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  • EnviroSociety

    Interview with Keely Maxwell, General Anthropologist for the EPA

    This post is presented in this week’s series recognizing Earth Day, Saturday, April 22.

    Keely Maxwell is an environmental anthropologist. She develops and applies interdisciplinary research to environmental problem solving. Keely has conducted research in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, Peru, and now works on community resilience. She is a former American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow, as well as a mom of two, and she works at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    Disclaimer: Keely is talking purely in a personal capacity and not as a federal employee. She is expressing her personal opinion, not official EPA policy.

    Keely Maxwell, general anthropologist of the EPA

    Keely Maxwell, general anthropologist for the EPA

    VD: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background in anthropology?

    KM: Sure. Hi, I’m Keely Maxwell. I have actually quite an interdisciplinary background, as many of us do [who] wind up in the environmental anthropology field. I did my undergraduate in biology and environmental studies; then I taught environmental education for a couple years. I went back to graduate school at Yale [University] for forestry, initially to look at and study ecosystem ecology and management, but then I found that … while I love doing ecological research, the questions I was really interested in had to do more with the social aspects of ecosystem management and conservation. So then I wound up continuing on for my PhD at the forestry school and getting, again, an interdisciplinary PhD with my research focusing on issues of conservation and tourism and heritage and resource management at Machu Picchu in Peru. My experience in the federal world began in 2012. I had been teaching for a while and wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I had the opportunity to do [an] AAAS fellowship. AAAS is the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and they have a fellowship that places people with a PhD in science—including social science—in executive branch agencies. I was there for two years; I was hosted at the EPA and just really loved doing applied work, and I loved seeing how things that I wrote and things that I did came out and actually had an impact. Then I worked a little bit as a contractor, so I got to see that side of federal world, and I’m currently a federal scientist at the EPA.

    VD: Your job title is general anthropologist at the EPA, so my first question is actually how new or old is that position? Not for you personally, but the existence of such a position at the EPA.

    KM: When I first talked with the [human resources] folks, they said, “Well, we think you’re the first one we’ve processed, at least.” General anthropologist is a broad job title that OPM, the US Office of Personnel Management, established and set up as one of many job series. So it’s out there and there are probably other folks, possibly at the EPA as well as elsewhere in the federal government, who have that job title, but probably not a whole lot of us.

    VD: What kind of work do you do now? Can you say a little bit about the projects you are working on?

    KM: Sure. At the EPA, I work in the Office of Research and Development. They have distinct offices within the EPA; you have the program offices like the Office of Air, or Water, or Land, and Emergency Management. These offices implement environmental statutes in different environmental media. Then you have the regional offices. The regional offices are the ones that work a lot with states and communities on local issues. The Office of Research Development [ORD] does research to support work in the programs and regions. So I’m a researcher. I am a scientist in the [ORD] in the National Homeland Security Research Center [NHSRC]. Historically, what the [NHSRC] has done is research to support the EPA’s work in responding to different types of disasters, whether it’s a homeland security incident that might involve a chemical, biological, or radiological attack, or an environmental disaster or catastrophe, or a natural disaster that has environmental components—like toxics that get spewed all over or flooding of water infrastructure. The research center has historically had a lot of engineers, water engineers, toxicologists, microbiologists, but they really wanted to have someone come in and think about the different social components and factors. So I was hired on—well, first I started as a fellow, and I was hired on later. My research focuses on trying to understand community resilience to disasters, especially disasters with an environmental component to them. I am working on a couple of projects right now. One is looking at developing indicators of community resilience for natural disasters and other types of incidents that might involve a chemical spill, an oil spill, or a radiological release. Another component of my research is looking at the different social factors and social issues that might arise during environmental cleanups. When EPA or state agencies or private companies are doing decontamination after an environmental emergency or remediation at a Superfund or brownfield site, what are some of the social factors or issues that affect cleanup actions and outcomes?

    VD: In what ways would you say environmental anthropology specifically is relevant to public policy and environmental governance?

    KM: I personally think it’s really, really relevant. This is something that different state and federal agencies are realizing, as they are trying to address environmental challenges that are increasingly complex, involving multiple systems, and not just cleaning up one piece of air or water pollution. Agencies are recognizing that they need a better understanding of different social dimensions and social factors that might influence the cause of the problem or how to approach the solution to it, and also how to measure the success of your solution. So, obviously, environmental anthropology is useful because it brings a grounded understanding of people’s relationship with environment. It is relevant because if an agency is going in trying to solve a given problem, for example, sage grouse conservation, or a park management problem, really understanding—what are the fundamental relationships between people and the environment as well as the broader power dynamics and political economic dynamics that might be contributing factors—those are the particular perspectives that environmental anthropologists can bring.

    VD: Our discipline is defined by our methods and sensibility of ethnography, as both process and product. Do you find how you position yourself as ethnographer differs in academic versus federal settings? Do you use the ethnographic methods we are all trained for in our PhD programs?

    KM: So in terms of the methodological toolbox, there are a couple of things that come to mind in terms of what is similar and what is different. Obviously, the actual research methods—whether it’s participant observation, interviews, surveys, GIS [geographic information systems], remote sensing, discourse analysis, social statistics—are relevant and are used not just by me but in a variety of projects across federal agencies that involve anthropology. The key difference is, first of all, it’s very team-oriented. I work on a lot of interdisciplinary teams, with some social scientists but also with others who are not. Another difference is, there are a couple of additional challenges for doing social science as a federal researcher. There are certain laws and policies that regulate and govern how federal public servants in general can interact with the public. For example, FACA (the Federal Advisory Committee Act) sets limits and conditions for how feds can ask advice from the public. Doing something like community-based participatory research may be difficult because of these broad policies that were not designed to affect research but have that impact. Another example is [the] Paperwork Reduction Act that means that any research that requires me collecting information from the public—and not just me, any anthropologist in the federal government—has to go through additional scrutiny through the Office of Management and Budget, on top of the human subjects approvals that are standard. Another key difference is not just methods but products. Writing journal articles is part of professional development for federal scientists, but for federal agencies to be really able to listen to anthropological insights and knowledge requires different product/outputs. So instead of journal articles, we might produce reports or technical briefs or databases or tools broadly speaking. The core ethnographic methods are the same, but there are these differences along the way that shape how research is done and what the outputs are.

    VD: Can you talk the aspects of your work that pertain to communication and engagement with other anthropologists?

    KM: Part of my role is communication and engagement with anthropologists outside the federal government. I go to anthropological meetings such as the Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting, and I am hoping to have a panel at the [American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting] next fall, so I continue to engage on those fronts. One issue where I and other anthropologists in the federal service can really help is the bridging aspect—how can anthropologists in academia, outside what we call “the federal family,” how can they bring their insights, their experiences with individual communities, but also their expertise on economic, political and cultural dimensions of environmental issues to the table? How can we facilitate that sort of engagement? I’ve been thinking a lot about how that can be facilitated more easily.

    VD: Can you talk about those strategies?

