations when becoming parents, this volume brings together innovative qualitative research by anthropologists, historians, and sociologists. The chapters focus tightly on inter-generational transmission and demonstrate its importance for understanding how people become parents and rear children.

    Read Introduction 


    Global Encounters and Emerging Moral Worlds
    Edited by Kate Hampshire and Bob Simpson


    Following the birth of the first “test-tube baby” in 1978, Assisted Reproductive Technologies became available to a small number of people in high-income countries able to afford the cost of private treatment, a period seen as the “First Phase” of ARTs. In the “Second Phase,” these treatments became increasingly available to cosmopolitan global elites. Today, this picture is changing — albeit slowly and unevenly — as ARTs are becoming more widely available. While, for many, accessing infertility treatments remains a dream, these are beginning to be viewed as a standard part of reproductive healthcare and family planning. This volume highlights this “Third Phase” — the opening up of ARTs to new constituencies in terms of ethnicity, geography, education, and class.

    Read Introduction: Assisted Reproductive Technologies: A Third Phase?


    Expectation and Experience in the Contemporary US
    Sallie Han


    Pregnancy in Practice is a feminist contribution to the anthropology of reproduction in that it explores the quotidian experiences of pregnant women…While her sample is by no means statistically representative of the experiences of American women, the women in her ethnography represent the normative prenatal experience in America. Han successfully demonstrates that the concept of an ‘ordinary’ or ‘norma’ pregnancy is a phantom itself. Because of this work, perhaps we can definitively say that all women have ordinary pregnancies, or perhaps none do.” · Association for Feminist Anthropology Review

    Babies are not simply born—they are made through cultural and social practices. Based on rich empirical work, this book examines the everyday experiences that mark pregnancy in the US today, such as reading pregnancy advice books, showing ultrasound “baby pictures” to friends and co-workers, and decorating the nursery in anticipation of the new arrival.

    Read Chapter 1. Introduction: Ordinary Pregnancy


    For a full list of titles please visit Series webpage

    Featured Article from Berghahn Journals



    Anthropology of the Middle East, Volume 2, Number 2
    The main purpose of this article is to describe traditional breastfeeding practices among the pastoral tribes in the Middle East. It also examines beliefs and attitudes towards breastfeeding and related issues, including pregnancy, infections of the breast nipple, sources of milk, ‘bad milk’ syndrome and breastfeeding as a contraceptive method. The most significant findings are that mothers relate breastfeeding to their physical and psychological state.



  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Look for Berghahn at The EASA 2016 Conference


    We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Reception in the U6 Foyer from 4.30pm on Friday, 22nd July to celebrate the launch of our New Series, Worlds in Motion and its 1st Volume, Keywords of Mobility, edited by Noel B. Salazar and Kiran Jayaram. At the reception, we will also be launching Volume 33 of our Forced Migration Series, namely The Agendas of Tibetan Refugees by Thomas Kauffmann. So if you will be in Milan, we’d be delighted if you could join us at this very special event.

    If you are unable to attend the conference, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. For the next 30 days, receive a 25% discount on all Anthropology titles found on our website. At checkout, simply enter the discount code EASA16. Visit our website­ to browse our newly published interactive online Anthropology & Sociology Catalog and EASA Series Flyer or use the new enhanced subject searching features­ for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.


    Here is a preview of some of our newest releases on display, as well as some upcoming titles.


    EASA Series

    Published in Association with the European Association of Social-Anthropologists (EASA)

    Social anthropology in Europe is growing, and the variety of work being done is expanding. This series is intended to present the best of the work produced by members of the EASA, both in monographs and in edited collections. The studies in this series describe societies, processes and institutions around the world and are intended for both scholarly and student readerships.


    Relations, Return and Belonging
    Edited by Nataša Gregorič Bon and Jaka Repič


    Moving Places draws together contributions from Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, exploring practices and experiences of movement, non-movement, and place-making. The book centers on “moving places”: places with locations that are not fixed but relative. Locations appearing to be reasonably stable, such as home and homeland, are in fact always subject to practices, imaginaries, and politics of movement. Bringing together original ethnographic contributions with a clear theoretical focus, this volume spans the fields of anthropology, human geography, migration, and border studies, and serves as teaching material in related programs.



