Responsibility and Evidence in Trumpian Discourse

In an exchange with reporters in the White House Rose Garden over the deaths of soldiers in Niger, Trump not only demonstrates his constant need to puff himself up by denigrating others, but also illustrates the way he exploits what linguists call evidentiality—the semantic marking of an information source—to wrap innuendos in the sheath of truth claims while avoiding responsibility for the veracity of those claims.

What’s in a Kiss?

On a late October day in 2016, police detained 17 journalists in a raid on the Istanbul offices of Turkey’s oldest newspaper, Cumhuriyet, as part of the post-July 15 coup attempt purge. It took eight months for the Cumhuriyet trial to begin, with the first verdicts given in late July. While some journalists were released, others […]

Beyond the Criminal Discourse in Title IX Procedures

On September 22, 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rolled back the Title IX guidelines implemented under the Obama presidency. The shocking implications of this are too numerous for this short article, however, I want bring to the fore one key concern: changes to what constitutes as the standard of proof for a violation in […]

Bab Al-Harah

While the civil war rages in Syria, the Old City of Damascus with its enticing courtyard houses and familiar Damascene characters remain popular in the Arab world. The Syrian TV series Bab Al-Harah (Neighborhood Gate) was one such Ramadan offering this year, but was less innovative or daring than The President’s Shadow, which I discussed […]

The Estranged Siblings

Beginning in 2000, I served a term as chair of the anthropology department at Indiana University, at a time when our state legislature was progressively squeezing the university budget. One of our Dean’s many austerity measures was a policy that we could no longer replace people who retired or departed. There would be no more […]

The Multivocal Power of Sports

After the summer’s hurricanes, fires, and North Korean nuclear provocations, the autumn return to football might have been exactly what we needed. But the current National Football League (NFL) season is showing that our nation’s politics are just as tumultuous as Mother Nature. This season’s controversy actually began last summer, when Colin Kaepernick of the […]

The Paranoid Style of Climate Change Denial

Through its actions and appointments, the Trump administration has elevated climate change denial to official government policy. The administration’s position represents a fundamental shift away from science toward the embrace of what Richard Hofstadter termed the “Paranoid Style in American Politics.” The paranoid style breeds a form of post-truth cynicism that destroys confidence in science as a tool for guiding thoughtful responses to issues like climate change.

Learning from Stuart Hall

The anthropology of living with difference. This year has for me been a year of reading and re-reading the work of the late cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall (1932-2014). This year the publishing of Hall’s work has become a minor publishing cottage industry. Though Hall was not an anthropologist, his books and essays have certainly been […]

The Disastrous End for DACA Students and Workers

Early morning on September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, issued to protect over 800,000 undocumented persons who arrived to the United States as minors from deportation and provide them with temporary work-permits. Sessions claimed that DACA had been “an unconstitutional exercise […]

Is Anthropology Ready for the 21st Century?

Whenever social scientists start rethinking basic issues, they usually begin by interrogating their key analytical categories and assumptions. They may, for example, take terms like “identity” or “sustainability” or “power” apart, pointing the way to new research programs by finding the problematic assumptions or generalizations concealed in such words and their usage. The idea behind […]