2 different homeworks

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1.The attack on the US Capitol on January 6 which started from a legitimate demonstration outside the building to the illegal attack, breaking doors and windows with the stated intent of attacking the Vice President to stop the counting of presidential ballots. Last summer we saw across the nation numerous “Black Lives Matter” protests linked to the killing of George Floyd and others. Many of those protests collapsed into violence either as police reaction to law breaking or police anger at an anti-police crowd chanting things they found personally offensive. Your assignment is to write 350 words explaining the right to protest and speak out (as established in the First Amendment, which you should cite) and then discuss the challenges to police. Last week we looked at Peel who said a primary function of police is to prevent disorder. How does that rub up against the First Amendment? How should police properly respond to these seeming contradictions between First Amendment rights and the need to keep the peace. Cite material – don’t give opinion.

2. define the “cultural critique” approach in Anthropology and second, explain the following quote using a “cultural critique” lens:

“For if one begins with the premise that spaces have always been hierarchically interconnected, instead of naturally disconnected, that cultural and social change becomes not a matter of cultural contact and articulation but one of rethinking differences through connection (Gupta and Ferguson 1992: 8).”

I will post the reading for part 2. I only need a paragraph for this one. 

Beyond “Culture”: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference

Akhil Gupta; James Ferguson

Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 1, Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference. (Feb., 1992),
pp. 6-23.

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Beyond “Culture”:

Space, identity, and the Politics of


Akhil Gupta

Department of Anthropology

Stanford University

James Ferguson

Department of Anthropology

University of California, lrvine

For a subject whose central rite of passage is fieldwork, whose romance has rested
on its exploration of the remote (“the most other of others” [Hannerz 1986:363]),
whose critical function is seen to lie in its juxtaposition of radically different ways
of being (located “elsewhere”) with that of the anthropologists’ own, usually
Western, culture, there has been surprisingly little self-consciousness about the
issue of space in anthropological theory. (Some notable exceptions are Appadurai
[1986, 19881, Hannerz [1987], and Rosaldo [1988, 19891.) This collection of five
ethnographic articles represents a modest attempt to deal with the issues of space
and place, along with some necessarily related concerns such as those of location,
displacement, community, and identity. In particular, we wish to explore how the
renewed interest in theorizing space in postmodernist and feminist theory (An-
zaldua 1987; Baudrillard 1988; Deleuze and Guattari 1987; Foucault 1982; Jame-
son 1984; Kaplan 1987; Martin and Mohanty 1986)+mbodied in such notions
as surveillance, panopticism, simulacra, deterritorialization, postmodern hyper-
space, borderlands, and marginality-forces us to reevaluate such central analytic
concepts in anthropology as that of “culture” and, by extension, the idea of “cul-
tural difference. ”

Representations of space in the social sciences are remarkably dependent on
images of break, rupture, and disjunction. The distinctiveness of societies, na-
tions, and cultures is based upon a seemingly unproblematic division of space, on
the fact that they occupy “naturally” discontinuous spaces. The premise of dis-
continuity forms the starting point from which to theorize contact, conflict, and
contradiction between cultures and societies. For example, the representation of
the world as a collection of “countries,” as in most world maps, sees it as an
inherently fragmented space, divided by different colors into diverse national so-
cieties, each “rooted” in its proper place (cf. Malkki, this issue). It is so taken
for granted that each country embodies its own distinctive culture and society that
the terms “society” and “culture” are routinely simply appended to the names


of nation-states, as when a tourist visits India to understand “Indian culture” and
“Indian society,” or Thailand to experience “Thai culture,” or the United States
to get a whiff of “American culture.”

Of course, the geographical territories that cultures and societies are believed
to map onto do not have to be nations. We do, for example, have ideas about
culture-areas that overlap several nation-states, or of multicultural nations. On a
smaller scale, perhaps, are our disciplinary assumptions about the association of
culturally unitary groups (tribes or peoples) with “their” territories: thus, “the
Nuer” live in “Nuerland” and so forth. The clearest illustration of this kind of
thinking are the classic “ethnographic maps” that purported to display the spatial
distribution of peoples, tribes, and cultures. But in all these cases, space itself
becomes a kind of neutral grid on which cultural difference, historical memory,
and societal organization are inscribed. It is in this way that space functions as a
central organizing principle in the social sciences at the same time that it disap-
pears from analytical purview.

This assumed isomorphism of space, place, and culture results in some sig-
nificant problems. First, there is the issue of those who inhabit the border, that
“narrow strip along steep edges” (Anzaldua 1987:3) of national boundaries. The
fiction of cultures as discrete, object-like phenomena occupying discrete spaces
becomes implausible for those who inhabit the borderlands. Related to border in-
habitants are those who live a life of border crossings-migrant workers, nomads,
and members of the transnational business and professional elite. What is “the
culture” of farm workers who spend half a year in Mexico and half a year in the
United States? Finally, there are those who cross borders more or less perma-
nently-immigrants, refugees, exiles, and expatriates. In their case, the disjunc-
ture of place and culture is especially clear: Khmer refugees in the United States
take “Khmer culture” with them in the same complicated way that Indian im-
migrants in England transport “Indian culture” to their new homeland.

