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Dennis Masaka

In this article, I argue that individuals could be entitled to rights, outside those that are communally conferred, as part of the primary requirement of being ‘persons’ in the African communitarian set-up if the terms ‘person’ and ‘personhood’ are understood differently from the way they are currently deployed in the communitarian discourse. The distinction between these two terms is the basis of my thesis where clarity on their meanings could be helpful in establishing the possibility of ascribing rights outside those that are communally conferred. I argue that ontologically, a ‘person’ is prior to ‘personhood’ (understood in the normative sense) which is considered to find its fuller expression in a community and by virtue of this, I think that he or she is entitled to some rights outside those that are defined and conferred by the community. This is my point of departure in this article.

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Doing Personhood in Chinese Culture

The Desiring Individual, Moralist Self and Relational Person

Yunxiang Yan

The construction of personhood and its cross-cultural variation has long been important in anthropology. Marilyn Strathern’s seminal work (1988) on the partible person and Melanesian sociality provided such an inspirational addition to an already

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Revisiting the Menkiti-Gyekye Debate

Who Is a Radical Communitarian?

Motsamai Molefe

, 1997) . In practice, he identified most of the post-independence leaders in Africa like Nyerere, Nkrumah and Senghor to be radical communitarians; and, more specifically, he identified Menkiti’s philosophical analysis on personhood to be an instance of

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The Algebra of Souls

Ontological Multiplicity and the Transformation of Animism in Southwest China

Mireille Mazard

burial plot to open the path for the deceased into the ‘shadow realm’, or mhade . 2 In the ritual unfolding of a Nusu funeral, the yãn-hla (soul or doppelgänger) emerges from latency into full personhood, supplanting the corporeal existence of the

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The Mistakes That Make People

Reconceptualizing Power and Resistance in Rwanda

Will Rollason

( Mitchell 1990 ). As a result, even this minimal definition of power seems to embed Cartesian assumptions. Such notions of personhood are clearly culturally specific. They would scarcely be accepted by a Trobriand magician, for instance, whose trade depends

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Rights and Duties in Menkiti

A Response to Masaka's Objection of Menkiti

Vitumbiko Nyirenda

Dennis Masaka argues that individuals have rights outside those conferred by the community. The argument is a critique to Ifeanyi Menkiti’s view of personhood. He argues that Menkiti uses the word person and personhood as synonymous. Masaka makes a distinction between the two, where person is an ontological concept, and personhood is a normative concept. For Masaka, individuals have rights by virtue of being persons and not personhood. My approach to the paper is therapeutic. I argue that Masaka misinterprets Menkiti’s views. I argue that Menkiti does not allocate rights in his idea of personhood and as something conferred by the community as proposed by Masaka. This implies that Masaka’s view is not radically different from Menkiti’s.

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Dead Canoes

The Fate of Agency in Twentieth-Century Murik Art

David Lipset

In Art and Agency, Alfred Gell seeks to reclaim the anthropology of art for the Durkheimian social. However, in the course of arguing that objects should be viewed as the "outcome, and/or the instrument, of ... agency" (Gell 1998: 15), he takes an essentialized view of the relationship of personhood to embodiment that, on the one hand, preconceives this relationship as consubstantial and, on the other, as static. Nevertheless, viewing art in Gell's way mimics itself; it offers agency, a powerful exegetical methodology for the study of art. In this article, I apply and refine Gell's thesis by means of a historical explication of the theme of agency in the art of the Murik Lakes people, a group of Sepik River fisher folk and traders. More broadly, I argue that Gell's analytical framework in Art and Agency needs to admit that the relationship of art to personhood and modernity is cultural, discursive, and unfinalized, as well as instrumental.

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Cognitive Disability

Towards an Ethics of Possibility

Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp

transform thinking about new and enduring concerns shaping contemporary anthropology. Ethnographic studies of embodiment, personhood, kinship, gender/sexuality/reproduction, cognitive diversity, violence and its disabling aftermath, as well as citizenship

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Life at a Tangent to Law

Regulations, ‘Mistakes’ and Personhood amongst Kigali’s Motari

Will Rollason

subjectivity.… Thus a person may be made to act in such a way as to deny her or his subjectivity and personhood. A subject can be turned into an object. From this point of view, Thomson’s (and Scott’s) notion that humiliations, inflicted by an exterior law

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Student engagement in the management of accelerated change

Anthropological reflections on ‘Project 2012’ and The Offer

Anselma Gallinat

of management and academic staff about one kind of engagement. The latter’s personhood as lecturers and professionals, and their understanding of the teaching role as possessing a certain autonomy, suggests that student feedback ought to be approached