The post–Great Recession, zombielike resurrection of neoliberalism has taken much of Europe and the United States on a hard-right detour into a twilight zone of populist nationalism, where far-right critiques of the status quo resonate more deeply with the white working class than leftist analyses. As rising fears of cultural eclipse, economic decline, and elite resentment drive the appeal of right-wing nationalists in the United States, Europe, India, and beyond, what role should intellectuals, and especially anthropologists, play in countering the creeping authoritarianism and growing inequality of our times? What kind of leverage can intellectual labor have on social reality? How can intellectuals broaden the boundaries of political possibility so that progressive, transformative collective action becomes imaginable?
“When the purpose at hand begins from the perspective of a philosophy of praxis, that is to say from a motivation to enhance the leverage of radical democratic interventions in history, then the forming of the intellectual problem takes a particular shape.” — Gavin Smith, Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics: Essays in Historical Realism
This statement frames Gavin Smith’s thoughtful, complex text Intellectuals and (Counter-) Politics: Essays in Historical Realism. Indeed, you could call the book a manual for the forming of a problem from this kind of perspective and with this motivation. To give a comprehensive discussion of how this might happen, Smith brings in a whole range of questions: What is an intellectual? How do intellectuals reach audiences? How are counter-politics situated within time and space, and how should they be studied? By including the domains of intellectuals, political actors, publics, and the constraining tendencies of structure—of “capital’s fierce demands”—in his analysis, while always recognizing the porous and fluctuating boundaries between these domains, Smith (2014: 11) frames the question of activist scholarship and the ongoing historicity of politics in a way that attempts to grasp their changing, tangled, and slippery nature. The result is an immensely rich book that provides a nudge along the path to a complex account of arrangements of capital and political mobilization that it reveals.
Why Q1 Hamlet Matters
This introduction situates the special double issue ‘Canonizing Q1 Hamlet’ in the context of the early publication history of Shakespeare’s tragedy and the recent critical and editorial interest in the first edition. The first edition of Hamlet – often called ‘Q1’, shorthand for ‘first quarto’ – was published in 1603, in what we might regard as the early modern equivalent of a cheap paperback. Q1 Hamlet is becoming increasingly canonical not because there is universal agreement about what it is or what it means, but because more and more Shakespearians agree that it is worth arguing about. If we read or perform it, rather than simply dismissing it (as was done for most of the twentieth century), Q1 makes us think: about performance, book history, Shakespeare’s relationships with his contemporaries, and the shape of his whole career.
Andrew Benjamin and Francesco Borghesi
This special issue arose from a workshop on “Peace and Concord from Plato to Lessing”, organised by the editors and which took place at the University of Sydney on 18 and 19 September 2017. Central to the work of both the editors is the relationship between the concepts of ‘concord’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ within a setting created by a concern with the development of a philological anthropology. Their work combines both intellectual history and philosophy, a combination that is reflected in the contents of the special issue of Theoria. The importance of these terms is that they allow for another interpretation of the ethical and the political. Central to both is the location of human being within a larger cultural context. That context demands an approach in which philosophy does not exclude history, and history recognises that it is already informed philosophically. If there is a unifying term, it is ‘culture’. The approach taken within the larger project starts with the centrality of culture as that which demands to be thought. And yet culture is neither tranquil nor unified. As Walter Benjamin argued, there ‘is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism’. Allowing for culture’s centrality entails a reconfiguration of both philosophy and intellectual history.
In 1988, Michelle Fine explored the ways in which damaging patriarchal discourses about sexuality affect adolescent girls, and hinder their development of sexual desire, subjectivities, and responsibility. In this article, I emphasize the durability and pliability of those discourses three decades later. While they have endured, they shift depending on context and the intersections of girls’ race, class, and gender identities. Calling on ethnographic research, I analyze the intersectional nuances in these sexual lessons for Latina girls in one (New) Latinx Diaspora town.
How Does Form Reveal Relation?
Through the study of form, we explore how relations constitute persons for the Huni Kuin of Western Amazonia. Shamanistic song, and the role in it of patterned design, reveals a specific aesthetics that emphasizes processes of becoming, transformation, and figure/ground reversal. Since bodily substances and actions of others affect the ‘thinking body’, well-being depends on making visible the relational network that exists inside and outside one’s embodied self. An aesthetic battlefield unfolds where the doubles of ingested substances invert the predatory relation and come to envelop the ‘eye soul’ of the one who ingested them with their design and ornaments. This setting allows us to address the fractal quality of personhood and the permanent disequilibrium between symmetrical and asymmetrical relations in Amazonia.
Entre collaboration, opportunisme et « nécessité de vivre »
Amid severe shortages of raw materials, labor, and transportation, companies in occupied France (1940–1944) sought alternative paths to what is commonly called “economic collaboration.” They worked to find substitute supplies, convert to new product lines, alter their manufacturing methods, and even adapt to the black market. But few businesses could avoid the question of whether to provide goods and services to the occupier. The opportunities to do so were widespread, though they varied according to occupation, economic branch, and the passage of time during the Occupation. The German occupiers thus benefited from the French economy. With decisive help from the Vichy regime, the occupiers managed to force, induce, or entice French enterprises into their war economy—be they large industries formerly mobilized for French national defense, small and medium-sized firms, or agricultural producers.
Folds, Wraps, and Relations in the Southern Andes
This article explores how viscera, bodies, and forces emerge in resemblance to one another. In the connections between the animals’ butcher, the treatment of body parts, and the rituals of herd marking in the Argentinean highlands, folds and wrappings of viscera, leathers, meats, and dances make things ‘look like’ something else in different scales, highlighting correspondences or reflections between entities. Each level of these compositions refers to another, and a change in one can affect all of them. Resemblances are constantly evaluated and topologically manipulated, either to enable their mutual stimulation or to avoid connections and thus to establish differences between the perspectives of different beings. This article argues that the fabrication of similarities and differences through the manipulation of resemblances offers a privileged key to an understanding of Andean and Amerindian sociality.
This article examines the political style and rhetoric of the Manif pour tous (MPT), the main organization opposing same-sex marriage in France, from summer 2013 to the present. It exposes how the MPT’s style and rhetoric differ from those of their American counterparts, and what this tells us about the different strategies of political movements in France and the United States generally. It is based on an analysis of the language used by activists whom I interviewed in 2014 and 2015 and on a discourse analysis of the MPT’s website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and press releases since 2013. This analysis of the distinctive features of the MPT brings to light underlying concerns about French identity in the face of globalization. In other words, for the MPT and its members, what is at stake is not just same-sex marriage but the very definition of Frenchness.
The makings of Weber, Arendt, and Friedman
Marx has been misread primarily because the politicians who, in his name, powered communist regimes popularized a tendentious interpretation of his works. In particular, they justified authoritarianism and violence by emphasizing the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and the “animal theory of revolution” where the poor get poorer and eventually erupt in a cataclysmic fashion. Instead, if attention had been paid to Marx’s seminal concept—“socially necessary labor”—and his exhortation to win the minds of the working classes by participating in popular movements of the subalterns everywhere, then a new appreciation would emerge of the corpus of Marx’s contributions. As that has not quite happened, scholars like Weber, Arendt, and Friedman have misinterpreted Marx, rather willfully, and shot into prominence with their first book-length publications.