The Tumultuous Politics of Scale: Unsettled States, Migrants, Movements in Flux, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Tumultuous Politics of Scale

Unsettled States, Migrants, Movements in Flux, 1st Edition

Edited by Donald M. Nonini, Ida Susser


280 pages

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Contemporary politics, this book contends, depend upon the turbulent struggles and strategies around scale. Conflicts over scale can be seen as opaque class struggles. Political projects, whether from the ground up or representing corporate or state interests, continually contest the scale at which authority is vested. This volume looks at the way global corporations redefine the scale of power and how working class and other movements build alliances and cross scales to develop political blocs. What injustices are perpetrated or, more hopefully, redressed in this process? The book, consisting of contributions from anthropologists, geographers and cultural studies scholars, explores theoretical issues around contested temporal and spatial scales, and around variations in scale from the body to the global.

Section One focuses on bodies in motion, entangled in battles over new boundaries and political coalitions, and the ways in which migrants and refugees are disrupted by intersecting time scales. Section Two on the nation-state addresses the shifting responsibilities assigned by law at different historical moments and the impact of global energy trade on national austerity policies. Section Three, Rescaling Europe, discusses the misleading media discourse on Brexit and reconstructs the class bases of the move to the right in Eastern Europe that threaten the EU. Section Four considers ways in which some social movements are constrained by scale while others reshape parties and traverse nations in their efforts to build class alliances and political blocs. Finally, the last section revisits historic debates on uneven and combined development, highlighting their relevance to the land grabs of the twenty-first century.


This book is a worthy and interesting contribution to the revival of "political-economic anthropology" -- that is to the analysis of ethnographic findings in terms of vastly unequal classes and class struggles. The book’s central question is what it means for anthropologists to return to political economy in the globalized world of today. Overall, the collection of essays makes the case for a new set of interlocutors for the discipline. Jane Schneider, City University of New York

Table of Contents

1. Introduction – The Tumultuous Politics of Scale: Struggles, Strategies, and Scales in Action [Donald M. Nonini and Ida Susser] Part One. Scales of Domination: Transnational Migration and its Discontents 2. The Making and Un-Making of Border Scales: European Union Migration Control in North and West Africa [Sebastian Cobarrubias] 3. The Temporalities in Migration: Women and Reproduction in the Affective Economies of Late Capitalism [Winnie Lem] Part Two. Problematizing the Nation and the Nation-State 4. Political Violence, Criminal Law and Shifting Scales of Justice [Ruchi Chaturvedi] 5. Networked Flows through a "Porous" State: A Scalar Energo-political Account of the Greek Debt Crisis [Sandy Smith-Nonini] Part Three. Rescaling Sovereignty: The Case of the European Union and Its Outside Insiders 6. Making the Eastern Scale: Class, Contradiction, and the Rise of the ‘illiberal’ Right in Post-socialist Central Europe [Don Kalb] 7. Reimagining Scale, Space and Sovereignty: The United Kingdom and "Brexit" [John Clarke] Part Four. The Longue Durée 8.Interrogating the Agrarian Question Then and Now in Terms of Uneven and Combined Development [Gavin Smith] 9. Dispossession and Emancipation: Reframing Labor’s Political Question for the Neoliberal Era [August Carbonella] Part Five. Social Movements: Reshaping the Domains of Conflict 10. Downscaled "Local Food" Movements from Below and the Corporate Food Movement from Above: What’s at Stake? [Donald M. Nonini] 11. Localism in One Local: Labor and Scale at the Saturn Automobile Factory [Sharryn Kasmir] 12. Social Protest: Rescaling As a Consequence of Nuit Debout/Occupy [Ida Susser]

About the Editors

Don Nonini is Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is interested in urban and political anthropology. He has authored "Getting by": Class and State Formation among Chinese and Malaysia (2015) and (with others) Local Democracy under Siege (2007), and most recently edited A Companion to Urban Anthropology (2014).

Ida Susser is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her recent publications focus on social movements and the urban commons in the United States and Europe, including a Special Issue of Focaal on Commoning and the co-edited volume, Rethinking America.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General