    KM: In terms of academic anthropologists wanting to have their expertise inform federal decision making and policies and even research or research products, there are a couple of ways that can be facilitated. One of the things is trying to figure out strategically as an anthropologist: “To whom do I need to speak?” For example, the EPA works on a variety of problems, and it has its overarching mission to protect human health and environment. Other agencies might work on similar problems—USGS [United States Geological Survey] or NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] or NIH [National Institutes of Health] might do research and work on a variety of somewhat overlapping areas, but agencies are really clear about “what’s my mission, what’s my lane.” So instead approaching it broadly, with the idea of “I want to talk to a federal policymaker on this critical environmental issue,” really being able to dig deeper and figuring out which agencies are working on this issue in what capacity and what is the best entry point for trying to talk to people is important. And that’s just at the executive branch. The Congress and congressional representatives—with them there is a whole other communication strategy you want to utilize.

    VD: In your opinion, what are the key environmental issues today from an anthropological perspective, and what roles can anthropologists play in working on them?

    KM: There are so many environmental challenges out there, and of course, as an anthropologist, I see human and social dimensions of many of them. Obviously, climate change is a concern today, but also you have issues of lingering toxic legacies that different communities are facing, environmental justice issues, as well as issues of access to natural resources, whether for subsistence or recreational purposes—that is very much an important issue around the country, and of course social justice issues come up when dealing with who has access to different resources and who does not. I think anthropologists can have a voice on any of these topics and can bring to the table perspectives that may not be considered otherwise, especially if the problem is being defined in a very technical way or with very narrow focus. Again, relating this back to the idea that federal agencies and even offices within agencies are so focused on “what’s my lane, what’s my scope of authority, what can I do on this issue,” the ability to broaden it out, to [ask], “Well, what is the real problem here?” That ability is something environmental anthropologists are especially good at—unpacking those layers and bringing into focus what political and social issues underlie environmental and ecological ones.

    VD: Can you say more about the AAA roundtable you are proposing?

    KM: We have some environmental anthropologists from a number of federal agencies who will be included in this proposed roundtable, and part of it will be discussing some things we talked about today—our different experiences in different organizational cultures and how they have managed to navigate those to get anthropology voices heard. Also, we want to talk about ideas and strategies for these boundary types of communication and engagement between academic and government anthropologists, including issues of how can academic anthropologists successfully translate their work and thoughts in ways that federal agencies are able to hear and say, “Oh, this ties into a decision I am making,” or, “This ties into a project that I am working on,” so how to translate it from both broad social theory and rich detailed ethnographic information that is not going to be very meaningful if it does not have something people can hang their hat on in federal agencies. They have to be able to say, “Oh, this ties into what I am doing, and I see clearly these connections.” We are also going to touch on issues of how is the work of anthropologists in federal agencies affecting not just federal activities but anthropology more broadly, what’s the conversation back and forth between these arenas, and how anthropology being done in federal agencies can inform anthropology out on the broader world.

    VD: Last question: What are you going to do for Earth Day?

    KM: Well, I have two small boys, and I am thinking of taking them to the March [for] Science if I can herd them there and back! And there are some fun activities in town to celebrate Earth Day, so that is the main plan.

    Veronica Davidov
    is an assistant professor of anthropology at Monmouth University.

    Cite as: 
    Davidov, Veronica. 2017. “Interview with Keely Maxwell, General Anthropologist for the EPA.” EnvironSociety, 24 April.

  • FocaalBlog

    Steve Reyna: Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way

    Der Spiegel, a well-thought-of magazine, ran in February 2017 a cover depicting the newly elected President Donald Trump, standing with one arm upstretched brandishing a bloody knife and the other arm raised flaunting Lady Liberty’s severed head, blood dripping from its wound. Lady Liberty is the Statute of Liberty. The cover came after Trump’s ban on immigration and refugees to the US from seven Muslim countries. Lady Liberty—at whose base is the line “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—stands for principles of compassion, welcoming, and openness, values said to those of the “American Way.” The cover was advising viewers that The Donald—confessed pussy grabber (Mathis-Lilley 2016)—was destroying those values. If Lady Liberty no longer represents the “American Way,” she should be replaced with one that does. One way of deciding what sort of a replacement to build is to examine the dispositions and actions of the Trump-o-crats, because it is they who are busy making Trump-world. So consider The Donald and some of his appointees.

    Photo by Jörn Schubert (CC BY 2.0).

    Photo by Jörn Schubert (CC BY 2.0).


    The Donald gave voice to the Ur-Trump disposition when, responding to the presence of a protester at one of his rallies, he enthused, “I’d like to punch him in the face” (Schreckinger 2016). Speaking about ISIS he proclaimed, “I would bomb the shit out of ’em” (Hains 2015). Advising—presumably while bombing the shit out of them—”you have to take out their families” (LoBianco 2015). On the campaign trail he had a kind word for torture, confiding, “We should go for waterboarding.” Actually, at a campaign rally in NH, he said he “would bring back a hell of a lot worse” (Keating 2017).

    He shared this affection for inflicting hurt with his Secretary of Defense, the ex–marine general—variously called “Badass” and/or “Mad Dog”—James Mattis. Mad Dog is claimed by supporters to be a true military hero. Hero? His combat commands included colonial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US artfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. But Badass sure loves his violence, remarking on one occasion, “It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people” (Revesz 2016). At another time, he instructed his audience, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” warning at another event, “if you fuck with me I’ll kill you all” (Conway 2016).

    Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former Army tank officer, who, as a member of the House of Representatives, defended enhanced interrogation techniques (torturer-speak for torture) as constitutional. Actually, torture is illegal due to a provision in US law (18 U.S.C. 2340) that took effect in 1994. He denounced President Obama’s 2009 decision to close the CIA’s “black sites.” These are locations where the CIA tortured its victims in secrecy. In 2014, speaking about the personnel manning the black sites, Mike said, “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots” deadlycontradictions(Keith 2016). At his confirmation hearings, Pompeo assured the senators questioning him that he would respect the law bearing upon torture, though—and this is a sly part—he said he was open to changing the law to make the illegal legal, bringing back enhanced interrogation techniques. At the same time, reports spread of the existence of a draft executive order circulating in the White House to reconstitute black sites, so idle torturers could get back in business.

    Contemplate who The Donald appointed as Pompeo’s Deputy Head (the CIA’s second-in-command). This is Ms. Gina Haspel, notable for her command in the early 2000s of a dark site in Thailand called Cat’s Eye (Rosenberg 2017). Here she tortured and videotaped her victims’ suffering, in what appears to have been a quirky S&M pornography. Be clear: Torture is a form of human sacrifice. Victims’ lives are sacrificed to torturers’ gratifications, and—to be blunt—the torturers’ humanity is sacrificed to the monstrosity of their acts. In 2005, when it became clear that bringing back human sacrifice was not so nice, dutiful Gina ordered her videotapes destroyed. So nobody would ever know. However, people found out. But in the Trump-world it didn’t matter, just part of “making America great again.” He rewarded her torturing with the Deputy Directorship of the CIA—way to go, Gina!

    The Trump-o-crats, then, are disposed to bombing “the shit out of ’em,” punching opponents “in the face,” planning “to kill everybody,” and running dark sites to do dark deeds. What a dream team of action heroes. The “American Way” disposed to cruelty. Of course, action speaks louder than disposition.


    Towards the end of February, the new president announced his budget proposal. It projected slashing spending on the environment, education, science, health care, and poverty reduction while increasing military funding by $54 billion, a 9 percent increase (Shear and Steinhauer 2017). A month later, The Donald cryptically announced “total authorization” for his military (Shane 2017). The emphasis on totality was ominous—one interpretation making the rounds was “they can do whatever they fucking want.”

