‘Misfits’ are proof positive that the anthropological chestnut of ‘the psychic unity of mankind’ glosses over the actual psychic disunity of the anthropic. The proof militates against rendering misfitness merely as a social construction even as it militates in favour of rendering it as a ‘polythetic class’, the unity of which is not based in the common features of all tokens of a given type but instead in their ‘family resemblance’. Members of the family include those who are deemed incompetent, but also those deemed best suited to specific social stations. Misfitness may also be sought and not merely ascribed. In every case, misfitness has an ethically ambiguous status – and so offers us a lesson of the systemic place of the ‘irritant’ within but also at the edge of and beyond the bounds of any current anthropology of ordinary ethics.
Reflections in and out of Fashion
James D. Faubion
Ressentiment and Christian Nationalism in the Anthropology of Christianity
Christian nationalism, a long-running and arguably increasingly influential political force, appears to consist mainly of an open set of affectively charged but cognitively underdetermined concepts and images that are capable of being constituted in a number of widely divergent forms. Despite this potential variety, the various instantiations of Christian nationalisms documented by the anthropology of Christianity tend to have similar features, even as they are actualized in quite different milieux and understood as being responses to quite different threats. Drawing on ethnographic work in the United States, this article argues that this recurrent crystallization of Christian nationalism into the specific form under certain conditions—the adoption of a temporally ambivalent eschatology, an ethics oriented around mimesis, and, most of all, an outward-facing ressentiment—works to self-catalyze the production of a racialized Christian nationalism that envisions itself at once as an entitled majority and as an embattled minority.
'European Turks' and Negotiations of Neighbourliness at 'Home'
This article examines how Turks returning from Germany to Turkey self-fashion as 'orderly neighbours'. By maintaining aesthetically pleasing homes and gardens, keeping public spaces clean, and obeying rules and laws in public, return migrants believe they act as modern 'European-Turks' and exemplify good neighbourliness. Many neighbours, however, feel these actions are unnecessary or even disruptive to Turkish communities. In conversation with the burgeoning anthropology of ethics, this research explores how local, national and transnational assemblages foster reflections and debates on neighbourly ethics. Further, this study highlights anxieties about individualism, reciprocity, 'modernity' and 'European-ness' in today's Turkey.
Ethics and an Individual in Contemporary South India
This article explores the intricate relationship between talk and practice in the anthropology of ethics by focusing on one individual, a temple and consecration priest, in Tamil Nadu, South India. By examining his relations with other people, gods and his ideal and present self, the article suggests that ethical self-cultivation is an ongoing practice and is based on ordinary and extraordinary encounters, evaluations and reflections thereon. It argues that the focus on an individual both allows an intimate and detailed reflection on processes of ethical self-cultivation and offers a window into the wider social world of which the individual forms a part.
Conversations in South India and the Anthropology of Ethics
This article contributes to the anthropology of ethics through an analysis of conversations among Muslim and Hindu householders in Tamil Nadu, India, about instances of alms/charitable giving where there is no expectation of direct reciprocity and where both giving and taking make reference to religion. I argue, first, that people make certain kinds of giving or taking ethical or unethical through talk and, second, that instances of ‘ethical talk’, which constitute reflections on and evaluations of action, point to questions concerning freedom and choice in people’s efforts to lead lives that are good or ‘good enough’. Such conversations also reveal a striving toward accepted forms of societal attachment and detachment while considering the claims that people can or should make upon each another.
Kim Knibbe, Brenda Bartelink, Jelle Wiering, Karin B. Neutel, Marian Burchardt and Joan Wallach Scott
Burge . Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press . Laidlaw , James . 2014 . The Subject of Virtue: An Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom . Cambridge : Cambridge University Press . Modood , Tariq . 2010 . “ Moderate Secularism: Religion as