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Alessandro Testa


Is European anthropology the product of a colonialist plot to gain intellectual hegemony? Was the epistemic posture of its main representatives in the past one of crypto-imperialism aimed at – and based upon – power, in the attempt to climb up the ‘hierarchy of knowledge’ and subjugate from its peak minor traditions of study? How can we think about the genealogy of Euro-anthropology (and its future progress) without necessarily capitulating to these narratives of powerism and to the grip of the radical post-colonial discourse, which has been growing mainstream of late? This piece seeks to briefly but piercingly address these pressing issues, while at the same time proposing a few viable routes around the resulting methodological impasses. It also represents the prolegomena to a longer and more substantial critique, which will be published later.

Open access

Regina F. Bendix


Interdisciplinary collaboration is a sensible approach for addressing complex problems. However, academic training and the resulting disciplinary habitus (and competition) often leave such collaborative skills woefully underdeveloped. This contribution outlines how ethnographic sensibilities and skills may contribute to overcoming borders between disciplinary practitioners and enhancing self-awareness within and across scientific and scholarly practice. It thus proposes ethnographic attention as interdisciplinary midwifery.

Open access

Marco Solimene, Mariann Vaczi, Paul Manning, Bozena Sojka, Stephen Quilley, Anna Zhelnina, and Aimar Ventsel

Peter Berta (2019), Materializing Difference: Consumer Culture, Politics, and Ethnicity among Romanian Roma (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 390 pp., $67.50, ISBN 9781487500573.

Niko Besnier, Susan Brownell and Thomas F. Carter (eds) (2018), The Anthropology of Sport: Bodies, Borders, Biopolitics (Berkeley: University of California Press), 336 pp., $29.95/£25.00, ISBN 9780520289017.

Martin Demant Fredriksen (2018), An Anthropology of Nothing in Particular (Winchester: Zero Books), 118 pp., £10.99, ISBN 9781785356995.

Caroline Hornstein-Tomić, Robert Pichler and Sarah Scholl-Schneider (eds) (2018), Remigration to Post-Socialist Europe: Hopes and Realities of Return (Münster: LIT Verlag), 467 pp., £39.90, ISBN 3643910258.

Peter Mulholland (2019), Love's Betrayal: The Decline of Catholicism and Rise of New Religions in Ireland (Oxford: Peter Lang), 362 pp., £73.62, ISBN 9781787071278.

Michał Murawski (2019), The Palace Complex: A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 338 pp., $40.00, ISBN 9780253039996.

Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (2017), Two Lenins: A Brief Anthropology of Time (Chicago: Hau Books), 150 pp., $22.05, ISBN 0997367539.

Open access

Sight and Touch between East and West

Ethics, Ethnography and Social Theory

Liene Ozolina


In this Forum contribution, I develop the idea of the learnings of post-socialism beyond Eastern Europe. I propose retaining the distinctness of the peripheral vision ‘from the East’ and purposely keeping its ‘provinciality’ in order to illuminate the qualities and shortcomings of the theory at the centre. The note starts with an ethnographic encounter in Riga and draws on it to show how the peripheral vision of post-socialist Eastern Europe can challenge the stubborn boundary between morality and social theory.

Open access

Theory from the Peripheries

What Can the Anthropology of Postsocialism Offer to European Anthropology?

Ognjen Kojanić


This article argues for the benefits of a relational approach to understanding centres and peripheries across scales in anthropology, as opposed to an approach based on substantive notions of geographic areas. Based on an extensive literature review, I expose how the salience of the division into Western and Eastern Europe, and, increasingly, into Northern and Southern Europe, obscures the divisions on other scales within and across these divisions. Instead, I argue for thinking relationally about centres and peripheries, highlighting two relevant contributions that the anthropology of post-socialism can make to a European anthropology: one is based on analyses of how places become peripheral, while the other starts from analyses of political-economic changes and their social impacts after the collapse of socialism.

Open access

Pierre Déléage

Translator : Translated by Matthew Carey


This article develops an epidemiological approach to the analysis of ritual discourse, comparing three distinct genres of Amazonian ritual chants: Wayana, Sharanahua, and Ingarikó. The aim is not to identify the inherent properties of chants, nor to establish ideal types of ritual context (initiation, shamanism, prophetism), but to analyze the different factors affecting the stabilization of the heterogeneous elements of ritual traditions. First, I identify the different procedures (order transfer, parallelism, intersemioticity, and inscription) that stabilize content. Then, assuming that the spread of ritual chants depends on an institutional apparatus, I explore the chants’ rules of distribution and the types of legitimizing authority involved. Finally, I show how the combined analysis of these different factors offers us a new way of understanding ritual innovation.

Open access

Andrew Sanchez


This article suggests a new conceptual framework for understanding why some types of work are experienced in more satisfying ways than others. The analysis is based on research in an Indian scrap metal yard, where work entails disassembling things that other people no longer want. In spite of the demanding conditions of the labor and the social stigma attached to it, employees express satisfaction with the work process. This observation raises questions about theories of labor, which see satisfaction as arising from work that is creative, skilled, and task-based. The article argues that transformation is a social process that should be used as the primary analytic for explaining work satisfaction. Theories of creativity, skill, and task are secondary analytics that describe subsets of transformative action.

Open access

Uneasy Entanglements

Solar Energy Development in Zanzibar

Erin Dean


This article considers the entanglements revealed by the recent and rapid influx of solar technology on the archipelago of Zanzibar. Following a technical failure that left the islands without electricity for three months in 2009–10, the Zanzibari government has pursued several avenues to increase energy autonomy, including solar power. However, the future of energy independence promised by solar development is complicated by a legacy of political conflict and new relationships of dependence and inequality. Drawing on interviews with domestic energy users, government officials, state engineers and NGO activists, and situated within the unique post-revolutionary context of Zanzibar, this article explores how solar innovations and investments contribute to the reimagining of social, economic and political entanglements while simultaneously reproducing persistent discourses of hierarchy, inclusion and exclusion.

Open access


The Work of Culture, Heritage, and Musealized Spaces in “Unprecedented Times”

Christina Kreps

Writing at the midpoint of 2020, it has become cliché to say we are living in unprecedented times as the world copes with a confluence of events and challenges near cataclysmic proportions—the COVID-19 pandemic, civic unrest, social and political upheavals, and disrupted economies. In these times, what should be the work of culture, heritage, and musealized spaces and those that study them? I reflect on the articles in the special section, which stand as examples of engaged research and scholarship that seek to make visible troubled histories and presents, and to amplify voices that have for too long been silenced or ignored. Such visibility work surfaces what does and does not have precedent, what has and has not changed, and what is truly different and revolutionary. The articles draws on historical, comparative, and global perspectives to enrich knowledge gained from firsthand observation and engagement with local communities. Using Donna Haraway’s concept of “tentacular thinking,” I argue that we need not only to shed light on difficult chapters in our histories, but also to offer tools for understanding, guidance, and thoughtful actions in the present.

Open access

Paulette Wallace

Paul Ashton and Alex Trapeznik, eds. What Is Public History Globally? Working with the Past in the Present. London: Bloomsbury, 2019.

Kylie Message. The Disobedient Museum: Writing at the Edge. Museums in Focus series. London: Routledge, 2018.

Susan L. T. Ashley. A Museum in Public: Revisioning Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum. Museums in Focus series. London: Routledge, 2020.

Adrian Franklin. Anti-Museum. Museums in Focus series. London: Routledge, 2020.

Kylie Message. Collecting Activism, Archiving Occupy Wall Street. Museums in Focus series. London: Routledge, 2019.