Wherever we turn, we see diverse things scaled for us, from cities to economies, from history to love. We know scale by many names and through many familiar antinomies: local and global, micro and macro events. Even the most critical among us often proceed with our analysis as if such scales were the ready-made platforms of social life, rather than asking how, why, and to what effect are scalar distinctions forged in the first place.
How do scalar distinctions help actors and analysts alike make sense of and navigate their social worlds? What do these distinctions reveal and what do they conceal? How are scales construed and what effects do they have on the way those who abide by them think and act? This pathbreaking volume attends to the practical labor of scale-making and the communicative practices this labor requires. From an ethnographic perspective, the authors demonstrate that scale is practice and process before it becomes product, whether in the work of projecting the commons, claiming access to the big picture, or scaling the seriousness of a crime.
“How shall we fathom the world, bringing its varied scales into analytic perspective? The authors collected in this bold and subtle volume slow down the question, arguing that ‘scale’ is made, not born, and that ‘perspectives’ are semiotic accomplishments and not stable points of anchor.” STEFAN HELMREICH, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology, MIT
“Scale will be a fundamental book for thinking about scalar processes. . . . Its engaging, readable chapters offer a range of theoretical considerations of how scales arise and work in a variety of social settings.” ROBERT OPPENHEIM, author of Kyongju Things: Assembling Place
“This highly original volume sheds new light on language and scale. . . . The authors show how the scalar aspects of language and the linguistic dimensions of scale work together to produce the social logic of extent.” ARJUN APPADURAI, Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University
Who are the dominant owners of US public debt? Is it widely held, or concentrated in the hands of a few? Does ownership of public debt give these bondholders power over our government? What do we make of the fact that foreign-owned debt has ballooned to nearly 50 percent today? Until now, we have not had any satisfactory answers to these questions. Public Debt, Inequality, and Power is the first comprehensive historical analysis of public debt ownership in the United States. It reveals that ownership of federal bonds has been increasingly concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent over the past three decades. Based on extensive and original research, Public Debt, Inequality, and Power will shock and enlighten.
“These days, the topic of America’s debt stirs heated political debate. But one of the most important facts in this discussion has hitherto been obscured: who actually owns that debt inside America? Hager has done some fascinating and pathbreaking research to answer that question and concluded that the ownership pattern is surprisingly concentrated—and unequal—and that this may have implications for how the entire debt debate develops in the coming years. This is an illuminating work that deserves wide attention.” GILLIAN TETT, Financial Times
“The relationship between the ownership structure of government debt and economic inequality—between public finance and the class structure of modern capitalism—is one of several central concerns of political economy that has been almost completely neglected in recent decades. Sandy Brian Hager’s book returns to the subject with theoretical and empirical bravado.” WOLFGANG STREECK, Director Emeritus, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
“Money is power, and US Treasury debt is the world’s single largest financial instrument. Hager’s insightful book fills an enormous hole in our knowledge of who owns this debt and how the power flowing from that increasingly concentrated ownership affects US and global politics.” HERMAN M. SCHWARTZ, author of Subprime Nation: American Power, Global Capital, and the Housing Bubble
What is the role of the material world in shaping the tensions and paradoxes of imperial sovereignty? Scholars have long shone light on the complex processes of conquest, extraction, and colonialism under imperial rule. But imperialism has usually been cast as an exclusively human drama, one in which the world of matter does not play an active role. Lori Khatchadourian argues instead that things—from everyday objects to monumental buildings—profoundly shape social and political life under empire. Based on the archaeology of ancient Persia and the South Caucasus, Imperial Matter advances powerful new analytical approaches to the study of imperialism writ large and should be read by scholars of empire across the humanities and social sciences.
“This book makes an important contribution in two areas: the first concerns the nature of empire and imperial power; the second is through developing a novel framework for thinking about material culture and empire. This is a work of innovative theory and empirical depth, and there is nothing like it out there.” CHRIS GOSDEN, Professor of Archaeology, Oxford University
“Important, well-written, and elegantly crafted. Lori Khatchadourian’s ability to speak to a diverse audience of anthropologists, archaeologists, and specialists on the Achaemenid Empire demonstrates her impressive intellectual breadth and depth. This is a sophisticated and erudite work.” CARLA SINOPOLI, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Museum Studies Program, University of Michigan
With Mexico’s War on Crime as the backdrop, Making Things Stick offers an innovative analysis of how surveillance technologies impact governance in the global society. More than just tools to monitor ordinary people, surveillance technologies are imagined by government officials as a way to reform the national state by focusing on the material things—cellular phones, automobiles, human bodies—that can enable crime. In describing the challenges that the Mexican government has encountered in implementing this novel approach to social control, Keith Guzik presents surveillance technologies as a sign of state weakness rather than strength and as an opportunity for civic engagement rather than retreat.
