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  • EnviroSociety

    Call for Papers!: Environment and Society 10 (2019)

    Environment and Society has put out a call for papers for Volume 10 (2019), to be guested edited by Simin Fadaee and Seth Schindler, with a thematic focus on Megaprojects.

    Small is no longer beautiful. Small is outdated, old-fashioned, inefficient, and ugly. The future now consists of an ambitious series of massive plans and schemes for new infrastructure projects, beltways, roadways, railways, investment corridors, disaster-proofed cities and countries, carbon capture and storage, reforestation, wall building, migration fostering, terraformation, space exploration, global sports events, and so much more. The proponents of megaprojects resurrect modernist dreams of yesteryear, yet they offer utopian visions of an uncharted future. Though many of these megaprojects are still being planned or are in nascent stages, they clearly have the potential to transform everyday life for many people and thus are likely to provoke resistance.

    We invite any articles that explore different aspects of megaprojects. This could include their environmental or social consequences, politics surrounding their planning and/or realization, and the visions and/or assumptions that animate them. It could entail exploring the organized collective opposition to these schemes, such as protest events, campaigns, and social movements, or subtle acts of refusal. It could also examine the futures that megaprojects promise, their consequences, and the alternative futures they foreclose. It could focus on highly visible lumpy schemes (border walls, HS2, the Green Climate Fund) that are territorialized and driven by governments. Alternatively, it could examine massive and far-reaching systemic changes in technology or social trends that reshape how large groups of people think or behave but that arise from consumer choice, political action, and private entrepreneurship as well as state guidance (internet of things, social media, electric cars, and artificial intelligence).

    Topics for this issue could include but are not limited to:

    –Biomass energy carbon capture & storage schemes
    –The One Belt One Road Initiative
    –Agricultural Growth Corridors of East Africa
    –HS2 and similar schemes
    –Smart cities
    –Reconstruction after disasters
    –Preparation for natural disasters
    –Climate agreements & climate change financing
    –Sporting events (World Cup, Olympics)
    –The internet of things
    –Rewilding visions
    –Large mining or dam building plans
    –The smartphone revolution
    –Geographical positioning systems
    –Search engines
    –Diverse military projects
    –Security barriers
    –Transformations in urban planning

    Complete details, including the submission timeline, can be found on the announcement here.

  • FocaalBlog

    Soe Lin Aung: Three theses on the crisis in Rakhine

    By now, the main contours of the recent events in Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, are well-known. On August 25, an insurgent group calling itself the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) (previously Harakah al-Yaqin) attacked police posts in northern Rakhine, eliciting a broad counterinsurgency response from the Myanmar military that has displaced over 400,000 Rohingya people into Bangladesh. As in previous cycles of violence, the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, has reportedly targeted civilians in its “clearance operations,” leading to allegations of killings, rape, and the burning of villages. The UN’s human rights body has referred to this latest outbreak of violence as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

    The crisis in, and now, beyond, Rakhine is part of a much longer story of Rohingya oppression and persecution in Myanmar. This history has almost certainly contributed to the growth of the ARSA insurgency. In contrast to its own claims and those of the Myanmar government and media, ARSA comes across as a poor, small, and desperate movement, staging its attacks in a haphazard manner with homemade weapons like knives, swords, and sticks. The Myanmar government and Burmese media, however, have painted ARSA—and in many ways, Rohingya people more broadly—as part of global Islamist networks. In government communications, “extremist Bengali terrorists” is the favored term for the military’s current foe in Rakhine. Notably, the current crisis is unfolding under the government of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She is Myanmar’s long-time opposition leader, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The NLD swept into power in the country’s nationwide elections of late 2015, the first open national elections in generations.

    The crisis has generated a torrent of international news coverage, focusing largely on the situation on the ground in Rakhine and Bangladesh. Yet a few broader themes have also taken shape: that Daw Suu is a fraud, having betrayed her liberal principles; that events in Rakhine mainly reflect tensions around race, ethnicity, and religion; and that the history of Rohingya people matters little in the context of humanitarian crisis. While not without their merits, I believe each of these views is misguided. I offer the following three theses in response.

    (1) Daw Suu is not a fraud. This is liberalism.

    A surprising amount of English-language coverage of the recent crisis has focused on Daw Suu. Commentators have criticized her for being silent on the sufferings of Rohingya people, or even of actively abetting the sufferings of Rohingya people; of not taking a stand against the military’s activities, or again of actively supporting their activities; of coldly calculating that standing with the military, which still holds significant power, is the only way to maintain a foothold for her civilian government; and perhaps most penetratingly, of turning away from the liberal principles—human rights, democracy, and the rule of law—for which she has been lionized the world over since the late 1980s. A veritable genre of white disappointment has emerged in op-ed after op-ed. Whither the author of Freedom from Fear?

    This line of critique suffers from a familiar series of flaws. First, it embraces a liberal fetish for “leadership” that is over-invested in politics at the top and the figure of the lonely dissident. It remains stuck in the romance of bourgeois dissent, and it occludes structural analysis and collective agency, which are necessary for any serious attempt to understand and address the situation in Rakhine. The point is not that Daw Suu does not matter or that she could not, or should not, be acting differently. But the obsession with her has become a distraction to the point of becoming unproductive, obscuring among other things the military’s direct culpability here. She herself, one notes, describes herself as a politician not an icon. It is also unclear when, if ever, she has acted or spoken differently on the sufferings of Rohingya people. On this particular issue, she has had no principled position to abandon.

    Emergency food, drinking water and shelter to help people displaced in Rakhine State, western Burma.

    A Rohingya IDP camp in Rakhine State, Myanmar, formed in the wake of the violence in 2012 (photograph by DFID – UK Department for International Development, via Flikr, CC BY-SA 2.0).

    Second, critics of liberalism have pointed out for over a century that liberalism is no bulwark against the most extreme forms of violence, exclusion, and suffering. Thinking with Marx, on the left, and Schmitt, on the right, or more recently, with Foucault, the liberal social contract does not end the war of all against all that supposedly precedes it, as Hobbes for one believed. From class struggle, to states of emergency, to conflicts over power that permeate social life—strife of all kinds continues under liberalism. Black and indigenous thought matter here crucially. Histories of slavery and settler colonialism, both of which continue into the present, teach us it is no exaggeration to say liberalism is premised on violence against black and brown life. As is well-known, the liberal political lineage claimed by Daw Suu is intertwined with those histories and remains so today.[1]

    Put differently, what we see today in Rakhine is a feature of, not a bug in, liberal politics. The supposedly universal valence of human rights, democracy, and rule of law has not only not prevented vast atrocities over time. It has made them thinkable; indeed, it has made them possible. By framing a schema of acceptable moral-political conduct, it also excludes those who are seen not to comply (“extremist Bengali terrorists,” for example), turning them into a target.[2] This liberal formula for conflict has become especially prevalent since 2001. Islam did not become the limit point of liberal universalism in one day on 9/11. But since then, there can be no question that liberalism has been internal to the imperialism of Western powers in the Islamic world in particular. For some time now, the old Maoist slogan has been revised: it is democracy that grows from the barrel of a gun. The problem, in other words, is not that Daw Suu is not actually a liberal. The problem is that she is.

    (2) Capitalism matters, but not in the way it’s been discussed so far.

    In recent years, several attempts have been made to integrate political economy into analyses of violence against Muslims in and beyond Rakhine. It is fair to say these attempts, for the most part, have been schematic, ill-informed, and heavy-handed—as indicated by the substantial, if not substantive, criticism they have received by researchers and activists in Myanmar. A Guardian piece in 2013 argued that violence in Rakhine the previous year was “most likely triggered by the simmering tensions wrought by” large-scale land and resource grabs in Rakhine. Then in an article this month, a group of researchers raised concerns over the “root causes” and “vested political and economic interests” that are “contributing factors to forced displacement in Myanmar,” and not only in Rakhine. Over the past year, meanwhile, the noted sociologist Saskia Sassen has written several articles on Rakhine, including one quite recently. Highlighting land and resource politics rather than race or religion, she asks, in particular, “whether religion gives us the full picture of what is happening now.”

    On Twitter and Facebook, these contributions have been dismissed for being overly simplistic and light on evidence. Sassen’s article in the Guardian, for example, leads with a false tradeoff in the headline between religion and “business”: “Is Rohingya persecution caused by business interests rather than religion?” Across these articles, the style of the claim tends be one of actual causes revealed—as in, everyone is talking about religion, but in fact the true cause is land and resource politics. The claim seems to reject the lived experience of violence and discrimination*, which apparently bears little relation to capital, and ignore the nationalist discourse of monks, lay people, and even government officials whose language has contributed to recurrent cycles of violence against Rohingya. Yet the articles’ implicit separation of categories like race, religion, and capital is unsustainable (see below). More directly problematic is the issue of evidence. Sassen cites 1,268,077 hectares of recent land allocations in “the Rohingya’s area of Myanmar,” but data from Forest Trends that support that figure make no indication that those allocations are in northern Rakhine, that is, where most Rohingya lived (at least until the most recent violence). It is more likely that land allocation at that scale would be tied to the special economic zone (SEZ) project in and around Kyaukphyu, in southern Rakhine, where few (but some) Rohingya live.

