Book Review: ‘Ethnicity and Democracy in the Eastern Himalayan Borderland’

In the book Ethnicity and Democracy, Mona Chettri offers a rich ethnography originating from fieldwork conducted in three EH borderland areas: Darjeeling (India), Sikkim (India), and Ilam in East Nepal. These three areas were traditionally seen as continuous cultural landscapes bounded by fluid and porous borders, defining trade, livelihood, and everyday life in the region. Chettri’s book is one of the first few works to identify the continuous yet discrete nature of Darjeeling, Sikkim, and East Nepal. Invoking the EH as a conceptual, geographical, and political space, Chettri offers a new framework within which questions of ethnic revivalism, ethnic politics, representation, political and economic vagaries, and political rights across these regions can be analysed. 

Introducing Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective Textbook Review

Christian but not ideological? Doesn’t promote perspectives in controversy but centers theological devotion? Biblical differences of opinion, but not anthropological ones? The centrality of “belief” as both a core concept and as a linguistic turn of phrase (i.e., “anthropologists believe…” which appears all over the text) is also telling. This isn’t just a Christian perspective, it’s an unexamined recapitulation of Euro-American religious concepts (like “belief”) that formed the Eurocentric academic study of culture two centuries ago and that modern anthropologists have spent a fair amount of time deeply critical of.

Imagining new imaginaries for the university

Are we seeing a shift away from explicitly imagining alternatives to the status quo? Are we even still capable, as a society, of envisaging these alternative imaginaries? There is a ‘discursive regime’ - ie. a way of speaking and discussing ideas that is so pervasive as to become inescapable - at play in discussions of universities (and indeed, the world at large) that precludes the consideration of alternatives to neoliberalisation, marketisation and capitalism more broadly. But systematic application of the imagination can create ideas, and “ideas can change reality, for ideas can turn into reasons for action, which in turn can become causes of change.” (Barnett, 2013, p. 7).