“This book rethinks the idea of surveillance. Surveillance technologies are elements in an assemblage of other objects and people, so their materiality matters for how we understand surveillance and power. I very much welcome the focus on the relationships between technologies, authorities, and those who are governed within their purview.” LOUISE AMOORE, author of The Politics of Possibility, Professor of Human Geography, Durham University
“We live in an era of intense state surveillance and in a moment when we are both aware of the general outlines of the surveillance state and, yet, still mostly uncertain about how to think about what surveillance is. For readers anxious to put the surveillance state in a broader global and conceptual framework, it will be a must-read.” TOBY JONES, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University
“This is a very interesting work, filled with insight and built on solid empirical research. It shows a deep understanding of the role of surveillance in modern societies and, within that larger aim, focuses on creative and compelling ways in the case of Mexico.” DIANE E. DAVIS, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, Harvard University
How do the United States and France differ in laws and attitudes concerning discrimination at work? Franco-American scholar Marie Mercat-Bruns interviews prominent legal scholars to demonstrate how these two post-industrial democracies have adopted divergent strategies. Whereas employers in the United States and France rarely discriminate openly, deep systemic discrimination exists in both countries, each with a unique history of dealing with difference. Powerful and incisive, the book examines hot-button issues such as racial and religious bias, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and equality for LGBT individuals, highlighting comparisons that will further discussions on social equality and fundamental human rights across borders.
“Mercat-Bruns makes original use of comparative law to shed new light on the issue of discrimination at work. In addition to reviewing the literature, she enters into a rich dialogue with American experts about their core findings. This book makes a fascinating and useful contribution to one of today’s most pressing issues.” ANTOINE GARAPON, Secretary General, Director of the Comparative Law Program, Institut des Hautes Etudes sur la Justice (IHEJ
“A very interesting and innovative approach to examining nondiscrimination law.” LISA WADDINGTON, Professor of International and European Law, Maastricht University
“A dialogue among America’s most prominent contemporary theorists of discrimination, Discrimination at Work comprises a series of pluralistic, audacious, and critically considered reflections on discrimination in the workplace.” ANTOINE LYON-CAEN, President of the International Institute for Comparative Studies (IIPEC), Professor Emeritus of French Labor Law, Paris West University Nanterre La Défense
Precarious Creativity examines the seismic changes confronting media workers in an age of globalization and corporate conglomeration. This pathbreaking anthology peeks behind the hype and supposed glamor of screen media industries to reveal the intensifying pressures and challenges workers face. The authors take on crucial issues and provide insightful case studies of workplace dynamics regarding creativity, collaboration, exploitation, and cultural difference. Furthermore, they investigate working conditions and organizing efforts on all six continents, offering comprehensive analysis of contemporary screen media labor in places such as Lagos, Prague, Hollywood, and Hyderabad, across a range of job categories that includes visual effects, production services, and adult entertainment. With contributions from John Caldwell, Vicki Mayer, Herman Gray, Tejaswini Ganti, and others, this collection offers timely critiques of media globalization and broader debates about labor, creativity, and precarity.
“Every case study is an eye-opener, and no other book comes close in assessing the plight of creative workers in the era of global conglomerate Hollywood.” THOMAS SCHATZ, University of Texas at Austin
“A corrective to previous, U.S.-centric attempts to understand the global media economy by offering a bracing look at the dark underbelly of life for most media workers today.” DENISE MANN, University of California, Los Angeles
“A balanced and comprehensive portrayal of the reshaping of the contours of work and industry organization under the twin circumstances of digital disruption and a globalizing media system.” TOM O’REGAN, The University of Queensland
The Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria are exceptional for the copresence among them of three religious traditions: Islam, Christianity, and the indigenous oriṣa religion. In this comparative study, at once historical and anthropological, Peel explores the intertwined character of the three religions and the dense imbrication of religion in all aspects of Yoruba history up to the present. For over 400 years, the Yoruba have straddled two geocultural spheres: one reaching north over the Sahara to the world of Islam, the other linking them to the Euro-American world via the Atlantic. These two external spheres were the source of contrasting cultural influences, notably those emanating from the world religions. However, the Yoruba not only imported Islam and Christianity but also exported their own oriṣa religion to the New World. Before the voluntary modern diaspora that has brought many Yoruba to Europe and the Americas, tens of thousands were sold as slaves in the New World, bringing with them the worship of the oriṣa.
