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  • EnviroSociety

    Reading Rousseau in the Anthropocene

    I’m a critical environmental anthropologist, which means I make my living by having serious doubts about every term in this aspirational self-description. Writing and teaching under such a sign has always been hard, but it’s gotten even harder lately, for painfully obvious reasons. For example, this semester, for the second time, I am teaching a midlevel course for undergraduates called “Theories of Human Nature.” As with so many anthropology courses at my university, the title is deceptive: instead of theories of human nature, my innocent charges are stuck with a relentless series of stories demonstrating that there is no such thing as human nature and that any effort to appeal to it inevitably entails the denigration of many would-be humans and the degradation of what is left of nature in the name of some dubious onto-political cause or other (see Haraway 2007; Soper 1995). By the end of the semester, I would normally hope my students would have become as suspicious of the word “human” as they are of the word “nature,” and downright outraged to hear them juxtaposed in an argument.

    When I first taught “Theories of Human Nature” in 2013, I think I achieved this goal to a considerable degree. We wrapped up by reading an ethnography of the (mostly) nonhuman semiotic chains linking the Amazon to its inhabitants, How Forests Think (Kohn 2013), and during discussion a few of the students worried about its latent “humanism.” This time around I don’t think I’ll get there. It is not that my students today are any more invested than their predecessors in themselves as liberal humanist subjects or Enlightenment reason as the touchstone of their ideals. It might not be any real change in my students at all, although I was admittedly taken aback by their insistence just after the midterm break that a recent proposal to rename the Anthropocene the Capitalocene (Haraway 2015; Moore 2016) would be “a cop-out” insofar as doing so would seem to shift responsibility for historically recent, stratigraphically salient environmental transformations from “us” to “the system.” I wondered what could explain their longing for so many unfolding or anticipated environmental disasters to be counted as a form of responsibility-enforcing punishment, as well as why they felt more responsible for environmental harms as humans than as citizens of a settler-colonial democracy.

    I can’t be sure if my students in 2013 would have felt any differently, however, because I myself didn’t think the Anthropocene bore mentioning back then, and the Capitalocene idea had not yet made it to press. This suggests that I am the one who has changed in the intervening years, albeit far too slowly for the world my students so guiltily inhabit.

    This inconvenient truth first dawned on me back in January of this year, when I began the semester’s readings as usual with my favorite example of Enlightenment thinking about human nature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Among other advantages, the text crystallizes the normative role played by reason in setting civilized man apart from all the others, who become more natural, or savage, only by comparison with this axiomatically unnatural, uniquely “human” faculty. It also shows the contradictory way reason is held up as a set of rules that should determine human action just as instinct supposedly does determine animal action, so that the freedom that reason grants us is not much more than striving—and usually failing—to be obedient to natural law. I like Rousseau’s demonstration of these Enlightenment principles a million times better than the other natural law theorists (see Tuck 1999, for their stories) because this irony is not entirely lost on him. He shows how reason can be used to justify all kinds of horrors, including the Discourse itself:

    I admit that, since the events I have to describe could have taken place in several ways, I cannot make a determination among them except on the basis of conjecture. But over and above the fact that these conjectures become reasons when they are the most probable ones that a person can draw from the nature of things and the sole means that a person can have of discovering the truth, the consequences I wish to deduce from mine will not thereby be conjectural, since, on the basis of the principles I have just established, no other system is conceivable that would not furnish me with the same results, and from which I could not draw the same conclusions. ([1755] 1992: 43)

    In other words, here Rousseau freely admits to making the whole thing up, necessarily, which is small compensation for his liberal use (no pun intended) of what he took to be real-life examples of humanity at an intermediate stage between the state of nature and civilization drawn from the European colonial encounter with New World “savages” (see Pagden 1993). Even as he enacts its harms, Rousseau teaches us that human nature is made, and made up, for a single purpose: political power. In 2013, I was content to read, and teach my students to read, Rousseau for his consistently contradictory use of human nature as a rhetorical device in a political argument. In 2017, however, I found myself responding to the argument itself, summoned against my will beyond my little province of naturalcultural expertise and into Europe’s undying imperial fray.

    The Discourse’s argument is presented as an answer to two questions posed by the Academy of Dijon: “What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by the natural law?” Rousseau disposes of the second absurd proposition on the first page, claiming that to even entertain the question “would amount to asking whether those who command are necessarily better than those who obey, and whether strength of body or mind, wisdom or virtue are always found in the same individuals in proportion to power or wealth. Perhaps this is a good question for slaves to discuss within earshot of their masters, but it is not suitable for reasonable and free men who seek the truth” (1992: 16; see Scott 1990; see also Klausen 2014). Most of the rest of the Discourse is a protracted fantasy—savages included—about how society could have arrived in such a terrible state of inequality that this absurd question is even on the table.

    Famously, Rousseau identifies the institution of property as the first step in “the sequence of wonders by which the strong could resolve to serve the weak, and the people buy imaginary repose at the price of real felicity” (1992: 17), but it is not the last. The second is the creation of the state, or “the magistracy,” to protect the property of the rich against the poor. The third is “the transformation of legitimate power into arbitrary power,” mainly through the law of inheritance. Inequality itself is offered at once as the cause, sign, and symptom of this third step in the sequence, “the ultimate degree of inequality and the limit to which all the others finally lead” (65) If this were really the end of the story, the argument would be not just paradoxical (Cress 2011) but tautological. Rousseau would have shown that the evolution of inequality is as natural for reasonable human beings as its suppression was in the fictive state of nature. This is what the thought experiment (nature + reason = inequality) that makes up the bulk of the text avowedly demonstrates. This is also what my students seem to have gotten out of it in their short essays on the topic, a result alarmingly consistent with their sentiments about the Anthropocene. But Rousseau provides an alternate conclusion, though I confess to having missed this point in reading and teaching his political philosophy as protean anthropology at least a dozen times since the turn of the millennium.

