Violence in the Pacific: The effects of US bases in South Korea

Elisabeth Schober’s new book Base Encounters: The US Armed Forces in South Korea is published this month. She is currently conducting anthropological fieldwork in South Korea, and sends us this dispatch, which explores the effects of violence, sexual or otherwise, that occurs around the extensive network of US military bases in the region.

The Korean peninsula has made it into international news again. Once Kim Jong Un’s regime Base Encountersthreatened to destroy Manhattan with a hydrogen bomb on March 13 of this year, the annual Western media ritual of shining a brief light onto the complex and long-standing conflict between North and South Korea has fully kicked into gear. In early April, North Koreans added fuel to the fire by releasing another propaganda video, this time showing an attack on South Korea’s capital Seoul. A North Korean assault targeting US soil is a most improbable scenario, given the country’s absence of long-range missile capabilities. Strikes against the mega-city of Seoul, however, are within the realm of the highly unlikely, yet technically possible, events: the capital of South Korea, home to some 25 million people within its larger metropolitan area, is less than 60 kilometers away from the border with North Korea, thus well within reach of its opponent’s missiles.

Without fail, every year it is early spring that turns out to be prime time for such threats of annihilation and destruction coming from Pyongyang against Seoul and its Unites States allies. One of the reasons behind the timing of such war-crazed rhetoric from the North is at times overlooked: the annual joint military drills involving US and South Korean troops. This year’s exercises began on March 7 and will continue until the end of April, and with 300,000 Koreans joining 17,000 US military personnel, the ongoing drills are said to be the largest ever held. And while these megalomaniac displays of military might are certainly a reaction to nuclear and other missile tests conducted by the belligerent Democratic Republic of Korea on a semi-regular basis, they are also a key component of what US president Barrack Obama has termed the ‘pivot to Asia’: that is, the ongoing large-scale ‘rebalancing’ of US political and military interests away from the Middle East and toward the Asia-Pacific region, where China’s military rise is now to be held in check. This April, for instance, also sees an additional 10,000 Philippine and US troops joining forces in the annually held Balikatan-exercises on the Philippine archipelago. And last month, the U.S., India and Japan have also announced that they will hold joint naval drills in the South China Sea in the near future – a strategic area that, together with the Korean peninsula, is increasingly becoming a hotspot for the ongoing struggles over military hegemony in the larger region.

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Fredrik Barth: An intellectual biography

As  a new biography of social anthropologist Fredrik Barth is published this month, we ask the author Thomas Hylland Eriksen, himself a renowned anthropologist, to expand on why he chose his subject…

‘Social scientists come in many shapes, some more interesting than others. One of the Fredrik Barthextremes is the wide-ranging scholar who circles the planet in a helicopter with a pair of binoculars, eventually developing a theory about life, the universe and everything. The opposite extreme is the khaki-clad explorer crawling on all fours while peering at the grains of sand on the beach through a magnifying glass. This is the end of the continuum where most anthropologists find themselves. Yet, the grains of sand are not enough. Indeed, a major ambition of anthropology consists in ‘seeing the world in a grain of sand’ (Blake), building social theory from everyday events in ordinary communities and discussing human universals through the life-worlds of a few individuals leading perfectly average lives anywhere in the world.

In this endeavour, Fredrik Barth (b. 1928) is an undisputed master. One of the most influential anthropologists of the latter half of the 20th century, Barth’s career spans six decades and has brought him to more than a dozen field sites. This book tells the story of Barth’s life from his student days in Chicago just after the war to his retirement years in Oslo; and in doing so, it highlights the power of the ethnographic gaze and the critical potential inherent in an anthropological approach to human life. At its best, anthropology can tell us that everything could have been different, that there are many roads to the good life, and that the present social order does not necessarily constitute ‘the best of all possible worlds’ (Leibniz). Anthropology treats all lives in an equitable way, giving no pride of place to the pale and powerful.

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Flip-Flop Infographic!

Pluto was very proud to publish Caroline Knowles’ new book, Flop-Flop: A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads last month. It’s a fantastically absorbing and occasionally shocking insight into the global trail of one of the world’s most unremarkable and ubiquitous objects – flip-flops.

To celebrate the launch of the book, a member of Pluto’s marketing department was let off the leash and spent a Friday afternoon designing an infographic to highlight some of the stats in the book. Check it out below!

If you fancy finding out more about the book, simply go to http://bit.ly/FlipFlop1 – we’ve even put a bit of a discount on it for you lovely people!

Proper Infographic all CS6

Special offer! 15% discount and free UK P&P on key Anthropology titles

To mark the release of the second edition of Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen’s seminal A History of Anthropology, we are offering a 15% discount and free UK P&P on the book and other key Anthropology titles.

To browse the list of titles on offer and buy them at the special discount price enter the discount code PLUANTHRO here.

