In this article I begin by noting a certain jouissance in Beiruti urban culture that co-exists with an ongoing history of intercommunal conflict and the failure of centralized planning. I then examine the irreverent celebration of this ‘outside-the-law’ culture by a group of middle-class immigrants who have returned to Beirut to enjoy its free spaces. I argue that these outside-the-law spaces are characterized by a particular form of sociality that I define as ‘negotiated being’. It is a dyadic and horizontal relation typified by a permanent state of relating and being attuned to the other without involving the law as a mediating third party. This makes for a more particularist and libidinal sociality that explains the forms of jouissance emanating from it.
Negotiated Being and Urban Jouissance in the Streets of Beirut
In this afterword, I begin by sharing a brief history of my early career as a non-Anglo-Celtic academic in an overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic university environment in Australia. I examine how questions of non-Anglo-Celtic academic authority and accent play out in the process of teaching. I also explore the decolonizing impetus behind my early work White Nation (2000) both in terms of its conceptualization of Whiteness and Third-World-looking people and in terms of its reversal of the traditional research relations (a Lebanese analysing Anglo-Australians). I argue that despite this history there are many dimensions of the new politics of decolonization within anthropology that comes from outside my own tradition. I offer an examination of some of the features of this ‘new wave’ of decolonization and finish by looking into the decolonizing dimensions of my recent call to ‘respect anthropology’s elders’.
In Response to Charlie
Faisal Devji, Jane Garnett, Ghassan Hage and Sondra L. Hausner
There is a close relation between satire and secularism as the latter came to emerge in Europe. Secularism, as is well-known, gained strength historically as a reaction to an era of European interreligious violence and massacres. It was not only a desire for the separation of church and state, as the classical formula has it. It was also an attempt to keep religious affect out of politics. This was in the belief that religion, because it is faith rather than reasoned thinking, produces too much of a narcissistic affect—that the faithful are unable to ‘keep their distance’ from what they believe in. It was thought that this narcissism was behind the murderous intensity of religiously driven conflicts. Being able to laugh at yourself literally means being able to not take yourself overly seriously. This, in turn, is crucial for the deintensification of the affects generated by the defense of what one believes in and for the relativization of one’s personal beliefs. Such relativization, as Claude Lévi- Strauss argued, is crucial for thinking oneself comparatively and in relation to others (the opposite of narcissism).
Between Theory, Ethnography, and Method
Martin Holbraad, Sarah Green, Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Veena Das, Nurit Bird-David, Eduardo Kohn, Ghassan Hage, Laura Bear, Hannah Knox and Bruce Kapferer
Recent years in anthropology have seen a noticeable trend, moving from debates about theory to a concern with method. So while some generations ago we would tend to identify ourselves as anthropologists with reference to particular theoretical paradigms—for example, Marxism, (post-)structuralism, cognitivism, cultural materialism, interpretivism—these days our tendency is to align ourselves, often eclectically, with proposals conceived as methodological: entanglements, assemblages, ontologies, technologies of description, epistemic partnerships, problematizations, collaborative anthropology, the art of noticing, and so on.