    What the military appear to have wanted was to increase military action globally. On 13 April 2017, they dropped the MOAB (the “Mother of All Bombs”) a 21,000-pound explosive device in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. The MOAB is the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the Americans. In Yemen, the President began “rapidly expanding military operations.” He increased logistical and intelligence support for Saudi Arabia’s warring against the Houthi, who are said to be supported by the Iranians, thereby using the Saudi’s as proxies to get at Washington’s enemy in Tehran. Simultaneously, operations against the Yemeni Al-Qaeda were increased, with 49 airstrikes in March, more strikes than America has ever undertaken in a year in that country (Democracy Now 2017).

    Meanwhile, Iraq became a scene of increased US support for the Iraqi government’s Mosul offensive against ISIL. Assistance involving use of US and French artillery, helicopters firing Hellfire missiles, drones, and fixed-wing aircraft. Additional US combat personnel were sent ranging from combat engineers to Special Ops commandos (Gordon 2017). Concomitantly, there has been augmented assistance to Kurdish fighters advancing against ISIL in Syria (Cole 2017). Support has involved additional US soldiers providing training, artillery assistance, and airstrikes. A considerable escalation of US-Syrian operations was indicated in an 8 April report claiming that the Trump administration was leaving the Incirlik airbase in Turkey and moving to five airfields in Syria, largely in Kurdish territory (Debkafile 2017). The 4 April sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria—hotly disputed as to who executed it—killed in the order of 90 people (BBC 2017). Trump’s people insisted President Assad of Syria’s military did it, with Russian connivance. Assad’s people, backed by the Russians, declared it a black flag operation, of which the US was not innocent. Analysis of a White House report a MIT chemical warfare expert that blamed the Syrians and Russians concluded the White House document was an “obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report” (Postol 2017). Lost in the blame game is the actuality that The Donald’s military killed about 11 times more civilians (i.e., approximately 1,000 civilian deaths) in March than were lost in the Khan Shaykhun tragedy (Le Miere 2017).

    Africa has not been ignored. Seventy days into his administration, Trump issued a directive permitting US Special Ops to work directly with the Somali military in their operations against Al-Shabaab, a Sunni Muslim militant group linked to Al-Qaeda. The directive classified areas in southern Somalia as “war zones” allowing US forces the ability to call in airstrikes without higher-level approval, increasing the potential for civilian casualties.

    Russia and China are the two chief impediments to US military dominance. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has attempted to counter these two countries by following what can be termed a Eurasian Strategy. In the western part of the Eurasian continent, it meant moving NATO forces eastward until they border on Russia. In the eastern region of the Eurasian continent, it involved adoption of an Asian Pivot, strongly advocated by Hillary Clinton (2011), involving the redeployment of US diplomatic and military—largely naval—assets to the Asian Pacific. Russia’s response to the Eurasian Strategy, among other reactions, has been hybrid war in Ukraine and reincorporation of the Crimean peninsula into Russia. China’s countering of the strategy has been to fortify certain islands in the South China Sea, in order to thwart US naval activity.

    The Trump administration has continued this strategy. Even while speaking of reconciliation with Russia, it put 4,000 American troops in early 2017 into Eastern Europe in Operation Atlantic Resolve on, or near, the border with Russia (Gigova 2017). This was the “biggest deployment of US troops in Europe since the end of the Cold War” (MacAskill 2017). The Donald’s moves toward China have been intimidating. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—he of “don’t look me in the eyes” reputation (Link 2017)—has advocated a US naval blockade of the fortified islands in the South China sea. Blockades are acts of war. North Korea has continued development of its nuclear armament program. The US has threatened North Korea with war if it does not disarm. It has sent an aircraft carrier battle group to Korean waters. Should such a conflict begin, it would directly threaten China, which would enter on the side of the north. Additionally, the US has deployed a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) antiballistic system in South Korea. China worries that THAAD will be employed to counter their missile capabilities. Deployment of THAAD has been argued to be “part of a network of integrated anti-missile systems designed to facilitate nuclear war with China or Russia” (Symonds 2017). China is rumored to have deployed 150,000 troops to its North Korean border (Hong Soon-do 2017). Russia is reported to have sent S400 antiaircraft missiles from Vladivostok in the direction of the North Korean border. Actions speak louder than dispositions. Trump-o-crats are disposed to harsh pugnacity. Their actions in the first months of The Donald’s rule turn out cruel realizations of their dispositions. But hang on—what is occurring as actually the same old same old!

    The Same Old, Same Old

    The phrase “same old, same old” is US slang indicating the something is a reiteration of an earlier iteration of that something. If your every dinner consists of spaghetti, you might say in anticipation of your next repast “it’ll be the same old, same old spaghetti.” The Trump-o-crats military activity is pretty much the same old, same old.

    Recently I published Deadly Contradictions (2016). It argues that following World War II the US was organized as an informal empire, one intended to have global reach. Like all empires it was designed to achieve, and maintain, domination by both nonmilitary and military means. Military means were to be used when the empire faced contradictions that buffeted it, and when other ways of addressing the contradictions proved ineffective. The years since 1950 have revealed that running an empire is hard going. The US has faced serious economic and political contradictions. These have intensified and coalesced since the 1970s, and that this has led the US into a prodigious amount of overt and covert, direct and proxy global warring (i.e., warring in different areas of the world where it intends to achieve some form of control).

    What are the dimensions of this warring? The US military does not keep accurate accounts of it military operates. So accounts of their frequency and lethality should be understood as estimates. John Tures, working with a data set generate, by the Federation of American Scientists, reported the US was involved in 263 interstate military operations between 1945 and 2002—roughly 4.6 operations per year—though he notes that since 1991 there have been on the average 16 operations annually (Reyna 2016). I have conservatively estimated that that this warfare killed 9,700,000 people, a high percentage of whom were civilians, since World War II. Other estimates put deaths from US warring much higher at 20 to 30 million persons (Lucas 2007). It is further estimated that this warring has led to 73 million people becoming refugees. The numbers of deaths and refugees provoked by warring serve as indicators of the terror they provoke. The figures for US global warring suggest that US to have been the greatest state terrorist agency since World War II. All of which suggests the The Donald is just the same old, same old, a reiteration of his predecessors. They were, and are, brutal killers servicing a rickety empire, built for global control. So what should be Lady Liberty’s replacement?

    A De-cloaking Device

    Readers might at this point take a trip down memory lane and recall the television series Star Trek. Occasionally, Captain Kirk found himself up against an enemy starship with a cloaking device that made it invisible. So he did not know his opponent. However, he did have de-cloaking technology that rendered the hidden visible. All the discourse about the American Way might be imagined as a cloaking device. It portrays the US as the bringer of freedom, prosperity, tolerance, and lots and lots of other good stuff. However, make no mistake about it, America is actually a serial perpetrator of state terrorism, right up there with Nazis.

    Then along came The Donald—a crude, pussy-grabbing, punch them out, bomb the shit out of them, kill their families sort of guy. Along came his myrmidons—Old Maddog, who thinks it is “fun” to shoot people; Pompeo, defender of “enhanced interrogation techniques”; Ms Haspel performing those techniques secretly in “dark sites.” They are a walking, talking de-cloaking device, revealing what the American Way is all about—terror in support of empire. Der Spiegel’s cover had it right. Consequently, out with the old, in with the new. With the new a gigantic statue of The Donald holding aloft a severed head, and carved in its base the line “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and we’ll bomb the shit out of them.”

