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'Richly Imaginative Barbarism'

Stuart Hampshire and the Normality of Conflict

Derek Edyvane

By way of an engagement with the thought of Stuart Hampshire and his account of the ‘normality of conflict’, this article articulates a novel distinction between two models of value pluralism. The first model identifies social and political conflict as the consequence of pluralism, whereas the second identifies pluralism as the consequence of social and political conflict. Failure to recognise this distinction leads to confusion about the implications of value pluralism for contemporary public ethics. The article illustrates this by considering the case of toleration. It contends that Hampshire’s model of pluralism offers a new perspective on the problem of toleration and illuminates a new way of thinking about the accommodation of diversity as ‘civility within conflict’.

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Not Soft Power, but Speaking Softly

‘Everyday Diplomacy’ in Field Relations during the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Jeremy Morris

Based on long-term fieldwork in Russia, but focusing mainly on the aftermath of the 2014 Malaysian airliner downing in Ukraine, this article examines the individual ethnographer and informants alike as unwilling ‘diplomatic’ representatives in the field. Firstly, I discuss the authoritarian political context in Russia and how it affects the notion of ‘soft power’ and ‘public’ discourse. Then I relate the familiar ‘political testing’ experience of researchers by informants, and ‘neutrality’ in field relations (Ergun and Erdemir 2010). Next, I draw on the anthropology of indirect communication to characterize ‘everyday diplomacy’ after the event as a particular kind of civility. I go on to examine attendant affective states of ‘tension, disturbance, or jarring’ (Navaro-Yashin 2012) that both threaten civility and enable it. Finally, I argue that classic ethnographic rapport-building deserves further examination in the light of the porosity of politics, the social environment and the field.

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Max Stille

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.

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Gediminas Lankauskas

This article examines The Word of Faith, one of the largest congregations of "modern" charismatic Christians in post-Soviet Lithuania. The ethnographic focus is on the church's extensive network of trust, altruistic exchange, and sociability, known as bendravimas. These networks are theorized as a kind of civil society that allows its members to claim "ethical distinction" and enables them to take a critical stance toward the surrounding social milieu, perceived to be in moral disarray. The Word of Faith is discussed in relation to the national Catholic Church (its principal religious rival) and vis-à-vis broader Lithuanian society. The article suggests that it is concrete everyday practices deemed to be moral and civil, rather than abstract Christian precepts, that motivate Word of Faith believers to be "good people." It is also argued that such practices constitute important means for engendering and reproducing the charisma of this "modern" evangelical congregation.

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Sienna R. Craig

We walked the spine of Montparnasse searching for Durkheim’s grave. Winter sun pinned us to sky, illuminating turrets and spires: ornate edges of civility in this city of sensuality and light.

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Daniel Gordon

“Intellectual life is a kind of combat,” wrote Fernand Braudel. I see no reason why historians, who happen to study early-modern civility, should behave like courtiers toward each other. But in point of fact, I do not describe Professor Chartier as a member of a terrible “sect.” The term “sect” appears only in a quotation from Zygmunt Bauman. And readers will observe that what Bauman and I are both getting at is the need to be critical of the process of canonization that has been at work in Elias’s case.

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Dolly Jørgensen

This article challenges the common presentation of the medieval street as a mud- and muck-filled cesspit. Using the television episode “Medieval London” of the Filthy Cities series aired by BBC Two in 2011 as a springboard, I discuss the realities of medieval waste management and modern conceptions of it. Through an examination of historical records from London, I show that the early fourteenth-century medieval street was not nearly as filthy as portrayed in Filthy Cities. Rather than being based on medieval evidence, our notion of the dirty medieval city is built on modern ideas of civility and scientific progress. Interpretations like that in Filthy Cities reflect more on our modern condition than the medieval one. The constructed dichotomy of medieval filth versus modern cleanliness obscures our contemporary waste problems and reinforces a physical and mental distance from our own waste.

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Maryon McDonald

This is the first issue of this journal following the Brexit referendum vote in the U.K. It is perhaps fitting therefore that we have a Special Issue on diplomacy. The articles in this Special Issue (guest edited by Magnus Marsden, Diana Ibañez-Tirado and David Henig) deliberately try to move away from a perspective that would assume diplomacy to be the sole province of nation-state representatives or something that takes place only behind the closed doors of presidential or governmental offices and embassies. Instead, the focus here is on ‘unofficial’ and ‘everyday diplomacy’. The articles show how ethnography can highlight the often unrecognised grass-roots work that goes on to maintain trade and civility, to construct cosmopolitanisms, and to negotiate tension and conflict.

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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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Jews of All Trades

Jews and Their Professions in Early Modern English Travel Writing

Eva Johanna Holmberg

This article explores early modern English travelers' representations of and responses to the trades and professions of contemporary Jews. Professions were important social markers for early modern people, and the way Jews and their “professions” were commented on opens a novel perspective on the ways early modern Englishmen encountered Jews both in Europe and outside it. Observing foreign professions and trades was expected of travelers, since it revealed important aspects of foreign societies, their prosperity, civility, and treatment of their subjects. Portrayals of Jewish professionals provided a space to explore the customs and way of life of Jews, to present arguments for and against admitting Jews, or indeed any other strangers, to reside in England and elsewhere. In addition, these texts educated readers about foreign trades and professions and mapped the fluctuations of trade and commerce in foreign countries. This provided English readers of travel literature with conflicting information about the harms and benefits of Jewish presence, accusations of the innate greediness of Jews, but also views about their “natural” business instincts.