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Taxation  

Lotta Björklund Larsen and Karen Boll

Taxation is the collection by a revenue authority of levies, fees, or charges from residents, businesses, or other legal entities deemed taxable pursuant to laws and regulations. Taxation affects most people in the world within the confines of a nation, state, or region. Some people claim taxation is theft by the state, others claim that it is a moral action and duty, and a third view is that taxes are expenses that citizens incur in order to make claims on the state. Taxation is thus an area of contestation. Taxpayers pay taxes on what they produce or transport, on their salaries and other income, and on their consumption. Taxation not only has a fiscal purpose, but can be used for resource allocation within society, for income redistribution, and for leveling economic stability to address issues of unemployment, prices, and economic growth. Research on taxation has been conducted in most social sciences. Legal scholars discuss changes to the law, economists emphasize taxation’s economic impact within the constraints of models, the accounting discipline addresses the organization and measurement of taxation, and behavioral economists and psychologists aim to predict human behavior in taxation experiments. While this research has extended the knowledge of fiscal practices, taxation has long been in dire need of a critical perspective on its human consequences, its social impact, and how it is culturally shaped. An emerging anthropology of taxation can address these issues. The anthropology of taxation opens a host of interconnected issues at the nexus of states, markets, and citizenship. It focuses on money, work, and ownership; notions of fairness and honesty or avoidance and evasion; the politics of regulation and redistribution; and the balance between taking responsibility for oneself and for others, to name a few. Ethnographic studies of taxation can depict how various stakeholders in the tax arena shape and are shaped by taxation. And they can illustrate how subjects of taxation—residents, businesses, communities, and societies—through their view on and practices of taxation, negotiate their relation to the state and to other beneficiaries. Turning our attention to the collecting side, taxation provides a multifaceted arena for issues such as policymaking, governance, and digitalization. The role that tax advisers play, often advising taxpayers on curtailing tax, also suggests a complicated relation with society. Anthropologists can untangle and illustrate the relations taxation create between various stakeholders through notions of social contract, governance, fiscal citizenship, reciprocity, and redistribution.

Article

Tourism and Indigenous Peoples  

Michelle MacCarthy

Indigenous peoples worldwide are affected by, and engage with, tourism in a number of ways. On the one hand, tourism may be oriented to facilitate direct interactions between Indigenous peoples and foreign tourists, often referred to as cultural or even “primitivist” tourism. In such cases, Indigenous people may or may not have much agency in how that interaction transpires and how much profit they directly derive. In other cases, such as ecotourism, reserves or other protected areas may be made more or less inaccessible to Indigenous people who may have ancestral claims to it, with infrastructure built to facilitate tourists’ visits and restrict or prohibit Indigenous use. Tourism behaviors may be disrespectful, intentionally or not, of Indigenous sensibilities. Tourist visits may be embraced by Indigenous people as an opportunity for economic development and cultural expression or rejected as an invasion of privacy, denying people dignity and respect by being objects of the “tourist gaze.” Many scholars from anthropology, sociology, human geography, and other related disciplines have sought to address some of the issues and concerns regarding the relationship between tourism and Indigenous peoples, drawing on examples from around the globe in order to illustrate the multitude of ways in which this relationship operates. Ways that Indigenous peoples’ relationship to tourism may be explored include contexts such as tourism to visit ancient monuments and UNESCO-listed world heritage sites, tourism in search of cultural differences, cruise travel and luxury resorts, and ecotourism. A variety of implications and potential tensions that may arise through tourism involving Indigenous peoples are explored.

Article

Tribes  

Philip Carl Salzman

A tribe is a regional security organization. It ties together a number of local primary face-to-face groups. It is charged with control of territory, defense against outside intruders, and protection of humans, livestock, and productive resources, such as wells and cultivation. Whatever productive activity tribesmen are primarily engaged in, such as pastoralism or cultivation, each male, with the exception of holy men, serves also as a warrior. Tribes are usually defined by a symbolic idiom that asserts a primordial connection among tribesmen. Descent from a common ancestor is an idiom used to define many tribes. Tribal names are often those of the ancestor that all members share. Internal divisions may also be defined by ancestry; a descent idiom allows group divisions at every level of the genealogy. Tribal subgroups are also charged with security and are defined as having “collective responsibility”; that is, the moral norm is that each member is responsible for what other members do and, as a consequence, all members are seen by outsiders as equivalent. There is also a moral norm to aid fellow tribesmen, the obligation stronger for close kin, weaker for more distant kin. Internal tribal relations among subgroups are based on what anthropologists call “balanced opposition” or “complementary opposition.” Each tribal subgroup is “balanced” against other subgroups of the same genealogical order, which in principle, and often in practice, serves as a deterrent against hostile acts. Tribal leadership can take the form of primus inter pares. However, in tribes in contact with states, more formal leadership roles, with at least the trappings of authority and power, can develop. Whatever the role of the tribal leader, he depends upon consent of the tribesmen. In tribal subgroups, political process tends to be highly democratic, and leaders are those who can elicit agreement among the members and then carry out the will of the community. Tribes are social organizations that are not static and do not always maintain form. They respond to environmental opportunities and constraints. If a state nearby is in trouble, with failing leadership and an unruly population, a tribe may mount a campaign to invade and conquer the state, setting itself up as a ruling dynasty. In these cases, tribes lose their tribal characteristics and become a ruling elite. However, if a nearby state gains strength and expands its territorial control, it may overrun and defeat the tribe, encapsulating it, incorporating it, and even assimilating it.

