Against the background of recent methodological debates pitting ethnography against interviewing, this paper offers a defense of the latter and argues for methodological pluralism and pragmatism and against methodological tribalism. Drawing on our own work and on other sources, we discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of interviewing. We argue that concern over whether attitudes correspond to behavior is an overly narrow and misguided question. Instead we offer that we should instead consider what interviewing and other data gathering techniques are best suited for. In our own work, we suggest, we have used somewhat unusual interviewing techniques to reveal how institutional systems and the construction of social categories, boundaries, and status hierarchies organize social experience. We also point to new methodological challenges, particularly concerning the incorporation of historical and institutional dimensions into interview-based studies. We finally describe fruitful directions for future research, which may result in methodological advances while bringing together the strengths of various data collection techniques.
The Rise and Fall of Human Rights provides a groundbreaking ethnographic investigation of the Palestinian human rights world - its NGOs, activists, and "victims," as well as their politics, training, and discourse - since 1979. Though human rights activity began as a means of struggle against the Israeli occupation, in failing to end the Israeli occupation, protect basic human rights, or establish an accountable Palestinian government, the human rights industry has become the object of cynicism for many Palestinians. But far from indicating apathy, such cynicism generates a productive critique of domestic politics and Western interventionism. This book illuminates the successes and failures of Palestinians' varied engagements with human rights in their quest for independence.
Lamont, Michèle, Stefan Beljean, and Matthew Clair. 2014.
This paper provides a framework for understanding the ways in which social processes produce social inequality. Specifically, we focus on a particular type of social process that has received limited attention in the literature and in which inter-subjective meaning-making is central: cultural processes. Much of the literature on inequality has focused on the actions of dominant actors and institutions in gaining access to material and non-material resources, or on how ecological effects cause unequal access to material resources. In contrast, we focus on processes that contribute to the production (and reproduction) of inequality through the routine and taken-for-granted actions of both dominant and subordinate actors. We highlight two types of cultural processes: identification and rationalization. We describe and illustrate four processes that we consider to be significant analytical exemplars of these two types of cultural processes: racialization and stigmatization (for identification) and standardization and evaluation (for rationalization). We argue that attention to such cultural processes is critical and complementary to current explanations of social inequality.
BackgroundWe devised and implemented an innovative Location-Based Household Coding System (LBHCS) appropriate to a densely populated informal settlement in Mumbai, India.
Methods and Findings LBHCS codes were designed to double as unique household identifiers and as walking directions; when an entire community is enumerated, LBHCS codes can be used to identify the number of households located per road (or lane) segment. LBHCS was used in community-wide biometric, mental health, diarrheal disease, and water poverty studies. It also facilitated targeted health interventions by a research team of youth from Mumbai, including intensive door-to-door education of residents, targeted follow-up meetings, and a full census. In addition, LBHCS permitted rapid and low-cost preparation of GIS mapping of all households in the slum, and spatial summation and spatial analysis of survey data.
Conclusion LBHCS was an effective, easy-to-use, affordable approach to household enumeration and re-identification in a densely populated informal settlement where alternative satellite imagery and GPS technologies could not be used.
Is the contemporary Mediterranean zone an urban space? This chapter from the volume Implosions/Explosions reflects on this question through an exploration of recent cartographic evidence compiled from state-of-the-art geospatial datasets created by leading research labs at Columbia University's Earth Institute, the Oak Ridge National Lab, and the European Commission, among others. We begin by considering various representations of concentrated urbanization, with specific reference to traditional indicators such as population (size and density) and the geographical extent of major urban regions. Such representations reveal a thick web of urban development stretching around the Mediterranean zone, albeit mainly in apparently bounded settlement configurations. In a second, more speculative step, we consider several possible representations of extended urbanization, the broad fabric of land uses, infrastructures and sociospatial connectivities that at once facilitate and result from the configuration of dense agglomeration zones. Such maps significantly broaden our understanding of the contemporary urban condition by demonstrating the ways in which the formation of the Mediterranean urban system hinges upon the reorganization of land uses and interspatial connections across the entire continent and beyond. In the early twenty-first century, understanding the “urban” character of the Mediterranean—or any other zone of the earth’s surface—requires not only fine-grained empirical data and cartographic sophistication, but systematic theoretical reflexivity regarding the categories being used to classify sociospatial organization.
Foreboding declarations about contemporary urban trends pervade early twenty-first century academic, political and journalistic discourse. Among the most widely recited is the claim that we now live in an ‘urban age’ because, for the first time in human history, more than half the world’s population today purportedly lives within cities. Across otherwise diverse discursive, ideological and locational contexts, the urban age thesis has become a form of doxic common sense around which questions regarding the contemporary global urban condition are framed. This article argues that, despite its long history and its increasingly widespread influence, the urban age thesis is a flawed basis on which to conceptualize world urbanization patterns: it is empirically untenable (a statistical artifact) and theoretically incoherent (a chaotic conception). This critique is framed against the background of postwar attempts to measure the world’s urban population, the main methodological and theoretical conundrums of which remain fundamentally unresolved in early twenty-first century urban age discourse. The article concludes by outlining a series of methodological perspectives for an alternative understanding of the contemporary global urban condition.
Living in a highly interdependent world is not an option—but at present, being educated to do so competently is. Despite the many courses and initiatives designed to support international and global education in colleges and universities around the country, the undergraduate curriculum as a whole is not adequately preparing most students to be capable global citizens (see Reimers 2013; National Research Council 2007). Lack of serious commitment to designing a curriculum that prioritizes global learning for all undergraduates has on most campuses made global education a peripheral undertaking, limited primarily to those students and faculty specializing in international area studies. Without leadership to make global education more central to the undergraduate curriculum, global learning will become ever more marginal—with compounding consequences for most college graduates, who will be ill-equipped to live as global citizens.
Bringing global education to the core must begin with deliberation among faculty and administrators about the kinds of competencies graduates should be able to demonstrate, and to what purpose. Imagine, for example, a world where all college graduates understand how their lives are influenced by global processes and events, where they have the motivation and capacity to collaborate with others across national boundaries to advance the well-being of humans and the planet.…
An integrated world economy requires cooperation among major economic powers. Without determined cooperation among the principal powers, globalization is unlikely to survive the inevitable shocks to which it is subjected.
The world faces a difficult adjustment to reduce the macroeconomic imbalances that were a major cause of the current crisis. This means reducing the surpluses of the major surplus countries in East Asia and Europe, and reducing the deficits of the major deficit countries in North America and Europe. Both processes require substantial domestic economic changes; economies and people will be tempted to turn inward, and governments will be tempted to reduce the priority they give to their external ties. This increases the risks of a breakdown in international cooperation.
Historical precedent is instructive. During the interwar period, a global macroeconomic imbalance was a major cause of the eventual economic catastrophe. During the 1920s, Germany borrowed heavily from the United States. But when a crisis hit, it turned out that neither country was politically prepared to maintain cooperative policies. Americans, focused on domestic concerns, were unwilling to help work out a cooperative resolution of the crisis. Germany exploded into social and political unrest and ended up in the hands of rabid nationalists and protectionists. The problem was political: a lack of domestic support for the sacrifices necessary to maintain international cooperation.
As the crisis winds down and post-crisis adjustment begins, major governments will be challenged to work together to support a well-functioning international economy. They will need to address the concerns of constituents who will chafe at the economic changes forced upon them. Governments that can build domestic political support for international economic engagement will be in a stronger position to work to sustain an integrated global economy.
Recent decades have seen growing concern about problems of electoral integrity. The most overt malpractices used by rulers include imprisoning dissidents, harassing adversaries, coercing voters, vote-rigging counts, and even blatant disregard for the popular vote. Serious violations of human rights, undermining electoral credibility, are widely condemned by domestic observers and the international community. Recent protests about integrity have mobilized in countries as diverse as Russia, Mexico, and Egypt. Elsewhere minor irregularities are common, exemplified by inaccurate voter registers, maladministration of polling facilities, lack of security in absentee ballots, pro-government media bias, ballot miscounts, and gerrymandering. Long-standing democracies are far from immune to these ills; past problems include the notorious hanging chads in Florida in 2000 and more recent accusations of voter fraud and voter suppression during the Obama-Romney contest.
In response to these developments, there have been growing attempts to analyze flaws in electoral integrity using systematic data from cross-national time-series, forensic analysis, field experiments, case studies, and new instruments monitoring mass and elite perceptions of malpractices. This volume collects essays from international experts who evaluate the robustness, conceptual validity, and reliability of the growing body of evidence. The essays compare alternative approaches and apply these methods to evaluate the quality of elections in several areas, including in the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.
Advancing the Human Right to Health offers a prospective on the global response to one of the greatest moral, legal, and public health challenges of the 21st century - achieving the human right to health as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other legal instruments.
Featuring writings by global thought-leaders in the world of health human rights, the book brings clarity to many of the complex clinical, ethical, economic, legal, and socio-cultural questions raised by injury, disease, and deeper determinants of health, such as poverty. Much more than a primer on the right to health, this book features an examination of profound inequalities in health, which have resulted in millions of people condemned to unnecessary suffering and hastened deaths. In so doing, it provides a thoughtful account of the right to health's parameters, strategies on ways in which to achieve it, and discussion of why it is so essential in a 21st century context.
