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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  357 ratings  ·  27 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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Fotooh Jarkas
Aug 05, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: philosophy
the third try and the language stills too difficult! I should give up :|
Dec 25, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Kanika Sisodia
In this book Appadurai delves into the question Why has the age of globalization also been an era of ethnocide? To which his main argument is that modern nation states presupposes the idea of ethnic genius, the sons of soil approach which is endemic to all sovereignties. And it is this which creates the us versus them discourse in countries. The us being the majority and them being the minorities.

The majority believes that nation is synonymous with the majority and the minorities prevent the na
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
This book had been on my list for a long time and turned out to be a tad disappointing. Mostly, I think this was because I had read about Appadurai's key arguments in various other texts already (for thesis research at the time) and the essay form of this book actually added little of substance to what I had then already read elsewhere. What also didn't help for me personally was that I combined reading this book with another one, sometimes losing the line of argumentation because of long breaks ...more
Jan 03, 2016 added it
Shelves: 2016, nonfiction
I'd always considered the image of the elitist scholar in his ivory tower to be unfair . . . until now. Appadurai writes as one who never did actual fieldwork, never spoke to people who aren't academics, and never bothered with people whose opinions were different from his. This book reads like a man shouting into an empty hall -- his echo pleases him.
Throughout the book, Appadurai blames the victims of terrorism. There's a whole chapter dedicated to how everyday Americans are themselves respons
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Mark Fitzpatrick
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Sumallya Mukhopadhyay
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: favourite
Fear of Small Numbers, Arjun Appadurai
The central question that Arjun Appadurai tries to address is this: what prompts the modern nations to unleash terror among the national minority?
Through the theoretical framework of globalization, Appadurai avers that globalization has highlighted strange ambiguity and pathologies within the modern nations. Globalization can be defined as the free flow of finance capital, better methods of statecraft and preservation of human rights; at the same time, howev
A. David Lewis
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Why is the U.S. and the world where it is right now? Appadurai explained it all back in 2006. And the reasons aren’t hard to comprehend, just hard to accept: globalization has driven us mad, our senses of identity have been corrupted/exposed, and violence has been given a freer hand.

This is a brilliant and crucial book, not flawless but so extremely valuable in spite of any slight missteps. ESSENTIAL READING.
Jun 12, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
Deze man verzint letterlijk woorden waar je bijstaat. Zijn hele boek is gebaseerd op zijn eigen ideeën met maar heel weinig referenties naar anderen.
Ico Maly
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Top notch!
Michael VanZandt
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Es una especie de ensayo que intenta explicar por qué se le teme y ataca violentamente a las minorías (musulmanes, judíos, indígenas, etc.) y por qué este proceso se agudiza en la globalización.

Aunque fue escrito en 2006, es terrorífico lo bien que podría explicar lo que está pasando con Trump en el poder, y lo peor: lo que puede pasar si se sigue "regando" la semilla ideológica del odio contra migrantes, por ejemplo. Da una especie de "receta" para el genocidio y lo de Trump encaja en cada rub
Toño Piñeiro
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excelente estudio de la manera en que la globalización ha reconfigurado, ampliado o disminuido la noción que se tiene de la identidad, y la creación de los grupos de "ellos" y "nosotros".

Las minorías -tan necesarias y tan odiadas- son los elementos de estudio, y el autor cuestiona el porqué del miedo tan irracional de las potencias mundiales a esos numero pequeños. Cómo tres o cuatro individuos le pueden partir la tranquilidad a Estados Unidos, por ejemplo.

En su argumentación Appadurai, privil
Ernesto Priani saiso
Las posiciones de este antropólogo hindu son muy interesantes porque afrontan el problema de la violencia terrorista, pero en general de la violencia en las sociedades contemporáneas desde una perspectiva que enriquece el debate al evitar caer en polaridades fáciles. Su tesis se centra en que estamos ante organizaciones celulares vertebradas, que plantean el problema de lo local contra lo global en una perspectiva diferente a los estados nación. Desde ahí abre un análisis que explica mucho de lo ...more
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philo-pol
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 actual, factu
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-class
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.
Rob Van
A must read to understand xenofobia
Ashley Stewart
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very poignant.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great job.

Great job. I enjoyed reading this work. A must read for college chaplains. Especially those actively engaged with the public domain on and off campus.
Jose Ramon
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: en-crítica
Mi reseña en Letras Libres:
Feb 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
I don't know if I can read this author's incomplete analysis without developing a hernia.
Christopher Fok
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An invaluable resource in understanding xenophobia in the modern world.
Emily Ever
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is for anyone who wonders how genocides happen. Very interesting and enlightening.
rated it it was ok
Jul 18, 2011
Jade Delisle
rated it really liked it
Apr 09, 2012
Mark Habeeb
rated it liked it
Dec 21, 2014
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Arjun Appadurai is an Indian-American anthropologist recognized as a major theorist in globalization studies. In his anthropological work, he discusses the importance of the modernity of nation states and globalization

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