Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger

Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger against animals, who are no longer kept in a field by barbed wire but in a box barely as large as their bodies: “Having killed and tortured each other enough, the people of the center [that’s us] now take a break as they concentrate on killing and torturing animals.” Netz writes with elegant simplicity. Most analyses of modernity are plugged with obscure words, long sentences. This book is plain, it is angry, it is very moving. — Ian Hacking doi 10.1215/0961754x-2006-036 Arjun Appadurai, Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 176 pp. Why has the age of globalization also been an era of ethnocide? Arjun Appadurai’s answer begins from the thought that modern national sovereignty always presupposes the idea of “some sort of ethnic genius.” Globalization threatens this idea by blurring the lines between Us and Them, increasing uncertainty about the meaning of national belonging. Appadurai suggests that ethnocide is especially likely when a small ethnic minority is seen by a large majority as an obstacle to “a pure and untainted national ethnos.” If the minority were gone, the nation would be complete. Hence the “fear of small numbers.” Uncertainty and the fear of small numbers are merely necessary conditions, he argues, so in each particular case there has to be some further trigger for mass murder. Whatever you think of his general theory, Appadurai’s book is full of powerful insights both about globalization and about modern communal violence, especially in South Asia. — Kwame Anthony Appiah doi 10.1215/0961754x-2006-037 Meera Nanda, Prophets Facing Backwards: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 288 pp. Meera Nanda, an Indian microbiologist now living in the United States, is extremely angry at a very great number of apparently quite different things: “Hindu nationalism,” “Vedic science,” “postmodern critiques of science,” “ecofeminism,” “agrarian populism,” “India’s new social movements,” “the Hindu Lit tle Rev iews http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger

Common Knowledge, Volume 13 (1) – Jan 1, 2007

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
© 2007 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
0961-754X
D.O.I.
10.1215/0961754x-2006-037
Publisher site
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Abstract

against animals, who are no longer kept in a field by barbed wire but in a box barely as large as their bodies: “Having killed and tortured each other enough, the people of the center [that’s us] now take a break as they concentrate on killing and torturing animals.” Netz writes with elegant simplicity. Most analyses of modernity are plugged with obscure words, long sentences. This book is plain, it is angry, it is very moving. — Ian Hacking doi 10.1215/0961754x-2006-036 Arjun Appadurai, Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 176 pp. Why has the age of globalization also been an era of ethnocide? Arjun Appadurai’s answer begins from the thought that modern national sovereignty always presupposes the idea of “some sort of ethnic genius.” Globalization threatens this idea by blurring the lines between Us and Them, increasing uncertainty about the meaning of national belonging. Appadurai suggests that ethnocide is especially likely when a small ethnic minority is seen by a large majority as an obstacle to “a pure and untainted national ethnos.” If the minority were gone, the nation would be complete. Hence the “fear of small numbers.” Uncertainty and the fear of small numbers are merely necessary conditions, he argues, so in each particular case there has to be some further trigger for mass murder. Whatever you think of his general theory, Appadurai’s book is full of powerful insights both about globalization and about modern communal violence, especially in South Asia. — Kwame Anthony Appiah doi 10.1215/0961754x-2006-037 Meera Nanda, Prophets Facing Backwards: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 288 pp. Meera Nanda, an Indian microbiologist now living in the United States, is extremely angry at a very great number of apparently quite different things: “Hindu nationalism,” “Vedic science,” “postmodern critiques of science,” “ecofeminism,” “agrarian populism,” “India’s new social movements,” “the Hindu Lit tle Rev iews

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2007

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