From world cities to world sites

Strategic ruralism and the case for an anthropology of actually existing connectivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As anthropological interest in trans-local connection has expanded in recent decades, anthropologists have increasingly turned to cities as paradigmatic locations of the global, the modern, and the cosmopolitan. As they have done so, an older paradigm of anthro- pologists doing research in villages and other out of the way places has been maligned as old fashioned or out of touch, perpetually associated with the local pole of a hackneyed local-global dialectic. By contrast, my essay elaborates a case for a shift in focus from ‘‘world cities’’ to ‘‘world sites’’ in which the erstwhile givens of urban connection and rural disconnection, urban culture and rural nature, are opened up to critical rethinking via ethnographies of actually existing connectivity. Where influential work has taken cities as paradigmatic nodes of globalization, I argue for the necessity of a ‘‘strategic ruralism’’ in anthropological approaches to actually existing global connectivity. In par- ticular, I suggest, in order to begin to replace virtualist notions of world cities with more symmetrical and empirically derived formulations of world sites, we must critically assess the binaries that continue to condition the boundary work that scripts the urban as always already human and unnatural on the one hand and the rural as natural and by extension relatively non-human on the other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-382
Number of pages19
JournalCritique of Anthropology
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • rural
  • urban
  • world cities
  • site ontology
  • wilderness
  • urban wilds
  • global connection

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