    Ethnographic Perspectives
    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.

    Read Introduction: UNESCO World Heritage – Grounded?


    Student Participation, Democracy and University Reform in a Global Knowledge Economy
    Gritt B. Nielsen


    What role should students take in shaping their education, their university, and the wider society? These questions have assumed new importance in recent years as universities are reformed to become more competitive in the “global knowledge economy.” With Denmark as the prism, this book shows how negotiations over student participation — influenced by demands for efficiency, flexibility, and student-centered education — reflect broader concerns about democracy and citizen participation in increasingly neoliberalised states. Combining anthropological and historical research, Gritt B. Nielsen develops a novel approach to the study of policy processes and opens a timely discussion about the kinds of future citizens who will emerge from current reforms.

    Read Introduction


    Colonialist and Nationalist Impulses
    Edited by Kathryn Rountree


    Pagan and Native Faith movements have sprung up across Europe in recent decades, yet little has been published about them compared with their British and American counterparts. Though all such movements valorize human relationships with nature and embrace polytheistic cosmologies, practitioners’ beliefs, practices, goals, and agendas are diverse. Often side by side are groups trying to reconstruct ancient religions motivated by ethnonationalism—especially in post-Soviet societies—and others attracted by imported traditions, such as Wicca, Druidry, Goddess Spirituality, and Core Shamanism. Drawing on ethnographic cases, contributors explore the interplay of neo-nationalistic and neo-colonialist impulses in contemporary Paganism, showing how these impulses play out, intersect, collide, and transform.

    Read Introduction: Context is Everything: Plurality and Paradox in Contemporary European Paganisms


    Exchange and Ambiguity at Work
    Edited by Jens Kjaerulff
    Afterword by Keir Martin


    Approaching “work” as at heart a practice of exchange, this volume explores sociality in work environments marked by the kind of structural changes that have come to define contemporary “flexible” capitalism. It introduces anthropological exchange theory to a wider readership, and shows how the perspective offers new ways to enquire about the flexible capitalism’s social dimensions. The essays contribute to a trans-disciplinary scholarship on contemporary economic practice and change by documenting how, across diverse settings, “gift-like” socialities proliferate, and even sustain the intensified flexible commoditization that more commonly is touted as tearing social relations apart. By interrogating a keenly debated contemporary work regime through an approach to sociality rooted in a rich and distinct anthropological legacy, the volume also makes a novel contribution to the anthropological literature on work and on exchange.

    Read Introduction


    Senses of Self and Well-Being
    Edited by Anne Sigfrid Grønseth
    Epilogue by Nigel Rapport


    “The authors of this volume remind us how important it is to see migrants as humans, because human nature within them is not lost despite the economic, cultural or social limitations that they are experiencing. It is a book for scholars who are dealing with various migration issues either in quantitative or qualitative manner, which emphasises that behind numbers or labels there are individual stories, experiences and hopes.“ · Anthropological Notebooks

    This volume explores migrant’s movements not only as geographical movements from here to there but also as movements that constitute an embodied, cognitive, and existential experience of living “in between” or on the “borderlands” between differently figured life-worlds. Focusing on memories, nostalgia, the here-and-now social experiences of daily living, and the hopes and dreams for the future, the volume demonstrates how all interact in migrants’ and refugees’ experience of identity and quest for well-being.

    Read Introduction: Being Human, Being Migrant: Senses of Self and Well-Being





    Edited by Catherine Dolan and Dinah Rajak
    Afterword by Robert J. Foster

    Volume 18, Dislocations


    The Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility explores the meanings, practices, and impact of corporate social and environmental responsibility across a range of transnational corporations and geographical locations (Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chile, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Peru, South Africa, the UK, and the USA). The contributors examine the expectations, frictions and contradictions the CSR movement is generating and addressing key issues such as the introduction of new forms of management, control, and discipline through ethical and environmental governance or the extent to which corporate responsibility challenges existing patterns of inequality rather than generating new geographies of inclusion and exclusion.

    Read Introduction: Towards an Anthropology of Corporate Social Responsibility


    A Comparative Perspective on Witchcraft and Satanism
    Jean La Fontaine

    Volume 10, Studies in Public and Applied Anthropology


    Devil worship, black magic, and witchcraft have long captivated anthropologists as well as the general public. In this volume, Jean La Fontaine explores the intersection of expert and lay understandings of evil and the cultural forms that evil assumes. The chapters touch on public scares about devil-worship, misconceptions about human sacrifice and the use of body parts in healing practices, and mistaken accusations of children practicing witchcraft. Together, these cases demonstrate that comparison is a powerful method of cultural understanding, but warns of the dangers and mistaken conclusions that untrained ideas about other ways of life can lead to.

    Read Introduction: Understanding the Other


    Uncertainty in North-Eastern Sudan
    Sandra Calkins


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

    Read Introduction: Taming Unknowns in Sudan


    Frameworks in the Anthropologies of Medicine
    Edited by Roland Littlewood and Rebecca Lynch


    The social anthropology of sickness and health has always been concerned with religious cosmologies: how societies make sense of such issues as prediction and control of misfortune and fate; the malevolence of others; the benevolence (or otherwise) of the mystical world; local understanding and explanations of the natural and ultra-human worlds. This volume presents differing categorizations and conflicts that occur as people seek to make sense of suffering and their experiences. Cosmologies, whether incorporating the divine or as purely secular, lead us to interpret human action and the human constitution, its ills and its healing and, in particular, ways which determine and limit our very possibilities.

    Read Introduction: Divinity, Disease, Distress


    Critical Engagements
    Edited by Noel B. Salazar and Kiran Jayaram

    Volume 1, Worlds in Motion


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

    Read Introduction: Keywords of Mobility: A Critical Introduction


    Built Space, Modernity and Urban Change in Astana
    Mateusz Laszczkowski

    Volume 14, Integration and Conflict Studies


    Astana, the capital city of the post-Soviet Kazakhstan, has often been admired for the design and planning of its futuristic cityscape. This anthropological study of the development of the city focuses on every-day practices, official ideologies and representations alongside the memories and dreams of the city’s longstanding residents and recent migrants. Critically examining a range of approaches to place and space in anthropology, geography and other disciplines, the book argues for an understanding of space as inextricably material-and-imaginary, and unceasingly dynamic – allowing for a plurality of incompatible pasts and futures materialized in spatial form.





    Edited by Nicholas J. Long and Henrietta Moore

    Volume 2, WYSE Series in Social Anthropology


    “The range of ethnographic settings is dazzling… there is something here for everyone and a veritable cornucopia for the lover of ethnographic diversity.” · American Ethnologist

    What happens when people “achieve”? Why do reactions to “achievement” vary so profoundly? And how might an anthropological study of achievement and its consequences allow us to develop a more nuanced model of the motivated agency that operates in the social world? These questions lie at the heart of this volume. Drawing on research from Southeast Asia, Europe, the United States, and Latin America, this collection develops an innovative framework for explaining achievement’s multiple effects—one which brings together cutting-edge theoretical insights into politics, psychology, ethics, materiality, aurality, embodiment, affect and narrative. In doing so, the volume advances a new agenda for the study of achievement within anthropology, emphasizing the significance of achievement as a moment of cultural invention, and the complexity of “the achiever” as a subject position.

    Read Introduction: Achievement and Its Social Life


    Language Revivalism and the Culture of Ethnic Identity in Northern Ireland
    Olaf Zenker

    Volume 6, Integration and Conflict Studies


    “This book will be of interest to linguistic anthropologists, cultural anthropologists, as well as sociologists, political scientists, and historians of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also be valuable to those interested in cultural identity formation within politically charged contexts, including postcolonial contexts. It complements and extends the existing research on political identities in Northern Ireland.” · American Ethnologist

    Focusing on Irish speakers in Catholic West Belfast, this ethnography on Irish language and identity explores the complexities of changing, and contradictory, senses of Irishness and shifting practices of ‘Irish culture’ in the domains of language, music, dance and sports. The author’s theoretical approach to ethnicity and ethnic revivals presents an expanded explanatory framework for the social (re)production of ethnicity, theorizing the mutual interrelations between representations and cultural practices regarding their combined capacity to engender ethnic revivals.