A History of Anthropology – Second Edition

Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen

Thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular classic of modern anthropology.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

Small Places, Large Issues – Third Edition

An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Thomas Hylland Eriksen

New edition of the classic introduction to anthropology, focusing on central topics such as kinship, ethnicity, ritual and political systems.

“This book fills a gap in the market and fills it in an exemplary fashion.” – Journal of Area Studies

£18.99 only £17.00 on the Pluto site

Anthropology’s World

Life in a Twenty-First-Century Discipline

Ulf Hannerz

Maps the contemporary social world of anthropologists and its relation to the wider world in which they carry out their work.

“Ulf Hannerz takes readers behind-the-scenes with wit, insight, political acuity, and a good measure of humanity. His observations about the frequent privileging of English in today’s ‘global discipline’ and its consequences are especially sharp.” – Virginia R. Dominguez, President, American Anthropological Association, Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Co-Founder and Consulting Director, International Forum for U.S. Studies

“Widely admired as a leading anthropologist of globalisation, Hannerz … shows how anthropology came to be a central intellectual discipline, and why it should stay that way in a globalised world where the local refuses to be beaten into submission.” – Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

New Books from Pluto in May – Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance | Biohackers | Beyond the Developmental Sate | Organisational Anthropology | History of Anthropology, 2nd. Ed.

Good morning radicals and book-lovers! With May in full swing, and a second bank holiday almost upon us you’re probably in need of some more reading material.

We have five titles for your perusal this month, including a double update to our Anthropology, Culture and Society series. Read on below for more info, and remember that you can get all of them from our website with a 10% discount!

The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance

Hacking the Future of Money

Brett Scott

Shows how activists can tap into the internal dynamics of the sector to disrupt it and showcases the growing alternative finance movement.

“This is an imaginative, even exuberant exploration of the daunting world of finance – it will unleash a generation of activists, and do a world of good.” – Bill McKibben, author of ‘Deep Economy’

“This book provides a unique inside-out look at our financial system, based on the author’s unusual personal adventure. It is not only a user-friendly guide to the complex maze of modern finance but also a manual for utilising and subverting it for social purposes in innovative ways. Smart and street-smart. “ – Ha-Joon Chang, University of Cambridge, author of ’23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism’

£12.99 only £11.50 on the Pluto site

Biohackers

The Politics of Open Science

Alessandro Delfanti

Explores fundamental changes occurring in the circulation and ownership of scientific information.

“Hacking, most often associated with the realm of bits and bytes, is now firmly entrenched in the world of biology. Alessandro Delfanti provides the definitive account covering the early, formative history of bio-hackers, a motley cohort of scientists, entrepreneurs, and amateur tinkers who are insisting on openness for their scientific enterprise.
Written with nuance and precision, Delfanti examines key actors who drew inspiration from long-standing scientific norms and the philosophy of free software in order to re-imagine and reconstitute their ethos so as to be built upon openness and access. While this story is still unfolding, Delfanti’s engrossing account provides a vital road map essential to understand the past, present, and future of bio-hacking.”
– Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy,McGill University and author of Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking (2012).

“Alessandro Delfanti’s book is a deft and accessible introduction to the changing face of science in the new century. ing, most often associated with the realm of bits and bytes, is now firmly entrenched in the world of biology. Alessandro Delfanti provides the definitive account covering the early, formative history of bio-hackers, a motley cohort of scientists, entrepreneurs, and amateur tinkers who are insisting on openness for their scientific enterprise.
Written with nuance and precision, Delfanti examines key actors who drew inspiration from long-standing scientific norms and the philosophy of free software in order to re-imagine and reconstitute their ethos so as to be built upon openness and access. While this story is still unfolding, Delfanti’s engrossing account provides a vital road map essential to understand the past, present, and future of bio-hacking.” – Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy,McGill University and author of Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking (2012).
“Alessandro Delfanti’s book is a deft and accessible introduction to the changing face of science in the new century. He brings a journalist’s skill, a scientist’s skepticism and an activist’s passion to the question of open science today. The work offers an expert analysis of the global politics of big science and the details and pleasures, the successes and failures, of small-scale amateur and DIY biology. From the lucid writing emerges the story of a new ethic of sharing and decoding life – whether viewed under the microscope or lived out in hackerspaces and garage labs.” – Christopher Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies and Anthropology, Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA
“The biohackers are here. In this fascinating book, Alessandro Delfanti
shows us how a new generation of scientists is breaking open
the study of biology with the kinds of countercultural tools first used to hack the computer. Thanks to their work, science may never be the same again.
” – Fred Turner, Associate Professor of Communication, Stanford UniversityHe brings a journalist’s skill, a scientist’s skepticism and an activist’s passion to the question of open science today. The work offers an expert analysis of the global politics of big science and the details and pleasures, the successes and failures, of small-scale amateur and DIY biology. From the lucid writing emerges the story of a new ethic of sharing and decoding life – whether viewed under the microscope or lived out in hackerspaces and garage labs.”
– Christopher Kelty, Associate Professor of Information Studies and Anthropology, Institute for Society and Genetics, UCLA

£19.99 only £17.50 on the Pluto site

Beyond the Developmental State

Industrial Policy into the Twenty-first Century

Edited by Ben Fine, Jyoti Saraswati and Daniela Tavasci

Exposes the theoretical and empirical limitations of the developmental state paradigm, offering policy alternatives.

