Tag Archives: anthropology

The historical event that merges the secularism & ontology debates

I’ve found the historical tidbit that finally merges the ca. 2000s secularism debates and the ca. 2010s ontology/human-animal debates in anthropology. It’s from Eric Hazan’s A History of the Barricade (Verso Books):

Henri III, who had previously been king of Poland, came to the throne of France in 1574 on the death of his brother Charles IX (the king of the St Bartholomew massacre). He was not popular, particularly in Paris, which at that time was very Catholic and traditional. His entourage was lampooned, the famous ‘mignons’ who passed their time in duels and debauchery of various kinds. He was attacked for his fantasies, his cross-dressing, his taste for lapdogs and exotic animals. Pierre de L’Estoile, gentleman usher to the chancellery and quite royalist in his sympathies, related in his diary that on 14 July 1576: 

The king and queen arrived in Paris on return from the land of Normandy, from where they brought a large quantity of monkeys, parrots, and small dogs purchased in Dieppe. Some of these parrots, the majority trained by the Huguenots, gave out all kinds of nonsense and railing against the mass, the pope, and the ceremonies of the Roman church; when some people who had been offended said this to the king, he replied that you don’t interfere with the conscience of parrots.

You heard it here, folks: you don’t interfere with the conscience of a parrot. Fowl mouth and all.

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Police/Worlds: Studies in Security, Crime and Governance

I’m so excited to be announcing Police/Worlds: studies in security, crime & governance, a new monograph series that I will be co-editing with Ilana Feldman, William Garriott and Sameena Mulla for Cornell University Press.

We’re currently accepting proposals. Authors should send inquiries to Cornell University Press Senior Editor Jim Lance at jml554@cornell.edu. Guidelines for submitting proposals can be found at http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/info/?fa=text101.

Sage House News: The Cornell University Press Blog

pw-web.jpg Indio Police Building (Indio, Calif.), 1958 © J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10). Photo by Julius Schulman.

Police/Worlds: Studies in Security, Crime and Governance, is a new series forthcoming from Cornell University Press. It will be edited by anthropologists Ilana Feldman, Will Garriott, Kevin Karpiak and Sameena Mulla.

Sage House: We’re very happy to launch the new monograph series, Police/Worlds: Studies in Security, Crime, and Governance here at Cornell University Press.  To begin, tell me about Police/Worlds. What does the title mean? What is the series focus and what makes it different from other series?

Sameena Mulla: We’re glad you asked, because we chose the title Police/Worlds to invite that question. You see two very recognizable terms, “Police,” and “Worlds,” with some punctuation between them; their relationship is not exactly clear, and that’s what we hope to explore in the series. We…

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Far Afield

This book was published in French under the title L’Adieu au voyage. This phrase is an allusion to the last page of Tristes Tropiques, in which Claude Lévi-Strauss invites us to seize the essence of humankind not through geographical or anthropological explorations of the planet (“fond farewell to savages and explorations!”), but through the ephemeral contemplation of the works of nature: a crystal, a perfume, or, famously, the eye of a cat. In my mind, this phrase did not refer to such a project, and even less to some historical moment: the farewell to journeying does not designate some historical realization through which, after explorations and empires, the West would observe with bitterness the end of exoticism or the vanishing of differences (these topoi date back at least to the eighteenth century). It designates rather a moment within ethnography, through which the anthropologist relinquishes any idealized conception of difference. It is thus not only a farewell to some idealized Other, but also a farewell to oneself, in other words the redefinition of the relationship between subject and object. Like in Lévi-Strauss’s original phrasing, the farewell to the journey does not point to any conclusion, or disenchantment, but to the reconfiguration of a relationship, a twofold process of objectivation and subjectivation.

— From the Preface to the English Edition of Vincent Debeane’s Far Afield: French Anthropology Between Science & Literature

New article in American Anthropologist

The AAA Meetings were a wonderful flurry of activity that I’m just now recovering from, however one thing slipped under my radar while it was happening: my new article, co-authored with Paul Mutsaers and Jennie Simpson, on “The Anthropology of Police as Public Anthropology” is now available for early viewing*.  The hard-copy version of the article is set to appear in the December issue of the journal American Anthropologist.  This should be the first in a flurry of exciting things coming in the next semester or so, so keep an eye out!