    Perhaps some of these articles’ shortcomings are owed to the genre limitations of short articles for public audiences—and surely to headline writers working hard for page views. But it is also clear that these articles have opened up political economy in a way that challenges others to follow more carefully, and in greater depth. Indeed, the amount of criticism Sassen in particular has received on social media may be symptomatic of a refusal to seriously consider political economy in Rakhine, if not elsewhere in Myanmar as well. A certain history of left politics is at stake—accessible here only in thumbnail form, admittedly. Since independence in Myanmar, the country has seen a long but failed Communist insurgency, a formally socialist dictatorship built on anti-Communism, and the rise of a liberal opposition movement that has rallied around the cult of Daw Suu. In a broad sense, the space for structural analysis geared toward anti-capitalism has been very narrow for quite some time.[3] Meanwhile, the government has put out two stories recently officially stating the crisis has been either unrelated to (one article) or bad for (the other article) the economy in Rakhine—an indication of concern for the opposite perspective. These are reasons not to avoid questions of political economy, but rather to cautiously build out those approaches based on thick data and grounded experience.

    Writing for New Mandala this week, Lee Jones indicates what a more careful approach might look like, raising questions over Sassen’s claims about the present and turning more toward historical factors. I would argue there remains more to be said about the present and recent past. First, as the authors of the articles above would surely ultimately agree—and as Jones does also suggest—the relations between race, religion, and capitalism are hardly mutually exclusive. To wit: the 2012 violence near the SEZ in Kyaukphyu displaced more Kaman Muslims than Rohingya Muslims, and there is no indication that violence had any direct relation to the SEZ project. In fact, when I visited Kyaukphyu in early 2013 for research supporting struggles against the SEZ, I saw clearly that at least one large camp for displaced Muslims was actually between Kyaukphyu town and the main SEZ area. Had the explicit, direct cause for the violence been one of land grabbing to make space for the SEZ—a dynamic suggested by Sassen—it failed miserably, creating an IDP camp that actually impinged upon the area around the SEZ. However, it seems more than likely that the violence “benefited” or resulted in (even if it was not directly a catalyst for) processes of capital accumulation in the area by Burman and Rakhine elites. Similarly, the economic zone recently announced for northern Rakhine—which has drawn bewilderment on Myanmar social media in the past few weeks—may not have any immediate roots in recent cycles of violence in the area. Still, it is a sign that businesses are willing to sink investment into areas being “cleared” of Rohingya inhabitants. The Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement has also specified that burned villages in the Maungdaw area will be “redeveloped” as “government managed lands” according to the Natural Disaster Management Law.

    In addition, it is worth noting that amid significant Chinese investment in infrastructure projects in Rakhine—namely the port, industrial, and pipeline projects based in Kyaukphyu—the Chinese government has signaled their support for Myanmar’s military crackdown. The Chinese ambassador to Myanmar reportedly “strongly welcomed” the Tatmadaw’s clearance operations in a recent speech in Myanmar, arguing that stabilizing the region fundamentally benefits the security of Chinese investments. Stabilization, of course, means displacing and dispossessing Rohingya people who are seen as potential threats to the orderly accumulation of capital, most recently through their association with Islamic extremism. Newly open land, expropriated people killed off or herded into camps, and sustained discussions over repopulating northern Rakhine with specifically non-Muslim people—these are the basic dynamics of primitive accumulation and settler colonialism. A longer history of land politics here is certainly relevant as well. One recent article discusses how colonial land relations, namely the zamindari system introduced by the British, fueled conflicts over land that have set people against each other in this region for over a century.

    The point I would like to make is not quite that all of the focus on religion is wrong, especially since narratives from people caught up in this crisis—whether Rakhine, Rohingya, or otherwise—suggest they experience it as a conflict primarily between people of different religions. My argument is not, as Sassen and others above seem to suggest, that these people are wrong and need to be talking about capitalism instead. (In India, for example, dismissing religious identification simply as a kind of false consciousness has had disastrous consequences for radical politics.) Rather, the point is that all of these things might benefit capital indirectly rather than directly. It is not a question of capital’s hidden internal logics being expressed in seemingly religious conflict, but rather a series of heterogeneous processes that ultimately contribute to capital accumulation for emerging dominant classes.[4] One might think of capitalism’s history in this way more generally. Riots and pogroms over race and religion have always left ruling classes to appropriate the space and property of subordinated groups.[5] That appropriation may not have been experienced by anyone as the cause of such pogroms, but over time it fed the making of class differences, and the hardening of inequalities, whether under liberalism, fascism, or indeed socialism.

    Two still stronger arguments could be explored. One is that, as Chris Chen argues about the United States, the history of capitalism is intertwined with racialization. Race is not an onto-biological given that overlaps with capital from time to time; it is maintained and reproduced in relation to apparently neutral economic processes. “Two dynamics have reproduced ‘race’ in the US,” he writes, “since the mid-twentieth-century anti-racist movements: first, economic subordination through racialised wage differentials and superfluisation; and second, the racialising violence and global reach of the penal and national security state.” Chen invites us to think how capitalism works through, rather than in spite of, that which seems beyond it (racialization, perhaps religion as well, and the formal monopoly of violence held by the state), reconsidering the apparent separation of a politics of class and a politics of race or religion. “Social” identity versus “economic” class: this distinction is itself a product of capitalist accumulation, for Chen, and as a relation these two should be seen as mutually constitutive.

    Another argument follows from what Chen calls “superfluisation,” and which elsewhere has been considered with respect to what Marx called the “absolute general law of capitalist accumulation.” In the first volume of Capital, Marx claimed that over time, a “stagnant” surplus population—workers permanently without access to a wage—would emerge essentially from the supply of labor growing faster than the demand for it. As observed by the independent communist journal Endnotes, he failed to foresee the opening of new lines of industry that absorbed a growing labor supply in his time. Yet the global trend toward deindustrialization (relative to the total proletarianized population) beginning in the late twentieth century seems to have vindicated this theory, even beyond the rich countries where this trend has been most evident. Endnotes and Chuang—a similar collective, this one focused on China—have shown that even in China, construction (often of unprofitable “ghost cities” and roads to nowhere) accounts for a substantial portion of new labor in “industry.” Manufacturing jobs, meanwhile, have barely compensated for the shuttering of state-owned enterprises and the decline of China’s industrial northeast. Researchers on South and Southeast Asia, meanwhile, have argued that peasants forced from their land are more and more likely to become redundant to formal capitalist reproduction. For scholars of postcolonialism like Kalyan Sanyal and Partha Chatterjee, the making and management of this surplus population is among the most pressing political questions in postcolonial societies already riven by differences of class, caste, and ethnicity. What processes drive dispossession today, and what happens to the surplus populations produced?

    Sassen’s articles in the Guardian and HuffPost do not quite approach these questions, but her article in the journal Sociology of Development does. She argues that a new phase of advanced capitalism has created flows of human migration that will not be incorporated in, but rather will be largely excluded from, the processes and logics of capitalist development today. “These are people in search of bare life,” she writes, “with no home to return to” (Sassen 2016: 205). Unaccompanied minors from Central America, migrants coming to Europe from Syria and elsewhere, and Rohingya displaced and dispossessed in Rakhine are the examples she highlights. As with the other articles, this one would benefit from a more careful analysis of the evidence in Rakhine (and perhaps elsewhere). And like other scholars tracking new and often violent dynamics of exclusion—Sanyal, Chatterjee, and Li among them—Sassen takes emerging surplus populations to be radically exterior to capital in a way that may efface their continuing subordination to certain capitalist logics.[6] The article’s strength, however, is that it reads events in Rakhine in relation to new and larger structural patterns. In the process, it invites closer attention that might more adequately scale these patterns and derive some significance for developing political responses.

    Indeed, attempts to build solutions that ignore political economy will fail to address accumulation patterns that, putting it mildly, are impoverishing some and enriching others across Rakhine State and beyond. The recommendations of the Annan Commission, for example, regrettably treat continued primitive accumulation in Rakhine—even intensified accumulation in the form of the commission’s call to “invest heavily” in large-scale infrastructure projects—as a solution to rather than cause of recurring cycles of violence in the region.

