Nikhil Anand’s contribution to the “Just Environments” series examines the making of urban inequality, focusing on water infrastructure as a key site for banal yet fundamentally political decision-making that neglects or harms poor citizens. In both Flint and Mumbai, environmental injustice is generated through bureaucratic routines that rarely take into account the humans they affect. Challenging these injustices, Anand argues, requires engaging in the “boring” technopolitics of infrastructure.
Items is an SSRC digital forum that renews and reimagines the Council’s former newsletter as a space for engagement with our work and with the social sciences more generally. From 1947 to 2008, Items (also called Items & Issues in its later years) was the principal mode by which social scientists and others learned about the impact of our programs and broader issues in the social sciences relevant to our commitment to scholarly rigor, cross-disciplinary encounters, and public relevance. In the same spirit, this site aims to shape current conversations through curated essays that reflect on the state of the social sciences today. A wide range of social scientists and others contribute their ideas and insights, often around featured themes that engage key debates of the moment.
Danny Hoffman’s new essay explores the expansive role of militaries as “armed first responders,” which has become “the new normal of humanitarian intervention.” Based on his research on both the US and Liberian armies as they intervened in the 2014 Ebola crisis, Hoffman shows the connections between the actions of the two forces. In particular, he examines how the focus on training Liberian forces to counter violent extremism by the Americans shaped how the Liberian military, with tragic consequences, approached its role in containing the Ebola epidemic. Danny Hoffman was the recipient of two SSRC fellowships, the 2001 International Dissertation Research Fellowship and the Global Security and Cooperation Research Fellowship.