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We are writing you about the paper Emptiness and Infrastructure: Great Central Asia and the

logistics of capitalism (AT-16-0063), which you recently submitted to Anthropological Theory. At

its heart, we think the paper has an argument that would contribute to anthropological theory and to
this journal. However, in its current form, the paper you sent us is not appropriate for
Anthropological Theory. It is more appropriate for a regional studies audience although we think
that even for that venue, it also would need some rewriting before it could be published.
For Anthropological Theory
We think your project of critiquing concepts
center and periphery is an excellent one but
needs to be grounded more in previous
discussions of this topic.
And your understanding that a discussion of
capitalism is necessarily part of this critique is
excellent. However, we suggest that you step
back from your case study to address
underlying concepts that are central to your
The discussion of center and periphery needs to
be linked to discussions of capitalism and
underdevelopment and the history of
colonialism and contemporary imperialism.
This requires reviewing how Marx, and
theorists influenced by Marx from Luxemburg,
Lenin, Fanon, Frank, Wallerstein, to Wolf etc.
dealt with this issue and then adding what you
think is missing from these theories, which
would be needed to understand the
interdependency between central Asia and
Discussions of differential power are surely
part of this analysis. It is from this vantage
point that you could build your critique of the
enterprise of area studies, regional studies and
the central Asian variant.
You might even want to step back a little
further and think about the basic assumptions
of Western social theory that ground much of
regional studies. Much of Western social
theory has an assumption that naturalizes the
relationship between culture and territory.
Your article would need to review these
theories and their assumptions about how, why,
when, and where the connections between
culture and territory are produced.
Initially such linkages were not based on
national divisions but were more about
differences between Europe and the non-west.
You could look for example at August Comte
who, when speaking about society was inclined
to project an emerging European civilization
rather than situate culture within what he called
the several nations of Western Europe
(Lenzer 1975: 27). You could also look at the
way in which Kroeber building on German
theories of culture and area to territorially
situate culture complexes.
Your concerns also need to acknowledge and
critique the ways in which the link between
territory and locality became increasingly
narrowed within the history of anthropology.
See Geertz and Ortner for example.
THEN you can make and situate your EN POCAS PALABRAS, LOS
argument about central Asia and make clear ANTERIORES APARTADOS SERAN EL
what is missed by scholars who just see that PRINCIPIO QUE ME PERMITIR
region as a periphery of China or Russia and COMENZAR CON EL ARTCULO QUE
not as an interconnected but unequally MAND A DICTAMEN.
powered location. Concepts of multiscalar as I
have been trying to develop them might help.
That is to say, you need to articulate more
clearly your concept of interconnections and
also a concept of differential power.
We think this is what you are trying to say by
building on research on the logistical city as
compared to a global city. But your use of the
concept of logistical city is not well enough
developed and connected to the other social
theory about territory, connections, and power.
To make your theory come alive you would
seem to need a concept of forms of flexible
capital accumulation. The writing that most
speaks to your theoretical concerns would
seem to be Harveys lovely small book Rebel
Cities (it is not a great title but the does speak
to the processes of capital accumulation that
underlie your arguments about the significance
of central Asia.)

We hope this letter is helpful. We know we are asking for a thoroughly reworked paper. It might
make sense to revise your paper for a regional journal and then take up the important theoretical
challenge that underlies the concerns you address in your paper.