    This article originally appeared on CounterPunch on 21 April 2017. Punctuation, spelling, and citations were amended to conform the FocaalBlog style guide.


    BBC. 2017. Syria “chemical attack”: What we know. BBC News, 20 April.

    Clinton, Hillary, 2011. America’s Pacific century. Foreign Policy, 11 October.

    Cole, Juan. 2017. In 3 months, Trump has charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no avail. Informed Comment, 14 April.

    Conway, Madeline. 2016. 9 unforgettable quotes by James Mattis. Politico, 1 December.

    Democracy Now. 2017. Yemen: Trump expands U.S. military role in Saudi War as Yemenis brace for famine. Democracy Now, 30 March.

    Debkafile. 2017. US Air Force to quit Incirlik, move to Syria base. Debkafile, 8 April.

    Gigova, Radina. 2017. US troops deploy to Bulgaria as part of NATO operation to support Eastern European allies. CNN, 17 February.

    Gordon, Michael. 2017. U.S. forces play crucial role against ISIS in MosulNew York Times, 26 February.

    Hains, Tim. 2015. Trump’s updated ISIS Plan: “Bomb the shit out of them,” send in Exxon to rebuild. Real Clear Politics, 13 November.

    Keating, Vincent. 2017. Will Donald Trump bring back torture? The Wire, 21 January.

    Keith, Tamara. 2016. On waterboarding, a President Trump could face resistance from some republicans. NPR, 21 November.

    LoBianco, Tom. 2015. Trump’s updated ISIS plan: “Bomb the shit out of them,” send in Exxon to rebuild. CNN, 13 November.

    Mathis-Lilley, Ben. 2016. Trump was recorded in 2005 bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Slate, 7 October. 

    Le Miere, Jason. 2017. Under Trump, U.S. military has allegedly killed over 1,000 civilians in Iraq, Syria in March. Newsweek, 31 March.

    Link, Taylor. 2017. Do not look Rex Tillerson in the eyes if you work at the State Department: report. Salon, 31 March.

    MacAskill, Ewen. 2017. Russia says US troops arriving in Poland pose threat to its security. The Guardian, 12 January.

    Postol, Theodore A. 2017. An assessment of the White House intelligence report about the nerve agent attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Counterpunch, 14 April.

    Revesz, Rachael. 2016. “It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot some people”: Meet Donald Trump’s likely defence secretary. The Independent, 20 November.

    Reyna, Stephen. 2016. Deadly Contradictions: The New American Empire and Global Warring. New York: Berghahn Books.

    Rosenberg, Mattew. 2017. New C.I.A. deputy director, Gina Haspel, had leading role in torture. New York Times, 2 February.

    Shane, Leo. 2017. Trump: I’m giving the military “total authorization.” Military Times, 13 April.

    Schreckinger, Ben. 2016. Trump on protester: “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Politico, 23 February.

    Shear, Michael, and Jennifer Steinhauer. 21017. Trump to seek $54 billion increase in military spending. New York Times, 27 February.

    Smith, Oli. 2017. SPOTTED: Putin ‘moves military forces’ to North Korean border as world prepares for WAR. The Express, 18 April.

    Soon-do, Hong 2017. China increasing troops on North Korean border. Huffington Post, 10 April.

    Symonds, Peter. 2017. Is the US preparing for war against North Korea? World Socialist Web Site, 13 March.

    Steve Reyna is coeditor of Anthropological Theory and an associate at the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology. He is the author of Deadly Contradictions: The New American Empire and Its Global Warring (Berghahn Books, 2016).

  • Museum Worlds

    The Black Lives Matter Movement in the National Museum of African American History and Culture

    by Rod Clare, Elon University


    It has been over forty years since the mostly successful conclusion of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. While some may have thought the election of an African-American president in 2008 heralded a “postracial” America, continued violence and oppression has brought about a rebirth of activism, embodied by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Now that nascent movement is preparing to be part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The NMAAHC is located at 1400 Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington DC.

    The museum’s overriding goals are to make people aware of African-American history and to foster understanding and reconciliation about race in America and the world. The fact that the BLM movement is so new gives rise to concerns that the museum is collecting material that is too recent, topical, and potentially controversial. Nevertheless, as the director of the NMAAHC, Lonnie Bunch, has made clear, collecting and promoting such material helps “people to realize … that these are not isolated moments. They are part of a long history—a long history of tragedy, but also a long history of resilience and protest.”1

    Though seemingly radical, Bunch’s approach is not without precedent when it comes to museums representing African-American lives (and deaths). A recent example of this is Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, presented from February to May 2015, at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Superimposing modern blacks onto classical Western art reliefs, Wiley’s work made one patron comment that “the fact that they have an exhibit like this maybe could revitalize that conversation again about Black Lives Matter.”2

    A symposium on “History, Rebellion, and Reconciliation,” held at the Smithsonian in April 2015, discussed in part the fatal shooting of an African-American youth in Ferguson, Missouri, in the previous year. A reoccurring theme at the symposium was that museums could offer neutral “‘safe,’ or even ‘sacred’ spaces, within which visitors could wrestle with difficult and complex topics.”3 Currently, there is no better example of a more controversial and nuanced topic in America than the Black Lives Matter movement.

    The BLM movement, born in 2013, was indirectly created out of decades of frustration within the African-American community over the legal system’s continual exoneration of those who had taken black lives. Often, those killed had transgressed supposed spatial boundaries, an issue in the past (for example, when a black youth “strayed” into a white section of a public beach, and responses by whites instigated the Chicago riots of 1919 that took thirty-eight lives), as much as the present. BLM’s direct genesis came as a result of the not-guilty verdict against George Zimmerman, who stalked and killed Trayvon Martin, a seventeen-year-old black youth who Zimmerman thought was in the wrong part of town in Sanford, Florida. Three black women (Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi), all activists in the African-American community, viewed the verdict with shock, anger, and an underlying belief that something had to be done. Due to their drive and to further instances of black lives being taken, with ensuing rebellions in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, the movement has quickly taken off. Currently the BLM movement has approximately two dozen chapters throughout the United States as well as chapters in Ghana and Canada.

    Implicit in the rise of BLM and its attendant demands and concerns is the long-standing issue of black mobility. That is, where can black people go and when can they go there? This question is not only relevant for African Americans currently but also in their arduous history in America. The idea of black mobility has been a fundamental query since African Americans were brought to America as enslaved people. As such, their movements and associations were always strictly monitored and in many cases, prohibited by laws, slave patrols, and other means. After the end of slavery, this remained the case in the South and indeed in other parts of the country well into the twentieth century through the implementation of Black Codes, Ku Klux Klan terrorism, sharecropping contracts, city zoning laws, segregation, and various other means.

    In fact, it can be said that blacks gained any semblance of true mobility in the country only in the early 1970s when the last host of Civil Rights laws became implemented and enforced. Two generations later, it is fitting that some have described the BLM protests as the new Civil Rights movement. In a sense, BLM seeks to answer the question of whether or not some fifty years later black lives are truly valued as equal to all others in the country. From the U.S. government’s COINTELPRO assassination and disruption programs against black activists in the late 1960s and 1970s to the “stop and frisk” police sweeps since the 1990s and incidents such as the arrest of Sandra Bland in 2015, the curtailment of black movement makes the answer decidedly mixed.