A second set of problems raised by the implicit mapping of cultures onto
places is to account for cultural differences within a locality. “Multiculturalism”
is both a feeble acknowledgment of the fact that cultures have lost their moorings
in definite places and an attempt to subsume this plurality of cultures within the
framework of a national identity. Similarly, the idea of “subcultures” attempts
to preserve the idea of distinct “cultures” while acknowledging the relation of
different cultures to a dominant culture within the same geographical and terri-
torial space. Conventional accounts of ethnicity, even when used to describe cul-
tural differences in settings where people from different regions live side by side,
rely on an unproblematic link between identity and place.’ Although such con-
cepts are suggestive because they endeavor to stretch the naturalized association
of culture with place, they fail to interrogate this assumption in a truly fundamen-
tal manner. We need to ask how to deal with cultural difference while abandoning
received ideas of (localized) culture.

Third, there is the important question of postcoloniality. T o which places
do the hybrid cultures of postcoloniality belong’! Does the colonial encounter
create a “new culture” in both the colonized and colonizing country, or does it


destabilize the notion that nations and cultures are isomorphic’! As discussed be-
low, postcoloniality further problematizes the relationship between space and

Last, and most important, challenging the ruptured landscape of independent
nations and autonomous cultures raises the question of understanding social
change and cultural transformation as situated within interconnected spaces. The
presumption that spaces are autonomous has enabled the power of topography to
conceal successfully the topography of power. The inherently fragmented space
assumed in the definition of anthropology as the study of cultures (in the plural)
may have been one of the reasons behind the long-standing failure to write an-
thropology’s history as the biography of imperialism. For if one begins with the
premise that spaces have always been hierarchically interconnected, instead of
naturally disconnected, then cultural and social change becomes not a matter of
cultural contact and articulation but one of rethinking difference through connec-

To illustrate, let us examine one powerful model of cultural change that at-
tempts to relate dialectically the local to larger spatial arenas: articulation. Artic-
ulation models, whether they come from Marxist structuralism or from “moral
economy,” posit a primeval state of autonomy (usually labeled “precapitalist”),
which is then violated by global capitalism. The result is that both local and larger
spatial arenas are transformed, the local more than the global to be sure, but not
necessarily in a predetermined direction. This notion of articulation allows one to
explore the richly unintended consequences of, say, colonial capitalism, where
loss occurs alongside invention. Yet, by taking a preexisting, localized “com-
munity” as a given starting point, it fails to examine sufficiently the processes
(such as the structures of feeling that pervade the imagining of community) that
go into the construction of space as place or locality in the first instance. In other
words, instead of assuming the autonomy of the primeval community, we need
to examine how it was formed as a community out of the interconnected space that
always already existed. Colonialism, then, represents the displacement of one
form of interconnection by another. This is not to deny that colonialism, or an
expanding capitalism, does indeed have profoundly dislocating effects on existing
societies. But by always foregrounding the spatial distribution of hierarchical
power relations, we can better understand the process whereby a space achieves
a distinctive identity as a place. Keeping in mind that notions of locality or com-
munity refer both to a demarcated physical space and to clusters of interaction,
we can see that the identity of a place emerges by the intersection of its specific
involvement in a system of hierarchically organized spaces with its cultural con-
struction as a community or locality.

It is for this reason that what Jameson (1984) has dubbed “postmodern hy-
perspace” has so fundamentally challenged the convenient fiction that mapped
cultures onto places and peoples. In the capitalist West, a Fordist regime of ac-
cumulation, emphasizing extremely large production facilities, a relatively stable
work force, and the welfare state, combined to create urban “communities”
whose outlines were most clearly visible in company towns (Davis 1984; Harvey


1989; Mandel 1975). The counterpart of this in the international arena was that
multinational corporations, under the leadership of the United States, steadily ex-
ploited the raw materials, primary goods, and cheap labor of the independent na-
tion-states of the postcolonial “Third World. ” Multilateral agencies and powerful
Western states preached, and where necessary militarily enforced, the “laws” of
the market to encourage the international flow of capital, while national immigra-
tion policies ensured that there would be no free (i.e., anarchic, disruptive) flow
of labor to the high-wage islands in the capitalist core. Fordist patterns of accu-
mulation have now been replaced by a regime of flexible accumulation+har-
acterized by small-batch production, rapid shifts in product lines, extremely fast
movements of capital to exploit the smallest differentials in labor and raw material
costs-built on a more sophisticated communications and information network
and better means of transporting goods and people. At the same time, the indus-
trial production of culture, entertainment, and leisure that first achieved some-
thing approaching global distribution during the Fordist era led, paradoxically, to
the invention of new forms of cultural difference and new forms of imagining
community. Something like a transnational public sphere has certainly rendered
any strictly bounded sense of community or locality obsolete. At the same time,
it has enabled the creation of forms of solidarity and identity that do not rest on
an appropriation of space where contiguity and face-to-face contact are para-
mount. In the pulverized space of postmodernity, space has not become irrele-
vant: it has been reterritorialized in a way that does not conform to the experience
of space that characterized the era of high modernity. It is this that forces us to
reconceptualize fundamentally the politics of community, solidarity, identity, and
cultural difference.

