This collection of essays originally grew out of three organized sessions
presented some years ago at meetings of the American Anthropologi-
cal Association
(AAA) .
One, organized by Akhil Gupta and Lisa Rofel,
dealt with "The Culture and Politics of Space"; another, organized by
Liisa Malkki and James Ferguson, concerned "Themes of Place and
Locality in the Collective Identity of Mobile and Displaced Popula-
tions"; while a third, organized by Roger Rouse, was titled "Trans-
formers: The Cultural Politics of Bricolage." Early versions of all essays
in this collection were originally presented in these sessions, with the
exception of Gupta's "The Song of the Nonaligned World" and Gupta
and Ferguson's "Culture, Power, Place: Ethnography at the End of an
Era," which were written later.
The papers by Malkki, Borneman, Ferguson, Rofel, Gupta, and
Gupta and Ferguson ("Beyond 'Culture' ") all appeared in a special
1992 issue of Cultural Anthropology (7 [1]) devoted to the theme of
space and place in anthropology. They are reprinted here (in substan-
tially revised form) with the kind permission of the
We also thank
Michael Watts for contributing a thoughtful commentary to the Cul-
tural Anthropology volume, which we have found stimulating in the
continuing development of our own thinking about space and place.
It was Arjun Appadurai who first suggested that the themes we had
originally developed as
sessions might be brought together and
who first put us in touch with one another. For that, he has our thanks
and appreciation. Akhil Gupta would also like to thank Lisa Rofel for
co-organizing the original panel, and Purnima Mankekar, whose crit-
ical reading and commentary throughout has contributed much to
the project.James Ferguson would like to acknowledge the influence
of Liisa Malkki's thinking in shaping his ideas about space, place, and
identity. Her acute comments and imaginative discussion contributed
greatly to this project. He also thanks Roger Rouse for a long, thought-
ful conversation about the themes integrating the volume. We are
both grateful to John Peters for a helpful critical reading of both the
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