On Misfitness

Reflections in and out of Fashion

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
View More View Less
  • 1 Rice University jdf@rice.edu
Restricted access

Abstract

‘Misfits’ are proof positive that the anthropological chestnut of ‘the psychic unity of mankind’ glosses over the actual psychic disunity of the anthropic. The proof militates against rendering misfitness merely as a social construction even as it militates in favour of rendering it as a ‘polythetic class’, the unity of which is not based in the common features of all tokens of a given type but instead in their ‘family resemblance’. Members of the family include those who are deemed incompetent, but also those deemed best suited to specific social stations. Misfitness may also be sought and not merely ascribed. In every case, misfitness has an ethically ambiguous status – and so offers us a lesson of the systemic place of the ‘irritant’ within but also at the edge of and beyond the bounds of any current anthropology of ordinary ethics.

Contributor Notes

James D. Faubion is Radoslav Tsanoff Chair of Public Affairs, Professor of Anthropology and Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of English and Religious Studies at Rice University. Publications representative of his interests include Modern Greek Lessons: A Primer in Historical Constructivism (Princeton, 1993); Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume 2: Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology and Volume 3: Power (The New Press, 1998, 2000, ed.); The Shadows and Lights of Waco: Millenarianism Today (Princeton, 2001); An Anthropology of Ethics (Cambridge, 2011); and Foucault Now (Polity, 2014, ed.).

  • Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari. 1983. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Volume 1, trans. R. Hurley, M. Seem and H. R. Lane. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Faubion, J. D. 2011. An Anthropology of Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Faubion, J. D. 2013. ‘The Subject That Is Not One: On the Ethics of Mysticism’. Anthropological Theory 13 (4): 287307.

  • Faubion, J. D. 2014. ‘Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We Might Go’. Hau 4 (1): 437442.

  • Foucault, M. 1985. The Use of Pleasure, trans. R. Hurley. New York: Pantheon.

  • Foucault, M. 1997. ‘What Is Enlightenment?’ In P. Rabinow (ed.), Essential Works of Michel Foucault. Volume 1. New York: The New Press, 303319.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Geertz, C. 1966. ‘The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man’. In J. Platt (ed.), New Views of the Nature of Man. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 93118.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luhmann, N. 1998 Observations on Modernity, trans. William Whobley. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Lyotard, J.-F. 1988. The Differend, trans. G. Van Den Abbeele. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Needham, R. (ed.). 1971. Rethinking Kinship and Marriage. London: Tavistock.

  • Needham, R. 1975. ‘Polythetic Classes: Convergence and Consequences’. Man (N.S.) 10: 349369.

  • Rabinow, P. 2003. Anthropos Today: Reflections on Modern Equipment. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press.

  • Robbins, J. 2013. ‘Beyond the Suffering Subject: Toward an Anthropology of the Good’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (3): 447462.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 21 21 3
Full Text Views 21 21 0
PDF Downloads 25 25 0