    This question of political responses opens the final point here. Given the relevance of Rakhine to debates over capitalist development, it is time to consider how an anti-capitalist politics can and should be part of attempts to address and redress the suffering of Rohingya people. Anti-capitalist politics have always been central to left critiques of liberalism that recognize liberalism’s tendency to maintain and reproduce the suffering of those who have been expropriated, exploited, or excluded. In addition, the structural analysis implied by anti-capitalism stands to situate the Rakhine crisis within broader systemic processes, mitigating against a prevailing tendency to read events in Rakhine as utterly sui generis—separate, for example, from liberal imperialism in the Middle East, an aberration from orderly democratization, or unrelated to wider transformations in global capitalism. Attempts to analytically “contain” violence against Rohingya in these ways should be resisted.

    Concretely, structural analysis makes clear similarities between different systemic locations, making it possible to recognize shared struggles between people facing comparable forms of oppression. Gayatri Spivak, for example, has suggested that Rohingya people and those who stand with them might best build solidarity with similar grounded struggles, such as the struggles of Palestinians against Zionist settler colonialism. An internationalist politics of this kind stands to avoid treating Rohingya people as mere victims, breaking with the victim-savage-savior formula that dominates the liberal politics of advocacy.[7] This also means thinking beyond simply promoting Rohingya leadership within liberal civil society settings. These settings have nurtured appeals to world leaders oriented towards achieving civil and political rights for Rohingya, particularly citizenship. This work too often fails to address the grinding material deprivation Rohingya people face every day—or it treats those conditions only as reflections of rights violations that should be addressed first. Meanwhile, as in Europe, the United States, and beyond, the failure of liberals to address material conditions creates a vacuum in which more conventionally violent politics may take root, whether a desperate insurgency in Rakhine or revanchist right populisms elsewhere.

    (3) Decolonizing historical research is more important than ever.

    History has its limits in the context of humanitarian crisis, perhaps especially so when debates over history hinge on questions of identity. As Jonathan Saha has asked recently, is it really possible to know how people saw themselves in the past? And even if it were, should it matter when survival itself is at stake? Surely not—although for some people in Myanmar, the violent expulsion of Rohingya people is justified by a belief they are recent migrants from Bangladesh. It is barely hyperbole here to see history as a matter of life and death, hence a subject one cannot afford to ignore.[8]

    Saha also points to a further set of issues, though. He discusses how research by the historian Jacques Leider has been used to support claims that Rohingya people have no rightful place in Myanmar today. Leider has consistently argued that “Rohingya” constitutes a political rather than an ethnic identity, and dates to Myanmar’s post-independence period as such. He finds little archival evidence for the notion of—and hence dismisses the possibility for—an older Rohingya identity.[9] This kind of archival positivism, “textualizing” history, resembles the kind of Orientalist scholarship that was central to colonialism itself. For Edward Said (1978: 70), mistaking the image for the real, the textual for the referential, is the signature of Orientalist scholarship, which “shares with magic and mythology the self-containing, self-reinforcing character of a closed system.” Leider’s unfortunate distinction between politics and ethnicity has been picked up by the former diplomat Derek Tonkin, among others. Tonkin has used Leider’s work to deny legitimacy to the citizenship claims of Rohingya people under Myanmar’s legal framework.

    No one will argue that decolonizing the category “Rohingya” is today’s most urgent task. Yet it seems significant that in recent weeks, Leider’s writings—or more accurately, mainly his 2012 interview in the Irrawaddy—have been shared, posted, and circulated among defenders of Daw Suu and the military’s actions in Rakhine. The reasons are clear enough. Still, breaking with this colonial historiography means breaking with much historical research in Southeast Asian Studies. As one study of J. S. Furnivall’s work suggests, the tendency to read societies as collections of distinct units of race and ethnicity—as in the plural society in colonial Burma, for Furnivall—is one that remains characteristic of scholarship in Southeast Asian Studies (Pham 2004). This is in stark contrast to scholarship in South Asia, where the knowledge work of colonial scholar-bureaucrats, on caste in particular, has clearly been shown not just to have described society, but to have justified and maintained colonial rule.[10] (One notes that in his central description of the plural society in Burma, Furnivall explicitly analogizes it to India’s caste system. Like civil servants writing on caste in India, Furnivall used the plural society both to characterize society and rationalize a continued, if reformed, imperial project.)

    The break between South and Southeast Asian Studies continues in the present. For while South Asianists have subjected colonial knowledge production to sustained critical examination, leading scholars of Southeast Asia have mainly celebrated the work of scholar administrators like Furnivall, taking up and mobilizing his handling of race and ethnicity. As the study of Furnivall notes, “Understanding colonial and post-colonial South East Asian society as composed of these blocs is still a dominant paradigm to the discipline of South East Asian Studies” (Pham 2004: 267). Rather than examining these categories and questioning their genealogies, “South East Asianists have used the category of ‘race’ and have attributed internal strife to divisions drawn along ethnic lines, thereby inhibiting the use of other sets of criteria by which to interpret South East Asian society” (268).

    Perhaps most centrally, it is Benedict Anderson’s work that resonates in this context. Arguably the leading Southeast Asianist of his generation, he lavished praise on Furnivall, even crediting him with founding the very idea of “Southeast Asia” as a discrete area of analysis (1998: 4). More substantively, Anderson’s attempt in the 1990s to disentangle a politics of ethnicity from a politics proper to nationalism shares with Furnivall a fundamental tendency: seeing distinct ethnic units (a politics of “bound serialities”) as detracting from the rightly universal ideals of classical nationalism. That is, Anderson shares with Furnivall a desire for a unitary national subject, the perils and pitfalls of which Chatterjee (1993, 2011), for one, has demonstrated at length.

    In Myanmar, meanwhile, the historiography of “Rohingya” remains embedded in a colonial politics of knowledge. The implicit conception of ethnicity is textual not experiential, bounded and apolitical, essentially stable over time, and pre-given as a set of categories that simply exist (or do not) depending on their archival trace.[11] This given-ness of ethnicity, this positivism of social categories, means refusing ethnicity’s (actual) imbrication with politics and political transformations—with potentially devastating consequences. It becomes possible to view ethnicity as “contaminated” by politics, and hence illegitimate, contributing to the erasure of people at the level of knowledge amid their erasure in practice. Elimination in knowledge and in practice: that relation is integral. Resisting one is bound up, at least in part, with resisting the other.

    This article originally appeared on Tea Circle: An Oxford Forum for New Perspectives on Burma/Myanmar on 27 September 2017. Punctuation, spelling, and citations were amended to conform to the FocaalBlog style guide.

    Soe Lin Aung is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. He can be reached at


    [1] This literature is too plentiful to summarize here adequately. But at least some citations might be helpful: Buck-Morss (2009); Byrd (2011); Chakrabarty (2000); Chatterjee (2011); Coulthard (2014); Hartman (1997); Lowe (2015); Robinson (1983); Singh Mehta (1999); Spillers (1987); Wynter (1984).

    [2] Talal Asad makes a similar argument in the early stages of his 2003 book Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity.

    [3] One might think, here, with Tania Li’s (2014: 183) suggestion that the anti-Communist massacres of 1965, in Indonesia, closed down the space for radical politics in its aftermath. She writes, “In Indonesia . . . the military engineered the massacre of half a million alleged communists in 1965. Their tragic absence from the political scene continues to resonate in many forms, not least in the sad state of farmers’ unions and the dearth of robust critical debate.”

    [4] As in theorizations of postcolonial capitalism (see Sanyal 2007).

    [5] In northern Rakhine recently, a Buddhist woman was harassed, and marched through the village wearing a signboard saying “traitor,” for selling rations to Rohingyas. As one media report notes, “This is not in 1930s of Nazi Germany, but 21st century of Myanmar.” Another article on the incident is here. Jones also observes that pogroms similar to recent events took place in Rakhine against Rohingya people in 1977 and 1992. As noted above, it is worth mentioning again that burned villages may be taken over by the government, indicating a substantial land grab of mainly Rohingya villages subsequent to displacement.

    [6] As in the argument of Silvia Federici (2004), among others, that the work of women in homes should be recognized as unwaged domestic labor. Treating that labor as being outside of or beyond capital simply serves to conceal it as a form and terrain of exploitation. Based on research on the Thai-Myanmar border, Stephen Campbell (forthcoming) raises similar concerns.

    [7] It might be worth noting here that some Rohingya supporters greatly welcomed recent comments by US Vice President Mike Pence, in which he denounced the “terrible savagery” being committed against Rohingya Muslims.

    [8] To be clear, I do not read Saha as suggesting history should be avoided or not discussed at the moment. Yet on social media, his short piece has been read by others in this manner.

    [9] The single archival trace Leider points to in his interview with the Irrawaddy is the much-discussed reference to “Rooinga” people by a doctor, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, traveling in Arakan (Rakhine) in the late eighteenth century—before, that is, British colonialism proper in Burma.

    [10] Michael Aung-Thwin (1998) does critically scrutinize the work of colonial scholar-bureaucrats. Yet regretfully his claims about the colonial construction of ethnic minority identities in Burma tend towards their delegitimation vis-à-vis Burman identity, which comes across in comparison as somehow true and stable rather than simply differently constructed.

