The current issue features 10 original articles. In their editorial introduction, Heath Cabot and William Garriott write:
We ended our last introduction by restating our commitment to keeping PoLAR a place where anthropological work is brought to bear on the issues of the day. Of course, how one speaks to the present moment “anthropologically” remains hotly contested. But one distinguishing feature of our journal is its insistence on speaking to current issues and events from the particularities of specific times and places. This emphasis on place and time-centered contextualization gives anthropological work its specific texture, and it allows it to speak to current events with a unique voice and perspective.
In the United States, where we (the editors) live, political fights continue to rage over immigration, borders, government accountability, institutional responsiveness and efficacy, social media, surveillance technologies… the list goes on. There is no shortage of opinion on these topics. In shorter supply are scholarly takes that engage with complexity, turn to overlooked contexts for comparative perspective, and make room for the unexpected.
The articles in this issue provide such perspective. They address topics that are both timely and enduring. These include migration, borders, and the state (Yeh, Alpes); issues of identity in legal institutions (Lambert, Sapignoli, He, Li, and Feng); the unanticipated impact of policies designed to help the vulnerable (Ramsay, Vanderhurst); and the role technologies—electronic, bureaucratic—play in mediating relations between citizens and the state (Adunbi, Larson, Summers and Baiocchi). Five of the articles in this issue (Sapignoli, Vanderhurst, Adunbi, Ramsay, Alpes) center on the African continent and global or transnational links formed through displacement, legal frameworks, and extractive economies. They showcase the exciting new political and legal scholarship emerging from this rich and contested region. Articles centered on China, Mexico, the United States, and East Central Europe comprise the rest of the issue. They demonstrate the power of comparison to highlight the similarities and disjunctures that abide across discrete locales.
Read collectively, then, the articles in this issue give testament to the continued relevance of anthropological scholarship. They provide a fresh perspective on the concerns of the day while addressing the enduring questions of legal and political anthropology.