This is my Xenophilia blog where I post various occasional writings as well as links to my publications, and by invitation to current projects. Many of the older posts have been lost and the posts I am reposting are not necessarily in the order they were written. Hopefully, going forward from June 2015 this will be resolved.
The links at the top of the page can be used to navigate to my biography page and to various current projects.
If you are looking for my academic writing, try academic.edu. In the future I will add additional links to ongoing projects, e.g. my work on stand-up comedy and masculinity, as it becomes more developed and interesting.
The fantasy of efficacious violence haunts both super hero stories and the equally fantastic—though far more harmful—stories we tell ourselves about about “smart bombs” and “precision guided munitions,” and military intervention on the side of what is right or just or humane. The comics, and the movies that derive from them, have an edge on reality in that no one actually has to suffer and die for them—and in that there is at least the possibility, however rare, of some narratively central reflection on the fantasy structure. In national war narratives this is mostly left to marginalized opposition groups and political gadflies.
In spite of the bad reviews, as a life-long geek I enjoyed Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This doesn’t make the politics underlying any less fraught.
Recently (March 11, 2016) the New York Times published an Op-Ed by novelist Aatish Taseer (“My Father’s Killer’s Funeral”), son of Salmaan Taseer, the former governor of the Pakistani Punjab who was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in the early days of 2011.
Some New Year’s thoughts on popular support for militarism in the United States.
Herein I want to think not individual evil (or sociopathic self-aggrandizement), but the consequences of collective violence as implemented in and through state policy. The occasion for this is the new year, though in truth I’ve been looking for an excuse to publish a blog post on the topic. More specifically I want to look at a year end commentary on the Foreign Policy site (http://foreignpolicy.com/), “The GOP Plan to Bring Back a Unipolar World” by Gordon Adams and Richard Sokolsky (December 30, 2015), and read it in tandem with Jonathan Waverley’s important—though deeply flawed—book Democratic Militarism: Voting, Wealth, and War (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
I am writing this, mostly, in response to Yarimar Bonilla and Jonathan Rosa’s article “#Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States.” Published in the Vol. 42, Iss. 1 (February 2015) of American Ethnologist, I only just got round to reading it. Given my interests in the concurrent militarization and “prisonization” of American life, with an ongoing racialized basis, this is unfortunate. Bonilla and Rosa’s article is an important point of departure, even though I find it deeply unsatisfying.
The good people at the Open Anthropology Collective (OAC) have produced a new volume of essays titled Emancipatory Politics: A Critique (available here with a Creative Commons license: Emancipatory Politics), edited by LSE anthropologists Stephan Feuchtwang and Alpa Shah.
The experience of organizing and chairing a panel for the American Anthropological Association meetings this year (Denver 2015) made me realize that all of the mediocre experiences I have had on “residual” panels, where I submitted a paper to the AAA and they lumped me either with a partial panel, or with others doing supposedly related work, were the result of this less than cohesive process.
My sabbatical semester-or the functional equivalent, a competitively-awarded research semester-is coming rapidly to a close. In a few days I will leave behind my laptop desk and comfortable chair at Garner Narrative in Louisville, Kentucky for a short visit with my family in (the vicinity of) Portland, Oregon and then return to a hectic teaching schedule in Abu Dhabi. Continue reading Forever War, The – Revisiting→
David Nather at Politico has written a nice polemic (” Drones: Tough Talk, Little Scrutiny “) taking American lawmakers to task for posturing and hot air–at best–in response the current moment of awareness regarding drone warfare, indicting them with their own words. Continue reading Droning→
Biocultural approaches to the study of human behavior, institutions, and circumstances promise to be among the most powerful tools ever developed. But as the technology for gene sequencing has thus far vastly outstripped the interpretive science of meaningfully mapping genes to human scale outcomes, there is a lot of over-reaching. Continue reading Bad Science→