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Both on the continent and off, “Africa” is spoken of in terms of crisis: as a place of failure and seemingly insurmountable problems, as a moral challenge to the international community. What, though, is really at stake in discussions about Africa, its problems, and its place in the world? And what should be the response of those scholars who have sought to understand not the “Africa” portrayed in broad strokes in journalistic accounts and policy papers but rather specific places and social realities within Africa?

In Global Shadows the renowned anthropologist James Ferguson moves beyond the traditional anthropological focus on local communities to explore more general questions about Africa and its place in the contemporary world. Ferguson develops his argument through a series of provocative essays which open—as he shows they must—into interrogations of globalization, modernity, worldwide inequality, and social justice. He maintains that Africans in a variety of social and geographical locations increasingly seek to make claims of membership within a global community, claims that contest the marginalization that has so far been the principal fruit of “globalization” for Africa. Ferguson contends that such claims demand new understandings of the global, centered less on transnational flows and images of unfettered connection than on the social relations that selectively constitute global society and on the rights and obligations that characterize it.

Ferguson points out that anthropologists and others who have refused the category of Africa as empirically problematic have, in their devotion to particularity, allowed themselves to remain bystanders in the broader conversations about Africa. In Global Shadows, he urges fellow scholars into the arena, encouraging them to find a way to speak beyond the academy about Africa’s position within an egregiously imbalanced world order.

Anthropology has traditionally relied on a spatially localized society or culture as its object of study. The essays in Culture, Power, Place demonstrate how in recent years this anthropological convention and its attendant assumptions about identity and cultural difference have undergone a series of important challenges. In light of increasing mass migration and the transnational cultural flows of a late capitalist, postcolonial world, the contributors to this volume examine shifts in anthropological thought regarding issues of identity, place, power, and resistance.
This collection of both new and well-known essays begins by critically exploring the concepts of locality and community; first, as they have had an impact on contemporary global understandings of displacement and mobility, and, second, as they have had a part in defining identity and subjectivity itself. With sites of discussion ranging from a democratic Spain to a Puerto Rican barrio in North Philadelphia, from Burundian Hutu refugees in Tanzania to Asian landscapes in rural California, from the silk factories of Hangzhou to the long-sought-after home of the Palestinians, these essays examine the interplay between changing schemes of categorization and the discourses of difference on which these concepts are based. The effect of the placeless mass media on our understanding of place—and the forces that make certain identities viable in the world and others not—are also discussed, as are the intertwining of place-making, identity, and resistance as they interact with the meaning and consumption of signs. Finally, this volume offers a self-reflective look at the social and political location of anthropologists in relation to the questions of culture, power, and place—the effect of their participation in what was once seen as their descriptions of these constructions. Contesting the classical idea of culture as the shared, the agreed upon, and the orderly, Culture, Power, Place is an important intervention in the disciplines of anthropology and cultural studies.

Contributors. George E. Bisharat, John Borneman, Rosemary J. Coombe, Mary M. Crain, James Ferguson, Akhil Gupta, Kristin Koptiuch, Karen Leonard, Richard Maddox, Lisa H. Malkki, John Durham Peters, Lisa Rofel

This book provides a timely analysis of the politics, philosophy, and history of Chinese power, focusing on social, strategic, and diplomatic trends that have shaped China for over three thousand years. Chinese elites have used the past to inform the present, but have also mobilized new ideas to address the country’s rapid transition to global power. China’s intellectual world can draw on a surprisingly pluralist legacy. When Chinese thinkers assess “power,” they bring to bear their classical legacy, the military classics, Chinese socialism, and Western political thought. There are also a number of intriguing formulations that give shape to the exercise of Chinese power. Among these are comprehensive national strength, stability preservation, soft power, asymmetric conflict, and counter-intervention strategies. This book looks at key periods in Chinese history when attitudes to power evolved and at their current expressions. These include China’s expanded use of think tanks to chart the future, efforts at creating an eco-civilization to balance growth, and an extended set of security and information capabilities. From observing the centrality of power in today’s international affairs, the book moves to the foundational concepts of Chinese governance: its belief in a strategic configuration of power—as understood in military contexts—as well as its growing diplomatic and maritime engagement abroad. This analysis culminates in new ideas of functional multipolarity. Power is also deployed internally: China’s use of nationalism as a major tool for state-building and cohesion, the ongoing role of socialism, and the People’s Liberation Army are all examined in this light. China’s current strategic culture has shaped President Xi Jinping’s search for a new model of power for China in the twenty-first century, an endeavor that will have serious implications for the future global order. This book provides an alternative perspective on China’s trajectory towards a revised international system.
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