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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

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Revisiting the Menkiti-Gyekye Debate

Who Is a Radical Communitarian?

Motsamai Molefe

. (Gyekye 1992 , 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

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Toward a Critical and Comparative Anthropology of Disability

Absent Presence and Exemplary Personhood

Joshua Reno, Kaitlyn Hart, Amy Mendelson, and Felicia Molzon

alternative ways of imagining personhood and power as opposed to the dominantly secular perspectives currently found in the Euro-American-dominated field of disability studies. Many possible definitions of disability have existed throughout history. One may

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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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Geoffrey Hughes

In 2018, social anthropology finds itself increasingly concerned with its technical, legal and political conditions of possibility. The long‐term effects of austerity, financialisation and the technological transformation of media on teaching, research and publishing have led to intense struggles over the labour and property regimes underpinning the discipline. In responding to these challenges, anthropologists seem to be re‐conceptualising their own personhood and labour through the diverse conceptualisations of their interlocutors. However, it is also important to remember what makes social anthropology and its unique professional challenges but a small facet of a larger human condition. By way of conclusion, I offer kinship (the public's constitutive other) as one potential means of grappling with the limitations of social anthropology's own publicity.

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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

potentially 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