Imagined Communities, Imagined Places

People have undoubtedly always been more mobile and identities less fixed
than the static and typologizing approaches of classical anthropology would sug-
gest. But today, the rapidly expanding and quickening mobility of people com-
bines with the refusal of cultural products and practices to “stay put” to give a
profound sense of a loss of territorial roots, of an erosion of the cultural distinc-
tiveness of places, and of ferment in anthropological theory. The apparent deter-
ritorialization of identity that accompanies such processes has made Clifford’s
question (1988:275) a key one for recent anthropological inquiry: “What does it
mean, at the end of the twentieth century, to speak . . . of a ‘native land’? What
processes rather than essences are involved in present experiences of cultural

Such questions are of course not wholly new, but issues of collective identity
today do seem to take on a special character, when more and more of us live in
what Said (1979: 18) has called “a generalized condition of homelessness,” a
world where identities are increasingly coming to be, if not wholly deterritorial-
ized, at least differently territorialized. Refugees, migrants, displaced and state-
less peoples-these are perhaps the first to live out these realities in their most


complete form, but the problem is more general. In a world of diaspora, trans-
national culture flows, and mass movements of populations, old-fashioned at-
tempts to map the globe as a set of culture regions or homelands are bewildered
by a dazzling array of postcolonial simulacra, doublings and redoublings, as India
and Pakistan apparently reappear in postcolonial simulation in London, prerevo-
lution Tehran rises from the ashes in Los Angeles, and a thousand similar cultural
dreams are played out in urban and rural settings all across the globe. In this cul-
ture-play of diaspora, familiar lines between “here” and “there,” center and pe-
riphery, colony and metropole become blurred.

Where “here” and “there” become blurred in this way, the cultural cer-
tainties and fixities of the metropole are upset as surely, if not in the same way,
as those of the colonized periphery. In this sense, it is not only the displaced who
experience a displacement (cf. Bhabha 1989:66). For even people remaining in
familiar and ancestral places find the nature of their relation to place ineluctably
changed, and the illusion of a natural and essential connection between the place
and the culture broken. “Englishness,” for instance, in contemporary, interna-
tionalized England is just as complicated and nearly as deterritorialized a notion
as Palestinian-ness or Armenian-ness, since “England” (“the real England”) re-
fers less to a bounded place than to an imagined state of being or moral location.
Consider, for instance, the following quote from a young white reggae fan in the
ethnically chaotic neighborhood of Balsall Heath in Birmingham:

there’s no such thing as “England” any more . . . welcome to India brothers! This
is the Caribbean! . . . Nigeria! . . . There is no England, man. This is what is com-
ing. Balsall Heath is the center of the melting pot, ‘cos all I ever see when I go out is
half-Arab, half-Pakistani, half-Jamaican, half-Scottish, half-Irish. I know ‘cos I am
[half Scottishihalf Irish] . . . who am I? . . . Tell me who I belong to’? They criticize
me, the good old England. Alright, where do I belong’? You know, I was brought up
with blacks, Pakistanis, Africans, Asians, everything, you name it . . . who do I be-
long to? . . . I’m just a broad person. The earth is mine . . . you know we was not
born in Jamaica . . . we was not born in “England.” We were born here, man. It’s
our right. That’s the way I see it. That’s the way I deal with it. [Hebdige 1987:158-

The broad-minded acceptance of cosmopolitanism that seems to be implied
here is perhaps more the exception than the rule, but there can be little doubt that
the explosion of a culturally stable and unitary “England” into the cut-and-mix
“here” of contemporary Balsall Heath is an example of a phenomenon that is real
and spreading. It is clear that the erosion of such supposedly natural connections
between peoples and places has not led to the modernist specter of global cultural
homogenization (Clifford 1988). But “cultures” and “peoples,” however per-
sistent they may be, cease to be plausibly identifiable as spots on the map.

The irony of these times, however, is that as actual places and localities be-
come ever more blurred and indeterminate, ideas of culturally and ethnically dis-
tinct places become perhaps even more salient. It is here that it becomes most
visible how imagined communities (Anderson 1983) come to be attached to imag-
ined places, as displaced peoples cluster around remembered or imagined home-


lands, places, or communities in a world that seems increasingly to deny such
firm territorialized anchors in their actuality. The set of issues surrounding the
construction of place and homeland by mobile and displaced people is addressed
in different ways by a number of the articles in this issue.

Remembered places have often served as symbolic anchors of community
for dispersed people. This has long been true of immigrants, who (as Leonard
[I9921 shows vividly) use memory of place to construct imaginatively their new
lived world. “Homeland” in this way remains one of the most powerful unifying
symbols for mobile and displaced peoples, though the relation to homeland may
be very differently constructed in different settings (see Malkki, this issue). More-
over, even in more completely deterritorialized times and settings-settings
where “home” is not only distant, but also where the very notion of “home” as
a durably fixed place is in doubt-aspects of our lives remain highly “localized”
in a social sense, as Peters (1992) argues. We need to give up naive ideas of com-
munities as literal entities (cf. Cohen 1985), but remain sensitive to the profound
“bifocality” that characterizes locally lived lives in a globally interconnected
world, and the powerful role of place in the “near view” of lived experience
(Peters 1992).

The partial erosion of spatially bounded social worlds and the growing role
of the imagination of places from a distance, however, themselves must be situ-
ated within the highly spatialized terms of a global capitalist economy. The spe-
cial challenge here is to use a focus on the way space is imagined (but not ima-
ginary!) as a way to explore the processes through which such conceptual pro-
cesses of place making meet the changing global economic and political condi-
tions of lived spaces-the relation, we could say, between place and space. As
Ferguson (this issue) shows, important tensions may arise when places that have
been imagined at a distance must become lived spaces. For places are always
imagined in the context of political-economic determinations that have a logic of
their own. Territoriality is thus reinscribed at just the point it threatens to be

The idea that space is made meaningful is of course a familiar one to anthro-
pologists; indeed, there is hardly an older or better established anthropological
truth. East or West, inside or outside, left or right, mound or floodplain-from at
least the time of Durkheim, anthropology has known that the experience of space
is always socially constructed. The more urgent task, taken up by several articles
in this issue, is to politicize this uncontestable observation. With meaning making
understood as a practice, how are spatial meanings established’? Who has the
power to make places of spaces’? Who contests this’? What is at stake?

