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George E. Marcus

Classic conditions of fieldwork research, to which anthropology remains committed, are difficult to establish today within far-reaching projects of neoliberal economy, governance and philanthropy. The forms of collaboration on which these projects insist, and those that ethnography encourages for its own research purposes, must be reconciled. On the bargains or adjustments that anthropology makes with neoliberal projects, within which it establishes scenes of fieldwork, depends its capacity to produce critique - its primary agenda since the 1980s. These issues are what are at stake in the widespread current discussions of, and hopes for, an 'engaged' anthropology.

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Ronald Aronson

When published, Sartre's Critique of Dialectical Reason appeared to be a major intellectual and political event, no less than a Kantian effort to found Marxism, with far-reaching theoretical and political consequences. Claude Levi-Strauss devoted a course to studying it, and debated Sartre's main points in The Savage Mind; Andre Gorz devoted a major article to explaining its importance and key concepts in New Left Review. Many analysts of the May, 1968 events in Paris claimed that they were anticipated by the Critique. But the book has had a very quiet 50th anniversary: it is now clear that the project has had little lasting effect beyond a narrow band of specialists. It has not entered the wider culture, has not been picked up beyond Sartre scholars except by one or two philosophically interested social scientists and feminist thinkers; and after the energy of 1968 wore off the Critique faded as well from the radar of political activists. This article asks and attempts to answer the perplexing question: Why? What became of the great promise of Sartre's project?

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Ethnographic engagements with global elites

Paul Robert Gilbert and Jessica Sklair

Anthropological interest in critical studies of class, system, and inequality has recently been revitalized. Most ethnographers have done this from “below,” while studies of financial, political, and other professional elites have tended to avoid the language of class, capital, and inequality. This themed section draws together ethnographies of family wealth transfers, philanthropy, and private sector development to reflect on the place of critique in the anthropology of elites. While disciplinary norms and ethics usually promote deferral to our research participants, the uncritical translation of these norms “upward” to studies of elites raises concerns. We argue for a critical approach that does not seek political purity or attempt to “get the goods” on elites, but that makes explicit the politics involved in doing ethnography with elites.

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Staying and Critiquing

Israeli Orthodox Women Filmmakers

Valeria Seigelsheifer and Tova Hartman

Over the past two decades, Israeli Orthodox Jewish women filmmakers have used film to speak in a public voice about various subjects that were previously taboo. Although there are aspects of Orthodoxy to which these filmmakers object, they do so as ‘devoted resisters’. Rather than expressing heretical opposition, the women stay committed to Orthodoxy precisely because they are able to use filmmaking to resist. In their negotiations of voice used to ‘justify’ their decision to become filmmakers, the women position themselves as ‘accidental’ filmmakers, thereby remaining within Orthodoxy while critiquing it through their films. Cultural resistance in this case is not carried out as defiance to Orthodox Judaism but rather out of a relationship with it, featuring a form of resistance that insists upon devotion to multiple commitments.

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A Critique of Liberal Universalism

The Concept of Secular Philosophical Grounding

Jaan S. Islam

This article examines the two major orientations of cosmopolitanism and offers a philosophical and logical deconstruction of their roots. Firstly, ‘philosophical cosmopolitanism’ is critiqued based on its assumption of universal thought and reason. Secondly, the foundations and assumptions of ‘pluralist cosmopolitanism’ are deconstructed on the basis that it relies upon the abstract validity of philosophical cosmopolitanism. On basis of these evaluations, this article concludes that liberal cosmopolitanism – regardless of its form – bases its validity upon the moral validity of the premises of cosmopolitanism. The primary argument made is that contemporary cosmopolitan scholars, having stripped cosmopolitanism from their metaphysical origins, are unable to defend their philosophies from a metaphysical point of view. A call to reform and reconsider the fundamental tenets of liberal cosmopolitanism is made.

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Chiara Collamati

Through an analysis of the category of alienation in the Critique of Dialectical Reason, this article aims to shed light on the way in which Sartre attempts to think through alienation both with Marx and going beyond Marx. Sartre does not reduce alienation either to an ontological dimension of praxis or to the exclusively socio-economic determination of the capitalist mode of production. In order to grasp better the theoretical stakes of Sartre’s position, André Gorz’s analyses of the link between labour and alienation is discussed. The path via Gorz (who always insisted on his philosophical indebtedness to Sartre) is useful in order to ascertain whether it is justified to adopt the Sartrean dialectic of praxis and alienation as the basis of a critique of labour in the present configuration of the capitalist system. These questions will be taken as a starting point for an ethical and political examination of the category of need, as it is problematized by Sartre in the Critique and above all in the manuscript of “Les Racines de l’éthique” (1964).

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Thomas R. Flynn

“Dialectical” stands in parentheses because I wish to discuss both authors in terms of a critique of reason as such in addition to specifying the issue in terms of their respective assessments of the dialectic. But I shall first consider how each employs the term “critique.” So my remarks will focus on Critique, Reason and Dialectic in that order. Of course, each topic understandably bleeds into the others. In view of the occasion, I shall conclude with a brief sketch of four milestones along Sartre's way from Being and Nothingness to the Critique.

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Marie-Andrée Charbonneau

Sartre's reading of Harald Höffding's works was instrumental in his critical reception of Spinoza. One may find traces of Höffding's critical monism in Sartre's Being and Nothingness. Höffding had formulated his critical monism in order to remedy what he perceived to be problems in Spinoza's view. Sartre's critique of Spinoza aligns with that of Höffding. Moreover, Höffding's influence on Sartre goes well beyond the reception of Spinoza. Indeed, the young Sartre's interest in Bergson, psychology and questions relative to the totality of Being could have followed from his reading of Höffding. In fact, the way in which Höffding tackles questions about the soul, the world, and God illuminates the timid proposals offered by Sartre in the conclusion of Thus, understanding Höffding

French Cet article démontrera que la réception critique de Spinoza par Sartre est influencée par sa lecture des oeuvres de Harald Höffding. Une lecture attentive permet d'identifier des traces du monisme critique de celui-ci dans L'être et le néant. Ce monisme critique avait été formulé afin de pallier aux problèmes perçus par Höffding chez Spinoza. Or, cette même critique se retrouve chez Sartre. De plus, cet article fera aussi la démonstration que l'influence de Höffding sur Sartre va au-delà de la réception de Spinoza. En effet, l'intérêt du jeune Sartre pour Bergson, la psychologie et les questions relatives à la totalité de l'Être pourraient être le résultat de sa lecture de Höffding. En fait, la manière dont Höffding traite des questions de l'âme, du monde et de Dieu éclairent les timides propositions métaphysiques offertes par Sartre en conclusion de L'être et le néant. Par conséquent, bien comprendre Höffding permet de mieux comprendre Sartre.

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Andrew Dobson

Sartre’s second volume of the Critique of Dialectical Reason1 presents us with an important irony: of all the phenomena of the twentieth century that demand a moral judgement, Stalinism must be near the top of the list – yet such judgement is hard to find in Sartre’s Critique. Part of my task in the following will be to explain this. It is not that moral judgement is wholly absent: Sartre describes the theory and practice of ‘Socialism in One Country’ as a ‘monstrosity’ [CDR2:103] characterised by ‘its uncouth, misguided crudity’ [CDR2:111], and he has no trouble with peremptorily asserting that the Russian Revolution’s good fortune at being pushed through by the ‘Man of Steel’ was matched on the debit side by Stalin’s ‘universal incompetence’ and his ‘dogmatic crudeness’ [CDR2:205].

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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’.