Manté Vertelyté, Loftsdóttir, Kristín, Andrea L. Smith, and Brigitte Hipfl (eds.): Messy Europe. Crisis, Race, and Nation-State in a Postcolonial World. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. 244 pp. ISBN 978-​1-​78533-​796-​3. (EASA, 32) Price: $ 120.00 in:

Anthropos, page 240 - 241

Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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and wondrous aspects of existence) through the Qur’an. In chap. 8, “Playing Cosmopolitan. Muslim Self-Fash‐ ioning, Migration, and (Be-)Longing in the Tajik Dubai Business Sector,” Manja Stephan-Emmrich explores how young, well-educated, male Tajiks involved in Dubai’s business sector strive to convert their vulnera‐ ble and uncertain status as “Tajik migrants” into that of independent and successful “Muslim businessmen.” In chap. 9, “Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet Space: Post-Soviet Islam and Its Role in Ordering En‐ trepreneurship in Central Asia,” Rano Turaeva focuses on entrepreneurs who work transnationally and argues that Islam plays an important role in regulating their lives and economic activities, and that Islam has be‐ come a stronger marker of identity than ethnicity among many of them. The focus of the last part of the volume is “Female Attire as a Public Debate.” In chap. 10, “The War of Billboards. Hijab, Secularism, and Public Space in Bishkek,” Emil Nasritdinov and Nurgul Esenamanova discuss how a growing community of practicing Mus‐ lims in the Kyrgyz capital assert the right to be in the city, live according to its religious ideals, and create Is‐ lamic urban spaces – and how this has become the sub‐ ject of a fierce public debate, focusing, in particular, on female attire. In chap. 11, “Hijab in a Changing Tajik Society,” Shahnoza Nozimova explores public debates surrounding veiling in Tajikistan and their history and argues that for many women, the hijab, rather than indi‐ cating piety, serves the function of mediating the effects of socially unacceptable situations in which they find themselves, being under pressure to find employment outside the home. In chap. 12, “Switching to Satr. An Ethnography of the Particular in Women’s Choices in Head Coverings in Tajikistan,” Marintha Miles, simi‐ larly, focuses on Tajik women who adopt the hijab, out‐ lining a complex landscape of “cultural pressures, fash‐ ion trends, historical processes, and current political processes” (298) around the decision to wear it. Space does not allow me to go into details with the ar‐ guments presented in the individual chapters, but as this short overview hopefully shows, the contributors to this book deal with very different aspects of what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia and do so from a variety of per‐ spectives, having their backgrounds in political science, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, history, area studies, and Islamic studies, respectively. This is in many ways the strength of the volume, which, as such, provides a good introduction to the meanings of Islam in the region and to some of the more recent ways it has been studied. But perhaps the very broad scope of the book is also its weakness. While I found the individual chapters informa‐ tive and thought-provoking I missed a better integration or cohesion between them. One general point that was strongly brought home in many of the chapters – and which could perhaps have been strengthened by putting the chapters in more conversation with each other – is how little sense it makes to distinguish sharply, as re‐ searchers and commentators have often done (and as many locals are inclined to), between “local” or “tradi‐ tional” interpretations of Islam and Muslimness and “for‐ eign” or “transnational” ones, the first usually seen as apolitical and the second as potentially destabilizing and radicalizing. To be Muslim in Central Asia is more often than not to be engaged with both local, national, and transnational trends, discourses, actors, and media im‐ ages and finding one’s way – political or not – and identity somewhere in the midst of them. These minor reservations aside, the book is very rec‐ ommendable as an introduction to what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia and to some of the important works that have been done recently to deepen our un‐ derstanding of the question. Maria Louw ( Loftsdóttir, Kristín, Andrea L. Smith, and Brigitte Hipfl (eds.): Messy Europe. Crisis, Race, and Nation- State in a Postcolonial World. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. 244 pp. ISBN 978-1-78533-796-3. (EASA, 32) Price: $ 120.00 The edited volume “Messy Europe. Crisis, Race, and Nation-State in a Postcolonial World” is an original contribution to postcolonial studies of contemporary forms of racialization, nation-state making, and concep‐ tions of Europeanness. The anthology includes eight case chapters, an introduction by the editors Kristín Loftsdóttir, Andrea L. Smith, Brigitte Hipfl, and an epi‐ logue by Thomas Hylland Eriksen. The last decade’s economic crisis serves as a departure point for authors to discuss ways that crisis can be used as a political tool, discursive, rhetorical trope equipped to produce moral panics, negotiate, and contest white European identities and power positions as well as being an important affec‐ tive aspect of lived-everyday-lives. The originality of the book is that it explores the contemporary manifesta‐ tions of racialization, processes of inclusion-exclusion, national identity making, and proliferations of modern nationalisms through this central foci of crisis. As the editors explicate, the anthology explores “what it is like to live under conditions of crisis in different national contexts” (22). It is through the anthropological gaze, methodologically following discursive and lived-life sites in different European national contexts, that the au‐ thors comprehensively reveal the subtle and tacit work‐ ings of crisis that affectively manifest in everyday live. Crisis here is not just another context through which the processes of exclusion-inclusion morph and mani‐ fest. In other words, crisis in this book is approached not as absolute phenomena, but rather as deeply entan‐ gled in the nexus of the production of inequalities, na‐ tion-state making, and processes of racialization. As much as this crisis is contemporary, it is also problemat‐ ically engrained in histories of colonialism, postcolonial forms of global inequalities, and shaping perspectives over the possible