This article provides an overview of the main European social anthropology journals during 2019. It uses the concept of Exquisite Corpses, a technique devised by the Surrealists, an avant‐garde art group of the early 20th century, to suggest a practice of transmitting knowledge across periods of fracture. It argues that this process characterises the way that some aspects of social anthropology’s canon continue to be transmitted and remain influential, despite having been superseded by time, fashion and changes in social and academic attitudes. A wide range of scholarship is highlighted. Topics focused on include time, relations, borders, bureaucracy, ethics, and the challenges faced by academics in general and anthropologists in particular. These challenges are driven by the emergence of an authoritarian spirit across a number of fields in Europe and beyond, continuing austerity following on from the economic crisis, and the consolidation of an audit culture that drives the university in an ever more neoliberal direction. Despite the current rigorous climate, European social anthropology continues to be vital and relevant.
This review article surveys all of the articles published in the major Anglophone European social anthropology journals in 2020. Taking a perspective from Joel Robbins’ theorising of ‘the anthropology of the good’ as a critique of the primacy of ‘dark anthropology’, it highlights the rich range of ethnography and analysis recently produced. Focusing on the continuing interest in ontology, environment, relations and the problems inherent in anthropological comparison, the review article identifies how – during the crisis of the COVID‐19 pandemic – the discipline has continued to respond with vigour and resilience. An ongoing resurgence of the anthropology of religion is noted, as is the emergence of powerful emic exploration of such global phenomena as care, debt and corporate capitalism. The review article concludes with a reflection on the ideological and epistemological challenges social anthropology continues to face, both in the academy and more widely.