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

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  159 ratings  ·  13 reviews
The period since 1989 has been marked by the global endorsement of open markets, the free flow of finance capital and liberal ideas of constitutional rule, and the active expansion of human rights. Why, then, in this era of intense globalization, has there been a proliferation of violence, of ethnic cleansing on the one hand and extreme forms of political violence against...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 24th 2006 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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All modern nations, Appadurai says, attribute their sovereignty at least in part to "some sort of ethnic genius"--that is, a national identity or spirit--a belief that can all too easily lead to a simplified worldview and then to genocide. (pp. 3-4) People who are not perceived as belonging to the ethnic majority pose a challenge to this national self-conception. The book's title is explained here: "Small numbers represent a tiny obstacle between majority and totality or total purity. In a sense...more
The problem identified, explained and exemplified in the book is an important one. Minorities are being hated all across the world today. Minorities, by definition and some implication are a weak entity, the concept having developed out of census work. So isn't it ironical that the same minorities are being feared and consequently hated ?

For Appadurai the answer lies in the very globalization that hasn't been yet critically analyzed from the point of view of the kind of violence that it helps pl...more
Mark Fitzpatrick
What I gathered from the book is that Enlightenment-era liberalism treats minorities as "small numbers", where the minority as an individual is able to exist within a constitutional context procedurally. In other words, the minority as individual is able to redress the vertebrate structures of the state through the rule of law and other constitutional protections. Globalization, however, creates the cellular growth of individuals as a multitude of identity/identities that may not fit within the...more
Michael VanZandt
Though, I do not agree with everything Appadurai observes and theorizes in this essay, I do believe that it is interesting geopolitical perspective. In the face of globalization, and an economic system that awkwardly fits the current political system, we are faced with more internal/"domestic" conflicts. Appadurai provides some interesting insights into the modern concept nationhood, wherein the national character is defined around its majority. Also, importantly, Appadurai foresees the eventual...more
Mrinal Rai
An in-depth analysis of the tension between minority and the majority in the era of globalization, it's impact on nation states with regards to its policies towards the minority. It's an excellent socio-political analysis to understand the changing/changed nature of violence. The only thing that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt is the Appadurai's fondness of a certain type of political parties particularly while referring to India.
Aug 12, 2014 E.J. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Really challenging just because of the difficult language, but worth a shot. About why minorities are formed and why we hate them so much and why this has intesified with globalisation. Everyone who wants to discuss immigration policy needs to read this first.
globalization => expansion of social uncertainty => fundamentalism & the "narcissim of small differences"=> violence

As for the capacity for violence itself, well that's always been there, but Appadurai makes an elegant explanation of the current forms and targets of violence- from the intense, almost intimate violence between neighbors (as in Rwanda) to the evolution of "long distance hatred" (al qaeda types).

A wonderfully straightforward book (looking at YOU Derrida) rooted in the...more
good times reading about genocide. was initially confused about how this would relate to a class titled 'theories of communication' but there's some interesting stuff in here. some of the real-life examples were a bit redundant but overall it was certainly thought provoking.
Christopher Fok
One of the better philosophy books I've read I globalisation. But I sometimes feel that his cookie-cutter categorisation is a tad too simplistic. But an easy read nonetheless.
I don't know if I can read this author's incomplete analysis without developing a hernia.
An invaluable resource in understanding xenophobia in the modern world.
Shane Serkiz
Amazing! So relevant...
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