Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, anthropologists failed to elaborate on theoretical concepts such as the 'human condition'. In face of the fact that they did not abandon their scientific calling or the label 'anthropology', this must surely be taken as surprising. The article argues that this silence is possible due to an ideational performance here called the 'all-or-nothing syndrome'. This depends on a skeptical fallacy: the condition of those who, because they cannot have it all, despair of having what is there to be had. The article also explores the Davidsonian notions of 'indeterminacy' and 'underdetermination' as possible paths out of this quandary. It suggests an approach to ethnographic knowledge based on the principles that underscore the mechanisms of control that engineers call 'fuzzy logic'.
João de Pina-Cabral
Where Is Constancy?
William A. Quinn
the more radical tonal and thematic indeterminacy of Fragment II. The sequence of ten ‘Fragments’ in the Ellesmere MS now informs the ‘definitive’ position of ‘The Man of Law’s Tale’ within the Tales . 5 Although (by definition) there exists no
This article deals with the political, programmatic, and organizational changes within the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) during the time of the second grand coalition (2005-present). For the CDU, the period of the grand coalition is a time of waiting concerning its organizational and programmatic reform processes. Thus, the election of 2009 will be crucial for the political development of the party—in respect to its political profile, as well as its strategic options within the political market.
Deportability, Indeterminacy, and the 'Feel of Law' in Migrant Moscow
While deportability has elicited interest as a legal predicament facing migrant workers, less attention has been given to the way in which this condition of temporal uncertainty shapes migrants' everyday encounters with state agents. Drawing on ethnography among Kyrgyzstani migrant workers in Moscow, I show that in conditions of documentary uncertainty 'legal residence' depends upon successfully enacting a right to the city and the personalization of the state. Alongside fear and suspicion, this space of legal uncertainty is characterized by a sense of abandon and awareness of the performativity of law. I explore 'living from the nerves' as an ethnographic reality for Kyrgyzstani migrant workers and as an analytic for developing a more variegated account of state power and its affective resonances in contemporary Russia.
Problems with Money and Hope in Central Kenya
Contemporary anthropological accounts of economic uncertainty often use the concept of hope as a means of recovering human agency in relation to broader socio-economic structures. At times, however, the emphasis anthropologists place on hope can appear too generically existential. This article argues for a more specific emphasis on the object of hope—an appreciation of more concrete desires held by marginal persons, orienting their economic activity. In the case I unfold from peri-urban central Kenya, low-status male youth are shown to lack the money they require to unlock pleasurable experiences of drinking, a sign of having wealth and the living of a good life. Rendered hopeless, young men turn to crime as an alternative means of realizing their desires for consumption in the short term.
Roads to Certainty in Two Brazilian Religions
a traditional pre-modern religion cultivating a social imagination related to a fixed and stable cosmology. That would, however, be a wrong interpretation. If, as I believe, social imagination is understood as related to the indeterminacies in social
Housing Brokers and the Mediation of Risk in Migrant Moscow
contribute to an emergent anthropological (re-)engagement with the figure of the ‘broker’, by illuminating, first, the diversity of material and non-material goods that are mediated in contexts of uncertain knowledge and legal indeterminacy, and by showing
Art-making, Becoming Girl and Collective Biography
This article analyses a set of stories and artworks that were produced in the context of a collective biography workshop. A Deleuzian framework is used to explore the entanglements that are produced through a cross-reading of different kinds of texts, each taking up the question of girlhood subjectivities. The analysis focuses on the contradiction and indeterminacy of meaning-making in the research process. The aim is to investigate how different kind of knowing and a different kind of knowledge(s) are produced in the movements between texts, sensation and affect.
Intimacy through the Ethnographic Lens
The multiplicity of meanings that have been attributed to intimacy are both a weakness and a strength: a weakness because of the indeterminacy with which the category is used; a strength because it allows us to explore the relationship between its various meanings, and through this exploration address theoretically important questions. While it is commonly conflated with sexuality, intimacy concerns a considerably broader range of aspects of human life, which only an ethnographically founded approach can help us understand. Because of its indexical qualities, intimacy cannot be understood devoid of the context that gives it meaning.
Landscape and Word-Painting in the Arabias of Palgrave (1865), Pelly (1866) and Burton (1855)
William Gifford Palgrave (1826–1888) and Lewis Pelly (1825–1895) wrote their accounts of their travels in Arabia at almost the same time. Their books can be read as alternative versions of the same reality, particularly where they describe the same peoples and places, as demonstrations of the contingency of knowledge, and as socio-psychic case-histories. Taking both landscape and traveller as ‘sites of indeterminacy,’ this essay focuses on the rhetorical styles and modes of expression each traveller-as-writer uses, finding in them complementary aspects of the travelling-subject’s separation from home and its values and incorporation or reincorporation into the home-culture. The earlier work of Richard Burton (1821–1890) on the region is taken as a model for the historically delimited conditions of production each author works within.