Article

Unemployment and Work Subjectivities in Argentina  

Mariano D. Perelman

Whether one is employed or unemployed depends on both a series of sociopolitical processes and individual career paths. Work subjectivities—both as a way of thinking about access to resources and as the pursuit of a life with dignity—allows understanding how people give meaning to the tasks they perform in order to earn a living. In Argentina, since the 1970s, full-time employment and access to salaried work, as well as social benefits through employment, have been central components of the work subjectivities of thousands of people. Salaried work and benefits continue to be the way one accesses a dignified life, even as the labor force deteriorates. At the same time, there are thousands of people who have never earned a living through employment or a “job” and who embody different work subjectivities. The work subjectivities of people who are not “formal” employees allow us to reconstruct the lines between employment and unemployment, between work and nonwork, and between lives controlled by salaried work and those that are not.

Article

Value and Values in Global Sport  

Susan Brownell and Niko Besnier

Since Antiquity, sporting bodies and performances have been assigned an economic value, and sporting events, particularly those with large audiences, have been organized with a view to their capacity to generate wealth and reinforce social hierarchies. At the same time, athletes have long embodied moral and ethical values such as virtue, beauty, purity, and sacrifice. Sport is thus a prime context in which a society negotiates the relationship between the material, in the form of value, and the symbolic or ideational, in the form of values. Sport and the sporting body can be commodified when they are assigned a value calculated in terms of a standardized currency and traded in a market. However, even in capitalist societies, sport often retains features that are shaped not by the market economy but the gift economy—in which exchange is governed by values such as honor, trust, and prestige. Sport offers a wealth of examples in which value and values come into conflict, exposing the fact that they are not incommensurable, but rather economic value is simply one kind of culturally constructed value among many. Victors in the ancient Greek Olympic Games received only awards made from plants, including a crown of olive branches, but returned home to be bestowed with material riches. An elite Roman man produced gladiator games as a “gift” to his supporters, but in deciding whether to allow a defeated fighter to live, he had to weigh the cost of losing a gladiator (who was a valuable piece of property) against displeasing his supporters. The association that runs Japanese sumo is not a modern legal corporation; rather, its members are retired wrestlers who have bought the wrestling name of an elder that has been passed along for as long as 250 years—and the name cannot be bought with a bank loan. In the name of amateurism, 19th-century Victorians banned professionals from taking part in Olympic sports amidst the massive commodification of leisure and popular culture that accompanied the rise of the modern industrial economy. Much of the Cold War was fought using athletes as proxies for the socialist and capitalist economic systems, as socialist nations denounced the exclusive gender and class values of “bourgeois” sports and sought to create an alternative model. After the end of the Cold War, the influx of capital into sports finally led to the death of the amateur ideal, quickly followed by the emergence of the migrant professional athlete. At the start of the 21st century, the massive revenues in college sport challenged the American notion of the unpaid student-athlete, while the global trade in athletes sucked ever greater numbers of athletes from the Global South into the professional sports of the wealthy Western countries as well as, increasingly, East Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Sport is a fascinating realm for examining conflicts between value and values, and how they are shaped by the global economy in the 21st century, taking on new forms that echo the past while moving into uncharted territory.

Article

Water and Materiality  

Franz Krause

Water is key to human life, both biophysically and socioculturally. Having long been regarded in anthropology as a circumstantial backdrop to human society and culture, water—alongside other nonhuman substances and beings—has received growing attention as a material with specific potentials and histories in the 21st century. This research explores the fundamental connectivity and relationality of water, through which social relations and hydrological flows are often two sides of the same coin, shaping and transforming each other. Watery materiality is frequently characterized by movement and instability, defying control but also intersecting with other social and material processes to create ever new arrangements. Water practices, infrastructures, and experiences participate in the formation and transformation of spaces and landscapes, and may inspire novel theoretical insights on meaning-making, kinship, learning, and space, among other topics. Water’s valuation and the tensions that arise regarding how to govern it emerge in part from its material properties. Ongoing discussions explore the links between these properties, water infrastructures, unequal distribution, and political power. Watery materiality is not a single thing, but has multiple manifestations, including saltwater, ice, and humidity. Some scholars therefore propose studying water and materiality in terms of various forms of wetness or amphibious processes. Research into water and materiality suggests that the material world consists of open processes rather than of fixed objects, and that water’s multiple manifestations and flows actively participate in shaping human lives.