Such questions are particularly important where the meaningful association
of places and peoples is concerned. As Malkki (this issue) shows, two naturalisms
must be challenged here. First is what we will call the ethnological habit of taking
the association of a culturally unitary group (the “tribe” or “people”) and “its”
territory as natural, which is discussed in the previous section. A second, and
closely related, naturalism is what we will call the national habit of taking the
association of citizens of states and their territories as natural. Here the exemplary


image is of the conventional world map of nation-states, through which school-
children are taught such deceptively simple-sounding beliefs as that France is
where the French live, America is where the Americans live, and so on. Even a
casual observer, of course, knows that not only Americans live in America, and
it is clear that the very question of what is a “real American” is largely up for
grabs. But even anthropologists still talk of “American culture” with no clear
understanding of what that means, because we assume a natural association of a
culture (“American culture”), a people (“Americans”), and a place (“the
United States of America”). Both the ethnological and the national naturalisms
present associations of people and place as solid, commonsensical, and agreed-
upon, when they are in fact contested, uncertain, and in flux.

Much recent work in anthropology and related fields has focused on the pro-
cess through which such reified and naturalized national representations are con-
structed and maintained by states and national elites. (See, for instance, Anderson
1983; Handler 1988; Herzfeld 1987; Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983; Kapferer
1988; Wright 1985.) Borneman (this issue) presents a case where state construc-
tions of national territory are complicated by a very particular sort of displace-
ment, as the territorial division and reformation of Germany following the Second
World War made unavailable to the two states the claims to a territorially circum-
scribed home and culturally delineated nation that are usually so central to estab-
lish legitimacy. Neither could their citizens rely on such appeals in constructing
their own identities. In forging national identities estranged in this way from both
territory and culture, Borneman argues, the postwar German states and their cit-
izens employed oppositional strategies, ultimately resulting in versions of the dis-
placed and decentered identities that mark what is often called the postmodern

Discussions of nationalism make it clear that states play a crucial role in the
popular politics of place making and in the creation of naturalized links between
places and peoples. But it is important to note that state ideologies are far from
being the only point at which the imagination of place is politicized. Oppositional
images of place have of course been extremely important in anticolonial nation-
alist movements, as well as in campaigns for self-determination and sovereignty
on the part of ethnic counter-nations such as the Hutu (Malkki, this issue), the
Eritreans, and the Armenians. Bisharat (1992) traces some of the ways in which
the imagining of place has played into the Palestinian struggle, showing both how
specific constructions of “homeland” have changed in response to political cir-
cumstances and how a deeply felt relation to “the land” continues to inform and
inspire the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Bisharat’s article serves as
a useful reminder, in the light of nationalism’s often reactionary connotations in
the Western world, of how often notions of home and “own place” have been
empowering in anticolonial contexts.

Indeed, future observers of 20th-century revolutions will probably be struck
by the difficulty of formulating large-scale political movements without reference
to national homelands. Gupta (this issue) discusses the difficulties raised in at-
tempting to rally people around such a nonnational collectivity as the nonaligned


movement; and he points out that similar problems are raised by the proletarian
internationalist movement, since, “as generations of Marxists after Marx found
out, it is one thing to liberate a nation, quite another to liberate the workers of the
world” (Gupta, this issue). Class-based internationalism’s tendencies to nation-
alism (as in the history of the Second International, or that of the U.S.S.R.), and
to utopianism imagined in local rather than universal terms (as in Morris’s News
from Nowhere [1970], where “nowhere” [utopia] turns out to be a specifically
English “somewhere”), show clearly the importance of attaching causes to
places and the ubiquity of place making in collective political mobilization.

Such place making, however, need not be natiorial in scale. One example of
this is the way idealized notions of “the country” have been used in urban settings
to construct critiques of industrial capitalism (cf. in Britain, Williams 1973; for
Zambia, Ferguson, this issue). Another case is the reworking of ideas of “home”
and “community” by feminists like Martin and Mohanty (1986) and Kaplan
(1987). Rofel (this issue) gives another example in her treatment of the contested
meanings of the spaces and local history of a Chinese factory. Her analysis shows
both how specific factory locations acquired meanings over time and how these
localized spatial meanings confounded the modernizing, panoptic designs of plan-
ners-indeed, how the durability of memory and localized meanings of sites and
bodies calls into question the very idea of a universal, undifferentiated “moderni-

It must be noted that such popular politics of place can as easily be cQnserv-
ative as progressive. Often enough, as in the contemporary United States, the
association of place with memory, loss, and nostalgia plays directly into the hands
of reactionary popular movements. This is true not only of explicitly national im-
ages long associated with the Right, but also of imagined locales and nostalgic
settings such as “small-town America” or “the frontier,” which often play into
and complement antifeminist idealizations of “the home” and “family.”‘

Space, Politics, and Anthropological Representation

Changing our conceptions of the relation between space and cultural differ-
ence offers a new perspective on recent debates surrounding issues of anthropo-
logical representation and writing. The new attention to representational practices
has already led to more sophisticated understandings of processes of objectifica-
tion and the construction of other-ness in anthropological writing. However, with
this said, it also seems to us that recent notions of “cultural critique” (Marcus
and Fischer 1986) depend on a spatialized understanding of cultural difference
that needs to be problematized.

