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Gwyn Williams

This paper explores the rights-based cosmopolitanism of French anti-GM activists and their challenge to the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of the World Trade Organization and multinational corporations. Activists argue that genetic modification, patents, and WTO-brokered free trade agreements are the means by which multinationals deny people fundamental rights and seek to dominate global agriculture. Through forms of protest, which include cutting down field trials of genetically modified crops, activists resist this agenda of domination and champion the rights of farmers and nations to opt out of the global agricultural model promoted by biotechnology companies. In so doing, they defend the local. This defense, however, is based on a cosmopolitan discourse of fundamental rights and the common good. I argue that activists' cosmopolitan perspective does not transcend the local but is intimately related to a particular understanding of it.

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Sezin Topçu

This article adduces evidence of the central role played by scientists in the 1970s and “lay persons” in the post-Chernobyl period in the production and legitimation of alternative types of knowledge and expertise on the environmental and health risks of nuclear energy in France. From a constructivist perspective, it argues that this shift in the relationship of “lay persons” to knowledge production is linked not only to the rise of mistrust vis-à-vis scientific institutions but also, and especially, to a change in the way they have reacted to “dependency” on institutions and to “state secrecy”. Counter-expertise is constructed as a politics of surveillance where alternative interpretations of risk are buttressed by a permanent critique of the epistemic assumptions of institutional expertise. The identity of “counter-expert” is socially elaborated within this process.

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Cartographies of Communicability and the Anthropological Archive

Civil War Executions and the Harvard Irish Study

Brigittine French

This article traces ideological constructions of communication that enable powerful actors to determine what counts as silences, lies and surpluses in efficacious narratives about violence (Briggs 2007) in order to elucidate occlusions regarding legacies of the Civil War in the Irish Free State. It does so through a precise triangulation of multiple competing and overlapping narratives from unpublished fieldnotes, interviews, published ethnographies and other first-person accounts. The inquiry highlights social memories of the Irish Civil War that have been 'assumed, distorted, misunderstood, manipulated, underestimated, but most of all, ignored' (Dolan 2003: 2). The article argues that the excesses of the anthropological archive make the recuperation of a multiplicity of collective memories possible through a linguistic anthropological perspective that enumerates the kind of erasures at play in contentious memory-making moments, highlights polyvocality in metapragmatic discourse and tracks the gaps in entextualisation processes of historical narratives about political turmoil.

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Marc Abélès

What is anthropology in France about, what is its image, its impact? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Finding answers to these questions would require a whole book. However, in a more modest way, I would like to make a number of observations related to the recent history of the discipline – history that, as we shall see, is inseparable from the general socio-political context and the place that the discipline occupies today in the French intellectual landscape.

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The Anthropology of Literature in France

Birth and Becoming of a New Field of Studies

Laurent Sebastian Fournier and Jean-Marie Privat

In this article we present the ongoing theoretical discussions concerning the relations between anthropology and literature in France. We recall the historical relationship of a part of French anthropology and the world of literature. We then try to show how the anthropology of literature began by using the model of the anthropology of art, mainly concentrating on literary works as individual creations specific to the style or the cosmology of a given writer. We explore a new perspective on the analysis of the social and symbolic meanings of literary worlds, putting the emphasis on what is called ‘ethnocriticism’ in France. In order to understand better the influence of literature and literary motives on contemporary cultural practices, and to grasp the relation of literary works with the outside world and with everyday life, we propose to build up a comparative approach of literary works and rituals. Through different novels or other literary works, we address possible developments of contemporary anthropologies of literature in France.

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The Veil and Muslim Women in France

Religious and Political Aspects

Aref Abu-Rabia

The right of Muslim schoolgirls in France to wear the veil (hijab) raises questions concerning the meaning of the veil for Muslim women. The debate about Muslim dress codes and whether Islam belongs in Europe has become a critical issue. The debate that began about the veil in Islam has evolved into a large discussion about Islam itself: as a religion, the Islamic movement in France and the relationship between Islam and fundamentalism. The purpose of this article is to examine some definitions of the hijab and its meaning in the context of the Qur’an, and to analyse some of the understandings of the hijab, as articulated in the late twentieth century by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. It also explores the nature of Muslim reactions in France as well as their tensions with the surrounding society, as a result of the French ban on wearing the veil in public schools.

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A French place without a cheese

Problems with heritage and identity in northeastern France

Paola Filippucci

In France, the classic produit du terroir, the local product that with its mix of skill and raw materials embodies the distinctive tie between people and their terroir (soil), is cheese. Thus, when inhabitants of the Argonne say that it “does not even have a cheese”, they imply that it lacks a patrimoine (cultural heritage). On the other hand, they do make passionate claims about 'being Argonnais', conveying a marked recognition of, and attachment to, a named place in relation to which they identify themselves and others. Focusing on this paradox, this article will highlight certain assumptions regarding the definition of cultural heritage found in public policy.

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The State of French Sociology through American Eyes

Minutes of the Society for Social Research, February 6, 1933

Herbert Blumer

The Society for Social Research held its regular meeting on the evening of 6 February, President Stuart Rice in the chair.

Mr. Herbert Blumer of the Department of Sociology, University of Chicago spoke to the group on ‘Some Impressions of Contemporary French Sociology’. The following is a digest of his paper.

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Isabelle Gouarné

Cet article examine quand et comment la référence conjointe à Durkheim et Marx est devenue pensable dans l'univers des sciences humaines françaises. Malgré l'ancrage durable du marxisme en France, cette question n'a guère été étudiée. On se propose donc ici de rendre compte du travail réalisé, au cours des années 1930, par des intellectuels situés à la jonction de l'univers des sciences sociales durkheimiennes et du monde communiste, et de préciser ainsi à quelles conditions les oppositions très vives de Durkheim et de ses disciples vis-à-vis du matérialisme historique ont pu être levées.

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Romain Pudal

Je souhaiterais aborder dans cet article quelques éléments de l'histoire intellectuelle française susceptibles d'éclairer le contexte de réception du pragmatisme américain en France et de souligner certains des enjeux liés à cette réception; je m'intéresse donc ici plus particulièrement à la réception du pragmatisme de William James et John Dewey entre les années 1890 et 1920 environ. Durant cette période, on trouve de nombreux textes consacrés au pragmatisme dont on peut donner un aperçu chronologique en rappelant les principaux titres. En 1906, traduction de James Les variétés de l'expérience religieuse avec une préface d'Emile Boutroux; le 7 mai 1908 une séance de la Société française de Philosophie intitulée 'Signification du pragmatisme'; puis en 1908 de nouveau un texte d'Emile Boutroux Science et religion où il est notamment question de James; le texte de James Pragmatisme préfacé par Bergson en 1911; en 1913 Un romantisme utilitaire de René Berthelot puis en 1921 De l'utilité du pragmatisme de Georges Sorel. Tous ces textes et bien d'autres forment la toile de fond d'un débat sur le pragmatisme auquel un auteur quelque peu inattendu va apporter une contribution majeure; cet auteur c'est Emile Durkheim lui-même qui sera le seul à proposer un cours intégralement consacré au pragmatisme en 1913-1914 mais il faudra attendre 1955 pour en avoir une publication en français à partir de notes de cours grace au travail d'Armand Cuvillier, et 1983 pour qu'il en existe une version anglaise avec une introduction d'Allcock. Tous les commentateurs actuels s'accordent pour dire que ce cours n'a pas eu l'attention qu'il méritait et qu'il demeure méconnu et injustement relégué au rang de 'document historique'1 sans être considéré à sa juste valeur.