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Ainsley Elbra

The ongoing effects of the Financial Crisis (FC) of 2008–09 have led to widespread debate about the fairness of the global capitalist system. One important arena in which this debate has been played out is global corporate taxation, where a new politics of corporate taxation has emerged. This chapter, which discusses transnational activist networks, tax justice NGOs, and governments, explores the roles of these actors in raising the salience of corporate tax avoidance in the minds of ordinary voters and politicians alike. It is argued here that, prior to the FC, the most significant sources of non-governmental influence over global tax regulation were tax practitioners and business actors. After the FC, however, the politics and discourses of austerity and the budgetary challenges faced by governments opened the field of multinational corporate tax regulation to a much wider range of actors, and piqued public awareness and resentment of corporate tax avoidance. Tying these findings together, this chapter describes the new politics of corporate taxation and argues that it has created the potential for new forms of governance in this arena, including voluntary and private governance – possibilities explored elsewhere in this volume.

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Byron Miller

While globalization processes have operated for centuries, the present era of globalization has given rise to extremes of income inequality and wealth, capital and information transfer, and resource consumption and consumerism with attendant environmental consequences. Behind contemporary globalization lurks the question: for whom? The distribution of the costs and benefits of globalization has been highly uneven, both amongst nation-states and within them. Moreover, globalization processes have been controlled and advanced in large measure by states and corporations of the global North and their proxy institutions of global governance – the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. The problematic nature of contemporary globalization has given rise to a variety of responses, including defenses of the status quo, left-wing anti-globalization movements, and right-wing anti-globalization movements laced with xenophobic populism. In contrast to responses that either embrace or reject globalization in its present form, alter-globalization movements (sometimes called ‘global justice movements’) do not seek to end globalization through a return to an imaginary golden era of national autarky. Rather, they seek global engagement and exchange on a basis that protects and advances values of social, economic, and environmental justice. Interestingly, the very idea of just forms of globalization requires the rethinking of norms of justice, which can no longer be tied to the Westphalian nation-state. Moreover, strategies for creating a more just world may take a variety of geographical forms, focusing on different geographical scales. Alternative projects of globalization recognize the relationship between the global (which is always ‘somewhere’) and the local, creatively experimenting with new forms of organization along the local-global continuum.

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Sune Haugbolle

This chapter advocates the recognition by political anthropology of the need to match analytically and conceptually the recent renaissance of ideology in the political world. The ‘webs of significance’ that connect human beings form political subjectivities in systemic ways. Political anthropology should shed light on ideologies as cognitive structures with legitimizing functions. Using the uprisings in the Middle East as of 2011, this chapter suggests that ideologies are not fixed or cohesive, but rather can be retrieved from the fluidity of processes through ethnography and analysis of mass-mediated texts and images. Although there is no clear demarcation from other knowledge structures, including those normally related to ‘culture’ (the main subject of anthropology), political anthropology has a distinct edge in the current push in ideology theory towards better understanding the ‘anatomy of thinking politically’ – the complex ways in which political thought is shaped between subjective interpretation and social interaction.

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Finn Stepputat and Monique Nuijten

This chapter provides an inventory of ‘the anthropology of the state’. It starts from the insight that the anthropology of the state drew considerably more on scholars of political science, political philosophy and sociology than on political anthropology. The ‘theoretical genealogies’ of the field challenged the taken-for-grantedness of the state as a ‘distinct, fixed and unitary entity’ operating outside and above society. The chapter concludes that the state as an idea of transcendental political authority and a centralizing organizational practice is not withering away, as observers in the 1990s suggested, but rather is transforming. The strongest contribution of political anthropology in grasping the manifold transformative processes is to combine rich ethnographic studies of this blurriness and the fragmentation of states with analyses of underlying rationales.

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Henrik Vigh and David Sausdal

This chapter tackles the contemporary potential of the anthropology of crime by tracing the origin of the discipline back to ‘criminal genetics’ and the study of innate dispositions before engaging with the collective social conditions and logics that are the pillars of criminal formations, flows, and networks. It claims that political anthropology is needed to study more carefully the frames within which crime develops, is executed, and also is identified as being deviant. Beyond earlier evolutionistic, racialised, and functionalist approaches to crime, this chapter provides an investigation of criminal structures and groups as sub-societal or sub-cultural entities leading us, in conclusion, to an examination of movements and assemblages along networks and trajectories that move across strata and space. In essence, anthropological knowledge is accumulative rather than linear as many of the insights gained and the knowledge learnt are complementary rather than contradictory.