    After having shown the origin of inequality in property, the state, and inheritance on the basis of pure conjecture, Rousseau allows himself to speculate on what he would find were he to actually examine the facts, “where one would examine all the different faces under which inequality has appeared until now and may appear in future ages, according to the nature of these governments and the upheavals that time will necessarily bring in its wake,” (1992: 67). Carefully protecting himself, and perhaps his readers, with the safety afforded by the future conditional, Rousseau describes in this last moment not the origin of inequality, but its climax:

    From the extreme inequality of conditions and fortunes … there would come a pack of prejudices equally contrary to reason, happiness and virtue. One would see the leaders fomenting whatever can weaken men united together by disuniting them; whatever can give society an air of apparent concord while showing the seeds of division; whatever can inspire defiance and hatred in the various classes through the opposition of their rights and interests, and can as a consequence strengthen the power that contains them all.

    It is from the bosom of this disorder and these upheavals that despotism, by gradually raising its hideous head and devouring everything it had seen to be good and healthy in every part of the state, would eventually succeed in trampling underfoot the laws of the people, and in establishing itself in the ruins of the republic. The times that would precede this last transformation would be times of troubles and calamities; but in the end everything would be swallowed up by the monster, and the peoples would no longer have leader or laws, but only tyrants. Also, from that moment on, there would no longer be any question of mores and virtue, for wherever despotism, in which decency affords no hope, reigns, it tolerates no other master. (68; emphasis in original)

    With this Rousseau offers an argument, this time based on experience veiled as conjecture instead of the other way around, for why inequality is a problem for peoples—note the plural—who in his time as in ours are bound to live together. Inequality is bad, not because we judge it to be bad, because we are bleeding-heart libtards or commie snowflakes or social justice warriors, or critical environmental anthropologists for that matter. Inequality is bad because it admits no other principle, no other government, no other society, no thinking, no feeling, no justice, no peace. And as I learned a little too late, no education worthy of the name.


    I’m grateful for timely discussions of the Capitalocene and other critical environmental topics with my colleagues Jenny Cockburn, Reade Davis, Karen Hébert, Pablo Mendez, and Zoe Todd. The untimely reversion to Rousseau, however, is my own fault.

    Danielle DiNovelli-Lang
     studies resource politics and human–animal relations in Alaska. She teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.


    Cress, D., ed. 2011. Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings. London: Hackett.

    Haraway, D. 2007. The Companion Species Manifesto. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

    Haraway, D. 2015. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene.” Environmental Humanities 8 (1).

    Klausen, J. 2014. Fugitive Rousseau. New York: Fordham University Press.

    Kohn, E. 2013. How Forests Think. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Moore, J., Ed. 2016. Anthropocene or Capitalocene: Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland, CA: PM Press.

    Pagden, A. 1993. European Encounters with the New World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Rousseau, J-J. (1775) 1992. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Ed. Donald Cress. London: Hackett.

    Scott, J. 1993. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Soper, K. 1995. What Is Nature? Culture, Politics and the Nonhuman. London: Blackwell.

    Tuck, R. 1999. The Rights of War and Peace. London: Clarendon.

    Cite as: 
    DiNovelli-Lang, Danielle. 2017. “Reading Rousseau in the Anthropocene.” EnviroSociety, 17 March.

  • FocaalBlog

    Antonio De Lauri: Times of walls: The politics of fencing in the contemporary world

    In his well-known poem “Mending Wall” (1914), Robert Frost effectively depicted the act of walling:

    Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offense.

    He will not go behind his father’s saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

    In Joy Kogawa’s “Where There’s a Wall” (1985), we can recognize the multidimensional social architecture of the wall.

    Where there’s a wall
    there’s a way
    around, over, or through
    there’s a gate
    maybe a ladder
    a door
    a sentinel who
    sometimes sleeps
    there are secret passwords
    you can overhear
    there are methods of torture
    for extracting clues
    to maps of underground passageways
    there are zeppelins
    helicopters, rockets, bombs
    battering rams
    armies with trumpets

    The wall is a paradigmatic object in understanding social differentiation and geopolitical configurations of the contemporary world. Yet it is also an artifact rooted in ancient times that has worked to claim territories, separate populations, govern mobility, and categorize individuals and groups. Political concerns about putting limits to the circulation of people, defining an “inside” and “outside,” and manifesting actual power are major elements to be identified behind the decision of enclosing territories. Today, in their declared political intentions and purposes, walls are the factual, material response to the quest for collective protection. Through a chemical metaphor, we could argue that the wall is the solidification status of the liquid idea of protection, which ranges from geopolitics to biopolitics. Since the dawn of civilizations, walls were built to demarcate borders and defend territory and spatial identities against “Others”: fencing off enemies and defining a specific worldview (as in the case of the Great Wall of China) or delimiting proto-administrative and military units, as in the case of the Roman limes (Momsen 1894; Quétel 2012).

    Arizona border, Douglas Sector, November 2017 (© Elisabeth Vallet)

    Arizona border, Douglas Sector, November 2017 (© Elisabeth Vallet)

    Classical historiography has traditionally approached limes as a limit of the “civilized world.” This approach has been more recently questioned by a more nuanced understanding of the limes. If Romans saw Vikings as Barbarians, the construction of physical barriers was in any case meant not as “the end of the world” but rather as strategical demarcations. The Roman Empire was not technically exclusivist: potentially, everybody could be conquered and, as historian Claude Quétel has reminded us, the Imperium Romanum coincided with the orbis terrarum. The main functions of the limes were, therefore, to both materialize the imperium and protect it.

    The most important limes was the Northern one, which assumed a strong military connotation as a defense to the perceived aggressiveness of Northern tribes. Nonetheless, the barrier moved northward, and the formerly feared populations were slowly integrated into the Empire. The Northern wall was a bio-dimensional, proto-frontier fiscal limit and in turn shaped Vikings’ walls. If the Northern limes was the more fortified, in fact, Vikings built their own barriers to protect local populations from Southern populations; this is the case, for example, of the Danevirke, a system of fortifications in Schleswig-Holstein commanded by King Godfred of Denmark in AD 808 in order to protect his kingdom. Danish tribes confederated in the eighth century and thereafter felt the urgency of defending their territory from the expansionist plans of the Francs.

