This article examines how hero-ancestor-saints came to be drawn into contestations over heritage, economic assets, and ritual between two rival groups of Orthodox clerics and their political and entrepreneurial backers. After Montenegro's secession from Serbia (2006), pro- and anti-Serbian factions of the population have been mobilized under the banners of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) and of the recently formed Montenegrin Orthodox Church (MOC). As spheres of authority are being carved out in the new polity, competing political and sacred genealogies are used to articulate the nation's descent through earlier state projects in the region. This article examines how Orthodox notions of charisma and leadership intersect with the heroic traditions of highland clans and contemporary state processes to create specific forms of authority inscribed in divine kinship genealogies.
The rival hagiographic genealogies of the new Montenegrin polity
Divine kinship and popular democratic politics
Alice Forbess and Lucia Michelutti
This article proposes “divine kinship” as an analytical tool with which to explore the relation between the divine, “the people”, and their political leaders and advance an ethnographically led comparative anthropology of democracy. More specifically, using the political ethnographies of five localities—North India, Venezuela, Montenegro, Russia, and Nepal—we discuss lived understandings of popular sovereignty, electoral representation, and political hope. We argue that charismatic kinship is crucial to understanding the processes by which political leaders and elected representatives become the embodiment of “the people”, and highlight the processes through which “ordinary people” are transformed into “extraordinary people” with royal/divine/democratic qualities.
Navigating the Interstices of the British State with the Help of Non-profit Legal Advisers
Alice Forbess and Deborah James
This article explores everyday interactions with the British welfare state at a moment when it is attempting to shift and transform its funding regimes. Based on a study of two London legal services providers, it draws attention to a set of actors poised between local state officers and citizens: the advisers who carry out the work of translation, helping people to actualize their rights and, at the same time, forcing disparate state agencies to work together. Advice and government services providers are increasingly part of the same system, yet advisers' work runs counter to the state's aims when formal legal process is used to challenge unfair legislation. The article reveals that ever more complex, vague, and idiosyncratic interconnections between state, business, and the third sector are emerging in the field of public services.