See/download the final papers at Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)
See/download the pre-publication open access versions below.

  • John P. Taylor: Drinking Money and Pulling Women: Mobile Phone Talk, Gender, and Agency in Vanuatu
  • Chris K. K. Tan: A ‘Great Affective Divide’: How Gay Singaporeans Overcome Their Double Alienation
  • Rachel Sharples: Institutional Governance and Refugee Resistance: Displaced Karen in the Thai–Burma Borderlands
  • Jeremiah O. Arowosegbe: Citizenship and Resource Competition in Nigeria
  • Steffen Dalsgaard: The Ethnographic Use of Facebook in Everyday Life


John P. Taylor

School of Social Sciences
La Trobe University
Victoria, Australia

Drinking Money and Pulling Women: Mobile Phone Talk, Gender, and Agency in Vanuatu

pages 1-16

This paper examines aspects of gendered discourse around mobile phones in Vanuatu, focusing especially on the talk of high-ranking men from the northern Raga-speaking region of Pentecost Island. Rather than being restricted to the technologies or their direct capacities alone, it is argued that the local reception of new technologies such as mobile phones should be contextualised in terms of broader dialogues of change, and should also take into account the visual and discursive expressions of culture that accompanies them, including in the form of marketing. Examination of the ‘impact’ of such new technologies should also include taking account of broader local meanings and messages that become associated with them. As the ethnography presented here suggests, while mobile phones themselves certainly provide a useful tool for furthering positive social change, such as in the empowerment of women, the meanings and narratives that surround them may by marked contrast entail more negative entrenchments of unequal relations of power.

Chris K. K. Tan

Department of Anthropology
Shandong University
Jinan, Shandong Province

A ‘Great Affective Divide’: How Gay Singaporeans Overcome Their Double Alienation

pages 17-36

Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has been trying to unify its diverse ethnic, linguistic, and religious communities under one coherent national identity. Queer Singaporeans, however, suffer from a double alienation from the nation. While socially ostracised by the existing anti-sodomy Section 377A and the queer-unfriendly state policies that it justifies, they also suffer from that inability to identify with the nation called the ‘Great Affective Divide’. In this essay, I aim to achieve two goals. Firstly, I invoke the idea of cultural citizenship as I ethnographically investigate the efforts that queer Singaporeans make to overcome their national estrangement, particularly an event called ‘Pink Dot’. While such efforts do not receive universal support from queers, they are essential in the development of a better understanding of it means to be citizens of Singapore. Secondly, rather than wanting to remain socially marginal and critical of the norm, queers actually express their desire for national inclusion through Pink Dot. Yet, I argue that it would be erroneous to read this desire as ‘homonationalism’. As such, Pink Dot provides a fertile example that counters the conventional view within Queer Studies that queers always resist the hetero-patriarchal norm.


Rachel Sharples

Centre for Global Research
RMIT University, Melbourne

Institutional Governance and Refugee Resistance: Displaced Karen in the Thai–Burma Borderlands 

pages 37-53

Displaced Karen constitute a complex array of actors in the Thai–Burma borderlands. Forms of governance meant to contain and control these actors are framed by practices of territorial sovereignty and bureaucratic processes of identification and resource allocation. This article examines forms of institutional governance through two broad authorities, the state (predominantly the Thai government) and the humanitarian aid apparatus. It argues that the operations of these two authorities establish a series of control over space and movement and a system of administrative categorisation that works to identify and regulate displaced populations. Based on an ethnographic study of displaced Karen residing in the Thai–Burma borderlands, I go on to argue that the Karen challenge these institutional forms of governance because they do not adequately capture their claims for political autonomy. Key features of this political autonomy include Karen understandings of being a refugee and their experience of the refugee apparatus, their advocacy around human rights abuses, and their agitation for political and social change. I argue that these challenges represent a reframing of the discourse around refugeedom, where displaced Karen bring the experience of displacement back into the ‘humanitarian case’ and pursue a desire to be actively engaged in a political resolution to their displacement.


Jeremiah O. Arowosegbe

Institute of African Studies
Columbia University, New York

Political Science
University of Ibadan

Citizenship and Resource Competition in Nigeria 

pages 54-73

This article discusses the growing tension between constitutionally defined citizenship and socially accepted practices of “we–they dichotomies” as a turbulent component of the national question discourse in Nigeria. It examines the adoption of dual citizenship across the country as well as how this generates violent ethnic conflict. Importantly, while citizenship refers to one’s full membership of a sovereign political community acquired either by birth, naturalisation or any other process legitimised and recognised by the supreme law of the state, indigeneship, on the other hand, is a discriminatory policy employed by local or provincial governments for protecting the rights of their so–called indigenous populations to employment, political power and other resources of the regions or states against domination by alien populations and outsiders. It is argued that while such distinctions have been made possible inter alia by Nigeria’s multi–ethnic character, the ensuing struggles and tensions have been driven by the normless competition over resource allocation. These have especially been the case in instances where ethno–territorial cleavages have been the primary beneficiaries and targets of such resource allocation. This article discusses land as a major economic resource over which heated ethnic conflicts have taken place in Nigeria. Drawing on the conflicts between Hausa–Fulani pastoralists and Yoruba farmers in South–Western Nigeria, it examines the question of how disputed access to land and water has underlain an almost permanent basis of conflict in Nigeria as well as their implications for the country’s fledgling democracy. How does the struggle over land affect the articulation of the citizenship question in Nigeria? How have scarcity and competition over resources affected the contest over citizenship and the forging of nationhood among natives and settlers in South–Western Nigeria? How have colonial framings of socially accepted practices of indigeneship entrenched an understanding of the state in Nigeria as a representation of permanently defined subnational conceptions of ethnic citizenship? What role can the state in Nigeria play towards transforming the multiplicities of traditional societies into coherent political societies as a basis for (i) eliciting deference and devotion from the individual to the claims of the state, and ultimately for (ii) increasing cultural homogeneity, political integration and value consensus? Drawing on data generated from an ethnographic study carried out in South–Western Nigeria between October 2009 and March 2015, this study interrogates these questions.


Steffen Dalsgaard

Technologies in Practice Research Group
IT University of Copenhagen

The Ethnographic Use of Facebook in Everyday Life 

pages 96-114

New social media have become indispensable to people all over the world as platforms for communication, with Facebook being the most popular. Hence, platforms such as Facebook are also becoming crucial tools for ethnographers because much social life now exists ‘online’. What types of field relations stem from such social media-driven ethnography? And what kinds of data do these relations present to the ethnographer? These questions must be considered in order to understand the challenges Facebook and other social media pose to ethnographic methodology. This article focuses on how Facebook may play an important role even in ethnographic work concerned with questions other than how Facebook works as a social medium. Most importantly it allows the ethnographer to keep up-to-date with the field. I argue that ethnography is already in possession of the methodological tools critically to assess the validity and value of data gathered or produced via Facebook including issues such as authenticity which are also pertinent to digital ethnography.