    The relevancy and emotions concerning the lasting effects of what has been labeled America’s “original sin” makes it a timely yet somewhat uncomfortable issue for a museum to embrace. This then begs the question, “what exactly is the purpose of a museum?” The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines it as “a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”4 Most people would tend to define a museum as a place where old, if not ancient, objects are put on display to be reviewed in a genteel fashion. This might make it seem that only the elite patronize museums but nothing could be further from the truth. According to the American Alliance of Museums, some 850 million visits occur each year in American museums, more than all major organized sports put together.5

    What Lonnie Bunch, NMAAHC’s director, wants to do is bring a current and controversial topic to the most respected of American museums, the Smithsonian. As Bunch put it in an interview with National Public Radio,

    One of the jobs of a museum is to not only look back, but to look forward. And so once I heard about [the demonstrations] I knew it was very important to make sure that we collected material that might help a curator 20 years from now or 50 years from now look back and tell the story of the changing notions of race in America.6

    Some of the items Bunch prioritizes for collection include banners, posters, gas masks, and a 4’ by 7’ panel of wood used to protect stores during the disturbances, which has printed on it “hands up,” along with cell phone videos and photos. A purpose of the NMAAHC, Bunch notes, is to place racial conflict and historical events in context, to make people realize that there are “moments of possibility,” where fundamental change and progress can be made. There will certainly be more material for the NMAAHC to collect based on the BLM’s new (as of August 2015) ten-point policy directive, Campaign Zero, directed at state and federal policing authorities.7 Though many may not link the two, the BLM movement is linked to the Constitution, for both have at their core the idea “to form a more perfect union.” This ideal, encompassing issues of life, liberty, and freedom of movement, is as radical and patriotic as the symbolism of what it means to be free in America.



    This exhibit review originally appeared in volume 6, issue 1 of Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies.



    1. National Public Radio (NPR), “Black Lives Matter: Coming to a Museum Near You?” 1 August 2015, National Public Radio (accessed 12 September 2015).
    1. “At the Brooklyn Museum, Art Helps Show Why Black Lives Matter,” Aljazeera America, (accessed 11 September 2015).
    1. “Why Museums Should be a Safe Space to Discuss Why #BlackLivesMatter,”, (accessed 12 September 2015).
    1. “Museum Defi nition,” International Council of Museums, nition/ (accessed 12 September 2015).
    1. “Museum Facts,” American Alliance of Museums, (accessed 16 August 2015).NPR, “Black Lives Matter: Coming to a Museum Near You?”
    1. “Solutions Overview,” Solutions: Campaign Zero, (accessed 13 September 2015).

  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Earth Day 2017

    We’re also offering a 25% discount off all Environmental Studies titles by using the promo code ED17, also available until April 29.

    In celebration of Earth Day, we are delighted to offer free access to a selection of journal articles for a limited time. To access these articles, please visit the EnviroSociety blog.


    Environment in History: International Perspectives Series

    Published in association with the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH), and the Rachel Carson Center (RCC)

    The relationship between human society and the natural world is being studied with increased urgency and interest. Investigating this relationship from historical, cultural, and political perspectives, the monographs and collected volumes in this series showcase high-quality research in environmental history and cognate disciplines in the social and natural sciences. The series strives to bridge both national and disciplinary divides, with a particular emphasis on European, transnational, and comparative research.


    Conservation and Globalization in the Twentieth Century
    Edited by Wolfram Kaiser and Jan-Henrik Meyer


    Pollution, resource depletion, habitat management, and climate change are all issues that necessarily transcend national boundaries. Accordingly, they and other environmental concerns have been a particular focus for international organizations from before the First World War to the present day. This volume is the first to comprehensively explore the environmental activities of professional communities, NGOs, regional bodies, the United Nations, and other international organizations during the twentieth century. It follows their efforts to shape debates about environmental degradation, develop binding intergovernmental commitments, and—following the seminal 1972 Conference on the Human Environment—implement and enforce actual international policies.

    Read Introduction: International Organizations and Environmental Protection in the Global Twentieth Century


    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.

    Read Introduction: The Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature and the East European Experience


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


    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.

    Read Introduction: Doorsteps in Paradise


    State, Peasants, and the Politics of Land in Postsocialist Romania
    Stefan Dorondel


    “This is clearly the best study on the environmental history of Romania published to date. It is a paragon of vivid, illustrative, and intimate local history combined with an international outlook.” · Joachim Radkau, Universität Bielefeld

    The fall of the Soviet Union was a transformative event for the national political economies of Eastern Europe, leading not only to new regimes of ownership and development but to dramatic changes in the natural world itself. This painstakingly researched volume focuses on the emblematic case of postsocialist Romania, in which the transition from collectivization to privatization profoundly reshaped the nation’s forests, farmlands, and rivers. From bureaucrats abetting illegal deforestation to peasants opposing government agricultural policies, it reveals the social and political mechanisms by which neoliberalism was introduced into the Romanian landscape.

    Read Introduction: Privatizing the State and the Transformation of the Agrarian Landscape

    For a full selection of titles in the series please visit series webpage.


    The Greenpeace Anti-Whaling Campaign in Norway
    Juliane Riese

    Volume 21, Protest, Culture & Society


    In the popular imagination, no issue has been more closely linked with the environmental group Greenpeace than whaling. Opposition to commercial whaling has inspired many of the organization’s most dramatic and high-profile “direct actions”—as well as some of its most notable failures. This book provides an inside look at one such instance: Greenpeace’s decades-long campaign against the Norwegian whaling industry. Combining historical narrative with systems-theory analysis, author Juliane Riese shows how the organization’s self-presentation as a David pitted against whale-butchering Goliaths was turned on its head. She recounts how opponents successfully discredited the campaign while Greenpeace struggled with internal disagreements and other organizational challenges, providing valuable lessons for other protest movements.


    Edited by Gregory V. Button and Mark Schuller

    NEW SERIES: Volume 1, Catastrophes in Context


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

    Read Introduction


    Cases of Local Activism and Environmental Innovation around the World
    Edited by Carol Hager and Mary Alice Haddad


    NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) protests are often criticized as parochial and short-lived, generating no lasting influence on broader processes related to environmental politics. This volume offers a different perspective. Drawing on cases from around the globe, it demonstrates that NIMBY protests, although always arising from a local concern in a particular community, often result in broader political, social, and technological change. Chapters include cases from Europe, North America, and Asia, engaging with the full political spectrum from established democracies to non-democratic countries. Regardless of political setting, NIMBY movements can have a positive and proactive role in generating innovative solutions to local as well as transnational environmental issues. Furthermore, those solutions are now serving as models for communities and countries around the world.

    Read Introduction: A New Look at NIMBY

    Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology Series

    Interest in environmental anthropology and ethnobiological knowledge has grown steadily in recent years, reflecting national and international concern about the environment and developing research priorities. `Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology’ is an international series based at the University of Kent at Canterbury. It is a vehicle for publishing up-to-date monographs and edited works on particular issues, themes, places or peoples which focus on the interrelationship between society, culture and the environment.