    [11] Saha makes clear that scholars working in Myanmar do not all—perhaps even mostly do not—embrace the colonial construction of ethnicity as a bounded, apolitical, unchanging essence. He cites the work of Victor Lieberman and, more recently, Mandy Sadan and Alicia Turner, to show how scholars have come to understand the transit between the making of ethnic categories and the changing nature of state power, colonial rule, and anti-colonial politics.


    Anderson, Benedict. 1998. The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World. Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

    Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Aung-Thwin, Michael A.. 1998. Myth and History in the Historiography of Early Burma: Paradigms, Primary Sources and Prejudices. Athens: Ohio University Press.

    Buck-Morss, Susan. 2009. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press

    Byrd, Jodi A. 2011. The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Campbell, Stephen. Forthcoming. Border Capitalism, Disrupted: Precarity and Struggle at a Southeast Asian Industrial Zone. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Chatterjee, Partha. 1993. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Chatterjee, Partha. 2011. Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Coulthard, Glenn. 2014. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Federici, Silvia. 2004. Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia.

    Hartman, Saidiya. 1997. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Li, Tanya. 2014. Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Lowe, Lisa. 2015. The Intimacies of Four Continents. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Pham, Julie. 2004. “Ghost Hunting in colonial Burma: Nostalgia, Paternalism, and the Thoughts of J.S. Furnivall.” South East Asia Research 12 (2): 237–268.

    Robinson, Cedric. 1983. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

    Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.

    Sanyal, Kalyan. 2007. Rethinking Capitalist Development: Primitive Accumulation, Governmentality, and Postcolonial Capitalism. London: Routledge.

    Sassen, Saskia. 2016. “A Massive Loss of Habitat: New Drivers for Migration.” Sociology of Development 2 (2): 204–233/

    Singh Mehta, Uday. 1999. Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Spillers, Hortense. 1987. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17 (2): 64–81.

    Wynter, Sylvia. 1984. “The Ceremony Must Be Found: After Humanism.” Boundary 2 12 (3) and 13 (1): 19–70.

  • 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

    Africa Week


    This week is Africa Week! Africa Week celebrates and showcases Africa’s continuous advancements and achievements with respect to social, economic, political and environmental development. Read more here


    In honor of Africa Week, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. Receive a 50% discount on all African Studies titles found on our website until November 17, 2017. At checkout, simply enter the discount code UNAF17. Browse our newly published online African Studies 2017 Catalog or use the subject searching features on our website­ for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.

    Here is a preview of some of our newest releases:


    The Lives of Somali Youth Raised in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
    Catherine-Lune Grayson


    Chronic violence has characterized Somalia for over two decades, forcing nearly two million people to flee. A significant number have settled in camps in neighboring countries, where children were born and raised. Based on in-depth fieldwork, this book explores the experience of Somalis who grew up in Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya, and are now young adults. This original study carefully considers how young people perceive their living environment and how growing up in exile structures their view of the past and their country of origin, and the future and its possibilities.

    Read Introduction


    White Batswana Narratives of Emplacement and Belonging
    Catie Gressier


    “This book is an important contribution to anthropological studies of belonging, minorities, settler populations, whiteness, identity, tourism, and autochthony. A thoroughly thought-provoking, intimate, and detailed ethnography that is worth reading to gain an insight into how a white community in a postcolonial nation construct their belonging as Africans.” · American Anthropologist

    An ethnographic portrayal of the lives of white citizens of the Okavango Delta, Botswana, this book examines their relationships with the natural and social environments of the region. In response to the insecurity of their position as a European-descended minority in a postcolonial African state, Gressier argues that white Batswana have developed cultural values and practices that have allowed them to attain high levels of belonging. Adventure is common for this frontier community, and the book follows their safari lifestyles as they construct and perform localized identities in their interactions with dangerous wildlife, the broader African community, and the global elite via their work in the nature-tourism industry.

    Read Introduction: Waiting for the Flood


    Personhood, Nationhood, and the Post-Conflict Moment in Rwanda
    Laura Eramian


    This ethnography of personhood in post-genocide Rwanda investigates how residents of a small town grapple with what kinds of persons they ought to become in the wake of violence. Based on fieldwork carried out over the course of a decade, it uncovers how conflicting moral demands emerge from the 1994 genocide, from cultural contradictions around “good” personhood, and from both state and popular visions for the future. What emerges is a profound dissonance in town residents’ selfhood. While they strive to be agents of change who can catalyze a new era of modern Rwandan nationhood, they are also devastated by the genocide and struggle to recover a sense of selfhood and belonging in the absence of kin, friends, and neighbors. In drawing out the contradictions at the heart of self-making and social life in contemporary Rwanda, this book asserts a novel argument about the ordinary lives caught in global post-conflict imperatives to remember and to forget, to mourn and to prosper.


    The Conundrum of Cultural Difference, From Tunisia to Japan
    Marnia Lazreg


    Foucault lived in Tunisia for two years and travelled to Japan and Iran more than once. Yet throughout his critical scholarship, he insisted that the cultures of the “Orient” constitute the “limit” of Western rationality. Using archival research supplemented by interviews with key scholars in Tunisia, Japan and France, this book examines the philosophical sources, evolution as well as contradictions of Foucault’s experience with non-Western cultures. Beyond tracing Foucault’s journey into the world of otherness, the book reveals the personal, political as well as methodological effects of a radical conception of cultural difference that extolled the local over the cosmopolitan.

    Read Introduction


    Development, Tourism and the Politics of Benevolence in Mozambique
    João Afonso Baptista

    Volume 30, EASA Series


    Drawing on ethnographic research in the village of Canhane, which is host to the first community tourism project in Mozambique, The Good Holiday explores the confluence of two powerful industries: tourism and development, and explains when, how and why tourism becomes development and development, tourism. The volume further explores the social and material consequences of this merging, presenting the confluence of tourism and development as a major vehicle for the exercise of ethics, and non-state governance in contemporary life.

    Read Introduction


    Language, Life-Force and History in Kilimanjaro
    Knut Christian Myhre

    Volume 32, Methodology & History in Anthropology


    A group of Chagga-speaking men descend the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro to butcher animals and pour milk, beer, and blood on the ground, requesting rain for their continued existence. Returning Life explores how this event engages activities where life-force is transferred and transformed to afford and affect beings of different kinds. Historical sources demonstrate how the phenomenon of life-force encompasses coffee cash-cropping, Catholic Christianity, and colonial and post-colonial rule, and features in cognate languages from throughout the area. As this vivid ethnography explores how life projects through beings of different kinds, it brings to life concepts and practices that extend through time and space, transcending established analytics.


    Spiritual Movements and Aesthetic Difference in Kinshasa
    Peter Lambertz


    Focusing on the intricate presence of a Japanese new religion (Sekai Kyûseikyô) in the densely populated and primarily Christian environment of Kinshasa (DR Congo), this ethnographic study offers a practitioner-orientated perspective to create a localised picture of religious globalization. Guided by an aesthetic approach to religion, the study moves beyond a focus limited to text and offers insights into the role of religious objects, spiritual technologies and aesthetic repertoires in the production and politics of difference. The boundaries between non-Christian religious minorities and the largely Christian public sphere involve fears and suspicion of ‘magic’ and ‘occult sciences’.


    The Decolonial Mandela
    Peace, Justice and the Politics of Life
    Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni


    “This is a completely original contribution to our understanding of Mandela. It provides a long overdue decolonial perspective that situates Mandela’s life and thought within current academic debates and the political and ethical challenges facing global humanity. It will be essential reading across multiple disciplines.” · Ramon Grosfoguel, University of California, Berkeley –

    A significant contribution to the emerging literature on decolonial studies, this concise and forcefully argued volume lays out a groundbreaking interpretation of the “Mandela phenomenon.” Contrary to a neoliberal social model that privileges adversarial criminal justice and a rationalistic approach to war making, Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni identifies transformative political justice and a reimagined social order as key features of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Mandela is understood here as an exemplar of decolonial humanism, one who embodied the idea of survivor’s justice and held up reconciliation and racial harmony as essential for transcending colonial modes of thought.

    Read Introduction: Mandela Phenomenon as Decolonial Humanism


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


    “This is a superb book. It brings together Stuart Marks’ detailed long-term work on hunting and other issues among the Bisa of the Manyamadzi Corridor of Zambia since the 1960s.” · Robert K. Hitchcock, Michigan State University

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

    Read Introduction: On Poaching an Elephant: Calling the Shots and Following the Ricochets


    Edited by Axel Fleisch and Rhiannon Stephens

    Volume 25, Making Sense of History


    “This pioneering volume is the first to apply the methods of conceptual history to the languages and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, and as such will be welcomed by a wide variety of scholars. It is a major achievement.” · Willibald Steinmetz, Bielefeld University

    Employing an innovative methodological toolkit, Doing Conceptual History in Africa provides a refreshingly broad and interdisciplinary approach to African historical studies. The studies assembled here focus on the complex role of language in Africa’s historical development, with a particular emphasis on pragmatics and semantics. From precolonial dynamics of wealth and poverty to the conceptual foundations of nationalist movements, each contribution strikes a balance between the local and the global, engaging with a distinctively African intellectual tradition while analyzing the regional and global contexts in which categories like “work,” “marriage,” and “land” take shape.