    Read Chapter 1. A Walk of Life: Entering Catholic West Belfast


    Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe’s Frontiers
    Edited by Jutta Lauth Bacas and William Kavanagh†


    “…provides a rich and thought provoking perspective on encounters and connectivity at the borders of Europe – both internal and external.” · The Journal of Cross Border Studies in Ireland

    Among the tremendous changes affecting Europe in recent decades, those concerning political frontiers have been some of the most significant. International borders are being opened in some regions while being redefined or reinforced in others. The social relationships of those living in these borderland regions are also changing fundamentally. This volume investigates, from a local, ground-up perspective, what is happening at some of these border encounters: face-to-face interactions and relations of compliance and confrontation, where people are bargaining, exchanging goods and information, and maneuvering beyond state boundaries. Anthropological case studies from a number of European borderlands shed light on the questions of how, and to what extent, the border context influences the changing interactions and social relationships between people at a political frontier.

    Read Introduction: Border Encounters – Asymmetry and Proximity at Europe’s Frontiers






    Conflict and Society

    Advances in Research

    Organized violence and suffering is a daily reality for some, while for others it is a sound bite or a news clip seen in passing and easily forgotten. Rigorous scholarly research of the social and cultural conditions of organized violence, its genesis, dynamic, and impact, is fundamental to addressing questions of local and global conflict and its impact on the human condition. Conflict and Society expands the field of conflict studies by using ethnographic inquiry to establish new fields of research and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

    Published since 1990, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures (AJEC) engages with current debates and innovative research agendas addressing the social and cultural transformations of contemporary European societies. The journal serves as an important forum for ethnographic research in and on Europe, which in this context is not defined narrowly as a geopolitical entity but rather as a meaningful cultural construction in people’s lives, which both legitimates political power and calls forth practices of resistance and subversion.


    Anthropology in Action

    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


    Anthropology of the Middle East

    This peer-reviewed journal provides a forum for scholarly exchange between anthropologists and other social scientists working in and on the Middle East. The journal’s aim is to disseminate, on the basis of informed analysis and insight, a better understanding of Middle Eastern cultures and thereby to achieve a greater appreciation of Middle Eastern contributions to our culturally diverse world.


    The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 

    The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology is an international, peer-reviewed journal committed to publishing leading scholarship in contemporary anthropology. Geographically diverse articles provide a range of theoretical or ethical perspectives, from the traditional to the mischievous or subversive, and aim to offer new insights into the worlds in which we live.



    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. It is at the heart of debates on the ongoing conjunction of anthropology and history as well as the incorporation of local research settings in the wider spatial networks of coercion, imagination, and exchange that are often glossed as “globalization” or “empire.”

    Visit FocaalBlog, a blog that seeks to serve as an intellectually vibrant, socially astute, and genuinely cosmopolitan platform for the discussion of anthropological research. In particular it seeks to strengthen a historical, relational, and world-anthropology of the big issues that confront humanity-in all of its situated differences and amid all of the interconnected inequalities and unevenness.



  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month


    Each year since 1985, Americans have celebrated national Park and Recreation Month during the month of July to recognize the importance of parks and recreation in establishing and maintaining the quality of life for, and contributing to the physical, economic and environmental well-being of communities. To find out more please visit National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).


    Berghahn is happy to present some of its relevant Environmental Studies titles:



    New in Paperback! 

    National Parks in Global Historical Perspective
    Edited by Bernhard Gissibl, Sabine Höhler and Patrick Kupper

    Volume 1, Environment in History: International Perspectives Series


    “This book makes a unique contribution to the conservation literature by enhancing one’s understanding and appreciation of the cultural meaning of nature conservation through the lens of national park development. […] Highly recommended.” · Choice

    National parks are one of the most important and successful institutions in global environmentalism. Since their first designation in the United States in the 1860s and 1870s they have become a global phenomenon. The development of these ecological and political systems cannot be understood as a simple reaction to mounting environmental problems, nor can it be explained by the spread of environmental sensibilities. Shifting the focus from the usual emphasis on national parks in the United States, this volume adopts an historical and transnational perspective on the global geography of protected areas and its changes over time. It focuses especially on the actors, networks, mechanisms, arenas, and institutions responsible for the global spread of the national park and the associated utilization and mobilization of asymmetrical relationships of power and knowledge, contributing to scholarly discussions of globalization and the emergence of global environmental institutions and governance.