    Indigenous Revival and the Conservation of Sacred Natural Sites in the Americas
    Edited by Fausto Sarmiento and Sarah Hitchner


    This book presents current research in the political ecology of indigenous revival and its role in nature conservation in critical areas in the Americas. An important contribution to evolving studies on conservation of sacred natural sites (SNS), the book elucidates the complexity of development scenarios within cultural landscapes related to the appropriation of rurality, environmental change in indigenous territories, and new conservation management schemes. Indigeneity and the Sacred explores how these struggles for land, rights, and political power are embedded within physical landscapes, and how indigenous identity is reformed as globalizing forces simultaneously threaten and promote the notion of indigeneity.


    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.

    Read Introduction

    This book is accompanied by a large online repository of images:


    Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another
    Eva Keller


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

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

    Read Introduction


    An Appraisal from the Gulf Region
    Edited by Paul Sillitoe


    With growing evidence of unsustainable use of the world’s resources, such as hydrocarbon reserves, and related environmental pollution, as in alarming climate change predictions, sustainable development is arguably the prominent issue of the 21st century. This volume gives a wide ranging introduction focusing on the arid Gulf region, where the challenges of sustainable development are starkly evident. The Gulf relies on non-renewable oil and gas exports to supply the world’s insatiable CO2 emitting energy demands, and has built unsustainable conurbations with water supplies dependent on energy hungry desalination plants and deep aquifers pumped beyond natural replenishment rates. Sustainable Development has an interdisciplinary focus, bringing together university faculty and government personnel from the Gulf, Europe, and North America — including social and natural scientists, environmentalists and economists, architects and planners — to discuss topics such as sustainable natural resource use and urbanization, industrial and technological development, economy and politics, history and geography.

    Read Introduction: Sustainable Development in the Gulf: Some Introductory Remarks

    For a full selection of titles in the series please visit series webpage.

    Berghahn Journals

    To mark this year’s Earth Day, Berghahn Journals is offering special access to relevant articles with hope that this will contribute to the overall discussion of the environment, climate, and sustainability. Content is exclusively for the user’s individual, personal, non-commercial use. View full terms and conditions.

    Available Until April 29!

    Extractive Conservation: Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?
    Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing
    Environment and Society (Volume 7)

    Ecosystem integrity and policy coherence for development: Tools aimed at achieving balance as the basis for transformative development
    Harlan Koff, Miguel Equihua Zamora, Carmen Maganda and Octavio Pérez-Maqueo
    Regions and Cohesion (Volume 6, Issue 3)

    Whose Utopia? Our Utopia! Competing Visions of the Future at the UN Climate Talks
    Richard Widick and John Foran
    Nature and Culture (Volume 11, Issue 3)

    The Influence of Environmental Restrictions on the Socio-Economic Development of the Lake Baikal Region
    Gerelma B. Dugarova and Victor N. Bogdanov
    Sibirica (Volume 12, Issue 2)

    Sustainable Development as a Goal: Social, Environmental and Economic Dimensions
    Vera Mignaqui
    International Journal of Social Quality (Volume 4, Issue 1)


    Be sure to check out EnviroSociety—the new blog from Environment and Society!
    A multimedia site, EnviroSociety provides insights into contemporary socio-ecological issues with posts from top scholars in the social sciences that engage readers interested in current environmental topics. See more at



    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.






    Nature and Culture (NC) is a forum for the international community of scholars and practitioners to present, discuss, and evaluate critical issues and themes related to the historical and contemporary relationships that societies, civilizations, empires, regions, nation-states have with Nature. The journal contains a serious interpolation of theory, methodology, criticism, and concrete observation forming the basis of this discussion.

    The mission of the journal is to move beyond specialized disciplinary enclaves and mind-sets toward broader syntheses that encompass time, space and structures in understanding the Nature-Culture relationship. The Journal furthermore provides an outlet for the identification of knowledge gaps in our understanding of this relationship.

    Regiones y Cohesión / Régions et Cohésion


    Due to the dramatic changes in global affairs related to regional integration, studies can no longer be limited to the analysis of economic competitiveness and political power in global geopolitics. Regions and Cohesion is a needed platform for academics and practitioners alike to disseminate both empirical research and normative analysis of topics related to human and environmental security, social cohesion, and governance. It covers themes, such as the management of strategic resources, environment and society, social risk and marginalization, disasters and policy responses, violence, war and urban security, the quality of democracy, development, public health, immigration, human rights, organized crime, and cross-border human security.

    Interdisciplinary in nature and multi-lingual in character (English, French, Spanish), the journal promotes the comparative examination of the human and environmental impacts of various aspects of regional integration across geographic areas, time periods, and policy arenas.




  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Durkheim, the ‘founding father’ of sociology


    “…Solidarity is, literally something which the society possesses.” – Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917)


    David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. Along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, he formally established the academic discipline and and is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.


    Access the top articles from our journal Durkheimian Studies/Études Durkheimiennes for FREE until April 22!


    Berghahn Books is also happy to invite you to browse some of the relevant titles:


    In Paperback

    Edited by Alexander Tristan Riley, W.S.F. Pickering†, and William Watts Miller
    Published in Association with the Durkheim Press


    “The strengths of the book are the featuring of the diversity of the [Durkheim] tradition and the many lines linking broadly Durkheimian themes to current work on the arts… [It] illustrates powerfully how Durkheimian concepts live with us today and how we can benefit by comparisons with this rich tradition. Read and be inspired.” · American Journal of Sociology

    Using a broad definition of the Durkheimian tradition, this book offers the first systematic attempt to explore the Durkheimians’ engagement with art. It focuses on both Durkheim and his contemporaries as well as later thinkers influenced by his work. The first five chapters consider Durkheim’s own exploration of art; the remaining six look at other Durkheimian thinkers, including Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert, Maurice Halbwachs, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Leiris, and Georges Bataille. The contributors—scholars from a range of theoretical orientations and disciplinary perspectives—are known for having already produced significant contributions to the study of Durkheim. This book will interest not only scholars of Durkheim and his tradition but also those concerned with aesthetic theory and the sociology and history of art.

    Read Introduction

    Please visit additional blog post where Alexander Tristan Riley shares what brought him to the study of Durkheim, a prediction of the collection’s reception, and what he would ask the philosopher if given the chance.


    In Paperback

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

    Volume 27, Methodology & History in Anthropology


    “The volume conveys the potential of Elementary Forms to inspire new areas of research in the field of cognitive studies and of collective processes and rituals more specifically. As the contributors suggest, there is much to explore in contemporary phenomena by wary of Durkheim’s original approach to the study of religion.” · Durkheimian Studies/Etudes Durkheimiennes

    One hundred years after the publication of the great sociological treatise, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, this new volume shows how aptly Durkheim¹s theories still resonate with the study of contemporary and historical religious societies. The volume applies the Durkheimian model to multiple cases, probing its resilience, wondering where it might be tweaked, and asking which aspects have best stood the test of time. A dialogue between theory and ethnography, this book shows how Durkheimian sociology has become a mainstay of social thought and theory, pointing to multiple ways in which Durkheim¹s work on religion remains relevant to our thinking about culture.