    Read Introduction: Theories and Methods of African Conceptual History


    Development Paradoxes, Belonging and Participation of the Baka in East Cameroon
    Glory M. Lueong


    Development interventions often generate contradictions around questions of who benefits from development and which communities are targeted for intervention. This book examines how the Baka, who live in Eastern Cameroon, assert forms of belonging in order to participate in development interventions, and how community life is shaped and reshaped through these interventions. Often referred to as ‘forest people’, the Baka have witnessed many recent development interventions that include competing and contradictory policies such as ‘civilize’, assimilate and integrate the Baka into ‘full citizenship’, conserve the forest and wildlife resources, and preserve indigenous cultures at the verge of extinction.

    Read Introduction


    Music, Ideology and Economic Collapse, from Paris to Kinshasa
    Joe Trapido

    Volume 19, Dislocations


    “This is a highly impressive, utterly original, often brilliant book on both the empirical and theoretical levels… A wonderful ethnography of music production, performance, spectacle, and deceit.” · Nancy Rose Hunt, University of Michigan

    Based on fieldwork in Kinshasa and Paris, Breaking Rocks examines patronage payments within Congolese popular music, where a love song dedication can cost 6,000 dollars and a simple name check can trade for 500 or 600 dollars. Tracing this system of prestige through networks of musicians and patrons – who include gangsters based in Europe, kleptocratic politicians in Congo, and lawless diamond dealers in northern Angola – this book offers insights into ideologies of power and value in central Africa’s troubled post-colonial political economy, as well as a glimpse into the economic flows that make up the hidden side of the globalization.

    Read Introduction


    Mensah Adinkrah

    “By attending to witch hunts in all its facets in Ghanaian society, [the author] offers the most in-depth examination of witchcraft to date… Although the author focuses on Ghana, the work draws attention to the fact that witchcraft-related violence is not unique to the country, but very much a part of global history, past and present. The wide variety of sources it pulls together and the human face it gives to witchcraft related violence are the biggest strengths of Witchcraft, Witches, and Violence. This is a valuable book for both undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and African studies.“ · International Journal of African Historical Studies (IJAHS)

    This book provides a detailed account of Ghanaian witchcraft beliefs and practices and their role in fueling violent attacks on alleged witches by aggrieved individuals and vigilante groups.

    Read Introduction: Witchcraft Violence in Comparative Perspective


    Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields
    Michaela Pelican

    Volume 11, Integration and Conflict Studies


    The Cameroon Grassfields, home to three ethnic groups – Grassfields societies, Mbororo, and Hausa – provide a valuable case study for the anthropological examination of identity politics and interethnic relations. In the midst of the political liberalization of Cameroon in the late 1990s and 2000s, local responses to political and legal changes took the form of a series of performative and discursive expressions of ethnicity. Confrontational encounters stimulated by economic and political rivalry, as well as socially integrative processes, transformed collective self-understanding in Cameroon in conjunction with recent global discourses on human, minority, and indigenous rights. The book provides a vital contribution to the study of ethnicity, conflict, and social change in the anthropology of Africa.

    Read Introduction


    Malagasy and Swiss Imaginations of One Another
    Eva Keller

    Volume 20, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    “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 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


    Screening the German Colonies
    Wolfgang Fuhrmann

    Volume 17, Film Europa


    “Woldgang Fuhrmann succeeds with this impressive overview of German colonial film, largely neglected in the scholarly literature, to present convincingly the interaction of individual protagonists with various institutions. The bibliography conveys the depth of his research that can be considered exemplary. This also applies to the filmography that will inspire future research. The few illustrations are well selected and expressive.” · Filmblatt

    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


    The Anthropology and History of Medical Research in Africa
    Edited by P. Wenzel Geissler and Catherine Molyneux


    “Each of the chapters is noteworthy. Together, they offer a promising opportunity to broaden the field of postcolonial science studies in ways that remind us how ethicality is at the heart of these encounters of science… the volume will be useful to medical anthropologists, science studies scholars, and generalist scholars of Africa and global health. Individual chapters, as well as whole sections of the book, will be particularly useful for teaching at the upper-division undergraduate or graduate levels.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly

    Global debates about the politics and ethics of this research are growing and local concerns are prompting calls for social studies of the “trial communities” produced by this scientific work. Drawing on rich, ethnographic and historiographic ­­­material, this volume represents the emergent field of anthropological inquiry that links Africanist ethnography to recent concerns with science, the state, and the culture of late capitalism in Africa.

    Read Introduction: Studying trial communities: anthropological and historical inquiries into ethos, politics and economy of medical research in Africa

    Of Related Interest from Berghahn Journals:

    An Interdisciplinary Journal

    Democratic Theory is a peer-reviewed journal published and distributed by Berghahn. It encourages philosophical and interdisciplinary contributions that critically explore democratic theory-in all its forms.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 3, Issue 2


    Regiones y Cohesión / Régions et Cohésion

    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.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 6, Issue 3


    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.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 7, Issue 1


    A Journal of Social and Political Theory

    Theoria is an engaged, multidisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal of social and political theory.

    Current Issue:
    Volume 63, Issue 148


  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day


    For a limited time, we’re pleased to offer access to these relevant journal articles for free in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day:







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

    Volume 22, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    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 religion, environmental change in indigenous territories, and new conservation management approaches. Indigeneity and the Sacred explores how these struggles for land, rights, and political power are embedded within physical landscapes, and how indigenous identity is reconstituted as globalizing forces simultaneously threaten and promote the notion of indigeneity.

    Read Introduction


    Environmental Knowledge in the Northeast Kula Ring
    Frederick H. Damon

    Volume 21, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology


    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

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


    Leadership, Masculinity and Wealth in the Amazon
    Marc Brightman


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

    Read Introduction


    Confronting Electoral Communism and Precarious Livelihoods in Post-Reform Kerala
    Luisa Steur

    Volume 20, Dislocations


    In Kerala, political activists with a background in Communism are now instead asserting political demands on the basis of indigenous identity. Why did a notion of indigenous belonging come to replace the discourse of class in subaltern struggles? Indigenist Mobilization answers this question through a detailed ethnographic study of the dynamics between the Communist party and indigenist activists, and the subtle ways in which global capitalist restructuring leads to a resonance of indigenist visions in the changing everyday working lives of subaltern groups in Kerala.

    Read Introduction: Research and Activism in, on, and Beyond a Capitalist World System


    Embodiment and Experience among the Orang Rimba of Sumatra
    Ramsey Elkholy
    Foreword by Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen


    For the Orang Rimba of Sumatra – and tropical foragers in general – life in the forest engenders a kind of “connectedness” that is contingent not only on harmonious relations between people, but also between people and the non-human environment, including those supernatural agencies of the forest that people depend on for their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Exploring this world, anthropologist Ramsey Elkholy treats embodied action and perception as the basis of shared experience and shows how various forms of embodied experience constitute the very foundations of human culture. In a unique methodological contribution, Elkholy adopts a set of body-centered approaches that reflect and capture the day-to-day, moment-to-moment ways in which people engage with the world. Being and Becoming is an important contribution to phenomenological anthropology, hunter-gatherer studies, and to Southeast Asian ethnography more generally.

    Read Introduction


    Development Paradoxes, Belonging and Participation of the Baka in East Cameroon
    Glory M. Lueong


    Development interventions often generate contradictions around questions of who benefits from development and which communities are targeted for intervention. This book examines how the Baka, who live in Eastern Cameroon, assert forms of belonging in order to participate in development interventions, and how community life is shaped and reshaped through these interventions. Often referred to as ‘forest people’, the Baka have witnessed many recent development interventions that include competing and contradictory policies such as ‘civilize’, assimilate and integrate the Baka into ‘full citizenship’, conserve the forest and wildlife resources, and preserve indigenous cultures at the verge of extinction.

    Read Introduction


    Conceptions of Personhood in a Papua New Guinea Society
    Franziska A. Herbst

    Volume 5, Person, Space and Memory in the Contemporary Pacific


    Biomedical Entanglements is an ethnographic study of the Giri people of Papua New Guinea, focusing on the indigenous population’s interaction with modern medicine. In her fieldwork, Franziska A. Herbst follows the Giri people as they circulate within and around ethnographic sites that include a rural health center and an urban hospital. The study bridges medical anthropology and global health, exploring how the ‘biomedical’ is imbued with social meaning and how biomedicine affects Giri ways of life.

