Occupy Anthropology

The May issue of American Ethnologist includes essays that the journal’s editor says are among the first detailed ethnographic analyses to be published on the Occupy movements. And in the spirit of the 99%, AE  has made its two Occupy articles and a related commentary piece free to non-subscribers for the duration of 2012.

“The politically emergent—how to interpret and write about it—is an explicit theme of the Occupy articles,” writes editor Angelique Haugerud. “A participant-observer who writes about Occupy plunges into disciplinary dilemmas of ethnographic voice, engagement, and collaborative knowledge production.”

First to take that plunge are Maple Razsa and Andrej Kurnik, authors of “The Occupy Movement in Zizek’s Hometown: Direct Democracy and a Politics of Becoming.” They offer a firsthand look at the movement in Ljubljana, home city of the philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Apparently Slovenian Occupiers were stunned as they watched their native son give an enthusiastic public address to Occupy Wall Street in New York.

Has been known to be grumpy (photo by Mariusz Kubik)

“Activists had not expected Zizek to support OWS because, his international reputation as a radical philosopher notwithstanding, his writings largely dismiss the possibility of political resistance to capitalism,” write Razsa and Kurnik. True to form, the famously grumpy theorist ultimately “dismissed protesters’ pursuit of direct democracy as a ‘dream.’”

Closer to home is Jeffrey S. Juris, whose “Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social Media, Public Space, and Emerging Logics of Aggregation,” draws on his observations of the Boston Occupy encampment on Dewey Square, both pre- and post-eviction.

AE’s third Occupy-related offering is “Democracy, Temporalities of Capitalism, and Dilemmas of Inclusion in Occupy Movements,” by David Nugent, who comments on his colleagues’ essays and muses further on Occupy.

Founded in 1972, American Ethnologist is the flagship journal of the American Ethnological Society, a division of the American Anthropological Association.

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