    The Danevirke was at the same time a proto-frontier and a bastion (like its Roman counterpart). It shaped and limited territorial identity and lately played an important role in nationalist discourses (Quétel 2012). The role of the wall as an agent of identification and exclusion has always been central to the concerns of nation-states and empires (Chaichian 2014). The act itself of seizing land has often been accompanied by the use of barriers (examples are the pomerium founding Rome or barbed wire progressively moving the American frontier westward) (Razac 2003; Simonelli 2001). But spatial and territorial control is not the only task ascribed to walls and fences, since they also prove functional to disciplinating populations and to the application of biopolitical governance in citizens’ everyday lives: governing mobility is the most effective way of governing bodies.

    According to recent surveys and reports, at least 65 countries now have border walls or barriers, and the rate at which they are springing up is unprecedented. The past three decades have seen an astounding rise of books, articles, and new journals focusing on the issue of “security” ranging from urban security to surveillance technologies, from international relations to microlevel forms of human security, from counterterrorism to the current refugee crisis. In fact, the proliferation of security publications in scholarly arenas resonated to some extent with the explosion of insecurity debates in the public sphere. Intrinsically connected to regimes of security/insecurity, borders control and management have instilled a large number of ethnographic and more theoretical analyses that definitively confirmed Étienne Balibar’s (2003) hint that borders are at the center of human experience. Far from being instruments to simply block the transnational movement of people, borders are central devices of people’s lives trajectories and thus represent a crucial angle from which to observe the way in which human mobility interacts with and confront nation-state politics of protection and rejection.

    In global history, the ideology of protection (of cities, empires, nations, etc.) has often translated into the factual construction of walls and fences. In Europe, collective imaginary was molded for decades by the Berlin Wall, the emblem of separation inherently linked to the political and cultural universe of the Cold War era. As of 2013, the United States, Israel, Spain, Greece, and India had together a total of 6,000 kilometers of walls (Vallet 2014). Today, the global multiplication of border barriers (e.g., Bulgaria-Turkey, Hungary-Serbia-Croatia, Norway-Russia, Ukraine-Russia, Tunisia-Libya, etc.) may be seen as a sign of the reaffirmation of the nation-state in the transnational context. In this sense, contemporary walls and fences—notwithstanding the political, geographical, and cultural diversity in which they are today inscribed—reproduce a transversal historical feature: that of substantializing political power and, at the same time, protecting its territorial domain.

    We know that borders are legal constructions, sometimes subject to different regimes of law. Yet, border walls in the contemporary world paradoxically indicate zones in which legal protection is somehow suspended. Borders are spaces of social density, and although walls and heavy militarization of borders are not leading to an overall decrease in irregular migration, their environmental and political costs are significant, while the human costs are difficult to quantify. A world without borders has represented the main mantra of major exponents of globalization, be them big corporations or humanitarian organizations. And yet, walls and fences are not in contrast to globalization borderless discourses and flows. They are rather “fault lines of globalization” (Ritaine 2009), built both against and along these discourses and flows: walls and fences symbolize the affirmation of a privileged few who actually live the promise of globalization and defend its privileges through “teichopolitics,” the politics of building barriers (Rosiere and Jones 2012). At the same time, as objects that reveal contested instances of power and sovereignty, walls are shaped by “domopolitics” (Walters 2004): they are physical limits through which notions of home and protection materialize.

    In the contemporary world, walls stand between and within nations. Political scientist Wendy Brown has maintained that what characterizes border walls and fences in different areas of the world is that these fortifications respond to a specific phenomenon: the decline of sovereignty in the nation-state. Even when they demarcate nation-state boundaries, the majority of walls and fences today are not built as defenses against potential attacks by other sovereigns. Rather, Brown argues, these barriers mostly target nonstate transnational actors—individuals, groups, organizations, industries. They respond to transnational rather than international relations and react to persistent though often subterranean powers, rather than to military forces (Brown 2010).

    It is true that migration, organized crime, terrorism, smuggling, political movements—all subject to the materiality of walls—are today inscribed in a post-Westphalian world order in which forms of sovereignty and governance are contested among a plurality of political and economic actors. However, it seems like the rapid reproduction of border barriers today reflect three main aspects. First, they signal a resurgence of nation-state ideologies in the public discourse. Second, they confirm that the importance of territorial sovereignty—rather than diminishing, as many have argued in the past decades—is still intimately linked to the political syllogism “identity-territory-governance” and is increasingly more dependent on nation-states capacity to simultaneously absorb transnational mobility and exercise coercive force over borderlands. Third, they clearly illustrate the strict nexus that exists between the state apparatus and its theatrical manifestations—whether a wall is useful or not, its spectacle can be seen by everybody.

    Antonio De Lauri is Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway. He has published on topics related to legal anthropology, war, human rights, freedom, and humanitarianism. He currently conducts research on humanitarian militarism and the global history of walls and fences.


    Balibar, Étienne. 2003. We, the people of Europe? Reflections on transnational citizenship. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Brown, Wendy. 2010, Walled states, waning sovereignty. Brooklyn: Zone Books.

    Chaichian, Mohammad A. 2014. Empires and walls: Globalization, migration, and colonial domination. Leiden: Brill.

    Quétel, Claude. 2012. Murs: Une autre histoire des hommes. Paris: Perrin.

    Momsen, Theodor. 1894. “Der Begriff des Limes.” Westdeutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Kunst 13: 134–143.

    Razac, Olivier. 2003. Barbed wire: A political history. New Yok: The New Press

    Ritaine, Evelyne. 2009. “La barrière et le checkpoint: Mise en politique de l’asymétrie.” Culture et conclits 73: 15–33.

    Rosière, Stéphane, and Reece Jones. 2012. “Teichopolitics: Re-considering globalisation through the role of walls and fences.” Geopolitics 17(1): 217–234.

    Simonelli, Antonella. 2001. “Considerazioni sull’origine, la natura e l’evoluzione del pomerium.” Aevum 75(1): 119–162.

    Vallet, Elisabeth, ed. 2014. Borders, fences and walls: State of insecurity? London: Routledge.

    Walters, William. 2004. “Secure borders, safe haven, domopolitics.” Citizenship studies 8(3): 237–260.

    Cite as: De Lauri, Antonio. 2017. “Times of walls: The politics of fencing in the contemporary world.” FocaalBlog, 10 March.

  • 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

    Visit Berghahn Books at the SfAA Annual Meeting 2017!