Peel offers deep insight into important contemporary themes such as religious conversion, new religious movements, relations between world religions, the conditions of religious violence, the transnational flows of contemporary religion, and the interplay between tradition and the demands of an ever-changing present. In the process, he makes a major theoretical contribution to the anthropology of world religions.
“A rigorous analysis of the social character of religion in light of historical changes and enduring cultural practices . . . lucid and probing, a work of real skill and erudition, and a critical standard of scholarship.” LAMIN SANNEH, Yale Divinity School
“[This book] is a revivifying shot in the arm for comparatism and an invitation to think afresh about the relations between Christianity, Islam and oriṣa religion both within Nigeria and in the wider world.” KARIN BARBER, University of Birmingham
“This great book restores value and merit both to comparative methodology and the historical approach, while uncompromisingly affirming the centrality of religion to all aspects of society.” TOYIN FALOLA, University of Texas at Austin
J.D.Y. Peel (1941–2015) died shortly before this book went to press. He was Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Sociology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. This is his last major work.
Imperial Genus begins with the turn to world culture and ideas of the generally human in Japan’s cultural policy in Korea in 1919. How were concepts of the human’s genus‑being operative in the discourses of the Japanese empire? How did they inform the imagination and representation of modernity in colonial Korea? Travis Workman delves into these questions through texts in philosophy, literature, and social science.
Imperial Genus focuses on how notions of human generality mediated uncertainty between the transcendental and the empirical, the universal and the particular, and empire and colony. It shows how cosmopolitan cultural principles, the proletarian arts, and Pan‑Asian imperial nationalism converged with practices of colonial governmentality. It is a genealogy of the various articulations of the human’s genus‑being within modern humanist thinking in East Asia, as well as an exploration of the limits of the human as both concept and historical figure.
“Imperial Genus is an expansive and erudite study of Culturalism, Marxism, and Japanophone discourses across colonial Korea and imperial Japan. Nothing exists in Korean Studies that is remotely close to the breadth and depth of the scholarship and theoretical sophistication in Travis Workman’s book. It offers three related investigations: the philosophical substrata of modern thought and culture in the colony and Japan proper, their ideological underpinnings and implications, and a thorough reinterpretation of the colonial Korean literary canon from these perspectives.” JIN‑KYUNG LEE, author of Service Economies: Militarism, Sex Work, and Migrant Labor in South Korea
“Travis Workman’s compelling arguments take as their point of departure the notion of genus‑being. Workman dispenses once and for all with the colonizer/colonized binary, demonstrating brilliantly how intellectuals associated with different movements in both Japan and Korea grapple with the meaning of the human itself as they attempt to think through capitalist modernity.” THEODORE HUGHES, author of Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom’s Frontier
Player pianos, radio-electric circuits, gramophone records, and optical sound film—these were the cutting-edge acoustic technologies of the early twentieth century, and for many musicians and artists of the time, these devices were also the implements of a musical revolution. Instruments for New Music traces a diffuse network of cultural agents who shared the belief that a truly modern music could be attained only through a radical challenge to the technological foundations of the art. Centered in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, the movement to create new instruments encompassed a broad spectrum of experiments, from the exploration of microtonal tunings and exotic tone colors to the ability to compose directly for automatic musical machines. This movement comprised composers, inventors, and visual artists, including Paul Hindemith, Ernst Toch, Jörg Mager, Friedrich Trautwein, László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Ruttmann, and Oskar Fischinger. Patteson’s fascinating study combines an artifact-oriented history of new music in the early twentieth century with an astute revisiting of still-relevant debates about the relationship between technology and the arts.
