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The Seductions of Community

Emancipations, Oppressions, Quandaries

Edited by Gerald W. Creed

The concept of “community” is ubiquitous in the way we talk and think about life in the twentyfirst century. Political and economic projects from rainforest conservation to urban empowerment zones focus on “the community” as the appropriate vehicle and target of change. Some scholars see a decline of community and predict dire social consequences; others criticize the concept itself for its ideological baggage and lack of clear definition. Moving the debate to a deeper level, the contributors to this volume aspire to understand the various ways “community” is deployed and the work it performs in different contexts. They compare the many cases where scholars and activists use “community” generically with instances in which the notion of community is less pervasive or even non-existent. How does a community facilitate governance or capital accumulation? In what ways does it articulate these two forces in local and translocal contexts? What are the unintended consequences of deploying the concept—and what, too, are the potential consequences of criticizing our fascination with it? The essays demonstrate the critical value of using community as the focus of analysis, rather than simply an empty category of heuristic or descriptive convenience.

2006. 336 pp., 8 black-and-white ilustrations, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Peter Brosius, Gerald W. Creed, Kate Crehan, Miranda Joseph, Aisha Khan, Susan H. Lees, Gyanendra Pandey, Michael Watts, Mary Weismantel

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“This book is suitable for both upper-level and undergraduate studies. It also reinvigorates our interest in ‘community,’ particularly as it bears on current social theory. The book should appeal to both anthropologists and interdisciplinary scholars who seek nuanced, ethnographic, and transnational approaches to governmentality, postcolonial politics, and cultural practice.”
—Glynis George, American Anthropologist, vol. 110, no. 1, March 2008

“Thought-provoking and wonderfully rich.”
—Rebecca Allahyari


  1. Reconsidering Community
    Gerald W. Creed
  2. Community as Modern Pastoral
    Gerald W. Creed
  3. Hunting the Unicorn: Art and Community in East London
    Kate Crehan
  4. Ayllu: Real and Imagined Communities in the Andes
    Mary Weismantel
  5. The Sinister Political Life of Community: Economies of Violence and Governable Spaces in the Niger Delta, Nigeria
    Michael Watts
  6. Caribbean “Community”? Deciphering a Regional Cipher
    Aisha Khan
  7. Conflicting Concepts of Community: Diversity and Diaspora in American Suburbs
    Susan H. Lees
  8. A Debt to Society
    Miranda Joseph
  9. Seeing Communities: Technologies of Visualization in Conservation
    Peter Brosius
  10. The Politics of Community: Some Notes from India
    Gyanendra Pandey

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.