    Winner of the Turku Book Prize of the European Society for Environmental History and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.

    A Transnational History of the Swiss National Park
    Patrick Kupper

    Volume 4, Environment in History: International Perspectives Series


    “Well tied into the literature of national park studies worldwide, this exquisite book… chronicles the unique Swiss experience in creating and managing a national park in which wilderness was nonexistent… Highly recommended.” · Choice

    The history of the Swiss National Park, from its creation in the years before the Great War to the present, is told for the first time in this book. Unlike Yellowstone Park, which embodied close cooperation between state-supported conservation and public recreation, the Swiss park put in place an extraordinarily strong conservation program derived from a close alliance between the state and scientific research. This deliberate reinterpretation of the American idea of the national park was innovative and radical, but its consequences were not limited to Switzerland. The Swiss park became the prime example of a “scientific national park,” thereby influencing the course of national parks worldwide.


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

    Volume 9, Environment in History: International Perspectives


    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.



    Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another
    Eva Keller

    Volume 20, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology Series


    The global agenda of Nature conservation has led to the creation of the Masoala National Park in Madagascar and to an exhibit in its support at a Swiss zoo, the centerpiece of which is a mini-rainforest replica. Does such a cooperation also trigger a connection between ordinary people in these two far-flung places? The study investigates how the Malagasy farmers living at the edge of the park perceive the conservation enterprise and what people in Switzerland see when looking towards Madagascar through the lens of the zoo exhibit. It crystallizes that the stories told in either place have almost nothing in common: one focuses on power and history, the other on morality and progress. Thus, instead of building a bridge, Nature conservation widens the gap between people in the North and the South.

    Read Introduction


    Signs of Performance in Yosemite National Park
    Sally Ann Ness

    Volume 8, Dance and Performance Studies


    As an international ecotourism destination, Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of climbers, sightseers, and other visitors from around the world annually, all of whom are afforded dramatic experiences of the natural world. This original and cross-disciplinary book offers an ethnographic and performative study of Yosemite visitors in order to understand human connection with and within natural landscapes. By grounding a novel “eco-semiotic” analysis in the lived reality of parkgoers, it forges surprising connections, assembling a collective account that will be of interest to disciplines ranging from performance studies to cultural geography.

    Read Landscape Performance Theory, an Introduction


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


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



    other titles in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology Series:

    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.


    An Appraisal of the Gulf Region
    Edited by Paul Sillitoe

    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.




    The Political Ecology of Forest Governance in Southern Nigeria
    Pauline von Hellermann

    Through an in-depth historical and ethnographic study of forestry in Edo State, this book challenges this routine linking of political and ecological crisis narratives. It shows that the roots of many of today’s problems lie in scientific forest management itself, rather than its recent abandonment, and moreover that many “illegal” local practices improve rather than reduce biodiversity and forest cover.



    other titles in Environment in History: International Perspectives Series:

    Conservation and Globalization in the Twentieth Century
    Edited by Wolfram Kasier 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.


    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.


    Volume 3 New in Paperback

    Essays on Environmental Ignorance
    Edited by Frank Uekötter and Uwe Lübken

    With its combination of empirical case studies and theoretical reflection, the essays make a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary debate on the production and resilience of ignorance. At the same time, this volume combines insights from different continents as well as the seas in between and thus sketches outlines of an emerging global resource history.



    Science and Politics in a Toxic World
    Edited by Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas

    In spite of decades of research on toxicants, along with the growing role of scientific expertise in public policy and the unprecedented rise in the number of national and international institutions dealing with environmental health issues, problems surrounding contaminants and their effects on health have never appeared so important, sometimes to the point of appearing insurmountable. This calls for a reconsideration of the roles of scientific knowledge and expertise in the definition and management of toxic issues, which this book seeks to do.



    Berghahn Journals 

    Advances in Research


    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.

    Visit EnviroSociety, a multimedia site that provides insights into contemporary socio-ecological issues with posts from top scholars in the social sciences that engage readers interested in current environmental topics.


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

Berghahn Collections

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.

Berghahn Journals New Online Platform

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

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

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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