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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, the first of 2021, features six original research essays on a diverse array of themes. Gustav Peebles uses the example of electronic payments in Sweden—particularly the Swish cell phone app that is a pervasive e-currency—to demonstrate how these raise much broader questions of sovereignty and citizenship. His contribution to the anthropology of banking and finance offers an intriguing assessment of the potential and limits of such novel forms of money. In her account of refugee management in Italy, Daniela Giudici examines both the precarious labor of asylum workers as well as the increasing xenophobia of the Italian state to describe a “post-compassion” order of practices. Her essay argues that this order characterizes the nation as victimized, compelling both asylum worker and refugee to demonstrate their “dutiful” participation in the system. Conflicts over sovereignty also emerge in Rebecca Bryant’s account of everyday life in Turkish Cyprus. Her paper examines how Turkish Cypriots enact the features of a state that they also understand as a “pseudo-state”—hence her productive assessment of these everyday gestures as performances in “drag.” Tina Harris offers an innovative perspective on the complex forces that are brought to bear in order to coordinate a global “modernity” in her exploration of the temporal registers of aviation. Through an ethnographic study of air traffic controllers, pilots, and operations staff in Nepal, Harris argues that geographic specificities have temporal implications—not only for the lags and delays that flights to Nepal often entail, but because of the distinctive “local” skills that Nepalese pilots bring to this quintessentially cosmopolitan activity. Kevin P. Donovan reads the historical evidence from a transnational black market in coffee—or magendo—along the Kenyan and Ugandan border through the lens of an anthropology of social reproduction. His discussion of the booming magendo economy in the mid-1970s shows the profound effects that financial arbitrage had on ritual economies, as well as the moral authority of senior men, in the region as well as the Kenyan state. Finally, Stuart Earle Strange offers a distinctive contribution to perspectival approaches in the Caribbean by considering mourning in Ndyuka Maroon communities. Strange’s discussion of the relational expansiveness of Ndyuka understandings of animals and other beings allows him to explore the implications of anthropogenic environmental change.

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