    Read Introduction


    Luck, Spirits and Ambivalence among the Siberian Orochen Reindeer Herders and Hunters
    Donatas Brandišauskas

    NEW SERIES: Volume 1, Studies in the Circumpolar North


    Nowhere have recent environmental and social changes been more pronounced than in post-Soviet Siberia. Donatas Brandišauskas probes the strategies that Orochen reindeer herders of southeastern Siberia have developed to navigate these changes. “Catching luck” is one such strategy that plays a central role in Orochen cosmology — luck implies a vernacular theory of causality based on active interactions of humans, non-humans, material objects, and places. Brandišauskas describes in rich details the skills, knowledge, ritual practices, storytelling, and movements that enable the Orochen to “catch luck” (or not, sometimes), to navigate times of change and upheaval.

    Read Introduction: Luck, Spirits and Places


    The Gwich’in Natives of Alaska
    Steven C. Dinero


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

    Read Introduction


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


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

    Read Introduction: Altering Ownership in Amazonia


    Identity Politics in the Cameroon Grassfields
    Michaela Pelican

    Volume 11, Integration and Conflict Studies


    The Cameroon Grassfields, home to three ethnic groups – Grassfields societies, Mbororo, and Hausa – provide a valuable case study for the anthropological examination of identity politics and interethnic relations. In the midst of the political liberalization of Cameroon in the late 1990s and 2000s, local responses to political and legal changes took the form of a series of performative and discursive expressions of ethnicity. Confrontational encounters stimulated by economic and political rivalry, as well as socially integrative processes, transformed collective self-understanding in Cameroon in conjunction with recent global discourses on human, minority, and indigenous rights. The book provides a vital contribution to the study of ethnicity, conflict, and social change in the anthropology of Africa.

    Read Introduction


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


    “Few academic books display such depth as does this one, but then few anthropologists devote over five decades to the same communities and issues. Anthropologist Marks first worked among Zambia’s Valley Bisa people in 1966, returning frequently for further research. The result is a masterwork of description, interpretation, and self-reflection.” · Choice

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

    Read Introduction: On Poaching an Elephant: Calling the Shots and Following the Ricochets

    Berghahn Journals:

    Editor-in-Chief: Claudia Mitchell, McGill University

    ISSN: 1938-8209 (Print)
    ISSN: 1938-8322 (Online)

    Volume 10/2017, 3 issues p.a. (spring, summer, winter)

    Editor: John P. Ziker, Boise State University

    ISSN: 1361-7362 (Print)
    ISSN: 1476-6787 (Online)

    Volume 16/2017, 3 issues p.a. (spring, summer, winter)



  • Berghahn Journals Blog

    Berghahn Books is attending the GSA 2017 conference

    We are happy to invite you to join Berghahn on Friday October 6th at 5pm in the exhibit hall a rea for a wine reception to be held at Berghahn stand to celebrate the publication of EASTERN EUROPE UNMAPPED edited by Irene Kacandes and Yuliya Komskasome.


    We are also excited to invite you to another wine reception Berghahn is hosting along with German Studies Association on Saturday, October 7th at 5pm, also at the Berghahn stand, to mark the publication of MODERN GERMANY IN TRANSATLANTIC PERSPECTIVE, edited by Michael Meng and Adam R. Seipp, in honor of Konrad H. Jarausch, a former GSA President and highly respected scholar in German Studies.

    If you are unable to attend the conference, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. Receive a 25% discount on all German Studies titles found on our website, valid through November 8th, 2017. At checkout, simply enter the discount code GSA17. Browse our new 2017-18 German Studies Catalog online or visit our website­ for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.

    Below is a preview of some of our newest releases on display:


    The Men of the Wannsee Conference
    Edited by Hans-Christian Jasch and Christoph Kreutzmüller
    Translated from the German by Charlotte Kreutzmüller-Hughes and Jane Paulick


    On 20 January 1942, fifteen senior German government officials attended a short meeting in Berlin to discuss the deportation and murder of the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite lasting only a few hours, the Wannsee Conference is today understood as a signal episode in the history of the Holocaust, exemplifying the labor division and bureaucratization that made the “Final Solution” possible. Yet while the conference itself has been exhaustively researched, many of its attendees remain relatively obscure. Combining accessible prose with scholarly rigor, The Participants presents fascinating profiles of the all-too-human men who implemented some of the most inhuman acts in history.

    Read Introduction: The Participants: The Men of the Wannsee Conference


    Edited by Michael Meng and Adam R. Seipp


    Bringing together incisive contributions from an international group of colleagues and former students, Modern Germany in Transatlantic Perspective takes stock of the field of German history as exemplified by the extraordinary scholarly career of Konrad H. Jarausch. Through fascinating reflections on the discipline’s theoretical, professional, and methodological dimensions, it explores Jarausch’s monumental work as a teacher and a builder of scholarly institutions. In this way, it provides not merely a look back at the last fifty years of German history, but a path forward as new ideas and methods infuse the study of Germany’s past.


    Beyond Borders and Peripheries
    Edited by Irene Kacandes and Yuliya Komska


    Arguably more than any other region, the area known as Eastern Europe has been defined by its location on the map. Yet its inhabitants, from statesmen to literati and from cultural-economic elites to the poorest emigrants, have consistently forged or fathomed links to distant lands, populations, and intellectual traditions. Through a series of inventive cultural and historical explorations, Eastern Europe Unmapped dispenses with scholars’ long-time preoccupation with national and regional borders, instead raising provocative questions about the area’s non-contiguous—and frequently global or extraterritorial—entanglements.


    The Foundation ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’ and the Legacy of Forced Labour during the Third Reich
    Edited by Constantin Goschler


    Founded in 2000, the German Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” is one of the largest transitional justice initiatives in history: in cooperation with its international partner organizations, it has to date paid over 4 billion euros to nearly 1.7 million survivors of forced labour during the Nazi Era. This volume provides an unparalleled look at the Foundation’s creation, operations, and prospects after nearly two decades of existence, with valuable insights not just for historians but for a range of scholars, professionals, and others involved in human rights and reconciliation efforts.

    Read Introduction


    Continuity and Change in Germany from the Wilhelmine Empire to National Socialism
    Edited by Lara Day and Oliver Haag


    Race in 20th-century German history is an inescapable topic, one that has been defined overwhelmingly by the narratives of degeneracy that prefigured the Nuremberg Laws and death camps of the Third Reich. As the contributions to this innovative volume show, however, German society produced a much more complex variety of racial representations over the first part of the century. Here, historians explore the hateful depictions of the Nazi period alongside idealized images of African, Pacific and Australian indigenous peoples, demonstrating both the remarkable fixity race had as an object of fascination for German society as well as the conceptual plasticity it exhibited through several historical eras.

    Read Introduction


    Feminism and Generational Conflict in Recent German Literature and Film
    Margaret McCarthy


    The last two decades have been transformational, often discordant ones for German feminism, as a new cohort of activists has come of age and challenged many of the movement’s strategic and philosophical orthodoxies. Mad Mädchen offers an incisive analysis of these trans-generational debates, identifying the mother-daughter themes and other tropes that have defined their representation in German literature, film, and media. Author Margaret McCarthy investigates female subjectivity as it processes political discourse to define itself through both differences and affinities among women. Ultimately, such a model suggests new ways of re-imagining feminist solidarity across generational, ethnic, and racial lines.

    Read Introduction


    Militant Feminisms in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1968
    Katharina Karcher

    Volume 38, Monographs in German History


    Few figures in modern German history are as central to the public memory of radical protest than Ulrike Meinhof, but she was only the most prominent of the countless German women—and militant male feminists—who supported and joined in revolutionary actions from the 1960s onward. Sisters in Arms gives a bracing account of how feminist ideas were enacted by West German leftist organizations from the infamous Red Army Faction to less well-known groups such as the Red Zora. It analyzes their confrontational and violent tactics in challenging the abortion ban, opposing violence against women, and campaigning for solidarity with Third World women workers. Though these groups often diverged ideologically and tactically, they all demonstrated the potency of militant feminism within postwar protest movements.

    Read Introduction


    Kurt Forstreuter and the Historiography of Medieval Prussia
    Cordelia Hess


    For nearly a century, it has been a commonplace of Central European history that there were no Jews in medieval Prussia—the result, supposedly, of the ruling Teutonic Order’s attempts to create a purely Christian crusader’s state. In this groundbreaking historical investigation, however, medievalist Cordelia Hess demonstrates the very weak foundations upon which that assumption rests. In exacting detail, she traces this narrative to the work of a single, minor Nazi-era historian, revealing it to be ideologically compromised work that badly mishandles its evidence. By combining new medieval scholarship with a biographical and historiographical exploration grounded in the 20th century, The Absent Jews spans remote eras while offering a fascinating account of the construction of historical knowledge.

