“Je suis venu récupérer mon bien”. The ancestors to respect, the anthropology to refound

This paper is one of a series, written in Italian, called “Diary of an Insurrection”, a public dialogue with the reader with which the author reflects upon the global developments of Black Lives Matter. This is the fourth reflection and examines the concept of “original mixedness”, previously defined as the informal potential of the differentiation, …

The time of masks: everyone to themselves and Covid-19 for us all

The title of this paper is borrowed from my sister. During a family conversation about Covid-19 in Bamenda, Cameroon, she used the expression to describe the DIY cynical adaptations to the requirement to wear facemasks in Cameroon, which she described as entertainment. There is a scarcity of surgical masks because of border closures and strict …

Snake Oil: A Memoir on the Rise of ‘Trafficking’

When future historians try to understand what ‘trafficking’ meant in the first 20 years of the 21st century, I hope this essay of mine gives them pause. This is a memoir recording how my questions about migration from 25 years ago coincided with the rise of a thing called trafficking as a major social issue. Snake Oil …

The “real” transformation of migrant smuggling in the time of COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, allegations of migrant smuggling networks evolving, changing, and undergoing drastic transformations as a result of the pandemic are starting to emerge. Claims of this kind are not new. In fact, assertions of smuggling undergoing Darwinian transformations tend to follow the aftermath of border closures, ramped-up immigration enforcement …

Harmony ideology at The Hague: Myanmar before the International Court of Justice

In what ways can Laura Nader’s concept of “harmony ideology” (1990) help us shed light on an ongoing international legal dispute over genocide accusations? In her village ethnography from rural southern Mexico of the 1960s, Nader demonstrated that Talean Zapotec judges were “active in articulating a harmony model for dispute resolution” in order to prevent …

Turkey’s Predatory Politics

Like the concept of ‘terrorism,’ now notions and strategies of ‘safe zone’ or ‘security zone’ are shaping the colonialist state’s expansionist wishes and international illegitimate actions. Today, powerful nation states, such as the USA against Mexico, India against Kashmir, Europe against North Africa, Saudi Arabia against Yemen, Russia against Ukraine and China against Uygur, continue …

Public Anthropology in Changing Times

Public anthropology, a term initially coined by Robert Borofsky for a book series at the University of California Press, became popular in the late 1990s. Ithas been both endorsed and criticized. Endorsements have emphasized the need for a shift in scholarly attitude toward society at large, while criticism has pointed out the potential overlapping with …

Waiting for the Smuggler: Tales Across the Border

In September 2015, the image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying on a beach after drowning while trying to reach Greece from Turkey sent waves of  indignation around the world. A few weeks later, equal moral outrage was generated by the suspicions that Abdullah Kurdi, Alan’s father, could have been one of the smugglers who that …