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Javanese Kanuragan Ritual initiation

A Means to Socialize by Acquiring Invulnerability, Authority, and Spiritual Improvement

Jean-Marc de Grave

Kanuragan is a secret ritual initiation tied to local cosmological practices and cults used by the Javanese as a source of self-help on issues related to health, welfare, and protection. At basic levels, the practitioners of kanuragan use special entities called aji to gain strength and invulnerability. At the next level, the teaching of the master involves a specific mystical knowledge tied to the acquisition of spiritual authority. This article describes the process of transmission, the persons involved, and the role that kanuragan plays in Javanese society for security purposes and in warfare. The analysis shows how kanuragan competes with new secular and religious systems of value as well as with sorcery and new embodied practices such as sports competitions, to provide comparative insights on the formation of social categories.

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Representing Mayas

Indigenous Authorities and Citizenship Demands in Guatemala

Elisabet Dueholm Rasch

In this article, I analyze how indigenous authorities in Guatemala negotiate citizenship at the local level within the larger context of indigenous claim making in Latin America. I argue that the construction of citizenship at the local level is not only framed by models imposed on indigenous communities but also shaped by the meanings that individuals attach to their indigenous identity. I use the election of Quetzaltenango's first Maya mayor and the abolition of part of the system of community services in Santa María as points of departure for exploring the ways that indigenous actors approach legal frameworks as a way of constructing citizenship. In concluding, I discuss how new categories of inclusion can result in new categories of exclusion.

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Travel's Others

Realism, Location, Dislocation

James Buzard

This article explores the realist novel's reliance on the discourse of travel developed in the early decades of the nineteenth century, the discourse that authorized self-styled travelers over against the vulgar and proliferating tourists. Taking Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary as a case study, the article shows how the novel structures itself around the sets of oppositions travel discourse employed, most notably that of stasis and mobility, or dwelling and traveling. The fictional narrator strives for authority over against a set of characters differently figured as fixed in place or in entrenched mentalities, and Flaubert's masterful use of free indirect style becomes the narrator's means of establishing that authority through the demonstration of unparalleled mental mobility the technique affords.

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Guy van de Walle

Among the many theories of socialization, that of Durkheim stands out. While most analyses of socialization are individualistic, that of Durkheim is holistic. This singularity presents a challenge to the modern mind, which is dominated by individualism. Reading Durkheim's analysis of socialization, like the rest of his work, requires the difficult task of overcoming one's natural tendency to do so through an individualistic lens. This paper is an attempt to restore the original holistic meaning of this analysis. It aims to correct some of Durkheim's commentators' re-interpretations of his views and the everyday language that he uses in individualistic terms. Particular attention is given to Durkheim's distinction between authority and power. This distinction has huge implications for Durkheim's interpretation of socialization, which he sees as a process that primarily involves a particular relationship - one that he describes in terms of 'submission' - with the authority of society.

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Johannes Fabian

These comments—made originally in my role as discussant for the panel in Ljubljana—address the recent history of the question of world anthropologies and identify three issues for further critical debate: (1) hegemonic claims concerning our discipline (including the issue of hegemony within our discipline), (2) the difference between power and authority, and (3) reasons that alterity continues to be a crucial concept in post-colonial anthropology.

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Deliberative Democracy

Bringing the System Back In

Michael J. Jensen

The current crisis of democracy today is a crisis in the steering capacities of political systems as conventional representative institutions are seen as increasingly unresponsive. This has engendered a crisis of legitimacy as governing processes that affect daily life are seen as increasingly out of reach for citizens who find themselves with little or no influence over government administration, and increasingly globalized flows of markets and communication that belie the control of sovereign borders. The return to deliberative democracy as a response to the crisis has turned toward systems thinking within deliberation. Although this literature has primarily retained its normative language, approaching the crisis of democracy in terms of its empirical steering capacities is necessary to connect deliberation with its democratic aspirations. In addition to the language of steering capacities, these elements include an empirically-grounded account of the operation of power and authority as well the role of rhetoric as central rather than operating in the shadow of deliberation.