Country-specific case studies provide context for analysing the right to health and assessing whether, and to what extent, this right has influenced critical decision-making that makes a difference in people's lives. Thematic chapters also look at the specific challenges involved in translating the right to health into action.
Advancing the Human Right to Health highlights the urgency to build upon the progress made in securing the right to health for all, offering a timely reminder that all stakeholders must redouble their efforts to advance the human right to health.
Abrami, Regina, William Kirby, and Warren F McFarlan. 2014.
In this thought-provoking book, noted China experts from Harvard Business School and the Wharton School assert that while China has experienced remarkable economic growth in recent decades (nearly 10 percent for more than thirty years), it now faces major challenges--tests that could shift the country's political and economic trajectory. A lack of accountability, transparency, and ease of operating in China--combined with growing evidence of high-level corruption--has made domestic and foreign businesspeople increasingly wary of the "China model." These issues have deep roots in Chinese history and the country's political system. Regina M. Abrami of the Wharton School and William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan of Harvard Business School contend that the country's dynamic private sector could be a source of sustainable growth, but it is constrained by political favoritism toward state-owned corporations. Disruptive innovation, research, and development are limited by concerns about intellectual property protection. Most significant of all is the question of China's political future: does a system that has overseen dramatic transformations in recent years now have the capacity to transform itself? Based on a new and popular course taught by the authors at Harvard Business School, this book draws on more than thirty Harvard Business School case studies on Chinese and foreign companies doing business in the region, including Sealed Air, China Merchants Bank, China Mobile, Wanxiang Group, Microsoft, UFIDA, and others. "Can China Lead?" asserts that China is at an inflection point that cannot be ignored. An understanding of the forces that continue to shape its business landscape is crucial to establishing--and maintaining--a successful enterprise in China.
Empires at War, 1911-1923 offers a new perspective on the history of the Great War, looking at the war beyond the generally-accepted 1914-1918 timeline, and as a global war between empires, rather than a European war between nation-states.
The volume expands the story of the war both in time and space to include the violent conflicts that preceded and followed World War I, from the 1911 Italian invasion of Libya to the massive violence that followed the collapse of the Ottoman, Russian, and Austrian empires until 1923. It argues that the traditional focus on the period between August 1914 and November 1918 makes more sense for the victorious western front powers (notably Britain and France), than it does for much of central-eastern and south-eastern Europe or for those colonial troops whose demobilization did not begin in November 1918. The paroxysm of 1914-18 has to be seen in the wider context of armed imperial conflict that began in 1911 and did not end until 1923.
If we take the Great War seriously as a world war, we must, a century after the event, adopt a perspective that does justice more fully to the millions of imperial subjects called upon to defend their imperial governments' interest, to theatres of war that lay far beyond Europe including in Asia and Africa and, more generally, to the wartime roles and experiences of innumerable peoples from outside the European continent. Empires at War also tells the story of the broad, global mobilizations that saw African soldiers and Chinese labourers in the trenches of the Western front, Indian troops in Jerusalem, and the Japanese military occupying Chinese territory. Finally, the volume shows how the war set the stage for the collapse not only of specific empires but of the imperial world order.
His Hiding Place is Darkness explores the uncertainties of faith and love in a pluralistic age. In keeping with his conviction that studying multiple religious traditions intensifies rather than attenuates religious devotion, Francis Clooney's latest work of comparative theology seeks a way beyond today's religious and interreligious uncertainty by pairing a fresh reading of the absence of the beloved in the Biblical Song of Songs with a pioneering study of the same theme in the Holy Word of Mouth (9th century CE), a classic of Hindu mystical poetry rarely studied in the West.
Remarkably, the pairing of these texts is grounded not in a general theory of religion, but in an engagement with two unexpected sources: the theopoetics, theodramatics, and theology of the 20th-century Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, and the intensely perceived and written poetry of Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham. How we read and write on religious matters is transformed by this rare combination of voices in what is surely a unique and important contribution to comparative studies and religious hermeneutics.
Miller, Ian Jared, Julia Adeney Thomas, and Brett L Walker, eds. 2014.
Japan at Nature’s Edge is a timely collection of essays that explores the relationship between Japan’s history, culture, and physical environment. It greatly expands the focus of previous work on Japanese modernization by examining Japan’s role in global environmental transformation and how Japanese ideas have shaped bodies and landscapes over the centuries. The immediacy of Earth’s environmental crisis, a predicament highlighted by Japan’s March 2011 disaster, brings a sense of urgency to the study of Japan and its global connections.