The foundation of cultural critique-a dialogic relation with an “other” cul-
ture that yields a critical viewpoint on “our own culture”-assumes an already-
existing world of many different, distinct “cultures,” and an unproblematic dis-
tinction between “our own society” and an “other” society. As Marcus and
Fischer put it, the purpose of cultural critique is “to generate critical questions
from one society to probe the other” (1986:117); the goal is “to apply both the


substantive results and the epistemological lessons learned from ethnography
abroad to a renewal of the critical function of anthropology as it is pursued in
ethnographic projects at home” (1986:112).

Marcus and Fischer are sensitive to the fact that cultural difference is present
“here at home,” too, and that “the other” need not be exotic or far away to be
other. But the fundamental conception of cultural critique as a relation between
“different societies” ends up, perhaps against the authors’ intentions, spatializing
cultural difference in familiar ways, as ethnography becomes, as above, a link
between an unproblematized “home” and “abroad.” The anthropological rela-
tion is not simply with people who are different, but with “a different society,”
“a different culture,” and thus, inevitably, a relation between “here” and
“there.” In all of this, the terms of the opposition (“here” and “there,” “us”
and “them,” “our own” and “other” societies) are taken as received: the prob-
lem for anthropologists is to use our encounter with “them,” “there,” to con-
struct a critique of “our own society,” “here. ”

There are a number of problems with this way of conceptualizing the anthro-
pological project. Perhaps the most obvious is the question of the identity of the
“we” that keeps coming up in phrases such as “ourselves” and “our own soci-
ety.” Who is this “we”‘! If the answer is, as we fear, “the West,” then we must
ask precisely who is to be included and excluded from this club. Nor is the prob-
lem solved simply by substituting for “our own society,” “the ethnographer’s
own society.” For ethnographers, as for other natives, the postcolonial world is
an interconnected social space; for many anthropologists-and perhaps especially
for displaced Third World scholars-the identity of “one’s own society” is an
open question.

A second problem with the way cultural difference has been conceptualized
within the “cultural critique” project is that, once excluded from that privileged
domain “our own society,” “the other” is subtly nativized-placed in a separate
frame of analysis and “spatially incarcerated” (Appadurai 1988) in that “other
place” that is proper to an “other culture.” Cultural critique assumes an original
separation, bridged at the initiation of the anthropological fieldworker. The prob-
lematic is one of “contact”: communication not within a shared social and eco-
nomic world, but “across cultures” and “between societies.”

As an alternative to this way of thinking about cultural difference, we want
to problematize the unity of the “us” and the otherness of the “other,” and ques-
tion the radical separation between the two that makes the opposition possible in
the first place. We are interested less in establishing a dialogic relation between
geographically distinct societies than in exploring the processes of production of
difference in a world of culturally, socially, and economically interconnected and
interdependent spaces. The difference is fundamental, and can be illustrated by a
brief examination of one text that has been highly praised within the “cultural
critique” movement.

Marjorie Shostak’s Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (1981) has
been very widely admired for its innovative use of life history, and has been hailed
as a noteworthy example of polyphonic experimentation in ethnographic writing


(Clifford 1986, 1988:42; Marcus and Fischer 1986:58-59; Pratt 1986). But with
respect to the issues we have discussed here, Nisa is a very conventional, and
deeply flawed, work. The individual, Nisa, is granted a degree of singularity, but
she is used principally as the token of a type: “the !Kung.” The San-speaking
!Kung of Botswana (“the Bushmen” of old) are presented as a distinct, “other,”
and apparently primordial “people.” Shostak treats the Dobe !Kung as essen-
tially survivals of a prior evolutionary age: they are “one of the last remaining
traditional gatherer-hunter societies,” racially distinct, traditional, and isolated
(198 1 :4). Their experience of “culture change” is “still quite recent and subtle,”
and their traditional value system “mostly intact” (1981:6). “Contact” with
“other groups” of agricultural and pastoral peoples has occurred, according to
Shostak, only since the 1920s, and it is only since the 1960s that the isolation of
the !Kung has really broken down, raising for the first time the issue of “change,”
“adaptation,” and “culture contact” (1981:346).

The space the !Kung inhabit, the Kalahari desert, is clearly radically differ-
ent and separate from our own. Again and again the narrative returns to the theme
of isolation: in a harsh ecological setting, a way of life thousands of years old has
been preserved only through its extraordinary spatial separateness. The anthro-
pological task, as Shostak conceives it, is to cross this spatial divide, to enter into
this land that time forgot, a land (as Wilmsen [ 1989: 101 notes) with antiquity but
no history, to listen to the voices of women, which might reveal “what their lives
had been like for generations, possibly even for thousands of years” (Shostak

The exoticization implicit in this portrait, in which the !Kung appear almost
as living on another planet, has drawn surprisingly little criticism from theorists
of ethnography. Pratt has rightly pointed out the “blazing contradiction” between
the portrait of primal beings untouched by history and the genocidal history of the
white “Bushman conquest” (1986:48). As she says,

What picture of the !Kung would one draw if instead of defi ning them as survivors of
the stone age and a delicate and complex adaptation to the Kalahari desert, one looked
at them as survivors of capitalist expansion, and a delicate and complex adaptation to
three centuries of violence and intimidation? [Pratt 1986:49]

But even Pratt retains the notion of “the !Kung” as a preexisting ontological enti-
ty-“survivors,” not products (still less producers), of history. “They” are vic-
tims, having suffered the deadly process of “contact” with “us.”

