Ethnographies of U.S. Empire

Book Pages: 560 Illustrations: 1 illustration Published: August 2018

American Studies, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory

How do we live in and with empire? The contributors to Ethnographies of U.S. Empire pursue this question by examining empire as an unequally shared present. Here empire stands as an entrenched, if often invisible, part of everyday life central to making and remaking a world in which it is too often presented as an aberration rather than as a structuring condition. This volume presents scholarship from across U.S. imperial formations: settler colonialism, overseas territories, communities impacted by U.S. military action or political intervention, Cold War alliances and fissures, and, most recently, new forms of U.S. empire after 9/11. From the Mohawk Nation, Korea, and the Philippines to Iraq and the hills of New Jersey, the contributors show how a methodological and theoretical commitment to ethnography sharpens all of our understandings of the novel and timeworn ways people live, thrive, and resist in the imperial present.

Contributors: Kevin K. Birth, Joe Bryan, John F. Collins, Jean Dennison, Erin Fitz-Henry, Adriana María Garriga-López, Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha, Matthew Gutmann, Ju Hui Judy Han, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Eleana Kim, Heonik Kwon, Soo Ah Kwon, Darryl Li, Catherine Lutz, Sunaina Maira, Carole McGranahan, Sean T. Mitchell, Jan M. Padios, Melissa Rosario, Audra Simpson, Ann Laura Stoler, Fa’anofo Lisaclaire Uperesa, David Vine


"Ethnographies of U.S. Empire cover[s] myriad aspects of American life and history, from American conduct in dealing with indigenous peoples to the Iran-Contra conspiracy and the War on Terror. . . . The nearly 50-page bibliography offers a sturdy jumping-off point for further study. . . .  Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty." — S.J. Zuber-Chall, Choice

"This edited volume and its refusal to comply with dominant research writing and reading practices that may obfuscate the category of empire is a powerful statement about the future of anthropological inquiry and empire." — Mariam Durrani, Transforming Anthropology

"These essays raise important questions not always broached by historians, particularly the consequences and materiality of rumor, conspiracy, epistemology, and neoliberalism. The volume will be useful for students and scholars of U.S. empire, and it encourages interdisciplinary conversations between historians and anthropologists." — Jana Kate Lipman, Journal of American History

"Beyond the scholarship on specific themes or geographic areas, each chapter does an excellent job of locating the lived experiences in particular places within the overall context of empire. The book offers a strong refutation of the idea that postmodern empires are uniform or deterritorial. Its strength is the methodology of placing peoples’ ideas and actions within the wider context of global forces." — Lanny Thompson, New West Indian Guide

"These essays raise important questions not always broached by historians, particularly the consequences and materiality of rumor, conspiracy, epistemology, and neoliberalism. The volume will be useful for students and scholars of U.S. empire, and it encourages interdisciplinary conversations between historians and anthropologists." — Jana Kate Lipman, Journal of American History

"Engaging emerging, multidisciplinary conversations across anthropology, American studies, and postcolonial studies about how empire operates and endures, Ethnographies of U.S. Empire is a reflection both on empire and on ethnography. Together, the chapters make a case for ethnographic research as a way of studying empire, as a method that offers not a bounded or concise definition of what makes an empire, but rather an expansive sense of how people live with and within the imperial present." — Emma Shaw Crane, Society & Space

Ethnographies of U.S. Empire is an exceptionally rich collection of articles on the variety of forms American imperialism takes, both internally (starting with the dispossession of Native peoples from their lands) and globally. And unlike some of the grander and less grounded takes on empire as an almost abstract phenomenon, these authors approach the problem ethnographically, through closely observed case studies that powerfully capture the texture of experience of real people in real places in a world of colonial, post-colonial, and imperial power.” — Sherry B. Ortner, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles

“Bringing together some of the most compelling and innovative ethnographers working today on U.S. empire, this volume makes a substantial and influential contribution to the critical study of U.S. imperial formations. It will be an indispensable touchstone for the discipline of anthropology and essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the complex dynamics of U.S. global power.” — Alyosha Goldstein, editor of Formations of United States Colonialism


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Spring 2020 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Carole McGranahan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado and the author of Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War, also published by Duke University Press.

John F. Collins is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and the author of Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian Racial Democracy, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: Ethnography and U.S. Empire / John F. Collins and Carole McGranahan  1
I. Settlement, Sentiment, Sovereignty
1. The "Affects" of Empire: (Dis)trust among Osage Annuitants / Jean Dennison  27
2. Milking the Cow for All It's Worth: Settler Colonialism and the Politics of Imperialist Resentment in Hawai?i / J. Kehaulani Kauanui  47
3. Sovereignty, Sympathy, and Indigeneity / Audra Simpson  72
II. Colonialism by Any Other Name
4. A School of Addicts: The Coloniality of Addiction in Puerto Rico / Adriana María Garriga-López  93
5. Inhabiting the Aporias of Empire: Protest Politics in Contemporary Puerto Rico / Melissa Rosario  112
6. Training for Empire?: Samoa and American Gridiron Football / Fa?anofo Lisaclaire Uperesa  129
7. Exceptionalism as a Way of Life: U.S. Empire, Filipino Subjectivity, and the Global Call Center Industry / Jan M. Padios  149
III. Temporality, Proximity, Dispersion
8. In Their Place: Cottica Ndyuka in Moengo / Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha  173
9. Shifting Geographies of Proximity: Korean-led Evangelical Christian Missions and the U.S. Empire / Ju Hui Judy Han  194
10. Sites of the Postcolonial Cold War / Heonik Kwon  214
11. Time Standards and Rhizomatic Imperialism / Kevin K. Birth  227
IV. Military Promises
12. Islands of Imperialism: Military Bases and the Ethnography of U.S. Empire / David Vine  249
13. Domesticating the U.S. Air Force: The Challenges of Anti-Military Activism in Manta, Ecuador / Erin Fitz-Henry  270
14. The Empire of Choice and the Emergence of Military Dissent / Matthew Gutmann and Catherine Lutz  291
V. Residue, Rumors, Remnants
15. Locating Landmines in the Korean Demilitarized Zone / Eleana Kim  313
16. Love and Empire: The CIA, Tibet, and Covert Humanitarianism / Carole McGranahan  333
17. Trust Us: Nicaragua, Iran-Contra, and the Discursive Economy of Empire / Joe Bryan  350
18. Empire as Accusation, Denial, and Structure: The Social Life of U.S. Power at Brazil's Spaceport / Sean T. Mitchell  369
VI. 9/11, The War on Terror, and the Return of Empire
19. Radicalizing Empire: Youth and Dissent in the War on Terror / Sunaina Maria  391
20. Deporting Cambodian Refugees: Youth Activism, State Reform, and Imperial Statecraft / Soo Ah Kwon  411
21. Hunters of the Sourlands: Empire and Displacement in Highland New Jersey / John F. Collins  431
22. From Exception to Empire: Sovereignty, Carceral Circulation, and the "Global War on Terror" / Darryl Li  456
Afterword. Disassemblage: Rethinking U.S. Imperial Formations / Ann Laura Stoler in conversation with Carole McGranahan  477
Bibliography  491
Contributors  539
Index  541
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0023-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0009-9
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