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"Eyes, Ears, and Wheels"

Policing Partnerships in Nairobi, Kenya

Francesco Colona and Tessa Diphoorn

Research on policing in Africa has provided tremendous insight into how non-state actors, such as gangs, vigilantes, private security companies, and community initiatives, increasingly provide security for urban dwellers across the continent. Consequently, the state has been categorized as one order among many whose authority is co-constituted through relations with other actors. Drawing on our ethnographic fieldwork in the past two years, we highlight how the state police dominates security arrangements in Nairobi and asserts itself not just as one order among many. We show how, in various policing partnerships between police, private security companies, and residents’ associations, the state police acts as a coagulating agent of such practices. In order to elucidate this relationship, we utilize the “junior partner” model from the criminology literature and expand based on the community policing initiatives that in Nairobi act as the “eyes, ears, and wheels” of the police.

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Political Theology

The Authority of God

Avishai Margalit

There are two theses that are intimately related to the idea of authority. One is political theology. It is associated with the name of Carl Schmitt. The second is moral theology. It is associated with Elizabeth Anscombe (though she never used the expression ‘moral theology’). Political theology is the claim that key notions in modern and secular political doctrines are unwittingly moored in theological and teleological world views. These notions in their secularized versions make no sense and can be validated only within a theological frame for which they were designed. ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘authority’ are paradigmatic cases of such key notions. Moral theology is a parallel claim. Key moral notions in modern moral doctrines are moored in a theological and teleological frame. They gain their currency only in such a frame. Unmoored, as these notions are in a current secular frame, they have lost their sense. ‘Obligation’ and ‘duty’ are paradigmatic examples of such notions anchored in the old idea of God the law-giver. Without God the law-giver these notions make very little sense. Secular morality is like the famous explanation of what wireless is. Well, you know what wire is. It is like a dog: you pull its tail in Jerusalem and it barks in Rome. Now, wireless works like wire, but without the dog. Morality without God is like wireless without the dog.

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A Global Authority

Classical Arguments and New Issues

W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz

The world being one is a perennial dream of humanity. Since we are a single species, ideally and logically, there should be all-embracing justice and a better life for all. Should this vision come to pass, the material, political, cultural, and religious differences among human beings could be to at least some degree reconciled, and prospects for lasting peace greatly enhanced. Threatened by unsolved world problems, we might thus begin to consider the prospect of a global authority, a political organization that would transcend the nationstate and could bring about the unity of humankind, global justice, and earthly peace. Like Thomas Magnell, we might start to believe that ‘the predicament of vulnerability of nation-states calls for a global authority with sufficient power to redress or prevent attacks on themselves’.1 Accepting an elaborate argument of Alexander Wendt, we might even come to think that such an authority and a universal world state were inevitable.

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Shakespeare's Afterlives

Raising and Laying the Ghost of Authority

Paul Franssen

One of the most impressive contributions to Shakespeare scholarship of recent years famously opens as follows: ‘I began with the desire to speak with the dead’. The author, Stephen Greenblatt, explains that the modern critic is in some ways like a shaman who calls up the spirits of the deceased. Greenblatt goes on to argue that such unmediated access to the past is, alas, impossible, as we are always bound by the preconceptions of our own era. Yet the longing for such ultimate authority remains. A similar desire to speak with the dead, translated into a fantasy, lies behind many texts which do allow us unmediated contact with dead writers, including Shakespeare. Such fantasies often take the form of Shakespeare’s ghost appearing on earth, or of mortals being granted an interview with his shade in Elysium. Before 1800, it is almost exclusively in the form of a ghost that Shakespeare is deployed as a literary character, in prologues, epilogues, plays, novels, and narrative poems. Nor are such apparitions confined to Britain alone: in broadly similar ways, from the late eighteenth century onwards, Shakespearean ghosts also appear on the European Continent. I will study this phenomenon from the perspective of authority: the authority invested in Shakespeare’s ghost itself; and hence, in the later author who ventriloquizes through that ghost, making Shakespeare the mouthpiece for her or his ideas and values; and the eventual loss of that authority in Britain, though not so much in Continental Europe.