A very different and much more illuminating way of conceptualizing cultural
difference in the region may be found in Wilmsen’s devastating recent critique of
the anthropological cult of “the Bushman” (1989). Wilmsen shows how, in con-
stant interaction with a wider network of social relations, the difference that Shos-
tak takes as a starting point came to be produced in the first place-how, one
might say, “the Bushmen” came to be Bushmen. He demonstrates that San-
speaking people have been in continuous interaction with other groups for as long
as we have evidence for; that political and economic relations linked the suppos-
edly isolated Kalahari with a regional political economy both in the colonial and


precolonial eras; that San-speaking people have often held cattle; and that no strict
separation of pastoralists and foragers can be sustained. He argues powerfully that
the Zhu (!Kung) have never been a classless society, and that if they give such an
impression, “it is because they are incorporated as an underclass in a wider social
formation that includes Batswana, Ovaherero, and others” (Wilmsen 1989:270).
Moreover, he shows that the ”BushmanISan” label has been in existence for
barely half a century, the category having been produced through the “retribali-
zation” of the colonial period (1989:280); and that “the cultural conservatism
uniformly attributed to these people by almost all anthropologists who have
worked with them until recently, is a consequence-not a cause–of the way they
have been integrated into the modem capitalist economies of Botswana and Na-
mibia” (1989: 12).

With respect to space, Wilmsen is unequivocal:

it is not possible to speak of the Kalahari’s isolation, protected by its own vast dis-
tances. To those inside, the outside-whatever “outside” there may have been at any
moment-was always present. The appearance of isolation and its reality of dispos-
sessed poverty are recent products of a process that unfolded over two centuries and
culminated in the last moments of the colonial era. 11989: 1571

The process of the production of cultural difference, Wilmsen demonstrates, oc-
curs in continuous, connected space, traversed by economic and political relations
of inequality. Where Shostak takes difference as given and concentrates on lis-
tening “across cultures,” Wilmsen performs the more radical operation of inter-
rogating the “otherness” of the other, situating the production of cultural differ-
ence within the historical processes of a socially and spatially interconnected

What is needed, then, is more than a ready ear and a deft editorial hand to
capture and orchestrate the voices of “others”; what is needed is a willingness to
interrogate, politically and historically, the apparent “given” of a world in the
first place divided into “ourselves” and “others.” A first step on this road is to
move beyond naturalized conceptions of spatialized “cultures” and to explore
instead the production of difference within common, shared, and connected
spaces-“the San,” for instance, not as “a people, ” “native” to the desert, but
as a historically constituted and de-propertied category systematically relegated
to the desert.

The move we are calling for, most generally, is away from seeing cultural
difference as the correlate of a world of “peoples” whose separate histories wait
to be bridged by the anthropologist and toward seeing it as a product of a shared
historical process that differentiates the world as it connects it. For the proponents
of “cultural critique,” difference is taken as starting point, not as end product.
Given a world of “different societies,” they ask, how can we use experience in
one to comment on another? But if we question a pre-given world of separate and
discrete “peoples and cultures,” and see instead a difference-producing set of
relations. we turn from a project of juxtaposing preexisting differences to one of
exploring the construction of differences in historical process.


In this perspective, power does not enter the anthropological picture only at
the moment of representation, for the cultural distinctiveness that the anthropol-
ogist attempts to represent has always already been produced within a field of
power relations. There is thus a politics of otherness that is not reducible to a
politics of representation. Textual strategies can call attention to the politics of
representation, but the issue of otherness itself is not really addressed by the de-
vices of polyphonic textual construction or collaboration with informant-writers,
as writers like Clifford and Crapanzano sometimes seem to suggest.

In addition to (not instead of!) textual experimentation, then, there is a need
to address the issue of “the West” and its “others” in a way that acknowledges
the extra-textual roots of the problem. For example, the area of immigration and
immigration law is one practical area where the politics of space and the politics
of otherness link up very directly. Indeed, if the separateness of separate places
is not a natural given but an anthropological problem, it is remarkable how little
anthropologists have had to say about the contemporary political issues connected
with immigration in the United state^.^ If we accept a world of originally separate
and culturally distinct places, then the question of immigration policy is just a
question of how hard we should try to maintain this original order. In this per-
spective, immigration prohibitions are a relatively minor matter. Indeed, operat-
ing with a spatially naturalized understanding of cultural difference, uncontrolled
immigration may even appear as a danger to anthropology, threatening to blur or
erase the cultural distinctiveness of places that is our stock in trade. If, on the other
hand, it is acknowledged that cultural difference is produced and maintained in a
field of power relations in a world always already spatially interconnected, then
the restriction of immigration becomes visible as one of the main means through
which the disempowered are kept that way.

