American Ethnologist

Cover image for Vol. 41 Issue 3

August 2014

Volume 41, Issue 3

Pages 405–616

  1. Ukraine Crisis: Forum

    1. Top of page
    2. Ukraine Crisis: Forum
    3. Research Articles
    4. Ethnography at Its Edges
    5. Book Reviews
    1. “Fraternal” nations and challenges to sovereignty in Ukraine: The politics of linguistic and religious ties (pages 427–439)

      CATHERINE WANNER

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12097

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Vladimir Putin's recent assertions that Russian “compatriots” were suffering in Ukraine contributed to a rapid escalation of instability and violence in this borderland country that defines the margins of Europe and the edge of Eurasia. After 23 years of independence, Ukraine retains significant regional diversity and strong local identities. At the same time, social differences understood in terms of ethnicity, language choice, and religious affiliation have become less defined, as Ukrainians have embraced fluid linguistic and religious practices that defy easy characterization. On the basis of long-term fieldwork in Ukraine, I argue that “non-accommodating bilingualism” and “ambient faith” characterize everyday linguistic and religious practices in this postcolonial, post-Soviet-socialist space. This flexibility is adaptive domestically. Paradoxically, it contributes to the vulnerability of Ukrainian sovereignty when polarizing, politicized categories based on supposedly identifiable cultural attributes inject a spurious precision into everyday practices with the aim of redefining state sovereignty.

  2. Research Articles

    1. Top of page
    2. Ukraine Crisis: Forum
    3. Research Articles
    4. Ethnography at Its Edges
    5. Book Reviews
    1. Ontological anthropology and the deferral of critique (pages 440–456)

      LUCAS BESSIRE and DAVID BOND

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12083

    2. Beyond compassion: Islamic voluntarism in Egypt (pages 518–531)

      AMIRA MITTERMAIER

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12092

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Resala, Egypt's largest volunteer-driven charity organization, engages in a range of activities, from distributing food in slums to visiting orphanages. Although its volunteers may appear to participate in a global moral economy of compassion, many of them articulate an Islamic voluntarism that contrasts with what they see as a Christian approach to suffering and with the more secular motivations of so much civic and humanitarian work today. Focusing on three Resala volunteers, I look at how Islam is imagined and mobilized to compel, make sense of, and justify giving in particular contexts and in practice. The volunteers’ stories reveal the multilayeredness of their ethics and trouble the link between compassion and voluntarism. By foregrounding religious duty, the volunteers offer insight into a nonliberal, nonhumanist ethics of voluntarism and question the centrality of compassion as a mobilizing force in the world and as an explanatory force in anthropology.

    3. Cutting bella figura: Irony, crisis, and secondhand clothes in South Italy (pages 532–546)

      STAVROULA PIPYROU

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12098

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Ravaged by financial austerity, people in Reggio Calabria, South Italy, are deeply concerned about their ability to maintain a bella figura (beautiful appearance). The introduction of secondhand clothes markets in 2010 was met with high emotions, bringing to the surface anxieties about the smothering social pressures to display a certain appearance and status in public. In troublesome encounters with secondhand clothes donated from northern Europe, actors adopt an ironic outlook, oscillating between fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, such as bella figura and secondhand citizenship, that conflate global flows of charity with colonization. Secondhand clothes are a possible solution to maintaining bella figura but only by means of delicate waste management.

    4. The strength of badenya ties: Siblings and social security in old age—the case of urban Burkina Faso (pages 547–562)

      CLAUDIA ROTH

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12094

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      In urban Burkina Faso, siblings play a decisive role in local social security. Badenya, the unity of children of the same mother, compensates in particular for the economic failure of an eldest son no longer in a position to fulfill his familial duties. Although the institution of badenya is strengthened as it increasingly comes into play to help a family avoid social marginalization, it is also overburdened, which makes its future uncertain. This article enhances the anthropological understanding of kinship by focusing on sibling relationships. Findings are based on interviews conducted between 2007 and 2010 with two generations in households in Bobo-Dioulasso and on participant-observation over the course of more than a dozen research stays since 1989.

    5. The social unit of debt: Gender and creditworthiness in Paraguayan microfinance (pages 563–578)

      CAROLINE E. SCHUSTER

      Version of Record online: 14 AUG 2014 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12095

      Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

      Paraguayan microcredit poverty-alleviation programs are built around instrumentalizing women's economic ties through group-based loans guaranteed by no more than the promise of women's solidarity and joint liability for their collective loan repayment. I track the production and regulation of the social unit of borrowing in different aspects of microcredit, drawing on examples of individual loans, loans to “committees of women entrepreneurs,” credit scores, and a short-lived program of “men's committees.” I illustrate how the institutionalized management of creditworthiness actually produces the very flexible and relational feminized borrowers to which microcredit initiatives seek to appeal and, in so doing, creates certain kinds of gendered sociality by enacting and embodying different social units of debt.

  3. Ethnography at Its Edges

    1. Top of page
    2. Ukraine Crisis: Forum
    3. Research Articles
    4. Ethnography at Its Edges
    5. Book Reviews
  4. Book Reviews

    1. Top of page
    2. Ukraine Crisis: Forum
    3. Research Articles
    4. Ethnography at Its Edges
    5. Book Reviews

SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION