Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 5 of 5 items for

  • Author: Christopher C. Taylor x
Clear All Modify Search
Restricted access

Kings or Presidents?

War and the State in Pre- and Post-Genocidal Rwanda

Christopher C. Taylor

For theorists of the state and war inspired by Michel Foucault, the central issue is power. For Foucault there is no individual subject constructed in the absence of power, and no social institution that does not bear the imprint of historical struggles over power (Foucault 1979). With power so pervasively infusing human experience, there appears to be little need of talking about anything else. Power is everywhere. History is the chronicle of the struggle for power among individuals and groups. Taken to its logical conclusion, this perspective on human social life ends up sounding very much like the Hobbesian “war of each against all” (cf. Sahlins 2000).

Restricted access

Christopher C. Taylor

If anthropology is in need of a lesson against reductionism, it would appear that no longer is it in need of one against reification, for this is more often the logical flaw that contemporary anthropologists strive hardest and most consciously to avoid. Yet for all the merits of the critique against reification, it has its downside: it renders us less sensitive to the dangers of reductionism. Quite frequently today the charge of reification is leveled against what was once the discipline’s core concept, the concept of culture, which we are told is overly deterministic, excessively totalizing, and insufficiently sensitive to issues of multivocality and hermeneutic multiplicity. Cultural theorists are accused of investing the concept with too much causal weight and of sheltering it from the tides of history and contingency. Mere museum curators rather than observers of the dynamic human condition, cultural theorists are said to place ‘cultures’ under bell jars and then to claim that culture determines everything.

Restricted access

Mutton, Mud, and Runny Noses

A Hierarchy of Distaste in Early Rwanda

Christopher C. Taylor

When Rwandan ethnicities are discussed, one seldom hears of the country’s least numerous group, the Twa, who constitute less than 1 percent of the present- day population. Despite this, long before ethnic division arose between Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda, a great social divide separated Twa from non-Twa. Twa were the first group to have suffered discrimination at the hands of others. Local practices of social exclusion based upon notions of esteem and disgust focused upon the Twa body, which was both feared as dangerous and reviled as polluting. Well in advance of European intervention in Rwanda, interactions between Twa and others were governed by practices of avoidance in marriage, residence, and commensality, practices that were termed kuneena batwa. Twa could neither cultivate the land nor raise cattle. Instead, they were relegated to the least esteemed productive activities: foraging, pottery-making, entertainment, and serving as torturers and executioners for the Rwandan king. Twa were reputed to be gluttonous, and both Hutu and Tutsi spurned the aliments that Twa would consume, mutton in particular. Later, during Rwanda’s precolonial history, similar mechanisms of differentiation began to characterize interaction between Tutsi and Hutu. These practices were exacerbated during the colonial period due to European notions of biological determinism.

Free access

Glenn Bowman, Charles W. Brown, Gerard Corsane, Ian Fairweather, Allen Feldman, Amiria Henare, Caroline Ifeka, Bruce Kapferer, Anne Krogstad, Sandra Langley, Yngve Lithman, Staffan Löfving, Leif Manger, Heidi Moksnes, Carolyn Nordstrom, Peter Probst, K. Ravi Raman, Jakob Rigi, Eleanor Rimoldi and Christopher C. Taylor

Notes on Contributors

Free access

Ien Ang, George Baca, Rohan Bastin, Jacob Copeman, Thomas Ernst, Jonathan Friedman, Kingsley Garbett, Diana Glazebrook, Greg Gow, Keith Hart, André Iteanu, Roger Just, Bruce Kapferer, Judith Kapferer, Khalid Koser, Neil Maclean, Jukka Siikala, Amy Stambach, Christopher C. Taylor, Pnina Werbner and Amanda Wise

Notes on Contributors