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Adeel Hamza and John Gannon


This introduces the first English translation of Marcel Mauss’s article, ‘Critique interne de la “Légende de l’Abraham”’, published in 1926 in the Revue des études juives. In suggesting ways in which the translation offers anglophone scholars new perspectives on Mauss’s thought, it explains how his sophisticated textual exegesis of the Legend of Abraham drew on nineteenth-century scholars such as Salomon Munk, but also how it above all involved a critique of deeply racist currents of European social thought. In particular, Mauss challenged a racist anthropology of African societies that became known as the ‘Hamitic hypothesis’ and linked it with the agitation over the ‘Jewish Question’ that continued to persist and was even growing in the world around him. A fundamental argument of his essay is that the social category of ‘race’ is not a category that denotes civility, but a system of categorization that stems from an analysis he deems ‘wanton’.

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Extreme Poverty and Existential Obligations

Beyond Morality in the Anthropology of Africa?

Harri Englund

The suggestion that the anthropological study of morality is theoretically undeveloped carries with it the risk of caricaturing ideas of moral obligation in mid-twentieth-century social anthropology. The need for recovering aspects of these ideas is demonstrated by the tendency of moral philosophers to reduce the issue of world poverty to a question of ethical choices and dilemmas. Examining the diplomatic tie that had existed for almost 42 years between Malawi and Taiwan and an ill-fated project of Taiwanese aid in rural Malawi, this article maintains that honoring obligations indicates neither a communitarian ethos nor rule-bound behavior. As the mid-twentieth-century anthropology of Africa theorized ethnographically, the moral and existential import of obligation lies in its contingent materiality rather than in social control. Such insights, the article concludes, can enrich debates on world poverty with alternative intellectual resources.

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Fieldwork through the Zoomiverse

Sensing Uganda in a Time of Immobility

Richard Vokes and Gertrude Atukunda

's lockdown was deeply generative of a wide range of ‘deviant mobilities’. In recent years, a growing body of literature in the historical anthropology of Africa has highlighted how, from the advent of colonial rule onwards, the building of new roads was

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Decolonizing Cambridge University

A Participant Observer’s View

Keith Hart

. I have worked in and on Africa for half a century and have seen how divisions of history into periods defined by western colonial rule have moved over time. I entered the anthropology of African urbanization and migration through research in West

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Comprehending Subjectivity in Vietnam and Beyond

Tine M. Gammeltoft

University Press . Englund , Harri . 2008 . “ Extreme Poverty and Existential Obligations: Beyond Morality in the Anthropology of Africa? ” Social Analysis 52 ( 3 ): 33 – 50 . 10.3167/sa.2008.520302 Ferguson , James . 2013 . “ Declarations of

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Sabina Barone, Veronika Bernard, Teresa S Büchsel, Leslie Fesenmyer, Bruce Whitehouse, Petra Molnar, Bonny Astor, and Olga R. Gulina

and in wider comparative perspective. Leslie Fesenmyer Lecturer in the Anthropology of Africa, Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham FORGING AFRICAN COMMUNITIES: Mobility, Integration and Belongin Edited