This afterword reflects on how the Matsutake Worlds Research Group project can be considered as ontological. The multispecies ethnographic engagements presented in this special issue manifest not only the concepts inherent in the worlds of others that defy the categories of Western metaphysical thought (e.g., life forms seen as ‘events’ rather than mere things), but also the way in which non-human life forms themselves can demand that we practice another kind of thought and embrace another vision of our own selves. By succumbing to the allure of the matsutake fungus, the Matsutake Worlds Research Group has begun one of the most suggestive and original conceptual enterprises today, a practice that perhaps could be named ‘heeding headless thoughts’.
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Heeding Headless Thoughts
This biographical and, in part, phenomenological anthropology of older people in post-industrial England illuminates a local and generationally specific communitarian critique of and form of resistance against the process of individualisation. Rather than presenting communitarianism conventionally as an abstract political ideology or set of ideas about locality, it is conceptualised as emerging from and being reinforced by experiences of ageing, especially bodily ageing. It these respects, the article responds positively to Tatjana Thelen and Cati Coe’s call to take the anthropology of ageing out of its current condition of relative intellectual marginality, by recognising ageing and its related care arrangements as key structuring features within societies and political organisation and by treating them as a window onto understanding broad-scale social and political processes.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words
Mohammad Shafiqul Islam
Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book, In Other Words, is an autobiographical text that highlights the author’s journey to a new land and language. She grows up in America, communicates in Bengali with her parents during her early childhood and uses English in school; a sense of ambivalence about language dawns in her at this time. Her parents insist that Bengali be a dominant language in her life, but she falls in love with English, which later becomes her own language and the medium of her literary writing. During her doctoral studies, she feels an impulse to learn Italian and desperately strives to speak and write in that language. In Other Words, originally written in Italian, is the ultimate outcome of her aspirations to learn Italian. As the author switches from one language to another, from Bengali to English, and then from English to Italian, she forms an ambivalent sense of separation and proximity. This article seeks to explore Lahiri’s love for language, her sense of alienation and belonging, loss and achievement, and her search for identity and metamorphosis.
Report on the Sixth International Applied Anthropology Symposium in Lisbon
Laura Korčulanin and Verónica Reyero Meal
During the last weekend of October 2018, specialists from around the world met in Lisbon for the sixth ‘Why the World Needs Anthropologists’ symposium (WWNA). This yearly conference – which provides a space for sharing information, experiences and discussions regarding applied anthropology – has gone from a one-afternoon symposium to a three-day event with lectures, panel discussions, speed-talks, workshops, guided tours, social events and ‘Hot-Spots’ – stands where a range of institutions, sponsors and partners can present what they do. This year’s conference gathered more than 300 people from 33 countries (and more than a thousand online visitors via live-streaming) to reflect on the possibilities that the emergent discipline of design anthropology brings to anthropologists and designers and for cross-disciplinary collaborations. Significantly named, Designing the Future was a response to what many in the field feel is a time when the world needs more engaged anthropologists to spark ideas and bring out informed and well-thought-out research-based solutions.
Towards Transformative Collaborations?
As a researcher working within the field of collaborative or ‘engaged’ legal and political anthropology in Latin America, law does very much shape my research agenda and that of most of my colleagues. I would also contend that anthropology does impact law throughout the region, although to a much lesser extent. This is most evident in the legalisation, judicialisation and juridification of indigenous peoples’ collective rights to autonomy and territory in recent decades. Yet, the influence of anthropology on legal adjudication in the region is not only limited to issues pertaining to indigenous peoples: engaged applied ethnographic research is playing an increasingly important role in revealing to legal practitioners and courts the effects of human rights violations in specific contexts, and victims’ perceptions of the continuums of violence to which they are subjected.
Materialism with and without Marxism
Penny McCall Howard
What are Marxists to make of the new wave of materialism that has become influential in anthropology and across the social sciences and humanities? An ethnography of fishing in coastal Scotland and an analysis of Tim Ingold’s ecological anthropology demonstrates both the usefulness and gaps in contemporary ecological and materialist anthropology. It finds that the reduced role for political economy, human intentionality, and material results in this literature significantly reduces their explanatory power. Efforts to unite analysis of humans and nonhumans have led to a lack of attention to the divisions within human societies, particularly the alienation of labor and therefore of ecological relations in capitalism. Understanding these dynamics is essential to contending with the current planetary ecological crisis.
Repatriating Folly in France in the Aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars
At the beginning of the Second Restoration, Paris was swept by a mania for roller coasters, which were dubbed montagnes russes after a Russian tradition of sledding on ice hills. Situating this phenomenon in the context of the military occupation of France following the defeat of Napoleon, this article analyzes one of the many plays featuring these “mountains,” Le Combat des montagnes (“The Battle of the Mountains”), and especially two of its main characters, La Folie (Folly) and Calicot (Calico Salesman). The “battle” over the roller coasters, it argues, was really a contest over how to redefine national identity around consumer culture rather than military glory. Through the lens of the montagnes russes, the article offers a new perspective on the early Restoration as an aftermath of war.
The Role of the Proto-Political Sphere in Political Participation
Pia Rowe and David Marsh
While Wood and Flinders’ work to broaden the scope of what counts as “politics” in political science is a needed adjustment to conventional theory, it skirts an important relationship between society, the protopolitical sphere, and arena politics. We contend, in particular, that the language of everyday people articulates tensions in society, that such tensions are particularly observable online, and that this language can constitute the beginning of political action. Language can be protopolitical and should, therefore, be included in the authors’ revised theory of what counts as political participation.
Shah, A. (2018), Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas (London: Hurst Publishers). ISBN: 978-1-849-04990-0.
Kevin Olson, Imagined Sovereignties: The Power of the People and Other Myths of the Modern Age (Cambridge University Press, 2016), 230 pp., ISBN: 9781107113237