    If you are unable to attend, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. Receive a 25% discount on all Anthropology titles found on our website, valid through May 1st, 2017. At checkout, simply enter the discount code SfAA17. Visit our website to browse our newly published interactive online Anthropology & Sociology Catalog 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:


    The UK Experience
    Edited by Jeremy MacClancy


    These days an increasing number of social anthropologists do not find employment within academia. Rather, many find jobs with commercial organizations or in government, where they run research teams and create policy. These scholars provide a much-needed social dimension to government thinking and practice. Anthropology and Public Service shows how anthropologists can set new agendas, and revise old ones in the public sector. Written for scholars and students of various social sciences, these chapters include discussions of anthropologists’ work with the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Defence, the UK Border Agency, and the Cabinet Office, and their contributions to prison governance.

    Read Chapter 1. Introduction
: Anthropology and Public Service


    Strathernian Conversations on Ethnography, Knowledge and Politics
    Edited by Ashley Lebner
    Afterword by Marilyn Strathern


    Marilyn Strathern is among the most creative and celebrated contemporary anthropologists, and her work draws interest from across the humanities and social sciences. Redescribing Relations brings some of Strathern’s most committed and renowned readers into conversation in her honour – especially on themes she has rarely engaged. The volume not only deepens our understanding of Strathern’s work, it also offers models of how to extend her relational insights to new terrains. With a comprehensive introduction, a complete list of Strathern’s publications and a historic interview published in English for the first time, this is an invaluable resource for Strathern’s old and new interlocutors alike.


    Studies in Postsocialist Transformations
    Edited by Stephen Gudeman and Chris Hann

    Volume 1, Max Planck Studies in Anthropology and Economy


    According to accepted wisdom, rational practices and ritual action are opposed. Rituals drain wealth from capital investment and draw on a mode of thought different from practical ideas. The studies in this volume contest this view. Comparative, historical, and contemporary, the six ethnographies extend from Macedonia to Kyrgyzstan. Each one illuminates the economic and ritual changes in an area as it emerged from socialism and (re-)entered market society. Cutting against the idea that economy only means markets and that market action exhausts the meaning of economy, the studies show that much of what is critical for a people’s economic life takes place outside markets and hinges on ritual, understood as the negation of the everyday world of economising.

    Read Introduction: Ritual, Economy and the Institutions of the Base

    Studies in Public and Applied Anthropology Series

    The books published in this series offer important insight into these developments by examining the expanding role of anthropologists practicing their discipline outside academia as well as exploring the ethnographic, methodological and theoretical contribution of anthropology, within and outside academia, to issues of public concern.


    Volume 11

    Edited by Sarah Pink, Vaike Fors, and Tom O’Dell


    Academics across the globe are being urged by universities and research councils to do research that impacts the world beyond academia. Yet to date there has been very little reflection amongst scholars and practitioners in these fields concerning the relationship between the theoretical and engaged practices that emerge through such forms of scholarship. Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice investigates the ways in which theoretical research has been incorporated into recent applied practices across the social sciences and humanities. This collection advances our understanding of the ethics, values, opportunities and challenges that emerge in the making of engaged and interdisciplinary scholarship.

    Read Editor’s Introduction: Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice: opportunities and challenges of working in the in-between


    A Comparative Perspective on Witchcraft and Satanism
    Jean La Fontaine


    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


    Edited by Sarah Pink and Simone Abram


    Contemporary anthropology is done in a world where social and digital media are playing an increasingly significant role, where anthropological and arts practices are often intertwined in museum and public intervention contexts, and where anthropologists are encouraged to engage with mass media. Because anthropologists are often expected and inspired to ensure their work engages with public issues, these opportunities to disseminate work in new ways and to new publics simultaneously create challenges as anthropologists move their practice into unfamiliar collaborative domains and expose their research to new forms of scrutiny. In this volume, contributors question whether a fresh public anthropology is emerging through these new practices.

    Read Introduction: Mediating Publics and Anthropology: An Introduction


    Edited by Sam Beck and Carl A. Maida


    Anthropologists have acted as experts and educators on the nature and ways of life of people worldwide, working to understand the human condition in broad comparative perspective. As a discipline, anthropology has often advocated — and even defended — the cultural integrity, authenticity, and autonomy of societies across the globe. Public anthropology today carries out the discipline’s original purpose, grounding theories in lived experience and placing empirical knowledge in deeper historical and comparative frameworks. This is a vitally important kind of anthropology that has the goal of improving the modern human condition by actively engaging with people to make changes through research, education, and political action.

    Read Introduction

    Higher Education in Critical Perspective: Practices and Policies Series

    Around the globe, universities are being reformed to supply two crucial ingredients of a purported ‘global knowledge economy’: research and graduates. Higher education’s aims, concepts, structures and practices are all in process of change. This series provides in-depth analyses of these changes and how those involved – managers, academics and students – are experimenting with critical pedagogies, reflecting upon the best organization of their own institutions, and engaging with public policy debates about higher education in the 21st Century.


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


    In Creating a New Public University and Reviving Democracy, Morten Levin and Davydd Greenwood add their voices to the burgeoning catalogue of critiques of the impact of neoliberal policies on the quality of higher education in Europe and the US. But unlike many such contributions, this work draws heavily on the change management literature and offers a cornucopia of compelling and well-grounded ideas for reform of the academy.” · Times Higher Education

    Based on extensive experience with Action Research-based organizational change in universities and private sector organizations, Levin and Greenwood analyze the wreckage created by neoliberal academic administrators and policymakers. The authors argue that public universities must be democratically organized to perform their educational and societal functions. The book closes by laying out Action Research processes that can transform public universities back into institutions that promote academic freedom, integrity, and democracy.

    Read Introduction: Democracy and Public Universities


    Ethnographies of Governance in Higher Education
    Edited by Susan Brin Hyatt, Boone W. Shear, and Susan Wright


    “All in all, Learning under Neoliberalism is an important contribution to the critical studies of HE transformations taking place in the Western world today. It goes some way in helping us figure out the ways the university as an institution and the student as a telling figure are changing, for better or worse, in neoliberal times. Notwithstanding the Euro-American focus, this volume has much to offer in terms of inspiring similar kinds of endeavours in other geographical and sociocultural contexts. It stands out because of the rich original ethnography and critical thoughts it offers. It is very well-edited and/or written, a delightful read, and will likely make readers feel they are taking part in an engaging conversation.” · Social Anthropology

    As part of the neoliberal trends toward public-private partnerships, universities all over the world have forged more intimate relationships with corporate interests and more closely resemble for-profit corporations in both structure and practice. These transformations, accompanied by new forms of governance, produce new subject-positions among faculty and students and enable new approaches to teaching, curricula, research, and everyday practices. The contributors to this volume use ethnographic methods to investigate the multi-faceted impacts of neoliberal restructuring, while reporting on their own pedagogical responses, at universities in the United States, Europe, and New Zealand.

    Read Introduction: Higher Education, Engaged Anthropology, and Hegemonic Struggle

    Edited by Janet Chrzan and John Brett


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

    These volumes offer a comprehensive reference for students and established scholars interested in food and nutrition research in Nutritional and Biological Anthropology, Archaeology, Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology, Food Studies and Applied Public Health.


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


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

    Read Introduction and Research Design


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


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


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


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



    Transactions, Relations, and Persons
    Edited by Lisette Josephides and Anne Sigfrid Grønseth

    Volume 31, Methodology & History in Anthropology


    Anthropology lies at the heart of the human sciences, tackling questions having to do with the foundations, ethics, and deployment of the knowledge crucial to human lives. The Ethics of Knowledge-Creation focuses on how knowledge is relationally created, how local knowledge can be transmuted into ‘universal knowledge’, and how the transaction and consumption of knowledge also monitors its subsequent production. This volume examines the ethical implications of various kinds of relations that are created in the process of ‘transacting knowledge’ and investigates how these transactions are also situated according to broader contradictions or synergies between ethical, epistemological, and political concerns.


    Edited by Garth Lean, Emma Waterton, and Russell Staiff


    Travel and Representation is a timely volume of essays that explores and re-examines the various convergences between literature, art, photography, television, cinema and travel. The essays do so in a way that appreciates the entanglement of representations and travel at a juncture in theoretical work that recognizes the limits of representation, things that lie outside of representation and the continuing power of representation. The emphasis is on the myriad ways travelers/scholars employ representation in their writing/analyses as they re-think the intersections between travelers, fields of representation, imagination, emotions and corporeal experiences in the past, the present and the future.



    Previously Published


    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


    Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life
    Ines Hasselberg

    Volume 17, Dislocations


    Focusing on the lived experience of immigration policy and processes, this volume provides fascinating insights into the deportation process as it is felt and understood by those subjected to it. The author presents a rich and innovative ethnography of deportation and deportability experienced by migrants convicted of criminal offenses in England and Wales. The unique perspectives developed here – on due process in immigration appeals, migrant surveillance and control, social relations and sense of self, and compliance and resistance – are important for broader understandings of border control policy and human rights.

    Enduring Uncertainty: Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life by Ines Hasselberg is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

    Read Introduction


    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


    Edited by Steffen Dalsgaard and Morten Nielsen
    Afterword by George Marcus


    In recent years, ethnographic fieldwork has been subjected to analytical scrutiny in anthropology. Ethnography remains anchored in tropes of spatiality with the association between field and fieldworker characterized by distances in space. With updates on the discussion of contemporary requirements to ethnographic research practice, Time and the Field rethinks the notion of the field in terms of time rather than space. Such an approach not only implies a particular attention to the methodology of studying local (social and ontological) imaginaries of time, but furthermore destabilitizes the relationship between fieldworker and fieldsite, allowing it to emerge as a dynamic and ever-shifting constellation.

    Read Introduction: Time and the Field


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


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

    Read Introducing the Anthropologist as Writer: Across and Within Genres



    Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice


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



    Advances in Research


    Publishing peer-reviewed articles by international scholars, Conflict and Society expands the field of conflict studies by using ethnographic inquiry to establish new fields of research and interdisciplinary collaboration. An opening special section presents general articles devoted to a topic or region followed by a section featuring conceptual debates on key problems in the study of organized violence. Review articles and topical overviews offer navigational assistance across the vast and varied terrain of conflict research, and comprehensive reviews of new books round out each volume. With special attention paid to ongoing debates on the politics and ethics of conflict studies research, including military-academic cooperation, Conflict and Society will be an essential forum for scholars, researchers, and policy makers in the fields of anthropology, sociology, political science, and development studies.


    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.

    See Also: 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.


    Advances in Research


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

    See Also: Museum Worlds: Companion Site, a site that aims to complement the journal by bringing current museum themes, practices, and developments to the forefront of global discussions in the field of Museum Studies.


    Advances in Research


    Religion and Society: Advances in Research responds to the need for a rigorous, in-depth review of current work in the expanding sub-discipline of the anthropology of religion. In addition, this important, peer-reviewed annual aims to provide a dynamic snapshot of developments in the study of religion as a whole and encourages interdisciplinary perspectives.

    Each volume contains a Portrait section that profiles a senior scholar of religion, with invited essays on the scholar’s work by authorities in their respective subfields. In the Articles section, contributions provide overviews of a given topic with critical, “positioned” views of the subject and of relevant research. In the Debate section, scholars of religion reflect on a high-profile issue or event, and the Author Meets Critics section invites discussants to comment on a recently published volume, followed by a response from the author. Other sections cover teaching, news, and—vitally—reviews of new books and ethnographic films.



    Nature and Culture is a forum for the international community of scholars and practitioners to present, discuss, and evaluate critical issues and themes related to the historical and contemporary relationships that societies, civilizations, empires, regions, nation-states have with Nature. The journal contains a serious interpolation of theory, methodology, criticism, and concrete observation forming the basis of this discussion.
    The mission of the journal is to move beyond specialized disciplinary enclaves and mind-sets toward broader syntheses that encompass time, space and structures in understanding the Nature-Culture relationship. The Journal furthermore provides an outlet for the identification of knowledge gaps in our understanding of this relationship.




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



  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    World Water Day


    World Water Day is an annual event celebrated on March 22. The day focuses attention on the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. For an opportunity to learn more about water related issues and how to take action to make a difference please visit

    In recognition of this year’s World Water Day, Berghahn Books is happy to offer 25% discount on all relevant titles. For the next 30 days, visit our webpage and enter code WWD17 at checkout. Offer valid until April 21, 2017.