 

*I’d prefer you download the article via Wiley’s site, if you have access through your home institution or Anthrosource.  If not, however, you an find a copy I’ve uploaded onto Academia.edu

Book Forum on Rabinow & Stavrianakis’ Demands of the Day

A Book Forum has just opened up, co-hosted by the Anthropological Research on the Contemporary and Somatosphere on Paul Rabinow & Anthony Stavrianakis’s new book Demands of the Day: On the Logic of Anthropological Inquiry.  You can see the announcement here.  The first commentaries are by myself and anthropologist Todd Myers.  Here are some snippets:

Continue reading Book Forum on Rabinow & Stavrianakis’ Demands of the Day

Marilyn Strathern on Rabinow, Sahlins, Haraway, Newton, Stengers…

V0016252 Credit: Wellcome Library, London An allegorical monument to Sir Isaac Newton and his theories on prisms. Line engraving by L. Desplaces after D. M. Fratta after J.B. Pittoni, D. Valeriani and G. Valeriani. By: Owen Mac Swiney after: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Giuseppe Valeriani, Domenico Valeriani, Louis Desplaces and Domenico Maria Fratta
V0016252 Credit: Wellcome Library, London
An allegorical monument to Sir Isaac Newton and his theories on prisms. Line engraving by L. Desplaces after D. M. Fratta after J.B. Pittoni, D. Valeriani and G. Valeriani.
By: Owen Mac Swiney after: Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Giuseppe Valeriani, Domenico Valeriani, Louis Desplaces and Domenico Maria Fratta

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:

Continue reading Marilyn Strathern on Rabinow, Sahlins, Haraway, Newton, Stengers…

Where is the next, STS-inspired, George Stocking?

Lawrence Cohen, in one of the seemingly endless stream of insights he casts around, once suggested to me that the history of anthropology needs to be understood in terms of its  status as a “field science” over and against the development of “the laboratory” in the 19th century.

I guess I’m just now coming to terms with what we lost with the passing of George Stocking, but it seems to me that what such a project would require–and I am certainly not the person to do it–is a kind of George Stocking for the 21st century.  Stocking’s histories of anthropology pushed aside the easy origins myths the discipline liked to tell itself and opened the possibility to situate anthropology as a discipline within a broader intellectual, emotional and political tradition.

V0010792 A quack pharmacist(?) tying up his pet monkey. Etching by Jo
Credit: Wellcome Library, London
A quack pharmacist(?) tying up his pet monkey. Etching by Jor after Ma.
By: Ma
Published: Ve. ChereauParis (rue St. Jacques aux 2. Piliers d’or) :

Certainly “laboratory studies” are now plentiful, to the point of being basically passe, in anthropology and in STS more generally.  But do any of them take up this question of “the field” in such a way as to insist on anthropology’s central role in constructing scientific knowledge? Who will be anthropology’s next Stocking, placing it at the core of how we understand “knowledge” and “power” today?

Anthropoliteia in Anthropology news

“Fault Lines in an Anthropology of Police, Both Public and Global” in Anthropology News

Another commentary by yours truly at Anthropology News.  AN format forbids in-text citations and footnotes, but if you’ll follow the links you’ll find a dense web of Anthropoliteia contributors’ work!

AAA Statement on Marriage and the Family

FYI, y’all:

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.

Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association

 

Fieldnotes: Thinking through Subjectivity & Materiality through TASERS

This post is my first, personal, attempt at refiguring anthropological inquiry after the internet 2.0.  I guess this is just a fancy way of saying that I’m beginning to try to come to terms with doing ethnography after the birth of social media.  For context, my original fieldwork in France, way back between 2003-2005, coincided with Friendster, but that’s about it (it’s no coincidence that it was juring that time that I met my first “blogger”).  I’ve long though about what it would mean to start up a new project in the age of blogging, microblogging, social media and whathaveyou.  I’ve had various personal inspirations, and a few more or less inchoate collaborations (especially through the various iterations of the ARC Collaboratory, whose website seems to be down right now), but, at yet, no sustained engagement.  So here goes.

Continue reading Fieldnotes: Thinking through Subjectivity & Materiality through TASERS