futures. Consequently, the authors’ conceptualization of crisis does not depend on attempts 240 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 to identify of what crisis is or how it ought to be identi‐ fied and defined. Emphasizing the processual and gen‐ erative aspects, the conceptualization of crisis rather starts with the analytical question – what does crisis produce? how are we to understand crisis and its ef‐ fects? In other words, what does crisis do? One of the ways that authors approach the doing of crisis, is by conceptualizing crisis as a “structure of feel‐ ing” – a concept borrowed from Raymond Williams to “designate what it feels like to be in a particular situa‐ tion – the sense of how lives are lived and experienced, which includes the affective practices and emotions cir‐ culating in society” (22). As we see through the contri‐ butions of the anthology, crisis is part of the structure of feeling as it produces affective reactions such as anxiety over feeling as incompatible European subject, insecuri‐ ty, fear, panic, threat to one’s national identity, white privilege and entitlement, among others. One of the overarching themes in this anthology is how through the foci of crisis the notions of European‐ ness are established and contestations over what it means to be a European subject emerges. At the core of the book, the authors implicitly ask – what is Europe, after all? As the title of the book indicates, Europe is messy. On the one hand, messiness emerges through the “crisis talk” that produces destabilizing discourses and moral panics over the apparent loss of national identi‐ ties, migrant integration, and uncertain futures. On the other hand, messiness becomes an analytical lens through which the authors approach the very plurability, malleability, and ambiguity of Europeanness. Europeanness is relational. For example, Dace Dzen‐ ovska shows how notions of Europeanness are negotiat‐ ed in Latvia, particularly from the statement “Latvians do not understand Greek people” that emerged after Greece’s sovereign debt crisis. Through this statement, Dzenovska evocatively shows how Latvians negotiate between being “not fully” European and being “proper” European. Through these negotiations, Dzenovska ar‐ gues, “Europe is constituted as a normative and aspira‐ tional space” (56). Similarly, Antonio Sorge’s chapter analyzes how Lampedusa, a historical place of move‐ ment and flow in Mediterranean, becomes a boundary zone of Europe and non-Europe. Lampedusa, in Sorge’s analysis, signifies different entangled contestations. These contestations appear in ways Lampedusa comes to symbolize the securitization of EU borders, manifes‐ tations of activism and social movements for supporting refugees and precarity struggles of local populations. Crisis, yet, not only manifests through action, polit‐ ics, and lived lives. Brigitte Hipfl explores how crisis becomes inscribed in fiction. By analyzing an episode of the Austrian TV Show “Tatort,” Hipfl illustrates ways that crisis come to be racialized. It is through the stereotypical racialized depiction of Eastern European migrants that crisis is narrated as being brought to Aus‐ tria as a “virus” from outside. Other chapters evocative‐ ly illustrate how “crisis talk” manifests through different affective-discursive tropes that mobilize specific affects and emotions. Steve Garner shows how in political rhetoric in the UK during the 2010–2012 the notion of “fairness” came to be a discursive neoliberal trope sug‐ gesting that with their presence, “immigrants” are some‐ what threatening British people’s “fair” access to re‐ sources. The trope of fairness does produce a binary of those who deserve and are entitled to be treated fairly “through birth and bloodline, and those who are not” (88). Along similar lines, Shay Cannedy shows how through the notions of deservingness, the positions of Ireland as a resourceful European country is established. This work is done through delegitimizing asylum seek‐ er’s deservingness to better living conditions, rights to protection, and rights to live in Ireland. These tropes such as “fairness” or “deservingness” are not just rhetorical. They function as technologies of power, in ways it feeds into the “structure of feeling,” mobilizes emotions and affects. and produces subject positions, such as, for example, a “respectable, contributing and deserving person” (in Garner’s chapter p. 95). It also reestablishes racialized positions of an entitled member of a White Europe and non-deserving racialized “other.” These dynamics come to be produced through the work of discursively and affectively capitalizing on par‐ ticular subject positions. For example, Kristín Loftsdóttir and Helga Björnsdóttir show how gender and, particularly, gender equality is used as a type of a national branding in order to reestablish the Icelandic national position as a respective modern egalitarian European nation. Through the discursive intersections of gender and whiteness, the Icelandic national body is constructed as a white, egalitarian, modern, and privi‐ leged Nordic body (33), at the same time subscribing to Iceland’s historically marginal position to deny contem‐ porary forms of racism and racialization of migrant groups in Iceland. In the context of Italy, Andrea Muehlebach shows how bodies of marginalized children are used in the discursive configurations of humanitari‐ an crisis and dignity through “Save the Children” cam‐ paigns. Yet, conceptions of dignity are racialized and differentiated. In campaigns about Italian children, dig‐ nity symbolizes the possibilities for a better future, whereas in campaigns about African children, dignity is about the mere right to live. Ways that racialization is produced in covert ways is particularly evident in An‐ drea L. Smith’s contribution. Discussing the politics surrounding the removal of Roma people camps in France, Smith shows how these racially discriminatory actions became possible precisely because race is not recognized as a category. Instead, “race talk” is covered using notions of space and culture. The book is certainly an original contribution to stud‐ ies of race and racialization. Through the comprehen‐ sive analysis of how crisis is entangled in political dis‐ courses, rhetoric, and affective experiences of everyday life authors convincingly illustrate what crisis does to contemporary formations of racialization, nationalisms, and national identities. Manté Vertelyté ( Book Reviews 241 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.