    To mark this year’s observance we’re offering access to select articles from our journals Regions and Cohesion and Nature and Culture


    Available Until March 29!


    Bringing water challenges to target groups: French water utilities within the European legislative context

    Céline Hervé-Bazin

    Regions and Cohesion (Volume 5, Issue 2)


    Perceptions of Water Quality in First Nations Communities: Exploring the Role of Context

    Julia Baird, Ryan Plummer, Diane Dupont and Blair Carter

    Nature and Culture (Volume 10, Issue 2)


    Anthropology in Fluid Environments
    Edited by Kirsten Hastrup and Frida Hastrup

    Volume 3, Ethnography, Theory, Experiment


    In one form or another, water participates in the making and unmaking of people’s lives, practices, and stories. Contributors’ detailed ethnographic work analyzes the union and mutual shaping of water and social lives. This volume discusses current ecological disturbances and engages in a world where unbounded relationalities and unsettled frames of orientation mark the lives of all, anthropologists included. Water emerges as a fluid object in more senses than one, challenging anthropologists to foreground the mutable character of their objects of study and to responsibly engage with the generative role of cultural analysis.

    Read Introduction: Waterworlds at Large


    Edited by John Richard Wagner


    “The Social Life of Water successfully addresses a wide range of issues concerning the meanings and uses of water in relation to culture, society, and development. As a volume, it shows how a focus on social life opens up new analytical possibilities of broader relevance to the study of water. Moreover, many of the chapters explore contexts and regions not previously covered in work on these topics.” · Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute

    Relying on first-hand ethnographic research, the contributors to this volume examine the social life of water in diverse settings and explore the impacts of commodification, urbanization, and technology on the availability and quality of water supplies. Each case study speaks to a local set of issues, but the overall perspective is global, with representation from all continents.


    Agency, Identity and the Ownership of Water
    Veronica Strang


    “An interesting example of how to use the technique of ethnographic juxtaposition to highlight multiplicity… The experimental and evocative style… would make this book especially useful for undergraduate teaching, for courses on the comparative study of water, and for the examination of Australian history and politics”. · American Anthropologist

    Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in two major Australian river catchments (the Mitchell River in Cape York, and the Brisbane River in southeast Queensland), this book examines their major water using and managing groups: indigenous communities, farmers, industries, recreational and domestic water users, and environmental organisations. It explores the issues that shape their different beliefs, values and practices in relation to water, and considers the specifically cultural or sub-cultural meanings that they encode in their material surroundings. Through an analysis of each group’s diverse efforts to ‘garden the world’, it provides insights into the complexities of human-environmental relationships.


    A Melanesian Island Ethnography
    Katharina Schneider


    “The evocative description and level of scholarship make Schneider’s work a fine example of current ethnography which also provides valuable detail about how ethnographers do their work. This is a highly readable book for those with an interest in the region, a fascination with relatedness, and for anthropologists interested in accessing a written account of how useful ethnographic material might be collected.” · JRAI

    Based on detailed ethnography, this study engages current Melanesian anthropological theory and argues that movements are the Pororans’ predominant mode of objectifying relations. Movements on Pororan Island are to its inhabitants what roads are to ‘mainlanders’ on the nearby larger island, and what material objects and images are to others elsewhere in Melanesia.


    United Nations/WWAP
    Foreword by Kofi Annan
    Prologue by Ko’chiro Matsuura
    Preface by Gordon Young


    “…an usually readable and well-crafted example [within the genre]. It is truly impressive in its coverage of topics ranging from ecological assessment…to institutional arrangements…to a series of water-plus analyses…Unlike many Large World Reports, it also exhibits a refreshing degree of statistical good sense…The narrative sections are substantive, generally insightful, and richly illustrated with appropriate illustrations, charts, and statistical information.”  ·  Technology and Culture

    Drawing on an extensive database, expert analysis, case studies, and hundreds of graphic elements, it is the most comprehensive undertaking to date of freshwater assessment, providing a mechanism for monitoring changes in the resource and its management and progress towards achieving development targets, particularly the Millennium Development Goals.


    Published in association with the United Nations
    With a foreword by Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations


    “The book is well illustrated and contains abundant data tables … In general, the writing quality between the chapters is even and of high quality … Highly recommended.” · Choice

    Based on the collective inputs of 23 United Nations agencies and convention secretariats, this Report offers a global overview of the state of the world’s freshwater resources. It is part of an on-going assessment process to develop policies and help with their implementation as well as to measure any progress towards achieving sustainable use of water resources.

    Of relevant interest: 

    A History of the Volga and Mississippi Rivers
    Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted

    Volume 5, Environment in History: International Perspectives


    “The book will serve as a wellspring for more specific comparisons and as a methodological example for future scholarship.” · Choice

    Rivers figure prominently in a nation’s historical memory, and the Volga and Mississippi have special importance in Russian and American cultures. Beginning in the pre-modern world, both rivers served as critical trade routes connecting cultures in an extensive exchange network, while also sustaining populations through their surrounding wetlands and bottomlands. In modern times, “Mother Volga” and the “Father of Waters” became integral parts of national identity, contributing to a sense of Russian and American exceptionalism. Furthermore, both rivers were drafted into service as the means to modernize the nation-state through hydropower and navigation. Despite being forced into submission for modern-day hydrological regimes, the Volga and Mississippi Rivers persist in the collective memory and continue to offer solace, recreation, and sustenance. Through their histories we derive a more nuanced view of human interaction with the environment, which adds another lens to our understanding of the past.


    Recovery in the Wake of the Tsunami in a Tamil Fishing Village
    Frida Hastrup

    Volume 16, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    The Asian tsunami in December 2004 severely affected people in coastal regions all around the Indian Ocean. This book provides the first in-depth ethnography of the disaster and its effects on a fishing village in Tamil Nadu, India. The author explores how the villagers have lived with the tsunami in the years succeeding it and actively worked to gradually regain a sense of certainty and confidence in their environment in the face of disempowering disaster. What appears is a remarkable local recovery process in which the survivors have interwoven the tsunami and the everyday in a series of subtle practices and theorisations, resulting in a complex and continuous recreation of village life. By showing the composite nature of the tsunami as an event, the book adds new theoretical insight into the anthropology of natural disaster and recovery.




