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The historical anthropology of thought

Jean-Pierre Vernant and intellectual innovation in ancient Greece

S. C. Humphreys

This article illustrates the need for a historical anthropology of the longue durée, dealing with pre-modern societies, by analyzing the work of Jean-Pierre Vernant on the development of thought in ancient Greece. Vernant's anthropologies began with Marx and the historical psychologist Ignace Meyerson; he was influenced by the Durkheimian Louis Gernet and later by Lévi-Strauss. His early interest in relating Greek rationality to social organization led him increasingly into work on Greek religion and tragedy. This article builds on his work by studying the social contexts of communication that facilitated the proposal and elaboration of unconventional ideas.

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Andrey Vozyanov

Crises in urban electric transport infrastructure of Eastern and Southeastern Europe present not only a fruitful subject for historical, ethnographic, and sociological inquiry, but also contribute to two intersecting knowledge fields. First, to the multidisciplinary constellation of studies dedicated to failures of sociotechnical systems that I will refer to as disaster and crisis studies. And second, to social studies of urban transit in the former Socialist Bloc, a subfield within broader mobility and transport studies. In this text I will review the state of both these fields and then proceed to conceptualize the intersections between them, proposing historical anthropology as an integration tool. In the process I will occasionally refer to my fieldwork in Donbas, Ukraine, from 2011 to 2013, and eastern Romania since 2015.

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Undesirable Pen Pals, Unthinkable Houseguests

Representations of Franco-German Friendships in a Post-Liberation Trial Dossier and Suite Française

Sandra Ott

This article explores representations of Franco-German friendship through two complementary lenses: through the post-liberation trial dossier of a female collaborationist in southwestern France, and through Dolce, the second part of Irène Némirovsky's compelling novel, Suite Française. The primary aim is to illuminate and contrast the roles that historical and fictional narratives play in our interpretations and understanding of Franco-German relations in occupied France. The article also assesses the ethnographic value of the novelist's notes that accompanied the unfinished manuscript of Suite Française. Located at the intersections of history, ethnography, and literature, the article examines the ways in which the methods of the historian and the ethnographer, on the one hand, and the novelist, on the other, overlap and differ.

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The men who knew too much

Sardines, skills, and the labor process in Jaffa, Israel, 1948–1979

Naor Ben-Yehoyada

This historical anthropology of the rise and fall of Israel's post-1948 sardine purse-seining development project shows what happens when marginalized groups, who are initially excluded as “backward” or “primitive”, enter modernization projects that are based on politics of skillfulness and experts' control over the labor process. By focusing on the role that skills play in the struggle between experts and artisans over the labor process, I show how the dynamics within state-run production apparatuses can make workers and experts face dilemmas about productivity, profit, and effectiveness, leading to such projects' implosion. This mode of analysis exposes the contradictions within projects of governance as well as in their relational intersection with the people they subjugate and exclude.

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Re(casting) the Secular

Religion and Education in Kerala, India

Ritty Lukose

The anthropology of caste in India has conventionally rendered caste as a category of traditional religion, something that has been challenged by a historical anthropology of caste and its transformations under colonialism. Given this deconstruction of caste as tradition, how are we to approach its highly charged and contested presence within contemporary democratic politics in India? Examining the everyday institutional workings of secularism and democratic citizenship through the key institution of education, the article situates caste in relationship to secular modernity. In an analysis of the cultural politics of caste, religion, and secularism in a low-caste college in Kerala, India, that caters to the Ezhava caste community, the article argues for an understanding of caste as a fault line for the contested negotiations of tradition and modernity, the private and the public, the religious and the secular that mark contemporary cultural politics in India.

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Seeking what?

Subversion, situation, and transvaluation

John Kelly

Hardt and Negri's transvaluation of violence into the sign of emergent revolutionary subjectivity begins in a philosophical dream, not any actual historical anthropology. Negri's politics of subversion attempt to articulate the ongoing constitution of a new multitude but actually constitute the alter ego to Pax Americana's vision of nation-state sovereignty and finance-dominated capitalism. Thorstein Veblen's critique of the finance-dominated, postmodern new order, first rendered in 1919, draws similar conclusions about fictions in sovereignty by nation-state and contradictions between vested interests and the global commons. But Veblen correctly warns against romanticizing violent tactics. An anthropology of situations will better help scholars clarify contemporary predicaments and potentials than will search for an insurgent global multitude. The issue is urgent in the situation of globalized counterinsurgency. Anthropology can and should mount a better critique of actual global politics than it can find within the values of any philosophy, even one committed to the Spinozan celebration and amplification of immanence.

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The commons, property, and ownership

Suggestions for further discussion

Katharina Bodirsky

world anthropology ”. Focaal —Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 69 : 113 – 134 . Kalb , Don . 2017 . “ After the commons—commoning! ” Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 79 : 67 – 73 . Klein , Naomi . 2001

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Austrian “Gypsies” in the Italian archives

Historical ethnography on multiple border crossings at the beginning of the twentieth century

Paola Trevisan

anthropologists in archival sources—interrogated from an ethnographic perspective—which have shown themselves to be indispensable for the historical anthropology of the Romani worlds ( Tauber and Trevisan, 2019: 3–12 ). The current work is part of this

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Cristina Clopot, Ullrich Kockel, and Vytis Čiubrinskas

that chair, associated with permanent directorship of the Institute of Social Anthropology, until 2016. Christian's research interests ranged widely, including the political, economic and historical anthropology of southeast Europe, Mediterranean

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Introduction

The Social Life of Contentious Concepts

Ronald S. Stade

School, see Richter 1990 ). 3 In this regard, conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) pursued the same objective as, for example, l’histoire des mentalités and historical anthropology. 4 My own attempt at this has been to develop a model of global