The work is an environmental history in the broadest sense of the term because it contains writing by environmental anthropologists, a legendary Japanese economist, and scholars of Japanese literature and culture. The editors have brought together an unparalleled assemblage of some of the finest scholars in the field who, rather than treat it in isolation or as a unique cultural community, seek to connect Japan to global environmental currents such as whaling, world fisheries, mountaineering and science, mining and industrial pollution, and relations with nonhuman animals.
The contributors assert the importance of the environment in understanding Japan’s history and propose a new balance between nature and culture, one weighted much more heavily on the side of natural legacies. This approach does not discount culture. Instead, it suggests that the Japanese experience of nature, like that of all human beings, is a complex and intimate negotiation between the physical and cultural worlds.
Joyriding in Riyadh opens a window onto youth culture, revolt and the attempt to maintain order in the Saudi kingdom, where young men use this modern oil-rich urban setting to express the tensions and test the limits of their society. At once a unique look at youth, the city, and the modern kingdom, Pascal Menoret’s portrait reflects a first-hand encounter with the modern realities, for young men, of a traditional society having been recently transplanted to the urban grid and its automobile.
Thomas Hobbes laid the theoretical groundwork of the nation-state in Leviathan, his tough-minded treatise of 1651. Leviathan 2.0 updates this classic account to explain how modern statehood took shape between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, before it unraveled into the political uncertainty that persists today.
Modern states were far from immune to the modernizing forces of war, technology, and ideology. From 1845 to 1880, the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina were all reconstituted through territorial violence. Europe witnessed the unification of Germany and Italy, while Asian nations such as Japan tried to mitigate foreign incursions through state-building reforms. A global wave of revolution at the turn of the century pushed the modernization process further in China, Russia, Iran, and Ottoman Turkey. By the late 1930s, with the rise of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the momentum of history seemed to shift toward war-glorifying totalitarian states. But several variants of the modern state survived World War II: the welfare states of Western democracies; single-party socialist governments; and governments dominated by the military, especially prevalent in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Toward the end of the twentieth century, all of these forms stood in growing tension with the transformative influences of globalized capitalism. Modern statehood recreated itself in many ways, Charles S. Maier concludes, but finally had to adopt a precarious equilibrium with ever more powerful economic forces.
In Paper Cadavers, an inside account of the astonishing discovery and rescue of Guatemala's secret police archives, Kirsten Weld probes the politics of memory, the wages of the Cold War, and the stakes of historical knowledge production. After Guatemala's bloody thirty-six years of civil war (1960–1996), silence and impunity reigned. That is, until 2005, when human rights investigators stumbled on the archives of the country's National Police, which, at 75 million pages, proved to be the largest trove of secret state records ever found in Latin America.
The unearthing of the archives renewed fierce debates about history, memory, and justice. In Paper Cadavers, Weld explores Guatemala's struggles to manage this avalanche of evidence of past war crimes, providing a firsthand look at how postwar justice activists worked to reconfigure terror archives into implements of social change. Tracing the history of the police files as they were transformed from weapons of counterinsurgency into tools for post-conflict reckoning, Weld sheds light on the country's fraught transition from war to an uneasy peace, reflecting on how societies forget and remember political violence.
Religious Bodies Politic examines the complex relationship between transnational religion and politics through the lens of one cosmopolitan community in Siberia: Buryats, who live in a semiautonomous republic within Russia with a large Buddhist population. Looking at religious transformation among Buryats across changing political economies, Anya Bernstein argues that under conditions of rapid social change—such as those that accompanied the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and the fall of the Soviet Union—Buryats have used Buddhist “body politics” to articulate their relationship not only with the Russian state, but also with the larger Buddhist world.
It is widely known that such Western institutions as the museum, the university, and the penitentiary shaped Japan’s emergence as a modern nation-state. Less commonly recognized is the role played by the distinctly hybrid institution—at once museum, laboratory, and prison—of the zoological garden. In this eye-opening study of Japan’s first modern zoo, Tokyo’s Ueno Imperial Zoological Gardens, opened in 1882, Ian Jared Miller offers a refreshingly unconventional narrative of Japan’s rapid modernization and changing relationship with the natural world. As the first zoological garden in the world not built under the sway of a Western imperial regime, the Ueno Zoo served not only as a staple attraction in the nation’s capital—an institutional marker of national accomplishment—but also as a site for the propagation of a new “natural” order that was scientifically verifiable and evolutionarily foreordained. As the Japanese empire grew, Ueno became one of the primary sites of imperialist spectacle, a microcosm of the empire that could be traveled in the course of a single day. The meaning of the zoo would change over the course of Imperial Japan’s unraveling and subsequent Allied occupation. Today it remains one of Japan’s most frequently visited places. But instead of empire in its classic political sense, it now bespeaks the ambivalent dominion of the human species over the natural environment, harkening back to its imperial roots even as it asks us to question our exploitation of the planet’s resources.