Seriousness is achieved when a speaker effectively moves the audience according to his or her intentions. But seriousness is fragile and subject to countless vicissitudes, as illustrated in an encounter with the television evangelist Oral Roberts. I interrogate one of the means used to counter such vicissitudes-hyperbole. Hyperbole may include exaggeration and amplification of all kinds, and may be manifest in deeds as well as words. I first follow hyperbole through 9/11 and the competing ideologies of Salafi jihadists and the Bush administration to show how 'absolute metaphors' are enlisted hyperbolically. I examine too how epic narratives are created as a similar form of hyperbole. Finally, I show how sacredness, another allied form of hyperbole, is attributed to the Holocaust in present-day Germany. Throughout I argue, and illustrate, how anthropological writing is of necessity ironic, such that irony is better than 'cultural relativism' as an understanding of the anthropological enterprise.
This article reflects on the project of creating multicultural inclusive museums. By definition, an inclusive museum honors the cultural constituencies it is paid to serve. Yet in reality, cultural sensitivity is one thing and education another. Blurring the distinction risks sacrificing education, a moral mandate, to the ideal of equality. My article points to examples where, for fear of offending, a museum betrays its educational mission. I trace the affinity between inclusive museum politics and consumerist culture and consider the case of the Creation Museum-a museum that, as per the multicultural ideal, tailors science to the sensibility of its customer base, in this instance the sensibility of American biblical literalists.
This article examines the ideals of G. N. Potanin and N. M. Iadrintsev, who were the architects of the federalist Siberian oblastnichestvo movement of the second half of the 19th nineteenth century and beginning of the 20th twentieth century. In their day, the work of the oblastniki on the cultural specificity of native Siberian peoples had a great influence on popular opinion, on the popularization of ethnological theory, and on the general social and political credo to reform policy towards these people. The oblastniki rejected both ethnocentrism and Eurocentrism in the comparison of various peoples. Their eventual acceptance of cultural relativism, the idea of equality of cultural values between peoples, and need for a civil understanding of human history were all closely linked to their political program of promoting regionalism. Their regionalist idea put forth the idea that every social and cultural unit had the right to an independent existence and to have control over their own development.
Chisanga N. Siame
A central argument of this article is that Isaiah Berlin's notion of cultural pluralism can be described as relativistic, and that he should not have repudiated the relativism, but simply defended it as part of the reality of the global constellation of cultures. Berlin's relativism emerges into a more generous light, in which radical differences among cultures occupy centre stage. Focusing on cultural relativism and its possible sources in Berlin unveils the neglected role that his famed concept of 'negative' liberty plays in assuring the distinctiveness of individual cultures and shared humanity, both of which constitute cultural pluralism. I conclude that Berlin's notion of cultural pluralism is relativistic based not only on substantive evidence, but also on a more realistic definition of the concept. Moreover, his conception of cultural pluralism and in particular its relativism highlight the subjects of cultural identity and autonomy in a world of immense power imbalances among nations and peoples.
Paul Basu and Simon Coleman
At the time of preparing this special double issue of Anthropology in Action, British anthropologists are debating the implications of current British government policy aimed at evaluating the influence of academic disciplines. One of the key functions of the Research Evaluation Framework (REF) is to measure the ‘impact’ of a subject-area’s activity, the extent to which it can be shown to have economic and social effects beyond the quoting circles of colleagues in print or at conferences. The merits or otherwise of the REF can be debated. Arguably, however, it misses one of the key areas where a subject such as anthropology can have a significant effect on the world: the teaching of its basic concepts, both in universities and in other contexts where cultural ‘relativism’ and the recognition of other legitimate ways of being in the world can gain purchase.
Samuel Moyn and Jean-Paul Gagnon
, Charles . 2019 . Gods of the Upper Air: How A Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex and Gender in the Twentieth Century . New York : Doubleday . Kliger , Gili . 2019 . “ The Critical Bite of Cultural Relativism ”. Boston Review
Jamie McMenamin, Lauri Hyers, Jeroen Nawijn, and Aviva Sinervo
imperialism versus cultural relativism; laissez faire capitalism versus socially conscious regulation; and ultimately, resigned acceptance versus effortful social change. Through the academic lens of business, tourism studies, and animal studies, the book
Neriko Musha Doerr
‘needed’ as ‘nided’ because ‘i’ is always pronounced ‘ee’ in Spanish and Italian. This approach taught students not only cultural relativism regarding others’ homeland but also self-esteem in their lack of English proficiency – their ‘mistakes’ in
Lisen Dellenborg and Margret Lepp
headhunting and female genital cutting – with Western understandings of those practices ( Rosaldo 2000 ; Dellenborg 2004 ) has led many to criticise anthropologists for their cultural relativism ( Edgerton 1992 ; Shestack 2000 ). Cultural relativism is not
A Definition Beyond Materiality and Quantity
. Spengler’s cultural relativism and his strict reduction of thinking patterns—that is, ‘modes of thought’—to external influences, such as environment, civilization, or culture, provide useful notions to think with and reflect upon. The method of ancient