    Read Introduction


    Edited by Claire Zalc and Tal Bruttmann


    How does scale affect our understanding of the Holocaust? In the vastness of its implementation and the sheer amount of death and suffering it produced, the genocide of Europe’s Jews presents special challenges for historians, who have responded with work ranging in scope from the world-historical to the intimate. In particular, recent scholarship has demonstrated a willingness to study the Holocaust at scales as focused as a single neighborhood, family, or perpetrator. This volume brings together an international cast of scholars to reflect on the ongoing microhistorical turn in Holocaust studies, assessing its historiographical pitfalls as well as the distinctive opportunities it affords researchers.

    Read Introduction: Towards a Microhistory of the Holocaust


    Historical and Psychological Studies of the Kestenberg Archive
    Edited by Sharon Kangisser Cohen, Eva Fogelman, and Dalia Ofer


    The testimonies of individuals who survived the Holocaust as children pose distinct emotional and intellectual challenges for researchers: as now-adult interviewees recall profound childhood experiences of suffering and persecution, they also invoke their own historical awareness and memories of their postwar lives, requiring readers to follow simultaneous, disparate narratives. This interdisciplinary volume brings together historians, psychologists, and other scholars to explore child survivors’ accounts. With a central focus on the Kestenberg Holocaust Child Survivor Archive’s over 1,500 testimonies, it not only enlarges our understanding of the Holocaust empirically but illuminates the methodological, theoretical, and institutional dimensions of this unique form of historical record.

    Read Introduction

    New German Historical Perspectives Series

    Established in 1987 this special St. Antony’s series on New German Historical Perspectives showcases pioneering new work by leading German historians on a range of topics concerning the history of modern Germany and Europe. Publications address pressing problems of political, economic, social, and intellectual history informed by contemporary debates about German and European identity, providing fresh conceptual, international, and transnational interpretations of the recent past.


    Edited by Simone Lässig and Miriam Rürup


    What makes a space Jewish? This wide-ranging volume revisits literal as well as metaphorical spaces in modern German history to examine the ways in which Jewishness has been attributed to them both within and outside of Jewish communities, and what the implications have been across different eras and social contexts. Working from an expansive concept of “the spatial,” these contributions look not only at physical sites but at professional, political, institutional, and imaginative realms, as well as historical Jewish experiences of spacelessness. Together, they encompass spaces as varied as early modern print shops and Weimar cinema, always pointing to the complex intertwining of German and Jewish identity.

Introduction: What Made a Space “Jewish”? Reconsidering a Category of Modern German History


    Edited by Lutz Raphael


    For many, the history of German social policy is defined primarily by that nation’s postwar emergence as a model of the European welfare state. As this comprehensive volume demonstrates, however, the question of how to care for the poor has had significant implications for German history throughout the modern era. Here, eight leading historians provide essential case studies and syntheses of current research into German welfare, from the Holy Roman Empire to the present day. Along the way, they trace the parallel historical dynamics that have continued to shape German society, including religious diversity, political exclusion and inclusion, and concepts of race and gender.

    Read Introduction: Poverty and Welfare in Modern German History: Recent Trends and New Perspectives in Current Research

    Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association Series

    Published under the auspices of the German Studies Association, Spektrum offers current perspectives on culture, society, and political life in the German-speaking lands of central Europe—Austria, Switzerland, and the Federal Republic—from the late Middle Ages to the present day. Its titles and themes reflect the composition of the GSA and the work of its members within and across the disciplines to which they belong—literary criticism, history, cultural studies, political science, and anthropology.


    Edited by Mary Lindemann and Jared Poley
    Afterword by Michael J. Sauter


    Money is more than just a medium of financial exchange: across time and place, it has performed all sorts of cultural, political, and social functions. This volume traces money in German-speaking Europe from the late Renaissance until the close of the twentieth century, exploring how people have used it and endowed it with multiple meanings. The fascinating studies gathered here collectively demonstrate money’s vast symbolic and practical significance, from its place in debates about religion and the natural world to its central role in statecraft and the formation of national identity.

    Read Introduction


    Writing the German Reformation, 1517-2017
    Edited by Carina L. Johnson, David M. Luebke, Marjorie E. Plummer, and Jesse Spohnholz


    Modern religious identities are rooted in collective memories that are constantly made and remade across generations. How do these mutations of memory distort our picture of historical change and the ways that historical actors perceive it? Can one give voice to those whom history has forgotten? The essays collected here examine the formation of religious identities during the Reformation in Germany through case studies of remembering and forgetting—instances in which patterns and practices of religious plurality were excised from historical memory. By tracing their ramifications through the centuries, Archeologies of Confession carefully reconstructs the often surprising histories of plurality that have otherwise been lost or obscured.

    Read Introduction: Reformations Lost and Found


    Views of Modern Germany from the Ground
    Lead Authors: Andrew Stuart Bergerson and Leonard Schmieding


    During the twentieth century, Germans experienced a long series of major and often violent disruptions in their everyday lives. Such chronic instability and precipitous change made it difficult for them to make sense of their lives as coherent stories—and for scholars to reconstruct them in retrospect. Ruptures in the Everyday brings together an international team of twenty-six researchers from across German studies to craft such a narrative. This collectively authored work of integrative scholarship investigates Alltag through the lens of fragmentary anecdotes from everyday life in modern Germany. Across ten intellectually adventurous chapters, this book explores the self, society, families, objects, institutions, policies, violence, and authority in modern Germany neither from a top-down nor bottom-up perspective, but focused squarely on everyday dynamics at work “on the ground.”


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


    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


    A Modern History of Greed
    Jared Poley


    “…a thought-provoking study of a subject that is too often taken for granted, rather than subjected to critical examination.” · Financial Times

    A seeming constant in the history of capitalism, greed has nonetheless undergone considerable transformations over the last five hundred years. This multilayered account offers a fresh take on an old topic, arguing that greed was experienced as a moral phenomenon and deployed to make sense of an unjust world. Focusing specifically on the interrelated themes of religion, economics, and health—each of which sought to study and channel the power of financial desire—Jared Poley shows how evolving ideas about greed became formative elements of the modern experience.

    Read Introduction


    Transgressive Unions in Germany from the Reformation to the Enlightenment
    Edited by David M. Luebke and Mary Lindemann
    Afterword by Joel Harrington


    “A seminal anthology of original work and research, Mixed Matches is a valued and highly recommended addition to personal and academic library Germany History & Culture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.” · Midwest Book Review

    The significant changes in early modern German marriage practices included many unions that violated some taboo. That taboo could be theological and involve the marriage of monks and nuns, or refer to social misalliances as when commoners and princes (or princesses) wed. Equally transgressive were unions that crossed religious boundaries, such as marriages between Catholics and Protestants, those that violated ethnic or racial barriers, and those that broke kin-related rules. Taking as a point of departure Martin Luther’s redefinition of marriage, the contributors to this volume spin out the multiple ways that the Reformers’ attempts to simplify and clarify marriage affected education, philosophy, literature, high politics, diplomacy, and law. Ranging from the Reformation, through the ages of confessionalization, to the Enlightenment, Mixed Matches addresses the historical complexity of the socio-cultural institution of marriage.

    Read Introduction: Transgressive Unions

    New in Paperback:


    East Germany in the Cold War World
    Edited by Quinn Slobodian

    Volume 15, Protest, Culture & Society


    “The chapters in the edited volume provide nuanced cases of East German idealism and the limitations of its practice, which belied a variety of racial prejudices and tensions… the interdisciplinary and extended geographic scope of this edited volume successfully furthers a number of interrelated fields relating to the role of the GDR and the socialist world in the Cold War, race and their continuing legacies.” · Journal of Contemporary History

    Read Introduction


    Popular Unrest and the Nazi Response
    Edited by Nathan Stoltzfus and Birgit Maier-Katkin
    Afterword by David Clay Large

    Volume 14, Protest, Culture & Society


    “This is a solid book and a welcome addition to the literature. It should find a place on the reading lists of any course dealing with dictatorships, totalitarianism, or twentieth-century German history.” · HISTORY: Reviews of New Books

    Protest in Hitler’s National Community: Popular Unrest and the Nazi Response is comprised of nine erudite and instructive articles that are impressively written works of seminal scholarship… [It] is strongly recommended for academic library 20th-Century German History reference collections in general, and Nazi History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.” · Midwest Book Review

    Read Introduction: Nazi Responses to Popular Protest in the Reich


    The Destruction of Jewish Commercial Activity, 1930-1945
    Christoph Kreutzmüller
    Translated from the German by Jane Paulick and Jefferson Chase


    “Kreutzmüller’s well written study deals with resistance offered by Berlin’s Jews in the face of Hitler’s legal machinery to destroy their economic selfreliance. The exhaustive research… abundant examples and case studies complement the data, making the book useful for both research and teaching.” · Choice

