In this article I explore the contemporary relevance of Émile Durkheim’s classic theory of anomie with respect to both the discipline of social anthropology and the study of politics in Africa. I take as a case study present-day, post-war Angola, where an activist mobilisation (the Revolutionary Movement) has engaged in what I call ‘anomic diagnostics’ in opposing the country’s current regime. Through a political reading of Durkheim’s theory, I suggest that, while the French author situates anomie and suicide as cause and consequence respectively within a conservative view of society, Angolan activists instead see anomie as the starting point for a progressive political proposition productive of rupture.
Ruy Llera Blanes
Ruy Llera Blanes and Abel Paxe
In this article we chart the histories and political translations of atheist cultures in Angola. We explore the specific translations of atheist ideologies into practical actions that occurred in the post-independence period in the 1970s–1980s and perform an ethnographic exploration of their legacies in contemporary Angola. We also debate the problem of atheism as an anthropological concept, examining the interfaces between ideology, political agency, and social praxis. We suggest that atheism is inherently a politically biased concept, a product of the local histories and intellectual traditions that shape it.
A Century of Anti–Human African Trypanosomiasis Campaigns in Angola
Jorge Varanda and Josenando Théophile
This analysis of over a century of public health campaigns against human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Angola aims to unravel the role of (utopian) dreams in global health. Attention to the emergence and use of concepts such as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and ideas about elimination or eradication highlights how these concepts and utopian dreams are instrumental for the advancement of particular agendas in an ever-shifting field of global health. The article shows how specific representations of the elimination and eradication of diseases, framed over a century ago, continue to push Western views and politics of care onto others. This analysis generates insight into how global health and its politics of power functioned in Angola during colonialism and post-independence.
Mimeses, Alterities, and Colonial Hierarchies
‘imitation from above’, as epitomized by the hut-hospital. Created between the 1920s and the 1950s for the purpose of providing medical assistance to the indigenous populations of Angola, Mozambique, and other Portuguese-administered African regions, hut
The Cosmopolitics of an Apparently Non-religious Practice
Sergio González Varela
is to describe the religious foundations of a capoeira style called Angola from a perspective that questions many of the cultural and historical assumptions that academics have made about this Afro-Brazilian art. 1 Although I am aware that being
Ruy Llera Blanes
In this article, through a set of ethnographic vignettes from fieldwork conducted in Angola since 2015, I discuss the political semantics of crisis and austerity, and simultaneously outline an itinerary of a “traveling austerity” between Portugal and Angola, exposing the interconnectedness and mutual binding of both political and economic contexts. Invoking stories of migrant workers in Luanda and the work of local “financial activists” protesting against financial inequality in Angola, I question the relevance of national-based approaches to austerity politics, explore conceptualizations of austerity beyond its “original,” mainstream Eurocentric setting, and argue towards the necessity of analyzing transnational intersections in the study of austerity.
Power and Deception in Afro-Brazilian Capoeira
Sergio González Varela
This article is about the meaning of mandinga in Afro-Brazilian capoeira as it is practiced in the city of Salvador, Brazil. Capoeira is an art form that combines elements of ritual, play, and fight. My main argument focuses on the mandinga as an indigenous form of power that shapes social relations, bodily interaction, magic acts, and the definition of a person. The concept of mandinga offers an understanding of the deceptive logic of capoeira and contributes to the development of an ethnographic theory of power. The emphasis here is on the importance of mandinga as a strategy for fighting and as a principle for social interaction with strong ontological implications. It is considered a cosmological force that affects the foundations of subjective reality and the perception of the world.
Anthropological Knowledge and Practice in Global Health
Rodney Reynolds and Isabelle L. Lange
Since the turn of the millennium, conceptual and practice-oriented shifts in global health have increasingly given emphasis to health indicator production over research and interventions that emerge out of local social practices, environments and concerns. In this special issue of Anthropology in Action, we ask whether such globalised contexts allow for, recognise and sufficiently value the research contributions of our discipline. We question how global health research, ostensibly inter- or multi-disciplinary, generates knowledge. We query ‘not-knowing’ practices that inform and shape global health evidence as influenced by funders’ and collaborators’ expectations. The articles published here provide analyses of historical and ethnographic field experiences that show how sidelining anthropological contributions results in poorer research outcomes for the public. Citing experiences in Latin America, Angola, Senegal, Nigeria and the domain of global health evaluation, the authors consider anthropology’s roles in global health.
Abhishek Choudhary, Rhys Machold, Ricardo Cardoso, Andreas Hackl, Martha Lagace, and Carly Machado
How Rivalries End by Karen Rasler, William R. Thompson, and Sumit Ganguly. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 280 pp. 4 illus. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-8122-4498-4.
The Privatization of Israeli Security by Shir Hever. London: Pluto Press, 2018. 256 pp. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-7453-3720-3.
Working the System: A Political Ethnography of the New Angola by Jon Schubert. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2017. 270 pp. 5 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-1-5017-1369-9.
Overlooking the Border: Narratives of Divided Jerusalem by Dana Hercbergs. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2018. 284 pp. 46 illus. Hardcover. ISBN 978-0-8143-4108-7.
Out of War: Violence, Trauma, and the Political Imagination in Sierra Leone by Mariane C. Ferme. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018. 336 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-0-52029-438-7.
Sporadically Radical: Ethnographies of Organised Violence and Militant Mobilization Edited by Steffen Jensen and Henrik E. Vigh. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. 290 pp. Paperback. ISBN 978-8-76354-602-7.
The Potential for Identity Fusion to Reduce Recidivism and Improve Reintegration
Harvey Whitehouse and Robin Fitzgerald
example of this is provided by churches in American prisons. Louisiana State Penitentiary (more commonly known as ‘Angola’, where ancestors of many inmates were originally captured as slaves) is America's largest maximum-security prison. Ninety per cent of