    Read Introduction: Durkheim in Disciplinary Dialogue


    In Paperback

    Solidarity and the Sacred
    William Watts Miller


    “Watts Miller provides a meticulous, conscientious, and unpretentious reading of Durkheim, rooted in deep acquaintance not only with his unpublished lectures but also with the writing of his contemporaries…The strength of Watts Miller’s book is that it harks back to a Durkheim of complexity and rich ambiguity.” · Choice

    Durkheim, in his very role as a ‘founding father’ of a new social science, sociology, has become like a figure in an old religious painting, enshrouded in myth and encrusted in layers of thick, impenetrable varnish. This book undertakes detailed, up-to-date investigations of Durkheim’s work in an effort to restore its freshness and reveal it as originally created. These investigations explore his particular ideas, within an overall narrative of his initial problematic search for solidarity, how it became a quest for the sacred and how, at the end of his life, he embarked on a project for a new great work on ethics. A theme running through this is his concern with a modern world in crisis and his hope in social and moral reform. Accordingly, the book concludes with a set of essays on modern times and on a crisis that Durkheim thought would pass but which now seems here to stay.


    The Durkheimian Legacy
    Edited by W. S. F. Pickering and Massimo Rosati†
    Published in Association with the Durkheim Press


    “…an impressive collection that makes a strong contribution to sociological theory and Durkheimian scholarship. Its particular strength is how it makes available the robustness and enduring importance of Durkheim’s rich conceptual lexicon… Theoretically sophisticates, yet relatively accessible, this volume is particularly appropriate for inclusion in advanced undergraduate theory courses or graduate level seminars.” · Canadian Journal of Sociology/Cahiers canadiens de sociologie

    Until recently the subject of suffering and evil was neglected in the sociological world and was almost absent in Durkheimian studies as well. This book aims to fill the gap, with particular reference to the Durkheimian tradition, by exploring the different meanings that the concepts of evil and suffering have in Durkheim’s works, together with the general role they play in his sociology. It also examines the meanings and roles of these concepts in relation to suffering and evil in the work of other authors within the group of the Année sociologique up until the beginning of World War II. Finally, the Durkheimian legacy in its wider aspects is assessed, with particular reference to the importance of the Durkheimian categories in understanding and conceptualizing contemporary forms of evil and suffering.


    Edited by W. S. F. Pickering
    With an introduction by Kenneth Thompson
    Published by Durkheim Press


    Taken as a whole, the collection provides a useful grounding in contemporary Durkheimian studies.” · Choice

    There has been a growing interest in Durkheim, founding father of sociology, since the 1970s. This volume takes a look at the current stage of Durkheimian studies, pointing out paths scholars are now following as they examine the various themes of study that Durkheim opened up to the academic world. They clearly demonstrate the continuing importance of Durkheim’s works and the benefits to be derived from re-reading them in the light of contemporary social developments.



    Perspectives on Education and Punishment
    Edited by Mark S. Cladis


    Education and punishment are two crucial sites of the “disciplinary society,” approached by Durkheim and Foucault from different perspectives, but also in a shared concern with what kind of society might constitute an “emancipatory” alternative. This collection of essays explores the issues that are involved and that are illuminated through a comparison and contrast of two social theorists who at first sight might seem an “unlikely couple” – Durkheim and Foucault.




    In Paperback

    The Intellectual Pursuit of the Sacred Reinvented
    Alexander Tristan Riley


    “…offers readers a tour of twentieth-century French intellectual 10 history by one of the finest Durkheimian scholars writing today. At the heart of the book is Durkheim’s concept of the sacred. Yet despite the seemingly familiar starting point, Riley’s book sparkles with creative 15 ideas, intriguing concepts, and introductions to a broad class of characters… part of the book’s (mystic) charm is its comprehensive and suggestive nature.” · Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review

    The Durkheimians have traditionally been understood as positivist, secular thinkers, fully within the Enlightenment project of limitless reason and progress. In a radical revision of this view, this book persuasively argues that the core members of the Durkheimian circle (Durkheim himself, Marcel Mauss, Henri Hubert and Robert Hertz) are significantly more complicated than this. Through his extensive analysis of large volumes of correspondence as well as historical and macro-sociological mappings of the intellectual and social worlds in which the Durkheimian project emerged, the author shows the Durkheimian project to have constituted a quasi-religious quest in ways much deeper than most interpreters have thought. Their fascination, both personal and intellectual, with the sacred is the basis on which the author reconstructs some important components of modern French intellectual history, connecting Durkheimian thought to key representatives of French poststructuralism and postmodernism: Bataille, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, and Deleuze.

    Related Link: Other publications from Durkheim Press



    Études Durkheimiennes

    Editor: W. Watts Miller

    Durkheimian Studies is available online.

    Durkheimian Studies / Études Durkheimiennes is the scholarly journal of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. It is concerned with all aspects of the work of Durkheim and his group, such as Marcel Mauss and Robert Hertz, and with the contemporary development and application of their ideas to issues in the social sciences, religion and philosophy. The journal is unique in often featuring first-time or new English translations of their French works otherwise not available to English-language scholars.



  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    World Health Day

    In recognition of the day Berghahn would like to showcase a range of related titles, delivering scholarly, informed opinion. Valid through May 7th, we are pleased to offer a 25% discount on any of our Medical Anthropology titles ordered directly through Berghahn webpage. At checkout, simply enter the code WHD17.

    Please note that all the titles listed below are also available as ebooks. More information is available here.


    An Ethnography of Healthcare and Decision-Making in Bhutan
    Jonathan Taee

    Volume 4, WYSE Series in Social Anthropology


    In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, medical patients engage a variety of healing practices to seek cures for their ailments. Patients use the expanding biomedical network and a growing number of traditional healthcare units, while also seeking alternative practices, such as shamanism and other religious healing, or even more provocative practices. The Patient Multiple delves into this healthcare complexity in the context of patients’ daily lives and decision-making processes, showing how these unique mountain cultures are finding new paths to good health among a changing and multifaceted medical topography.

    Related Link: Visit the author’s website:

    Read Introduction


    Abortion Governance and Protest Logics in Europe
    Edited by Silvia De Zordo, Joanna Mishtal, and Lorena Anton

    Volume 20, Protest, Culture & Society


    Since World War II, abortion policies have remained remarkably varied across European nations, with struggles over abortion rights at the forefront of national politics. This volume analyses European abortion governance and explores how social movements, political groups, and individuals use protests and resistance to influence abortion policy. Drawing on case studies from Italy, Spain, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the European Union, it analyses the strategies and discourses of groups seeking to liberalise or restrict reproductive rights. It also illuminates the ways that reproductive rights politics intersect with demographic anxieties, as well as the rising nationalisms and xenophobia related to austerity policies, mass migration and the recent terrorist attacks in Europe.

    Read Introduction

    Fertility, Reproduction and Sexuality: Social and Cultural Perspectives 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. Current debates and issues of global relevance on the changing dynamics of fertility, human reproduction and sexuality are addressed.


    Anthropological Approaches to the Heterogeneity of Modern Fertility Declines
    Edited by Philip Kreager and Astrid Bochow


    In the last forty years anthropologists have made major contributions to understanding the heterogeneity of reproductive trends and processes underlying them. Fertility transition, rather than the story of the triumphant spread of Western birth control rationality, reveals a diversity of reproductive means and ends continuing before, during, and after transition. This collection brings together anthropological case studies, placing them in a comparative framework to address how fertility is simply one element of complex social structures, in which the formation and size of families is not decided solely or primarily by reproduction.


    Zsuzsa Berend


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

    Read Introduction


    Infertility and Procreative Technologies in India
    Aditya Bharadwaj


    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.

