In one of Aesop’s fables a fox comes to the den of a sick lion. the lion calls out for him to enter, but the cunning fox remains outside. ‘Why won’t you come in?’ the lion asks. And the fox answers: ‘I’d come straight away if I didn’t see a lot of tracks going in but none coming out.’. In Horace’s version: ‘Vestigia terrent‘, ‘The footprints are scary’; it has become a familiar quotation. Weber gave the impression of a sick lion to those who saw him during his illness–though certainly a lion without danger. This ‘vestigia terrent‘ kept going through my head as I ventured deeper into the field of Weber studies. Was it wise of me? Doubts rose up again and again. here too there were many tracks going in but few coming out. I had been used to conducting research on open ground, on the outer edges of the social sciences fraternity. But now Weber had landed me right at the centre, where space is tight and you can feel the elbows pushing.
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Marilyn Strathern has an article in the latest issue of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and, per usual, it hurts my head and will take some time to unpack, traversing the work of Paul rabinow, Marshall Sahlins, Donna Haraway, Isaac Newton, Isabelle Stengers and others in just a few short pages. When it comes to Strathern, usually this effort is far exceeded in its rewards. For now, one passage caught my eye, on the work of “relation” in Paul Rabinow’s writing:
Just happened to be looking this up today in the OED:
community policing n. policing at a local or community level; spec. a system of policing by officers who have personal knowledge of and involvement in the community they police.
1934 New Castle (Pa.) News 20 Feb. 16/3 Major Adams asserted that the modern principles of community policing are based on antiquated methods.
1973 Times 24 Sept. 2/6 Community policing, at present one of the most controversial talking points in Andersontown.
2000 P. Beatty Tuff i. 4 The mayor think rhyming sound bites, community policing, and the death penalty going to stop fools from getting paid.
Not sure exactly who major Adams is or what he’s about, but it is interesting to think that the newness of “community policing” was in question even way back in 1934. Of course, I’m also not sure what Adams meant by “community policing” had anything to do with what we mean today, or even by the second (1974) entry.
The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
I’ve just uploaded a copy of the syllabus for a new class I’ll be teaching the second half of this semester, “Ethnographies of Police”. I’m pretty psyched about it. You can find a pdf version here, or go to the “Teaching” page of my blog and see it amongst the other syllabi uploaded there.