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Bjørn Thomassen

This chapter outlines a series of anthropologically inspired contributions to the study of revolutions. Most scholarship on political revolutions has come from sociology, political science and history. However, in recent years, and closely related to the Arab Spring and the worldwide political upheavals after 2011, a growing number of scholars have provided ethnographic accounts of revolutionary settings. At the level of theory, the chapter indicates some possible anthropological contributions to the study of revolutions and revolutionary action. It invites an understanding of revolutions as ritual processes, highlighting transformative characteristics that closely resemble liminal in-between periods and spaces known from rites of passage. The overall point stressed here is therefore that anthropologists have contributed not only with ethnographic accounts of revolutions as lived through by social actors, but also with analytical approaches that can inspire and supplement existing theoretical approaches to political revolutions.

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Richard Bower

In contrast to the assumption of global urban growth as inevitable and unending, this chapter poses a counter-proposition that frames the principles of the Cittaslow (or Slow City) movement and Nassim Taleb’s exploration of Antifragile structures as offering alternative grassroots and anarchistic propositions for urban development. The disparate yet congruent propositions of Slow and Antifragile cities are explored through the critical intersection of their underlying themes that necessitate an alternative vocabulary of urban development methodologies. Examples of such methods are subsequently highlighted by practices and ideas drawn from further interdisciplinary urban discourses – Marcus Westbury's Creating Cities', Dan Hill's Dark Matter and Trojan Horses, and Nabeel Hamdi’s The Spacemaker's Guide to Big Change. In exploring these texts this chapter seeks to frame a critical counter narrative to the conventions and assumptions that produce Westernized space and the dichotomies that continue to prevail and underpin the process of global urban development: formal and informal space; Global North and Global South; emergent and historic city growth; public and private space. In response to the conventions of neoliberal politics and economics, the alternative proposition for slow and antifragile urban development is driven by the social agency of grassroots local enterprise and the strategic manipulation of processes and relationships that produce cities. The transformative idea of slow urbanism reimagines cities and citizens as co-producers of sustainable urban change through the shared pursuit of alternative social and political relationships. By exploring the intersection of these interdisciplinary perspectives this chapter proposes a critical foundation of practicable methodologies that together highlight the potential of slow urbanism principles to support the realization of ‘Antifragile’ cities.

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Jason Richardson and Bruce Coffyn Mitchell

Cities are places where agglomeration effects and the intensification of economic exchange create a highly specialized and stratified social structure. Many urban areas in the United States seek to address the decline of their industrial sector via redevelopment and transformation. The extent to which legacy residents of communities in or near those former industrial zones are allowed and able to remain becomes an area of concern. In many cases these households are among the most vulnerable: people of color, the elderly, recent immigrants, or low-to-moderate-income (LMI) non-Hispanic whites. Residential segregation separates communities along racial, ethnic, and economic lines, presenting structural barriers to full participation in the opportunities and amenities that urbanization provides. In this new post-industrial dynamic, the question becomes what methods – data and techniques – can be used to identify zones of gentrification or disinvestment in order to guide policy and encourage reinvestment. This chapter examines techniques used to identify urban investment patterns under the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) and the Affordable Housing Goals (AHG), a dynamic set of goals enshrined by the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992. Using datasets of mortgage and small business lending, and bank branch location, investment levels and financial access for different communities are exposed. This activity bears similarities with critical cartography strategies and uses GIS to examine spatial patterns of inequitable capital access for disadvantaged communities. Two case studies are presented: Baltimore and Oakland. Baltimore provides an example of the isolation of communities from spillover effects, despite considerable reinvestment. Spillover effects from San Francisco have initiated gentrification in Oakland, a community at the edge of a developing world-city.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

This chapter introduces the problem that this book addresses: how do societies come to be constructed in such a way that residents cannot drink the water that is supplied to them? The example of the supply of water to Shanghai is taken as a case through which to examine this question. Shanghai, it is argued, is an assemblage of interacting actors. This book examines the properties and characteristics of four principal actors: the hydro-geological conditions and rivers that provide water; the people, corporations and institutions within Shanghai who use and pollute the water; the institutions of central and other governments that regulate the use of the rivers and the discharges into them; and the infrastructures that governments and corporations have built to manage the river. The chapter concludes by outlining the organisation of the chapters through which the book addresses the question.

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Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang