The Empire Effect
Burbank, J., Cooper, F.
Empires—large, expansionist polities that govern different people differently—have a long history, compared with which the nation-state appears as a short-term formation with an uncertain future. Examining the trajectories of empires—their creations, conflicts, rivalries, successes, and failures—reminds us of something overlooked in recent decades: that sovereignty in the past and in many areas today is complex, divided, layered, and configured on multiple founding principles and practices. This article points to the varied repertoires of power used by empires as they extended control into culturally diverse regions. We draw attention to tensions between incorporation and differentiation, to strategies for managing local elites and other intermediaries, and to the competitions and conflicts among empires that shaped world history from antiquity until the present.
Simulating Iraq: Cultural Mediation and the Effects of the Real
Beckett, C., Banai, N.
This essay examines Claire Beckett’s Simulating Iraq (2007–9), a series of large-format color photographs that documents army personnel and civilian workers training American troops for military deployment by staging the theater of operations awaiting them. At the heart of this endeavor is the problem of cultural mediation through which the slippery notions of "us" and "them" or "friend" and "foe" are constructed and materialized. While such simulations of identity create effects of the real, they also elude definitive capture or specific localization. Beckett’s photographs capture the complicity and contradictions that course through the elisions among imaging systems, the field of perception, and the logic of military operations.
Seeing and Believing: On Photography and the War on Terror
As perpetual wars of terror and securitization dislocate relations between domestic and foreign affairs, visual news media are shaping perceptions of the forms of violence—shock and awe, collateral damage—that attend these wars. This essay considers the role that photography is playing in relation to the emergent visual repertoires of perpetual war.
Alondra Nelson speaks with Troy Duster about his intellectual genealogy and about racial inequality after the genome.
Economic Crises and the Shape of Modern History
Sewell, W. H.
Inspired by the current world economic crisis, this article attempts to assess the place of economic crises in the longer history of capitalism. Combining perspectives from Karl Marx, Joseph A. Schumpeter, Hyman Minsky, and Giovanni Arrighi, the article moves from crises to the business cycles of which they are a product, to the long-term rhythms of capitalist development. It concludes by looking at the current crisis from the point of view of these longer rhythms.
"Entrenched in the BMW": Argentine Elites and the Terror of Fiscal Obligation
This essay explores the public drama that ensues after a husband and wife lock themselves in their BMW to protest the Buenos Aires provincial tax authority’s attempt to sequester their vehicle. When the conflict airs in real time on the evening news, class tensions erupt outside the gated community, exposing a fierce contest between elite and poor citizens over legitimate methods of tax collection and the social logics of indebtedness. The essay shows how discourses emblematic of the postdictatorship and post–financial crisis periods—human rights on the one hand and w