The Paradox of Relevance: Ethnography and Citizenship in the United States

By Carol J. Greenhouse | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Markets for Citizenship

My concerns so far have been with literary practices drawn into ethnography from circuits of wider circulation with the mainstreaming of neoliberalism, particularly with respect to the mutual implications of identity and federal power. The discourse of solutions and federal subjectivity name key junctures where the mutual contingencies of identity and the scope of federal power are especially visible as textual practices. Those practices also link institutional fields and literary genres. I have concentrated on the convergence of policy fields, ethnography, and fiction around discursive zones shaped by contemporary debates over rights, since that was the context in which neoliberalism’s bipartisan advocates valorized markets as a corrective to the effects of policies framed around racial equality. It is the specifics of those claims that account for my focus on the uncoupling of race and class, the elision of race and culture, the iconicity of the individual, the salience of voice, the gendering of the field of difference, and most broadly, perhaps, the nature of explanation. The connections between explanation, power, and risk were palpable in the policy debates of the time, but that in no way implies that they originated there. In this book, we are led to Congressional hearing rooms along the path charted by the internal debates within anthropology. Registering zones of convergence means appreciating the way key terms are turned over again and again as critical objects, in support of different conclusions—that is, as lines of opposition in the process of emergence. Reading ethnography across policy debates and fiction from the 1990s allows us to reconstruct a political moment when the question of rights versus markets had not yet been settled, and to appreciate the stakes in that contest for social

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The Paradox of Relevance: Ethnography and Citizenship in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Prologue 1
  • Chapter 1 - Relevance in Question 23
  • Chapter 2 - Templates of Relevance 46
  • Chapter 3 - Texts and Contexts 74
  • Chapter 4 - Textual Strategy and the Politics of Form 107
  • Chapter 5 - The Discourse of Solutions 142
  • Chapter 6 - Democracy in the First Person 174
  • Chapter 7 - Gendering Difference and the Impulse to Fiction 200
  • Chapter 8 - Markets for Citizenship 230
  • Envoi - Empirical Citizenship 256
  • Notes 269
  • References 279
  • Index 307
  • Acknowledgments 319
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