“The smartest book on the German roots of what happened once electricity joined sound to make music and media. Amid profound historical events, technological possibilities were hacked, recordings stopped repeating themselves to perform something new, and the innovative art forms with us today were born.” DOUGLAS KAHN, author of Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts
“A fascinating story of the technological music instrumentarium that not only gives composers and improvisers new sounds and new ways to play but also engages all of us in new social and philosophical insights.” PAULINE OLIVEROS, Composer and Professor of Practice, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
“Through meticulous new research, Patteson recovers the forgotten history of early twentieth-century music. This book shows how today’s sounds were born long before the age of electronics.” TREVOR PINCH, author of Analog Days: The History and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer
In the last several years, much has been written about growing economic challenges, increasing income inequality, and political polarization in the United States. Addressing these new realities in America’s metropolitan regions, this book argues that a few lessons are emerging: first, inequity is bad for economic growth; second, bringing together the concerns of equity and growth requires concerted local action; and third, the fundamental building block for doing this is the creation of diverse and dynamic epistemic (or knowledge) communities, which help to overcome political polarization and to address the challenges of economic restructuring and social divides.
“As America bolts toward a more multiracial future in the face of skyrocketing inequality, local leaders are desperately seeking strategies to foster more inclusive growth. Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor’s research uncovers a critical ingredient of success: diverse regional leaders coming together to build a foundation of shared knowledge and advance positive change.” — ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
How did the patronage activities of the Vijayanagara Empire (c. 1346-1565) influence Hindu sectarian identities? Contrary to most portraits of the empire as a Hindu bulwark against Islamic incursion from the north or as a religiously ecumenical state, in Polemics and Patronage in the City of Victory, Valerie Stoker argues that the Vijayanagara court was selective in its patronage of religious institutions. But the motivations behind this selectivity were not always religious. To understand the dynamic interaction between religious and royal institutions in this period, she focuses on the career of the Hindu intellectual and monastic leader Vyasatirtha. An agent of the state and a powerful religious authority, Vyasatirtha played an important role in expanding the empire’s economic and social networks. By examining Vyasatirtha’s polemics against rival sects in the context of his work for the empire, Stoker provides a remarkably nuanced picture of the relationship between religious identity and socio-political reality under Vijayanagara rule.
How do keyboards make music playable? Drawing on theories of media, systems, and cultural techniques, Keys to Play spans Greek myth and contemporary Japanese digital games to chart an archaeology of musical play and its animation via improvisation, performance, and recreation. As a paradigmatic digital interface, the keyboard forms a field of play on which the book’s diverse objects of inquiry—from clavichords to PCs and eighteenth-century musical dice games to the latest rhythm-action titles—enter into analogical relations. Remapping the keyboard’s topography by way of Mozart and Super Mario, who head an expansive cast of historical and virtual actors, Keys to Play invites readers to unlock ludic dimensions of music that are at once old and new.
Precarious Claims tells the human story behind the bureaucratic process of fighting for justice in the U.S. workplace. The global economy has fueled vast concentrations of wealth that have driven a demand for cheap and flexible labor. Workplace violations such as wage theft, unsafe work environments, and discrimination are widespread in low-wage industries such as retail, restaurants, hospitality, and domestic work, where jobs are often held by immigrants and other vulnerable workers. How and why do these workers, despite enormous barriers, come forward to seek justice, and what happens once they do? Based on extensive fieldwork in Northern California, Gleeson investigates the array of gatekeepers with whom workers must negotiate in the labor standards enforcement bureaucracy and, ultimately, the limited reach of formal legal protections. The author also tracks how workplace injustices—and the arduous process of contesting them—carry long-term effects on their everyday lives. Workers sometimes win, but their chances are precarious at best.
The Dream is Over tells the extraordinary story of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education in California, created by visionary University of California President Clark Kerr and his contemporaries. The Master Plan’s equality of opportunity policy brought college within reach of millions of American families for the first time and fashioned the world’s leading system of public research universities. The Californian idea became the leading model for higher education across the world and has had great influence in the rapid growth of universities in China and East Asia. Yet remarkably, the political conditions supporting the Californian idea in California itself have evaporated. Universal access is faltering, public tuition is rising, the great research universities are under growing pressure, and educational participation in California, once the national leader, lags way behind. Can the social values embodied in Kerr’s vision be renewed?