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Cultural Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology publishes ethnographic writing informed by a wide array of theoretical perspectives, innovative in form and content, and focused on both traditional and emerging topics. It also welcomes essays concerned with ethnographic methods and research design in historical perspective, and with ways cultural analysis can address broader public audiences and interests.

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This issue of Cultural Anthropology features a Colloquy, as well as four original research articles. The Colloquy revisits the pressing question of “security” across the Middle East. Moving beyond the now standardized geopolitical deployments of this notoriously slippery concept, the authors in this collection propose an ethnographic inquiry into how (in)security is enacted and embodied in lived experience. Their work explores such diverse contexts as an encampment in Yemen working to provide security beyond the state for those who take up its revolutionary aims, and a direct encounter with the insecurity of travelling across multiple borders as a Palestinian without state documents. As a group the papers allow us to think methodologically, regionally, and theoretically otherwise about this trope.

The research essays begin with Aidan Seale-Feldman’s phenomenological account of the devastating earthquakes in Nepal. Seale-Feldman was engaged in fieldwork on community-based mental health projects when the earthquakes of April 2015 struck the region. Her paper explores the production and productivity of “disaster” as a world-building mode of discourse and practice that enables—and forecloses—forms of care and community. Kristin Monroe’s essay is a closely observed dialog with Syrian men living under the conditions of militarization. Her work explores the ways that labor migration to Qatar, once carried out as a means of earning remittances that would secure the place of senior men in their families and homes, has become a tactic for avoiding conscription in Syria’s civil conflict, one that undermines such claims to secure masculine lives and rewrites men’s patriarchal bargain with the state. The transformation of community mental health in China is addressed in Zhiying Ma’s work. In it, she reveals the “kinship correlates” to a medical model through which modes of paternal authority and maternal compassion—so deeply rooted in Chinese familial structures—are deployed and transformed by the state as it works with (and against) households to manage mental healthcare. Finally, Jessica Mulligan and Emily Brunson consider the potency of resentment as a political affect in the United States. Their telling interviews with working-class individuals in states both red and blue reveal the ways that public policy can directly constitute modes of resentment, as well as how these resentments serve to motivate public policy making. The potency of this structure of feeling will, it seems, be with us for some time.

The photo on the cover of this issue is by Giulia El Dardiry.

Curated Collections

Sovereignty

Sovereignty

After the words “America” and “United States,” President Donald Trump mentioned sovereignty more than any other topic in his speech to the United Nations General... More

Precarity

Precarity

Precarity is an emerging abandonment that pushes us away from a livable life. In a growing body of scholarship centered on social marginalization, the concept of precarity has... More

Reclaiming Hope

Reclaiming Hope

Has hope become a word that betrays you? In an escalating “war on words” (van Eekelen et al. 2004, 1), has hope bulldozed over our dreams? During the 2008 U.S.... More

Everyday Islam

Everyday Islam

This collection gathers five articles previously published in Cultural Anthropology, by Hayder Al-Mohammad, Kenneth George, Naveeda Khan, Arzoo Osanloo, and... More