Vol. 36 No. 2 (2021)
Our second issue of the year offers six original research essays that consider themes both classic and contemporary in our (in)discipline. Heath Pearson’s work offers a deep history of the coercive character of labor in the rural agricultural zones of southern New Jersey, now dominated by the extractive political economy of mass incarceration. But in the face of these overwhelming structures of inequality, he offers us a portrait of men and women forging ways of working with one another to produce value, always precarious and fragmentary, for themselves. Issues of labor figure large in Radhika Govindrajan’s poignant consideration of love within the political and ethical context of India’s state-sanctioned cow-protection policies. Her work shows the gendered character of different registers of love—as devotion, as daily practice, and as grueling labor—in the Himalayas. Govindrajan asks us to consider the love of animals as deeply political, and one that may marginalize as much as it validates. With their ethnography of Buddhist memorial services for pet robots in Japan, Daniel White and Hirofumi Katsuno open a complex discussion into the reflexive understanding of the relationship between life, death, amusement, and play. In proposing “affect as method,” they lay the groundwork for a project that moves beyond essentialized notions of animism to a more dynamic consideration of animacy. Juliane Müller offers an intriguing consideration of the multi-dimensionality of market exchanges in the Andes, and how this contributes to their “efficacy.” Her work in Bolivia shows a critical feature of what seems like corporate-dominated branding, namely, the way that such marks can be taken by customers as expressions of loyalty, not just between consumers and producers, but between the local vendors and their clients who foster longer term relationships. Developing an analytic of “becoming-after,” Townsend Middleton explores what life, livelihoods, and aspirations remain on Darjeeling’s cinchona plantations following the demise of the quinine industry. Uncertain futures, he finds, continue to bind the inhabitants of plantation ruins to its depleted soils and dreams from long-gone days. Finally, the all too timely consideration of the circumstances of families facing detention and separations at the border of Texas and Mexico is explored in Erin Routon’s essay. Her work develops the concept of “legal care,” not only building on the burgeoning literature on care, but revealing its complexity in this context, one fraught with efforts both to legally protect and to legally constrain relationships of all manner.
The photo on the cover of this issue is by Sony.