“A very important book. The contributions are highly original and this work is likely to inform the emergence of a new branch of the literature on economic development. The volume is particularly timely because of the continuing relevance of developmental-state debates given the long-term ‘decline of the West and rise of the rest’ and the current economic crisis.” – Alfredo Saad-Filho, Professor of Political Economy, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“The developmental state has become a central concept in alternatives to the dominant neoliberal narratives of development. Fine and his colleagues combine a critical assessment of the existing literature with a series of country studies to show how powerful economic interests continue to shape the actions and effectiveness of the state. A valuable contribution to the search for inclusive and sustainable development strategies.” – Richard Kozul-Wright, Head, Unit on Economic Cooperation and Integration Among Developing Countries, UNCTAD

£24.99 only £22.00 on the Pluto site

Organisational Anthropology

Doing Ethnography in and Among Complex Organisations

Edited by Christina Garsten and Anette Nyqvist

A pioneering analysis of doing ethnographic fieldwork in different types of complex organisations.

“Christina Garsten and Anette Nyquvist have put together baker’s dozen of fresh and lively first-hand accounts of carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in contemporary organizational settings – from convenience stores to high tech firms, from think tanks to advertising companies. That classical anthropological interests and means are highly relevant in such settings – although strained and stretched in various ways – is a point brought home vividly across the selections. This is a work that will appeal not only to anthropologists but also to all those with a scholarly or practical interest in culture and organization.
– John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Organisation Studies at MIT, author of Tales of the Field (2011)

“The engagement between organization studies and anthropology is both longstanding and rapidly developing. In this fascinating volume some of the leading exponents of organizational anthropology reflect on its history and future directions; its potentials and pitfalls. The book is an invaluable resource for all those who research organizations or are simply interested in the nature, both extraordinary and mundane, of organizational life as disclosed by anthropological study.” – Christopher Grey, Professor of Organisation Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London

£60 only £54.00 on the Pluto site

A History of Anthropology – Second Edition

Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Finn Sivert Nielsen

Thoroughly updated and revised edition of a popular classic of modern anthropology.

£17.99 only £16.00 on the Pluto site

Pluto January Megasale Closes in 2 Days…

Pluto mega press2

It’s been almost 30 glorious days of ‘megasale madness’ – as coined by our childish, alliteration-loving marketing department. Now, as January draws to a close, so too does our ‘fifty-for-fifty’ sale.

Many of you have already taken advantage of the many bargains to be had. So many, in fact, that our January sales numbers are already 3x what they were last year – and just remember, unlike certain corporate monoliths (who for anonymity’s sake we’ll call ‘A. Mazon’) we pay our taxes… By buying from us you’ll also be directly supporting independent, radical publishing, which guarantees to put a warm, fuzzy feeling in the stomach…

There are now only 2 days left to buy many of our books at 50% off.

PLUTO NEWPsThe ‘fantastic 50′ includes guides to MarxFoucaultArendt and Marcuse, as well as our acclaimed series on Anthropology and International Political Economy. You can also pick up classic original writings by HollowayLuxemburg and Fanon. We have titles on offer in Middle East and Development studies, and a range of other subjects to boot.

To find out which books (we like to think optimistically) you’ll be taking away with you from our online shop,  you can browse the full list of titles by clicking on this excitable link: LET THE RIGHTEOUS SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA COMMENCE. Alternatively enter the discount code ‘PLUFIFTY‘ here. Feel free to share the discount link and/or code with anyone who might be interested – friends, family and other contacts.

Pluto January Megasale Madness: ‘Fifty for Fifty’

That’s right everybody, another Pluto Megasale has commenced – true, ours didn’t begin at the stroke of midnight on Boxing Day morning, but it is a January sale in every other sense. The Pluto ‘Fifty-for-Fifty’ sale means 50% off on fifty of our absolute best-selling and classic titles for the whole of January.

By buying from us you’ll also be directly supporting independent, radical publishing, which guarantees to put a warm, fuzzy feeling in the stomach…

PLUTO NEWPs

The ‘fantastic 50’ includes guides to MarxFoucaultArendt and Marcuse, as well as our acclaimed series on Anthropology and International Political Economy. You can also pick up classic original writings by HollowayLuxemburg and Fanon. We have titles on offer in Middle East and Development studies, and a range of other subjects to boot.

To find out which books (we like to think optimistically) you’ll be taking away with you from our online shop,  you can browse the full list of titles by clicking on this excitable link: LET THE RIGHTEOUS SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA COMMENCE. Alternatively enter the discount code ‘PLUFIFTY‘ here. Feel free to share the discount link and/or code with anyone who might be interested – friends, family and other contacts.