I am supposed to be finishing a full draft of my manuscript, The Fever Archive, a book about the West African Ebola outbreak, right now. My ambitious plan was to submit it to the press by May 1, but that is looking unlikely. It's fine. We are living under conditions of exception. Any attempt to... Continue Reading →
In a recent article, Alison Howell asks us to rethink militarization as a useful descriptor or analytic of contemporary politics. Specifically, Howell suggests that “it is not that ‘war’ is encroaching on ‘peace,’ and it is not that ‘the military’ is trespassing on the ‘civilian.’ Rather, ‘martial politics’ are fundamental to the constitution and continued... Continue Reading →
I did not start out thinking that these cases shared any close connection, or demonstrated any meaningful pattern. Even as they were housed in the same building. Even as these connections were loosely stitched together for me in my first conversation with the curator. But a few things happened that made it difficult for me... Continue Reading →
My latest piece on aid, suspicion and evacuation in a time of Ebola has been posted in Dissent Magazine's blog.
I’m trying not to make my commentary about the current Ebola outbreak about representation, but I’ve been a bit troubled by the political analyses accompanying the epidemiological and health systems ones. Specifically, I want to talk a bit about how Liberia’s and Sierra Leone’s civil wars have been deployed by these analysts to understand the response... Continue Reading →
How powerful is a number? I’ve been writing about the politics and techniques of enumeration for some time now and continue to delve into how the global health and development industries use numbers to advance and justify their work. I am also interested in how people interpret and use various estimates to communicate value(s) and... Continue Reading →
Last week in my anthropology and global social problems class, students learned about bureaucracy and how anthropologists engage with the concept. We read the introduction to Hummel's famous book on The Bureaucratic Experience, which is a pretty good primer on how bureaucracy transforms social action, human relations, and bureaucrats themselves. We started class with this... Continue Reading →
Sarah Kendzior, in a recent opinion piece on Al Jazeera, compares the aftermath of President McKinley's assassination by a Polish-American to that of last week's Boston Marathon bombings. In the piece, she argues that Chechen ethnicity became demonized (and criminalized). She writes: Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs' motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore... Continue Reading →
more on the politics of representation in relation to childhood in Africa.
In 1995 Dorling Kinderlsey published a book, Children Just Like Us, sponsored by UNICEF, which brought pictures of children from “all over the world” into its pages, complete with facts and apparently direct quotations from the children (who all seem to speak perfect English). The book feels friendly, ecumenical: children certainly have some funny habits and names, but underneath, of course, they are all alike! What effects do these kind of books, which make faraway places and different cultures specularly available to middle-class children, have on the young minds who read them. Do they inform a harmlessly cosmopolitan, global outlook? Or ambitions to travel, to see and know the world as benevolently different as it was promised? Is there another perspective hidden within, which involves a dangerous sense of moral and intellectual superiority? The cause of these thoughts are a photo-series of children with their toys, by an Italian…
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