Civilization, Hierarchy, and Political-Economic Inequality

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  • 1 London School of Economics S.Feuchtwang@lse.ac.uk
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Abstract

This article puts Dumont’s ‘hierarchy’ into the context of Marcel Mauss’s conception of civilization as a correction to Dumont’s ahistorical and structuralist approach. First, it introduces and elaborates Mauss’s ‘civilization’ into a descriptive and analytic concept. It then proposes a loosened conception of different hierarchies of encompassment and ideology. What follows as extended examples is a selection of long processes of transformation of the hierarchical structure of civilization in China. The article concludes by broaching the big historical questions that anthropology should be asking about hierarchies, that is, how they are formed and transformed.

Contributor Notes

Stephan Feuchtwang is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics. His main area of research has been China, but recently he extended it to the comparative study of the transmission of great events of state violence in China, Taiwan, and Germany. This research was published in After the Event (2011). He has been working with Michael Rowlands for the past 10 years on a book, now nearing completion, on civilization, reintroducing the long term in a comparative approach to civilizations defined as spreads and mixtures with many centers, not as cultures that clash.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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