The enforced “difference” of places becomes, in this perspective, part and
parcel of a global system of domination. The anthropological task of de-natural-
izing cultural and spatial divisions at this point links up with the political task of
combating a very literal “spatial incarceration of the native” (Appadurai 1988)
within economic spaces zoned, as it were, for poverty. In this sense, changing the
way we think about the relations of culture, power, and space opens the possibility
of changing more than our texts. There is room, for instance, for a great deal more
anthropological involvement, both theoretical and practical, with the politics of
the U.S.1Mexico border, with the political and organizing rights of immigrant
workers, and with the appropriation of anthropological concepts of “culture” and
“difference” into the repressive ideological apparatus of immigration law and the
popular perceptions of “foreigners” and “aliens. ”

A certain unity of place and people has been long assumed in the anthropo-
logical concept of culture. But anthropological representations and immigration
laws notwithstanding, “the native” is “spatially incarcerated” only in part. The
ability of people to confound the established spatial orders, either through phys-
ical movement or through their own conceptual and political acts of re-imagina-
tion, means that space and place can never be “given,” and that the process of
their sociopolitical construction must always be considered. An anthropology


whose objects are no longer conceived as automatically and naturally anchored in
space will need to pay particular attention to the way spaces and places are made,
imagined, contested, and enforced. In this sense, it is no paradox to say that ques-
tions of space and place are, in this deterritorialized age, more central to anthro-
pological representation than ever.


In suggesting the requestioning of the spatial assumptions implicit in the
most fundamental and seemingly innocuous concepts in the social sciences such
as “culture,” “society,” “community,” and “nation,” we do not presume to
lay out a detailed blueprint for an alternative conceptual apparatus. We do, how-
ever, wish to point out some promising directions for the future.

One extremely rich vein has been tapped by those attempting to t h e o r i ~ e in-
terstitiality and hybridity: in the postcolonial situation (Bhabha 1989; Hannerz
1987; Rushdie 1989); for people living on cultural and national borders (Anzaldua
1987; Rosaldo 1987, 1988, 19893; for refugees and displaced peoples (Ghosh
1989; Malkki, this issue); and in the case of migrants and workers (Leonard
1992). The “syncretic, adaptive politics and culture” of hybridity, Bhabha points
out (1989:64), questions “the imperialist and colonialist notions of purity as much
as it question[s] the nationalist notions.” It remains to be seen what kind of pol-
itics are enabled by such a theorization of hybridity and to what extent it can do
away with all claims to authenticity, to all forms of essentialism, strategic or oth-
erwise (see especially Radhakrishnan 1987). Bhabha points to the troublesome
connection between claims to purity and utopian teleology in describing how he
came to the realization that

the only place in the world to speak from was at a point whereby contradiction, an-
tagonism, the hybridities of cultural influence, the boundaries of nations, were not
sublated into some utopian sense of liberation or return. The place to speak from was
through those incommensurable contradictions within which people survive, are po-
litically active, and change. [ 1989:67]

The borderlands are just such a place of incommensurable contradictions. The
term does not indicate a fixed topographical site between two other fixed locales
(nations, societies, cultures), but an interstitial zone of displacement and deter-
ritorialization that shapes the identity of the hybridized subject. Rather than dis-
missing them as insignificant, as marginal zones, thin slivers of land between sta-
ble places, we want to contend that the notion of borderlands is a more adequate
conceptualization of the “normal” locale of the postmodern subject.

Another promising direction that takes us beyond culture as a spatially lo-
calized phenomenon is provided by the analysis of what is variously called “mass
media,” “public culture,” and the “culture industry.” (Especially influential
here has been the journal, Public Culture.) Existing symbiotically with the com-
modity form, profoundly influencing even the remotest people that anthropolo-
gists have made such a fetish of studying, mass media pose the clearest challenge


to orthodox notions of culture. National, regional, and village boundaries have,
of course, never contained culture in the way that anthropological representations
have often implied. However, the existence of a transnational public sphere
means that the fiction that such boundaries enclose cultures and regulate cultural
exchange can no longer be sustained.

The production and distribution of mass culture-films, television and radio
programs, newspapers and wire services, recorded music, books, live concerts-
is largely controlled by those notoriously placeless organizations, multinational
corporations. The “public sphere” is therefore hardly “public” with respect to
control over the representations that are circulated in it. Recent work in cultural
studies has emphasized the dangers of reducing the reception of multinational cul-
tural production to the passive act of consumption, leaving no room for the active
creation by agents of disjunctures and dislocations between the flow of industrial
commodities and cultural products. However, we worry at least as much about
the opposite danger of celebrating the inventiveness of those “consumers” of the
culture industry (especially on the periphery) who fashion something quite dif-
ferent out of products marketed to them, reinterpreting and remaking them, some-
times quite radically, and sometimes in a direction that promotes resistance rather
than conformity. The danger here is the temptation to use scattered examples of
the cultural flows dribbling from the “periphery” to the chief centers of the cul-
ture industry as a way of dismissing the “grand narrative” of capitalism (espe-
cially the “totalizing” narrative of late capitalism), and thus of evading the pow-
erful political issues associated with Western global hegemony.

The reconceptualization of space implicit in theories of interstitiality and
public culture has led to efforts to conceptualize cultural difference without in-
voking the orthodox idea of “culture.” This is a yet largely unexplored and
underdeveloped area. We do, clearly, find the clustering of cultural practices that
do not “belong” to a particular “people” or to a definite place. Jameson (1984)
has attempted to capture the distinctiveness of these practices in the notion of a
“cultural dominant,” whereas Ferguson ( 1990) proposes an idea of “cultural
style,” which searches for a logic of surface practices without necessarily map-
ping such practices onto a “total way of life” encompassing values, beliefs, at-
titudes, et cetera, as in the usual concept of culture. We need to explore what
Homi Bhabha calls “the uncanny of cultural difference.”

cultural difference becomes a problem not when you can point to the Hottentot Venus,
or to the punk whose hair is six feet up in the air; it does not have that kind of fixable
visibility. It is as the strangeness of the familiar that it becomes more problematic,
both politically and conceptually . . . when the problem of cultural difference is our-
selves-as-others, others-as-ourselves, that borderline. [ 1989:72]

Why focus on that borderline? We have argued that deterritorialization has
destabilized the fixity of “ourselves” and “others.” But it has not thereby created
subjects who are free-floating monads, despite what is sometimes implied by
those eager to celebrate the freedom and playfulness of the postmodern condition.
As Martin and Mohanty (1986: 194) point out, indeterminacy, too, has its political


limits, which follow from the denial of the critic’s own location in multiple fields
of power. Instead of stopping with the notion of deterritorialization, the pulveri-
zation of the space of high modernity, we need to theorize how space is being
reterritorialized in the contemporary world. We need to account sociologically
for the fact that the “distance” between the rich in Bombay and the rich in London
may be much shorter than that between different classes in “the same” city. Phys-
ical location and physical territory, for so long the only grid on which cultural
difference could be mapped, need to be replaced by multiple grids that enable us
to see that connection and contiguity-more generally the representation of ter-
ritory-vary considerably by factors such as class, gender, race, and sexuality,
and are differentially available to those in different locations in the field of power.


Acknowledgrnenrs. This collection of articles originally grew out of two organized sessions
presented at the 1988 meetings of the American Anthropological Association in Phoenix.
One, organized by Akhil Gupta and Lisa Rofel, dealt with “The Culture and Politics of
Space”; the other, organized by Liisa Malkki and James Ferguson, concerned “Themes
of Place and Locality in the Collective Identity of Mobile and Displaced Populations.”
Early versions of all of the articles in this collection were originally presented as papers in
these panels, with the exception of Gupta’s “The Song of the Non-Aligned World,” which
was written later.

It was Arjun Appadurai who first suggested that the two themes might be brought
together, and who first put us in touch with each other. For that, he has our thanks and
appreciation. Akhil Gupta would also like to thank Lisa Rofel for co-organizing the orig-
inal panel and Purnima Mankekar, whose critical reading and commentary throughout has
contributed much to the project. James Ferguson would like to acknowledge the influence
of Liisa Malkki’s thinking in shaping his ideas about space, place, and identity. Her acute
comments and imaginative discussion contributed greatly to this introductory article. We
are both grateful to John Peters for a helpful critical reading of the article at a late stage.

‘This is obviously not true of the “new ethnicity” literature, of texts such as Anzaldua
( 1987) and Radhakrishnan ( 1987).

‘See also Robertson (1988, 1991) on the politics of nostalgia and “native place-making”
in Japan.

‘We are, of course, aware that a considerable amount of recent work in anthropology has
centered on immigration. However, it seems to us that too much of this work remains at
the level of describing and documenting patterns and trends of migration, often with a
policy science focus. Such work is undoubtedly important, and often strategically effective
in the formal political arena. Yet there remains the challenge of taking up the specifically
culrural issues surrounding the mapping of otherness onto space, as we have suggested is
necessary. One area where at least some anthropologists have taken such issues seriously
is that of Mexican immigration to the United States (e.g., Alvarez 1987; Bustamente 1987;
Chavez 1991; Kearney 1986, 1990; Kearney and Nagengast 1989; and Rouse 1991). An-
other example is Borneman (1986), which is noteworthy for showing the specific links
between immigration law and homophobia, nationalism and sexuality, in the case of the
Cuban “Marielito” immigrants to the United States.


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You have printed the following article:

Beyond “Culture”: Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference
Akhil Gupta; James Ferguson
Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 1, Space, Identity, and the Politics of Difference. (Feb., 1992),
pp. 6-23.
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1 Ethnic Identity and Post-Structuralist Differance
R. Radhakrishnan
Cultural Critique, No. 6, The Nature and Context of Minority Discourse. (Spring, 1987), pp.
Stable URL:


3 Outside the Imagined Community: Undocumented Settlers and Experiences of Incorporation
Leo R. Chavez
American Ethnologist, Vol. 18, No. 2. (May, 1991), pp. 257-278.
Stable URL:


3 From the Invisible Hand to Visible Feet: Anthropological Studies of Migration and
Michael Kearney
Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 15. (1986), pp. 331-361.
Stable URL:


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Theory in Anthropology: Center and Periphery
Arjun Appadurai
Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 28, No. 2. (Apr., 1986), pp. 356-361.
Stable URL:


Putting Hierarchy in Its Place
Arjun Appadurai
Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 3, No. 1, Place and Voice in Anthropological Theory. (Feb., 1988), pp.
Stable URL:


Outside the Imagined Community: Undocumented Settlers and Experiences of Incorporation
Leo R. Chavez
American Ethnologist, Vol. 18, No. 2. (May, 1991), pp. 257-278.
Stable URL:


Theory in Anthropology: Small is Beautiful? The Problem of Complex Cultures
Ulf Hannerz
Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 28, No. 2. (Apr., 1986), pp. 362-367.
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Ulf Hannerz
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From the Invisible Hand to Visible Feet: Anthropological Studies of Migration and
Michael Kearney
Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 15. (1986), pp. 331-361.
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Ethnic Identity and Post-Structuralist Differance
R. Radhakrishnan
Cultural Critique, No. 6, The Nature and Context of Minority Discourse. (Spring, 1987), pp.
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Politics, Patriarchs, and Laughter
Renato Rosaldo
Cultural Critique, No. 6, The Nature and Context of Minority Discourse. (Spring, 1987), pp. 65-86.
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