    “Christoph Kreutzmüller’s book is vigorously researched, elegantly structured and well-written, and succeeds in providing new information on a subject already exhaustively studied, namely ‘Aryanization’ and the destruction of business, that extends beyond the borders of Berlin.” · H-Net

    Read Introduction


    The History of a Modern Concept
    Edited by Riccardo Bavaj and Martina Steber


    “The editors of this volume deserve praise for the fine balance they found between thematic breadth and focus, and the authors for the exceptional quality of the individual chapters. A volume of this size cannot claim comprehensiveness. But it is this book’s great accomplishment to provide a rich picture of the complexity and ever changing nature of German perceptions of ‘the West.’ Whoever engages with this field is well advised to start with this insightful volume.” · H-Soz-Kult

    Read Introduction: Germany and ‘the West’: The Vagaries of a Modern Relationship


    Popular Responses to the Persecution and Murder of the Jews
    Edited by Susanna Schrafstetter and Alan E. Steinweis

    Volume 6, Vermont Studies on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust


    For decades, historians have debated how and to what extent the Holocaust penetrated the German national consciousness between 1933 and 1945. How much did “ordinary” Germans know about the subjugation and mass murder of the Jews, when did they know it, and how did they respond collectively and as individuals? This compact volume brings together six historical investigations into the subject from leading scholars employing newly accessible and previously underexploited evidence. Ranging from the roots of popular anti-Semitism to the complex motivations of Germans who hid Jews, these studies illuminate some of the most difficult questions in Holocaust historiography, supplemented with an array of fascinating primary source materials.

    Read Introduction: The German People and the Holocaust


    Ethical Transgressions and Anatomical Science during the Third Reich
    Sabine Hildebrandt
    Foreword by William E. Seidelman


    “Based on her research in archives in Europe and North America, Hildebrandt offers a learned and well-rounded account of the manifold facets of the field, including a discussion of the ethical transgressions of coerced human-subject research, the killing of concentration camp prisoners and inmates of mental asylums, and the compilation, uses, and application of knowledge within the most inhumane contexts… an important and eye-opening book that will become standard literature for Holocaust studies programs, as well as for courses on medical ethics and the history of medicine and science during the twentieth century.” · Central European History

    Read Introduction


    Narrating the Holocaust in Jewish Communities at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century
    Jordana Silverstein


    Anxious Histories invites scholars and educators to consider Holocaust education from a series of thought-provoking dimensions. It ought to spur further research to enrich the knowledge base at both the theoretical and practical levels. The book adds to our understanding of the contents and discontents of Holocaust education in Jewish high schools in diaspora contexts at the beginning of the 21st century. Its treatment of a crucial and timely topic in our field renders it a valuable work. For its innovative claims about the roles of both anxiety and assimilation in how Jewish educators teach the Holocaust, it merits our careful attention.” · Journal of Jewish Education

    Read Introduction: Holocaust Historiography, Anxiety and the Formulations of a Diasporic Jewishness


    Nazi Persecution Policies in the Annexed Territories 1935-1945
    Edited by Wolf Gruner and Jörg Osterloh

    Volume 20, War and Genocide


    “[This volume] is somewhat more than the usual edited collection of essays. The authors were requested to structure their contributions to a strict pattern, with each chapter organized into three sections: preannexation history; the initial German occupation; and the integration of the territories into the Reich. Each has a useful map…This systematic approach ensures clarity and allows useful comparisons.” · Journal of Modern History

    “Much remains to be learned about the Holocaust in the occupied regions, but this collection helps fill the gap.” · Holocaust and Genocide Studies

    Read Introduction


    Perspectives on Film Culture in the GDR and Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960
    Edited by Lars Karl and Pavel Skopal

    Volume 18, Film Europa


    “Given the signal role that “the most important of the arts” (as Lenin called cinema) plays in modern society, the book’s intellectual appeal transcends the disciplinary confines of “film studies,” offering a wealth of insights into the communist experiment with a classless society.” · Choice

    “Lars Karl and Pavel Skopal have produced an intriguing edited volume that addresses a significant lacuna in transnational cinema scholarship.” · Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

    Read Introduction


    Germany in International Perspective, 1400 to the Present
    Frank Bösch
    Translated from the German by Freya Buechter


    “…readers will appreciate Bosch’s insights in comparing Nazi and GDR media, and underscoring common government interventions that emerged across fascist and democratic regimes, as well as his attempts to be inclusive with regard to Asian, African, and Latin America media formations. While the Internet age appears only in an epilogue, readers will profit from Bösch’s framing and breadth, and from his comprehensive bibliography and reviews of German sources and issues.” · Choice

    Read Introduction: Approaches to Media History

    Of Related Interest from Berghahn Journals:


    German Politics and Society

    German Politics and Society is a peer-reviewed journal published and distributed by Berghahn Journals. It is the only American publication that explores issues in modern Germany from the combined perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural studies.

    The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women’s and Gender History

    Aspasia is the international peer-reviewed annual of women’s and gender history of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE). It aims to transform European women’s and gender history by expanding comparative research on women and gender to all parts of Europe, creating a European history of women and gender that encompasses more than the traditional Western European perspective.

    The journal serves as a platform for theoretical and methodological articles as well as empirical studies on the history of concepts and their social, political, and cultural contexts. It aims to promote the dialogue between the history of concepts and other disciplines, such as intellectual history, history of knowledge and science, linguistics, translation studies, history of political thought and discourse analysis.

    Featured Article:
    A Specter Is Haunting Germany-the French Specter of Milieu: On the Nomadicity and Nationality of Cultural Vocabularies

    Wolf Feuerhahn

    Published in association with the Leo Baeck College and the Michael Goulston Education Foundation.
    For over 40 years, European Judaism has provided a voice for the postwar Jewish world in Europe. It has reflected the different realities of each country and helped to rebuild Jewish consciousness after the Holocaust.

    Featured Article:
    A Totem and a Taboo: Germans and Jews Re-enacting Aspects of the Holocaust

    Jeremy Schonfield

    Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques

    Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques (HRRH) has established a well-deserved reputation for publishing high quality articles of wide-ranging interest for over forty years. The journal, which publishes articles in both English and French, is committed to exploring history in an interdisciplinary framework and with a comparative focus. Historical approaches to art, literature, and the social sciences; the history of mentalities and intellectual movements; the terrain where religion and history meet: these are the subjects to which HRRH is devoted.

    Featured Article: 
    Envisaging Eternity: Salian Women’s Religious Patronage

    Nina Verbanaz

    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.

    Featured Article:
    Spatial Relations and the Struggle for Space: Friedrich Ratzel’s Impact on German Education from the Wilhelmine Empire to the Third Reich

    Troy Paddock

Top Article Downloads

  1. Under the Shadow of Empire: Indigenous Girls' Presencing as Decolonizing Force
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  2. Forget Dawkins: Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
    Social Analysis, vol. 59, #2, Summer 2015
  3. Blaming Sexualization for Sexting
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  4. Out of the Closet? German Patriotism and Soccer Mania
    German Politics & Society, vol.24, #3, Autumn 2006
  5. Rape Culture and the Feminist Politics of Social Media
    Girlhood Studies, vol. 7, #1, Summer 2014
  6. Less Than One But More Than Many: Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making
    Environment and Society, vol. 6, #1, Summer 2015
  7. Staging "small, small incidents": Dissent, gender, and militarization among young people in Kashmir
    Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011
  8. An Inquiry into the Roots of the Modern Concept of Development
    Contributions to the History of Concepts, vol. 4, #2, Autumn 2008
  9. Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested? Anthropological knowledge production in question
    Focaal, vol. 2015, #72, Summer 2015
  10. Theatres of virtue: Collaboration, consensus, and the social life of corporate social responsibility
    Focaal, vol. 2011, #60, Summer 2011

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Berghahn Journals New Online Platform

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

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

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

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Africa Week

  This week is Africa Week! Africa Week celebrates and showcases Africa’s continuous advancements and achievements with respect to social, economic, political and environmental development. Read more here   In honor of Africa Week, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. Receive a 50% discount on all African Studies titles found on our website until November […]

World Food Day

October 16th is World Food Day, a day of action against hunger. This day is an opportunity to come together and put an end to hunger by learning and educating about food, farming and nutrition. Join the global movement to end hunger! For more information on events, themes, or how you can make a different please visit Food and […]

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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  Monday, October 9 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the United States. As a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates Indigenous peoples across various localities in the United States.   With the hopes of promoting understanding of Indigenous communities around the world, we present a selection of titles below which highlight […]

Berghahn Books is attending the GSA 2017 conference

We are delighted to inform you that we will be attending the annual German Studies Association conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 5th-8th, 2017. Please stop by our stand to browse our latest selection of books at discounted prices & pick up some free journal samples. We are happy to invite you to join Berghahn […]