Vol. 35 No. 2 (2020)
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.