    Read Introduction: Conceptualising Conceptions: An Introduction


    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 the ethnographic study 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.

    Read Introduction


    Edited by Marcia C. Inhorn, Wendy Chavkin & José-Alberto Navarro


    Globalized Fatherhood, with its 16 chapters and original research on fatherhood (and related topics) from more than 20 countries comes at an opportune time. This impressive volume,… covers a lot of ground…[It] is an ambitious offering that hits the mark in most of its chapters, and advances the research in a field that is sadly lacking in it. May there be more volumes on the topic –by these authors, and many others.” · Gender & Development

    Using an entirely new conceptual vocabulary through which to understand men’s experiences and expectations at the dawn of the twenty-first century, this path-breaking volume focuses on fatherhood around the globe, including transformations in fathering, fatherhood, and family life. It includes new work by anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural geographers, working in settings from Peru to India to Vietnam. Each chapter suggests that men are responding to globalization as fathers in creative and unprecedented ways, not only in the West, but also in numerous global locations.

    Read Introduction: Globalized Fatherhood: Emergent Forms and Possibilities in the New Millennium


    An American Cultural Dilemma
    Cecília Tomori


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

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

    Read Introduction

    Food, Nutrition, and Culture Series

    Taking an anthropological perspective, this book series provides a forum for thought-provoking work on the bio-cultural, cultural, and social aspects of human nutrition and food habits. The books in this series present timely food-related scholarship intended for researchers, academics, students, and those involved in food policy.


    Negotiating Infant Feeding
    Penny Van Esterik and Richard A. O’Connor


    Breastfeeding and child feeding at the center of nurturing practices, yet the work of nurture has escaped the scrutiny of medical and social scientists. Anthropology offers a powerful biocultural approach that examines how custom and culture interact to support nurturing practices. Our framework shows how the unique constitutions of mothers and infants regulate each other. The Dance of Nurture integrates ethnography, biology and the political economy of infant feeding into a holistic framework guided by the metaphor of dance. It includes a critique of efforts to improve infant feeding practices globally by UN agencies and advocacy groups concerned with solving global nutrition and health problems.


    Negotiating Anorexia
    Richard A. O’ Connor and Penny van Esterik


    The recovered possess the key to overcoming anorexia. Although individual sufferers do not know how the affliction takes hold, piecing their stories together reveals two accidental afflictions. One is that activity disorders—dieting, exercising, healthy eating—start as virtuous practices, but become addictive obsessions. The other affliction is a developmental disorder, which also starts with the virtuous—those eager for challenge and change. But these overachievers who seek self-improvement get a distorted life instead. Knowing anorexia from inside, the recovered offer two watchwords on helping those who suffer. One is “negotiate,” to encourage compromise, which can aid recovery where coercion fails. The other is “balance,” for the ill to pursue mind-with-body activities to defuse mind-over-body battles.

    Read Introduction: Negotiating Anorexia


    The Meaning of Measures and the Measure of Meanings
    Edited by Megan McCullough and Jessica Hardin
    Afterword by Stephen T. McGarvey


    “This is not a book that seeks to discredit health research and leave others to do the work of finding a better way to conduct it; rather, it aims to improve health research by providing useful avenues for critique and suggestions for ways forward. In this sense, it works as a very practical guide for those working in the health professions, whether as researchers or healthcare providers, to better understand “obesity” and “overweight” and, importantly, fat people in social and environmental context… it makes a welcome and necessary intervention into the business of health research, provision, and discourse, as well as its public reception.” · Fat Studies Journal

    In the crowded and busy arena of obesity and fat studies, there is a lack of attention to the lived experiences of people, how and why they eat what they do, and how people in cross-cultural settings understand risk, health, and bodies. This volume addresses the lacuna by drawing on ethnographic methods and analytical emic explorations in order to consider the impact of cultural difference, embodiment, and local knowledge on understanding obesity.

    Epistemologies of Healing Series

    This series publishes monographs and edited volumes on indigenous (so-called traditional) medical knowledge and practice, alternative and complementary medicine, and ethnobiological studies that relate to health and illness. The emphasis of the series is on the way indigenous epistemologies inform healing, against a background of comparison with other practices, and in recognition of the fluidity between them.


    Anthropology in Life and Medicine
    Julie Laplante


    Umhlonyane, also known as Artemisia afra, is one of the oldest and best-documented indigenous medicines in South Africa. This bush, which grows wild throughout the sub-Saharan region, smells and tastes like “medicine,” thus easily making its way into people’s lives and becoming the choice of everyday healing for Xhosa healer-diviners and Rastafarian herbalists. This “natural” remedy has recently sparked curiosity as scientists search for new molecules against a tuberculosis pandemic while hoping to recognize indigenous medicine. Laplante follows umhlonyane on its trails and trials of becoming a biopharmaceutical — from the “open air” to controlled environments — learning from the plant and from the people who use it with hopes in healing.

    Read Introduction: Tracing the Preclinical Trial of an Indigenous Plant


    Humoral Medicines in Practice
    Edited by Peregrine Horden and Elisabeth Hsu


    “The collection presents a fascinating comparative history of the concept of balance throughout medical practice across the world, with disparate chapters well connected through thematic discussion.” · Social History of Medicine

    Focusing on practice more than theory, this collection offers new perspectives for studying the so-called “humoral medical traditions,” as they have flourished around the globe during the last 2,000 years. Exploring notions of “balance” in medical cultures across Eurasia, Africa and the Americas, from antiquity to the present, the volume revisits “harmony” and “holism” as main characteristics of those traditions. It foregrounds a dynamic notion of balance and asks how balance is defined or conceptualized, by whom, for whom and in what circumstances. Balance need not connoteegalitarianism or equilibrium. Rather, it alludes to morals of self care exercised in place of excessiveness and indulgences after long periods of a life in dearth. As the moral becomes visceral, the question arises: what constitutes the visceral in a body that is in constant flux and flow? How far, and in what ways, are there fundamental properties or constituents in those bodies?



    Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice


    Anthropology in Action (AIA) is a peer-reviewed journal publishing articles, commentaries, research reports, and book reviews in applied anthropology. The journal provides a forum for debate and analysis for anthropologists working both inside and outside academia and aims to promote communication amongst practitioners, academics and students of anthropology in order to advance the cross-fertilisation of expertise and ideas.

    Special Issue: Negotiating Care in Uncertain Settings and Looking Beneath the Surface of Health Governance Projects



    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.

    Featured Article: Women and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran: When HIV Meets Government Morality
    Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi



    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.

    Featured Article: “But Isn’t It the Baby that Decides When It Will Be Born?” Women’s Embodied Experiences of Giving Birth
    Joanna White


    An Interdisciplinary Journal


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

    Featured Article: The Biologically Vulnerable Boy: Framing Sex Differences in Childhood Infectious Disease Mortality
    Heather T. Battles


    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: Girls and their Health




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

Admin Users

  • Seamless content authorization based on institutional IP address
  • Marc Records support that allows for easy download on a per subscription basis
  • More purchase options for custom journal collections
  • Customization to include institutional branding, including library name, logo and URL
  • Continuous access to up-to-date COUNTER reports and SUSHI support


  • Mobile optimized responsive site design
  • Increased content discoverability through OAI-PMH support
  • Improved search results
  • User-defined personalization including saved searches, bookmarking, and annotation

Please find more information, including FAQ, here

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