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Different Species, One Theory

Reflections on Anthropomorphism and Anthropological Comparison

Matei Candea

This article compares recent anthropological accounts of animist and perspectivist ontologies with evolutionary explanations of animal behaviour in contemporary behavioural ecology. It argues that some unexpected echoes between these two very different ways of encountering non-humans raise a set of fascinating issues both ethnographic and theoretical. On the ethnographic side, thinking of behavioural ecology as akin to a 'naturalist perspectivism' illuminates some of the complex ways in which the discipline deals with worries about anthropomorphic projection. On the theoretical side, the comparison raises some questions about the ease with which us/them contrasts associated with the recent 'ontological turn' in anthropology find themselves echoing contrasts internal to Western philosophical and scientific debate. The resulting problem of mirroring (the concern that 'others' may be called upon to play the role of an anti-'us', rather than encountered on their own terms) is in turn considered as an analogue of the scientific problem of 'anthropomorphism', and some potential responses to both are considered.

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Capacity Building in Ethnographic Comparison

Rachel Douglas-Jones and Justin Shaffner

sciences, we here bring together articles that ethnographically examine how and where the concept is put to work. Through comparison of cases from different sectors and continents, the collection questions capacity building’s ubiquity and self

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Benji Stanley

Both the American Mishkan Tefilah (2007) and the British Forms of Prayer (2008) contain striking renderings of the tenth, fourteenth and fifteenth blessings of the Amidah (traditionally the Blessings for the Ingathering of Exiles, the Rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Flourishing of the Messiah). A close comparison of these blessing in the two siddurim, exploring how each interacts with the classical liturgy, reveals fundamental similarities and subtle differences between the two prayerbooks. Forms of Prayer reshapes the meanings of the blessings by expanding upon and reworking the classical formulations, often keeping the opening and closing of the blessing intact; Mishkan Tefilah, in contrast, jettisons most of the traditional language in order to articulate requests, more fitting to its ideology. Both siddurim, despite their different liturgical strategies, are the Reform Movements' most Zionist to date. They are particularly focused on Israel, without negating the value of life in the Diaspora. They express a form of 'Liberal Religious Zionism' that calls for the moral growth rather than the physical repair of Israel. Both have taken a step back from their 1970s foregoers' embrace of the myth of Holocaust and Redemption; no longer completely confident of God's dominant hand in history, they express the need for human as well as divine agency in the betterment of the world. Both siddurim reflect values of individualism and spirituality; additional biblical allusions have been worked into the various blessings to expand their semantic possibilities, allowing any worshiper to configure them according to his or her own spiritual outlook.

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Cutting and Connecting—'Afrinesian' Perspectives on Networks, Relationality, and Exchange

Knut Christian Myhre

This introduction sketches the history of anthropological network analysis and examines its influence and significance with regard to contemporary conceptual and theoretical concerns in the discipline. It is argued that recent Melanesian ethnography is an effect of, and owes a debt to, certain mid-twentieth-century developments in Africanist anthropology. These debts allow for the elicitation of concepts and concerns from Melanesianist anthropology and their deployment in the analysis of African ethnography. Such deployment may in turn explore the limits of these conceptual constructs and allow for their return in distorted and extended forms. As demonstrated by the contributors to this special issue, the historical relationships between Melanesian ethnography and Africanist anthropology hence enable an exchange of theoretical gifts and traffic in analytics that cut the network and separate the two regions, thus allowing for a new form of anthropological comparison.

