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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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May’s issue opens with #CiteBlackWomen, a searing colloquy in which Anne-Maria B. Makhulu, Christen A. Smith, Faye V. Harrison, Savannah Shange, and Bianca C. Williams analyze the race and gender politics of citation, and further spell out what our discipline stands to gain by correcting the ongoing, systemic invisibilization of Black women anthropologists’ enduring contributions to it. Our first research article by Kenneth McGill uses the case of contemporary German social activism around Basic Income programs to offer an incisive contribution to value theory. His compelling ethnographic account demonstrates how a focus on labor as the foundation of value disables our capacity both for analysis and for political action. The protests McGill describes reveal these limitations and suggest the prospect of alternatives social orders, as well. With “Life in Traffic: Riddling Field Notes on the Political Economy of ‘Sex’ and Nature” Ruth Goldstein offers a powerful ethnographic critique of life along Latin America’s Interoceanic Highway. It is a timely intervention into the anthropology of extractive economies and the ethnography of commodified bodies and labor. Benjamin Fogarty-Valenzuela looks at new regimes of discipline in contemporary Brazil. His essay builds on the literature on the war on drugs in order to argue that, in fact, underneath the surface of regimes of global prohibition rests a larger moral and pedagogical project that shapes aspirations and habits. Lori Khatchadourian deftly describes the creative, improvisational efforts of older Armenians who manage to make a life and a living “out of time”—a “life extempore”—by either recognizing or resisting the immediate return of salvage value from the detritus of Soviet industry strewn about the Armenian countryside. As is now underscored by Russia’s war on Ukraine, the stakes of her interlocutors’ “trials of ruination” remain open-ended, with hopefulness and despair equally in view. In a provocative article, Petra Tjitske Kalshoven considers the social contexts and consequences of nuclear decommissioning. Building on the metaphor of whale fall, Kalshoven’s ethnography explores a community’s struggles to imagine and construct a future free of nuclear dependency.  

The photo on the cover of this issue is by Lori Khatchadourian.

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 Assembly... 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

Affect, Embodiment, and Sense Perception

Affect, Embodiment, and Sense Perception

Recent trends in social theory have placed great importance on affect for both analytic and political reasons, but the term is somewhat vague and ambiguous.... More