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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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Cover of the November 2019 issue, featuring an abandoned sugar factory office in Libertad, Belize.

The November 2019 issue of Cultural Anthropology features five original research articles. Amy Moran-Thomas’s discussion of the devastating effects of diabetes in Belize offers a powerful perspective from which to question one of the fundamental categories of biomedicine: communicable disease.  Weaving together Belizean understandings of the transmissibility of illness with donor and public health discourses of disease, Moran-Thomas crafts an argument that reimagines the connections between the Caribbean and related regions through an understanding of the historical processes that have created these “localities.”  The work of tamper-proof seals is at the center of Anna Weichselbraun’s ethnography of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its efforts to make visible compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970. New understandings of national security, of trust and verification, open up in this creative exploration of the particularity of material, semiotic infrastructures. Kathryn A. Mariner brings a new perspective to questions of kinship and documentation with her provocative engagement with the paperwork practices of an American adoption agency. In this thoughtful and nuanced ethnography, Mariner argues that the production and circulation of files profiling “birth parents” and “adoptive families” creates the temporal possibility for new actions and relationships. The problem of populism organizes Bo Kyeong Seo’s subtle and compelling ethnography of Thailand’s Red Shirt Movement. Deftly exploring complex engagements that problematize the distinction between populism and democracy, Seo draws attention to the new subjectivities and forms of politics that emerge at the level of everyday life. Meghan L. Morris’s paper develops a detailed ethnographic perspective on peace and reconciliation in Colombia’s protracted civil conflict. She focuses, in particular, on the importance of land to this process, and demonstrates how claims to title and restitution are being used by residents of Urabá to anticipate future political and legal arrangements.  Such speculation provides a range of insights for an anthropology of time.

The photo on the cover of this issue is by Amy Moran-Thomas.

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