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Introduction

Legacies, Trajectories, and Comparison in the Anthropology of Buddhism

Nicolas Sihlé and Patrice Ladwig

anthropology. Thematic Emphases Core Features Certain key components of Buddhist institutional and ritual cultures have already received substantial attention in anthropological studies. A striking feature, in comparison with other great religious traditions

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Thomas Saalfeld

A comparison of the 2005-2009 cabinet Merkel I (the “Grand“ Coalition) and the Christian Democrat-Liberal coalition cabinet Merkel II formed in 2009 presents an interesting puzzle. Political commentators and coalition theorists alike would have expected the CDU/CSU-SPD coalition to experience a relatively high, and the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition a relatively low level of overt inter-party conflict. In reality, however, relations in the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition were relatively conflictive, whereas the Grand Coalition seemed to manage conflict between reluctant partners successfully. This article seeks to explain these seemingly paradoxical differences between the two coalitions. It demonstrates that both the positioning of the coalition parties in the policy space and important institutions constraining coalition bargaining after the formation of the cabinet Merkel II (portfolio allocation, role of the CDU/CSU state minister presidents) disadvantaged the FDP in pursuing its key policy goals (especially tax reform). As a result, the Liberals resorted to “noisy“ tactics in the public sphere. The grand coalition, by contrast, was an alliance of co-equals, which facilitated a more consensual management of inter-party conflict.

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Translation and Comparison II

A Methodological Inquiry into Reception in the History of Ideas

László Kontler

This article addresses the methodological issues involved in the study of interlingual translation as an avenue of reception in the history of ideas. In particular, it assesses the possible uses of linguistic contextualism and conceptual history (Begriffsgeschichte) in this endeavour. It argues that both of these approaches have been, or are capable of being, far more sensitive towards the phenomenon of reception and, indeed, this is an area where cross-fertilization between them (often commended in general but rarely if ever in specific terms) is a practical possibility. Perspectives from Rezeptionsgeschichte may provide useful tools for building bridges between them. A few case studies in translation history are then critically examined, and on the basis of the foregoing methodological reflections propositions are made for further refining the approach taken in those case studies.

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Translation and Comparison

Early-Modern and Current Perspectives

László Kontler

This article attempts to refine the understanding of translation, thus contributing to evaluate its role in reception theory and in the history of ideas. A discussion of on the character, theories, and practices of translation in early-modern times is its entry point of analysis. During this period, what mattered in the first place was not the extent to which the translated text succeeded or failed in making the source text and its "original" ideas accessible in the target language, but rather the extent and the way in which the source text was instrumental in pursuing the agenda set by the translator or others in compliance with specific contexts. Such a perspective on translation seems also appropriate to current modes of inquiry for which translation is not an instance of inter-cultural communication, aiming to penetrate the Other in its fullness and make it intelligible in its otherness, but a communicative act whose purposes are predominantly intra-cultural and consist in supporting domestic agendas to which the translated text looks instrumental.

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Sensing prison climates

Governance, survival, and transition

Tomas Max Martin, Andrew M. Jefferson, and Mahuya Bandyopadhyay

In December 2010 members of the Global Prisons Research Network (GPRN) met for a seminar entitled “Dissecting the 'Non-Western' Prison.” The articles showcased in this thematic section were first presented there. This introduction proposes the notion of “prison climate” as a useful way of rethinking variations and similarities across prisons. This notion directs attention away from the prison “as such” to the prison “as is” and points to the fact that the idea of prison itself is contested and changing, however hegemonic it might appear. We argue that a truly representative and international penology should go beyond the mapping of differences and similarities. Rather, the researcher should pursue the twofold question of what persists and what mutates within and across prison worlds. We advocate an ethnographic orientation to deciphering the entanglements of relations, practices, and dynamics that constitute particular prison climates and we include some reflections on the particular challenges of conducting fieldwork in prisons.

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The Longue Durée of Empire

Toward a Comparative Semantics of a Key Concept in Modern European History

Jörn Leonhard

Against the background of a new interest in empires past and present and an inflation of the concept in modern political language and beyond, the article first looks at the use of the concept as an analytical marker in historical and current interpretations of empires. With a focus on Western European cases, the concrete semantics of empire as a key concept in modern European history is analyzed, combining a reconstruction of some diachronic trends with synchronic differentiations.