    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

    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.






    Regions and Cohesion

    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.





  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Visit Berghahn stand at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference!


    We are delighted to inform you that we will be attending the 58th Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies in Chicago, IL on March 22 – 26, 2017. Please stop by our stand to meet the editor, browse our latest selection of books at discounted prices and pick up free journal samples. For more information on the conference program please visit SCMS webpage.


    If you are unable to attend, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. For the next 30 days, receive a 25% discount on all Film & Media Studies titles found on our website. At checkout, simply enter the discount code SCMS17. Browse our newly published interactive online Film & Media Studies 2017 Catalog or use the new enhanced subject searching features for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.




    Hasse Ekman, Swedish Cinema and the Long Shadow of Ingmar Bergman
    Fredrik Gustafsson


    Until his early retirement at age 50, Hasse Ekman was one of the leading lights of Swedish cinema, an actor, writer, and director of prodigious talents. Yet today his work is virtually unknown outside of Sweden, eclipsed by the filmography of his occasional collaborator (and frequent rival) Ingmar Bergman. This comprehensive introduction—the first ever in English—follows Ekman’s career from his early days as a film journalist, through landmark films such as Girl with Hyacinths (1950), to his retirement amid exhaustion and disillusionment. Combining historical context with insightful analyses of Ekman’s styles and themes, this long overdue study considerably enriches our understanding of Swedish film history.


    East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts
    Edited by Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke


    “Berghahn is known for its publication of excellent books on German Cinema within its catalog. This recent work proves no exception to the rule. Including fifteen essays by well known scholars in the field aware of the changing complexities of subject matter and well versed in necessary archive research, [it] presents a fine collection exploring a cinema that is very little known to most Western viewers…a sterling example of what a scholarly academic anthology should be, an excellent model in its own right that should stimulate others to investigate this former national cinema and not consign it to oblivion.” · Film International

    By the time the Berlin Wall collapsed, the cinema of the German Democratic Republic—to the extent it was considered at all—was widely regarded as a footnote to European film history, with little of enduring value. Since then, interest in East German cinema has exploded, inspiring innumerable festivals, books, and exhibits on the GDR’s rich and varied filmic output. In Re-Imagining DEFA, leading international experts take stock of this vibrant landscape and plot an ambitious course for future research, one that considers other cinematic traditions, brings genre and popular works into the fold, and encompasses DEFA’s complex post-unification “afterlife.”

    Read Introduction: Re-Imagining East German Cinema


    Edited by Tim Bergfelder, Lisa Shaw and João Luiz Vieira


    Despite the recent explosion of scholarly interest in “star studies,” Brazilian film has received comparatively little attention. As this volume demonstrates, however, the richness of Brazilian stardom extends well beyond the ubiquitous Carmen Miranda. Among the studies assembled here are fascinating explorations of figures such as Eliane Lage (the star attraction of São Paulo’s Vera Cruz studios), cult horror movie auteur Coffin Joe, and Lázaro Ramos, the most visible Afro-Brazilian actor today. At the same time, contributors interrogate the inner workings of the star system in Brazil, from the pioneering efforts of silent-era actresses to the recent advent of the non-professional movie star.

    Read Introduction


    Edited by Guy Austin


    Through his influential work on cultural capital and social mobility, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu has provided critical insights into the complex interactions of power, class, and culture in the modern era. Ubiquitous though Bourdieu’s theories are, however, they have only intermittently been used to study some of the most important forms of cultural production today: cinema and new media. With topics ranging from film festivals and photography to constantly evolving mobile technologies, this collection demonstrates the enormous relevance that Bourdieu’s key concepts hold for the field of media studies, deploying them as powerful tools of analysis and forging new avenues of inquiry in the process.

    Read Introduction: Bourdieu on Media and Film


    Journalism and Modernist Events in 1920s Portugal
    Luís Trindade

    Volume 15, Remapping Cultural History


    Interwar Portugal was in many ways a microcosm of Europe’s encounter with modernity: reshaped by industrialization, urban growth, and the antagonism between liberalism and authoritarianism, it also witnessed new forms of media and mass culture that transformed daily life. This fascinating study of newspapers in 1920s Portugal explores how the new “modernist reportage” embodied the spirit of the era while mediating some of its most spectacular episodes, from political upheavals to lurid crimes of passion. In the process, Luís Trindade illuminates the twofold nature of that journalism—both historical account and material object, it epitomized a distinctly modern entanglement of narrative and event.

    Read Chapter 1. Newspapers and Modernist Events


    Siegfried Kracauer and the Crises of Weimar Culture
    Harry T. Craver

    Volume 14, Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association


    The journalist and critic Siegfried Kracauer is best remembered today for his investigations of film and other popular media, and for his seminal influence on Frankfurt School thinkers like Theodor Adorno. Less well known is his earlier work, which offered a seismographic reading of cultural fault lines in Weimar-era Germany, with an eye to the confrontation between religious revival and secular modernity. In this discerning study, historian Harry T. Craver reconstructs and richly contextualizes Kracauer’s early output, showing how he embodied the contradictions of modernity and identified the quasi-theological impulses underlying the cultural ferment of the 1920s.

    Read Introduction: Kracauer on and in Weimar Modernity

    Film Europa Series 

    German cinema is normally seen as a distinct form, but this series emphasizes connections, influences, and exchanges of German cinema across national borders, as well as its links with other media and art forms. Individual titles present traditional historical research (archival work, industry studies) as well as new critical approaches in film and media studies (theories of the transnational), with a special emphasis on the continuities associated with popular traditions and local perspectives.


    Historical and Theoretical Perspectives
    Edited by Larson Powell and Robert R. Shandley


    Long overlooked by scholars and critics, the history and aesthetics of German television have only recently begun to attract serious, sustained attention, and then largely within Germany. This ambitious volume, the first in English on the subject, provides a much-needed corrective in the form of penetrating essays on the distinctive theories, practices, and social-historical contexts that have defined television in Germany. Encompassing developments from the dawn of the medium through the Cold War and post-reunification, this is an essential introduction to a rich and varied media tradition.