Article

Water and Religion  

Terje Oestigaard

There are many different and distinct types of religious waters: holy, sacred, neutral, and even evil. The ways various divinities invest waters with specific qualities and capacities depend upon a wide range of ecological, theological, and eschatological factors; some are shaped by the environment while others are purely ontological and concerned with otherworldly realms, and often there is an intimate relation between the mundane and the divine. Rivers, rain, lakes, springs, and waterfalls are some specific forms of religious water, which also relate to seasonality and changing hydrological cycles. All these variations create different dependencies not only to ecological factors but more importantly to divine actors. Religious water may heal and bless individuals and be a communal source for fertility and plentiful harvests, but may also work as a penalty, wreaking havoc on society as floods or the absence of the life-giving rains in agricultural communities. Given the great variation of religious waters throughout history where even the same water may attain different qualities and divine embodiments, divine waters define structuring practices and principles in ecology and cosmology.

Article

Water Infrastructures  

E. Christian Wells, Mathews J. Wakhungu, and W. Alex Webb

Water infrastructures have been central to anthropological theory and practice for many decades. Early research tended to focus on infrastructures related to agriculture, such as irrigation systems, and often emphasized their consequences for social and political organization. While these and other studies (e.g., on hydroelectric dams) continue, work since the early 2000s considers household and community plumbing networks for both potable water and wastewater (sanitation). These studies conceive of water infrastructures broadly—as social and technical assemblages of materials and matter as well as people and their behaviors—and examine them from sociotechnical, technopolitical, and phenomenological perspectives. Sociotechnical approaches emphasize the ways in which water infrastructures mediate the relationships between people and social institutions, and between people and the biophysical environment more generally. Technopolitical perspectives often focus on the bureaucratic and governance implications of water infrastructures, especially how states strategically deploy or withhold certain infrastructures to craft citizenship, for instance. Phenomenological approaches are widely varied, but tend to give the most agency, and sometimes animacy, to water infrastructures, and to consider the sensorial and emotional implications of human-nonhuman interactions. Future research will be facilitated by decolonizing studies of water infrastructure, incorporating other disciplinary approaches and perspectives such as engineering, and better articulating the policy implications of research findings.

Article

Water Ownership and Governance  

Sally Babidge

Water governance refers to the material and regulatory control of water and waters. It involves questions such as who makes decisions about water and how; at what scale such decisions are made in relation to different waters; and who and which water or ecosystem benefits. Classical work in anthropology considered how irrigation practices may have given rise to the development of state forms, and in response to early-21st-century privatization regimes, anthropologists have considered how different groups have challenged the apparent global dominance of commodity values and water as property. Infrastructures for water distribution in urban areas (such as systems of canals, pipes, and faucets), and considerations of the sociocultural effects of hydrological unit delineation and definition (e.g., groundwater or river “basins”) have become key sites for the ethnographic investigation of water governance, emerging forms of personhood, and societal inequalities. The diversity in anthropologies of water unsettles generalized models in global regimes of water governance. The anthropology of water governance and ownership considers the context and contingencies of water and power. It reveals the global dominance of markets, rights, and technical approaches to water management, such as the case of “private water” in Chile, in which water markets have failed to provide equity and environmental health, but also how certain groups avoided complete privatization of water under this extreme example. Ethnographic studies of the cultural organization of resource scarcity over topographically complex and remote terrain, such as that of irrigators in the Andean cordillera, express the diversity of human innovation at the intersection of politics and ecology. In arid South Eastern Australia, basin plans that treat water as a unit of calculation and economic trade place social and ecological relations in peril. Infrastructures of development provide a narrative of unsettled state and development ideologies, and the problem of groundwater management reveals governance challenges in the face of unstable, unknown, and invisible material. Anthropological studies of water contribute to knowledge of earth’s diverse humanity, knowledge practices, and ecologies. Researchers propose that water governance might engage with human differences articulated at multiple scales, as well as in understanding water’s material agency and waters as dynamic, especially in an ever-changing climate.

Article

Youth Social Exclusion in Latin America  

Gonzalo A. Saraví

Globalization and neoliberalism changed the structure and dynamics of contemporary society and imposed a new social question dominated by exclusion, precariousness, and inequality. Social exclusion is not an individual attribute but a social process; it is an inherent result of a neoliberal capitalist society that produces different disposable figures around the world. Exclusion means not “being outside” of society but “being inside” in unfavorable, subordinated, and devalued material, social, and symbolic conditions. Therefore, youth social exclusion implies a process of socialization, subjectivation, and life trajectories in an unfavorable world: a process of inclusion in exclusion. This process crystalizes in at least three main spheres: space, the self, and the life course of young people. In Latin America, extreme social and material deprivation intersects with gender inequality relations, social (mis)recognition, violence and crime, institutional weakness, and growing spaces of (i)legalisms, among other dimensions. All of them shape the place, subjectivity, and biography of most disadvantaged young people throughout the Latin American continent.