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Thinking through Sociality: An Anthropological Interrogation of Key Concepts

This is a guest post written by Vered Amit, who edited the volume Thinking Through Sociality: An Anthropological Interrogation of Key Concepts (now available in paperback!). Read the Introduction online for free.

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Are There Sustainable Cities in the Arctic?

by Robert Orttung

Robert Orttung is the author of Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities: Resource Politics, Migration, and Climate Changewhich will be available in paperback in 2018. We’re offering 25% off the paperback with code ORT427 on our website.

More than four million people live in the Arctic, but so far few scholars have addressed urban conditions there. In fact, most people living in the Arctic reside in cities. Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities: Resource Politics, Migration, and Climate Change is one of the first to try to examine how sustainable these cities are.

The edited volume Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities grew out of a multi-disciplinary and multi-national team of scholars interested in the Arctic. The idea to focus on cities came from one of the book’s contributors, Nikolay Shiklomanov, during a meeting of faculty with an interest in the Arctic at George Washington University. Participants represented both natural scientists who study permafrost and climate change, and social scientists interested in migration and energy development. Cities proved to be the meeting ground where all of our interests converged. As resource extraction continues in the Arctic, more workers are moving to the region and building more infrastructure there. However, the extraction and subsequent combustion of fossil fuels leads to warming in many parts of the Arctic, typically at a rate much faster than on other parts of the planet.

The focus of this book is on Russian cities in the Arctic because Russia has gone the farthest of the Arctic countries in developing urban space in the far north. Stalin built large cities in the region as did subsequent Soviet leaders in an effort to develop the rich resources found there.

The book addresses the question of how humans can live in the Arctic while having minimal impact on the environment. There are no easy answers, so the various chapters consider the history of Arctic development in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, policy-making processes for the Arctic in Moscow, the administration of specific Arctic cities, the nature of the workers who make their living in the Arctic, the prospects for land and sea transportation in the region, and what we know about the future climate.

This book is the first of several that we hope to publish in an on-going research project. Currently, Sustaining Russia’s Arctic Cities serves as a foundation for developing an Arctic Urban Sustainability Index. This index will examine five types of variables – economic, social, environmental, governance and planning. The Index is in its early stages and we are reporting progress over time at our project website. The most recent publications include two reports in the 2017 Arctic Yearbook. The project has the support of the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education.

We hope that readers from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives will find the book useful in starting to think more serious about cities in the Arctic. Ultimately, we hope that this research program will lead to useful advice for mayors and other Arctic policy makers as they try to improve lives for the citizens of Arctic cities.


Robert W. Orttung is the research director for the George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative. He is also an associate research professor at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs. He has written and edited numerous books on Russia and energy politics.

Who is María Lionza?

A GODDESS IN MOTION: Visual Creativity in the Cult of María LionzaBy Roger Canals, lecturer in the department of social anthropology at the University of Barcelona.

The book A Goddess in Motion: Visual Creativity in the Cult of María Lionza finds its origins in my vivid interest in Afro-Latin American religions, art and visual anthropology. I understand the latter in a broad sense, that is, as an anthropology of images, as an exploration on the act of seeing and being seen, as a visual ethnography and, lastly, as an attempt to write and publish the outcomes of our research, including visual material.


The main goal of A Goddess in Motion: Visual Creativity in the Cult of María Lionza  is to explore how this goddess is represented and what people do with –and through– her images in contemporary Venezuelan society and abroad. For those who do not know this amazing figure, let me tell you that María Lionza is a fascinating goddess, still highly unexplored by academia: symbol of the Venezuelan identity, she is represented as Indian, White, Mestiza and as a Black woman, sometimes benevolent and sometimes evil, at once represented with a high sexual component and at once depicted as a mature woman close to the Virgin Mary. The images of María Lionza may be found in many different locations, where they play a variety of roles: on religious altars, in museums and galleries, on television, on the Internet or on the walls of the streets of Venezuelan cities, to mention just a few. Moreover, María Lionza can “descend” into the mediums’ bodies or “appear” in dreams, visions and apparitions.


The challenge of this book is to think of all these images (material, corporeal and mental) as a whole, that is, as a sort of dynamic and open network in which practices, discourses and visual representations mingle.

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Anthropological Knowledge Making, the Reflexive Feedback Loop, and Conceptualizations of the Soul

The following is a guest post from Katherine Swancutt, who co-edited Animism beyond the Soul: Ontology, Reflexivity, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge. This title is now available in hardback and paperback, and we’re offering 25% off this book with code SWA663 until June 30, 2018.

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Happy Bastille Day

paris-1293750_1920Celebrated on July, 14, Bastille Day is the French national day and one of the most important bank holidays in France. The day commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789, a medieval fortress and prison which was a symbol of tyrannical Bourbon authority and had held many political dissidents, and symbolizes the end of absolute monarchy and the birth of sovereign Nation.

The following year, the Fête de la Fédération was held in Paris and across the nation by a populace that largely believed the French Revolution was over. As it turned out, they were mistaken–and by 1791 there was little in the way of national unity to celebrate. The holiday wasn’t picked up again until 1878 when it was a one-time official feast to honor the French Republic, which was followed by an unofficial, popular celebration of the day in 1879, which in turn led to a call to make it an official holiday in 1880 complete with a military parade which has been an annual fixture ever since.

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Berghahn Journals: New Issues Published in June


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We’re delighted to offer a selection of latest releases from our core subjects of Archaeology, Anthropology, Film Studies, History, and Political Economy, along with our New in Paperback titles.




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World Refugee Day 2018

The United Nations’ (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. This event draws public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution. For more information please visit

In marking this year’s observance, we’re pleased to offer a 25% discount on all Refugee and Migration Studies titles for a limited time with code WRD18 on our website.

Children of the Camp: The Lives of Somali Youth Raised in Kakuma Refugee Camp, KenyaCHILDREN OF THE CAMP
The Lives of Somali Youth Raised in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
Catherine-Lune Grayson

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Berghahn Journals: New Issues Published in May


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Visit Berghahn Books at SCSMI 2018!

We are delighted to inform you that we will be present at The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI) annual conference at Montana State University, in Bozeman, Montana, June 13-16, 2018. Please stop by our table to browse the latest selection of books at discounted prices & pick up some free journal samples.

If you are unable to attend, we would like to provide you with a special discount offer. Receive a 25% discount on all titles listed below. At checkout, simply enter the discount code SCSMI18, valid through July 16th, 2018.

Visit our website­ to browse our interactive online Film and Media Studies Catalog or use the new enhanced subject searching features­ for a complete listing of all published and forthcoming titles.

Lessons in Perception: The Avant-Garde Filmmaker as Practical PsychologistLESSONS IN PERCEPTION
The Avant-Garde Filmmaker as Practical Psychologist
Paul Taberham
1200px-Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg  Full text available

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