    Read Introduction


    Screening the German Colonies
    Wolfgang Fuhrmann


    The beginning of filmmaking in the German colonies coincided with colonialism itself coming to a standstill. Scandals and economic stagnation in the colonies demanded a new and positive image of their value for Germany. By promoting business and establishing a new genre within the fast growing film industry, films of the colonies were welcomed by organizations such as the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). The films triggered patriotic feelings but also addressed the audience as travelers, explorers, wildlife protectionists, and participants in unique cultural events. This book is the first in-depth analysis of colonial filmmaking in the Wilhelmine Era.

    Read Introduction



    Knowledge Production, Institution Building, and the Fate of the Avant-garde in Europe, 1919-1945
    Edited by Malte Hagener


    Between the two world wars, a distinct and vibrant film culture emerged in Europe. Film festivals and schools were established; film theory and history was written that took cinema seriously as an art form; and critical writing that created the film canon flourished. This scene was decidedly transnational and creative, overcoming traditional boundaries between theory and practice, and between national and linguistic borders. This new European film culture established film as a valid form of social expression, as an art form, and as a political force to be reckoned with. By examining the extraordinarily rich and creative uses of cinema in the interwar period, we can examine the roots of film culture as we know it today.

    Read Introduction: The Emergence of Film Culture



    Emotion and the Cinema of Darren Aronofsky
    Tarja Laine


    “Laine’s evocative, near-poetic style is refreshing after the former domination of strenuous cognitivist theory in the study of film emotion, and she offers plenty of empirical evidence to back up her claims. Surely such a sensory art form as cinema deserves to be seen (or felt) through an affective lens, and Laine makes an engaging and accessible yet thoroughly rigorous argument for doing so through her study of Aronofsky’s work. Bodies in Pain is recommended for those interested in film phenomenology as well as the intersections of aestheticism, emotion, and philosophy in the cinema.” · Film-Philosophy

    The films of Darren Aronofsky invite emotional engagement by means of affective resonance between the film and the spectator’s lived body. Aronofsky’s films, which include a rich range of production from Requiem for a Dream to Black Swan, are often considered “cerebral” because they explore topics like mathematics, madness, hallucinations, obsessions, social anxiety, addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia, and neuroscience. Yet this interest in intelligence and mental processes is deeply embedded in the operations of the body, shared with the spectator by means of a distinctively corporeal audiovisual style. Bodies in Pain looks at how Aronofsky’s films engage the spectator in an affective form of viewing that involves all the senses, ultimately engendering a process of (self) reflection through their emotional dynamics.

    Read Introduction: Aronofsky, Auteurship, Aesthetics


    Sitcom Audiences and the Sixties Cultural Revolution
    Christina von Hodenberg


    “Television scholars of all stripes will find much that is interesting in this book. Hodenberg blends thorough industrial history, textual analysis, and audience research in her examination of three iterations of a single television show…This book operates at the methodological intersection of cultural studies, social science, and television history, and the research is the better for it. This is a thoughtful work of television scholarship written in an accessible style…Highly recommended.” · Choice

    Television was one of the forces shaping the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, when a blockbuster TV series could reach up to a third of a country’s population. This book explores television’s impact on social change by comparing three sitcoms and their audiences. The shows in focus – Till Death Us Do Part in Britain, All in the Family in the United States, and One Heart and One Soul in West Germany – centered on a bigoted anti-hero and his family. Between 1966 and 1979 they saturated popular culture, and managed to accelerate as well as deradicalize value changes and collective attitudes regarding gender roles, sexuality, religion, and race.

    Read Introduction: Negotiating the Sixties


    Rethinking Social Memory in the Age of Information
    Edited by Lindsey A. Freeman, Benjamin Nienass, and Rachel Daniell

    Volume 14, Remapping Cultural History


    In an age of information and new media the relationships between remembering and forgetting have changed. This volume addresses the tension between loud and often spectacular histories and those forgotten pasts we strain to hear. Employing social and cultural analysis, the essays within examine mnemonic technologies both new and old, and cover subjects as diverse as U.S. internment camps for Japanese Americans in WWII, the Canadian Indian Residential School system, Israeli memorial videos, and the desaparecidos in Argentina. Through these cases, the contributors argue for a re-interpretation of Guy Debord’s notion of the spectacle as a conceptual apparatus through which to examine the contemporary landscape of social memory, arguing that the concept of spectacle might be developed in an age seen as dissatisfied with the present, nervous about the future, and obsessed with the past. Perhaps now “spectacle” can be thought of not as a tool of distraction employed solely by hegemonic powers, but instead as a device used to answer Walter Benjamin’s plea to “explode the continuum of history” and bring our attention to now-time.

    Read Introduction


    Auditory Cultures in 19th- and 20th-Century Europe
    Edited by Daniel Morat


    “The decentring of music from the privileged site at which questions about listening are asked makes room for broader questions about the relationship between sound and culture. By thinking about sonic practices as a means of answering larger historical and cultural questions the volume challenges the narrower theoretical approaches to sound often taken in the field of sound studies.” · Contemporary European History

    Long ignored by scholars in the humanities, sound has just begun to take its place as an important object of study in the last few years. Since the late 19th century, there has been a paradigmatic shift in auditory cultures and practices in European societies. This change was brought about by modern phenomena such as urbanization, industrialization and mechanization, the rise of modern sciences, and of course the emergence of new sound recording and transmission media. This book contributes to our understanding of modern European history through the lens of sound by examining diverse subjects such as performed and recorded music, auditory technologies like the telephone and stethoscope, and the ambient noise of the city.

    Read Introduction


    Berghahn Journals 



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


    The Journal for Movies and Mind


    Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that explores the way in which the mind experiences, understands, and interprets the audio-visual and narrative structures of cinema and other visual media. Recognizing cinema as an art form, the journal aims to integrate established traditions of analyzing media aesthetics with current research into perception, cognition and emotion, according to frameworks supplied by psychology, psychoanalysis, and the cognitive and neurosciences. Submissions are welcomed from a variety of scholarly methods within the humanities and the sciences, from aesthetic to empirical, theoretical, and historical approaches. The journal seeks to facilitate a dialogue between scholars in these disciplines and bring the study of moving image media to the forefront of contemporary intellectual debate.


    An Interdisciplinary Journal of Experience, Perception, and Display


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


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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Visit Berghahn Books at the SfAA Annual Meeting 2017!

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World Water Day

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