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Introduction

Cutting and Connecting—'Afrinesian' Perspectives on Networks, Relationality, and Exchange

Knut Christian Myhre

This introduction sketches the history of anthropological network analysis and examines its influence and significance with regard to contemporary conceptual and theoretical concerns in the discipline. It is argued that recent Melanesian ethnography is an effect of, and owes a debt to, certain mid-twentieth-century developments in Africanist anthropology. These debts allow for the elicitation of concepts and concerns from Melanesianist anthropology and their deployment in the analysis of African ethnography. Such deployment may in turn explore the limits of these conceptual constructs and allow for their return in distorted and extended forms. As demonstrated by the contributors to this special issue, the historical relationships between Melanesian ethnography and Africanist anthropology hence enable an exchange of theoretical gifts and traffic in analytics that cut the network and separate the two regions, thus allowing for a new form of anthropological comparison.

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Membering and Dismembering

The Poetry and Relationality of Animal Bodies in Kilimanjaro

Knut Christian Myhre

This article extends Malcolm Ruel's notion of 'non-sacrificial ritual killing' to explore the mode of butchering and the sharing of meat among the Chagga-speaking people of Tanzania. It is argued that these processes are forms of elicitation and decomposition that can be illuminated by analytics developed from Melanesian ethnography. However, it is shown that these processes emerge as such only when the language use surrounding and pertaining to butchering is taken into consideration. On this basis, it is argued that butchering constitutes a poetic enunciation that both distorts and expands the mode of revelation and the relational form described from Melanesia. Finally, it is claimed that this entails an alternative relationship between language and life that recasts the relation between vernacular and analytical language, as well as between theory and ethnography.

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Maxmillian Julius Chuhila, Veena Das, Alex Pillen and Knut Christian Myhre

This issue inaugurates the First Book Symposium as a feature in the pages of Social Analysis. Instead of including ourselves among the journals that devote a section to book reviews in their regular issues, as we have done for many years, we feel that a more focused approach is better suited to our goal of exploring the potentials of anthropological analysis. Adopting from other journals the format of the book symposium, in which a single book is subjected to sustained critical engagement by relevant scholars, we devote it in particular to discussion of books by first-time authors. Our aim is, on the one hand, to give a platform to scholars who are not already widely known and established and, on the other, to acquaint our readers with ideas and analytical approaches that are fresh.

Knut Christian Myhre, Returning Life: Language, Life Force and History in Kilimanjaro (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018), 336 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. eBook. eISBN 9781785336669.