The popularity of the notion of hegemony in anthropology and cognate disciplines has waxed and waned. The self-censorship of Gramsci's most accessible writings (Selections from the prison notebooks) and the multi-layered nature of his thinking have led to a variety of understandings of the term. Easier to reflect on historically, after the events, than to use for analyses of the present, hegemony is both attractive to intellectuals insofar as it establishes their role in politics and yet prone to vagueness in its application to real life situations. For these reasons perhaps, the notion is now on the wane. Yet before we throw out the baby with the bath water, we need to reflect on precisely how it has been used in social analysis and praxis. This article takes a critical view of those people who have most influenced anthropologists in their understanding of the term and argues that the fetishization of 'culture' has probably done more to mystify the concept than anything else.
Critical interpretations in anthropology and beyond
Disturbance and creativity
It is an old trick and one most of us get our students to do some time or other: Look up the word “culture” in a standard English dictionary. The usual first two entries are always good for a debate. There is the anthropological one, “as customs, values, etc., ‘especially at a particular time’”; and there’s the lit-crit one “as appreciation of art, literature, etc.” Which is right? How do they connect?—and so on. Then there’s the older meaning, “as improvement and development through care . . . cultivation.”
Ethics and dilemmas
The two articles that follow are intended as the first in an occasional series that Focaal will feature in forthcoming issues. The objective is to encourage a more rooted consideration of some of the ethical dilemmas and problems that anthropologists face in planning their research, doing their fieldwork, and publishing its results.
Christian Lund, Anthony D. Buckley, Gavin Smith, Martijn Koster, Johannes Stahl, Elizabeth Tonkin and Luisa Steur
Deema Kaneff, Who owns the past? The politics of time in a ‘model’ Bulgarian village
William F. Kelleher Jr., The troubles in Ballybogoin: Memory and identity in Northern Ireland
Don Kalb and Herman Tak, Critical junctions: Anthropology and history beyond the cultural turn
Jonathan Xavier Inda (ed.), Anthropologies of modernity: Foucault, governmentality, and life politics
Tatjana Thelen, Privatisierung und soziale Ungleichheit in der osteuropäischen Landwirtschaft. Zwei Fallstudien aus Ungarn und Rumänien
André Celtel, Categories of self: Louis Dumont’s theory of the individual
Gerald Sider, Living Indian histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora people in North Carolina
Mette Louise Berg, Hülya Demirdirek, Albert Doja, Leyla J. Keough, Orvar Löfgren, Kacper Pobłocki, Peter Skalník, Gavin Smith, Banu Nilgün Uygun, Katherine Verdery and Judith Whitehead
Biographical notes on contributors