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Death of a Statesman – Birth of a Martyr

Martyrdom and Memorials in Post–Civil War Lebanon

Are John Knudsen

Abstract

This article furthers the study of post–civil war memorialisation in Lebanon by analysing the trajectory of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri from statesman to martyr. This transformative process offers a window into the symbolism of Lebanese statehood, and demonstrates how the politicisation of confessional martyrs is used to decry injustice and stake out claims to the state. There is no tradition for prosecuting and punishing political murders in Lebanon, causing victims to be pronounced martyrs. Impunity is therefore the major reason why martyrs and memorialising are so widespread. To this end, the article offers a semiotic reading of Hariri’s posthumous transformation from political patron to patron saint, and is a contribution towards the importance of martyr symbolism for understanding the purported weakness of Lebanese statehood.

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Polin

Our Goals and Achievements

Anthony Polonsky

Polin was established in 1986 as a yearbook to provide a resource for the growing number of scholars who seek authoritative historical and cultural material on Polish Jewry. It has attempted to encourage research on an interdisciplinary basis and has sought contributions from many disciplines – history, sociology, politics, anthropology, linguistics, literature and folklore – and from a wide variety of viewpoints.

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Editorial

Critical Political Anthropology of the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

This issue of AME focuses on the critical political anthropology of the Middle East. Studies of tribes and states have been on the agenda of political anthropology of the Middle East for decades, and in this issue we have various articles related to this topic. What is particularly informing in this issue are the brilliant articles concerned with informal politics going beyond statistical and formal studies, showing how power works through access to resources, and particularly the reproduction of political systems and hierarchies, and finally how modern legal systems within certain political structures are exercised in everyday life. Other fields of anthropology such as the anthropology of children and the anthropology of law may also benefit from this issue.

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John Clarke

This article explores the significance of the work of Stuart Hall for social and political anthropology. It identifies the concern with concrete conjunctural analysis, the continuing attention to the problem of hegemony, and the centrality of a politics of articulation in theory and practice as core features of Hall's work. The article also touches on his complex relationship with theory and theorizing while grounding his work in a series of political and ethical commitments within and beyond the university.

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Christine McCourt, Nicola Frost and Kakoly Pandé

Managing Island Life: Social, Economic and Political Dimensions of Formality and Informality in ‘Island’ Communities. Edited by Jonathan Skinner and Mils Hills. Dundee: University of Abertay Dundee Press, 2006, 261pp, £12.99 (available from UAD Alumni Office). ISBN 1-899796-14-2.

Power, Community and the State: The Political Anthropology of Organisation in Mexico. By Monique Nuijten. London: Pluto Press, 2003, 240pp, £17.99, paperback. ISBN 9780745319469.

The Roma Café: Human Rights and the Plight of the Romani People. By Istvàn Pogàny. London: Pluto Press, 2004, 216pp, £14.00, paperback. ISBN 9780745320519

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Anthropology and Law in Latin America

Towards Transformative Collaborations?

Rachel Sieder

As a researcher working within the field of collaborative or ‘engaged’ legal and political anthropology in Latin America, law does very much shape my research agenda and that of most of my colleagues. I would also contend that anthropology does impact law throughout the region, although to a much lesser extent. This is most evident in the legalisation, judicialisation and juridification of indigenous peoples’ collective rights to autonomy and territory in recent decades. Yet, the influence of anthropology on legal adjudication in the region is not only limited to issues pertaining to indigenous peoples: engaged applied ethnographic research is playing an increasingly important role in revealing to legal practitioners and courts the effects of human rights violations in specific contexts, and victims’ perceptions of the continuums of violence to which they are subjected.

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The Corrupt State of Exception

Agamben in the Light of Putin

Jakob Rigi

This article revisits Agamben's concept of 'state of exception'. It argues that the postmodern state of exception is exercised not through the suspension of law, as Agamben suggests and as was the case with modern sovereignty, but through the counterfeiting of legality. The counterfeiting of law, which corrupts its meaning, is part of the broader 'corruption of sign' in the postmodern political-cultural economy. The article first details an extended case of counterfeiting of legality in the practices of business raiding, commonly termed reiderstvo, in Russia. It then describes and analyzes the main features of what I call the 'corrupt state of exception' in Russia. The article concludes with a few remarks on the paradigmatic nature of the state of exception in Russia and its consequences for legal and political anthropology.

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Introduction

Anthropological criminology 2.0

David Sausdal and Henrik Vigh

This introduction seeks to outline a contemporary anthropological approach to crime and criminalization, an “anthropological criminology 2.0.” This anthropological criminology distances the subfield from its social Darwinist connotations and instead etches itself clearly onto a social and political anthropological tradition. In doing so, the introduction moves from Malinowski’s initial functionalist and localist approach to present-day political and global orientations. It offers five distinct propositions for anthropological criminology to engage with in the future, which we believe are essential for future anthropological studies of crime and criminalization. With these as guidelines, we hope to fully revive a much-needed dialogue between criminology and anthropology. As we shall see, anthropological and ethnographic insights are currently in demand as global, yet poorly understood, forms of crime are developing alongside ever cruder and more amplified reactions to them.

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Beyond Belief?

Social, Political, and Shamanic Power in Siberia

Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer

An analysis of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation reveals a variety of village and urban reactions to crises of faith and power. The significance for group identity and instances of synergistic group belief are discussed. The transition that has seen amorphous underground shamanic practice lead to the institutionalization of shamanic cosmology is reflected in the recent opening of a temple in the Republic's capital, Yakutsk, and in the various groups that adhere to charismatic healers and seers. Debates about faith, as well as fragmented faith epistemologies, are described. The data derive from over 25 years of intermittent fieldwork in the Republic and with the Sakha diaspora. My approach is situated at the crossroads of medical-psychological anthropology, political anthropology, and new religious movement analysis.

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Aspiring to alterpolitics

Anthropology, radical theory, and social movements

Riccardo Ciavolella and Stefano Boni

This theme section inquires into the contribution of political anthropology to radical theories, social imagination, and practices underlying political “alternatives”, which we propose to call “alterpolitics”. The issue of an alternative to contemporary powers in globalization is a central topic in social movements and radical debates. This sense of possibility for political alternatives is associated with the desertion of the belief in “the end of history”: the current economic crisis and the decline of Western hegemony presumably announce a radical transformation of the neoliberal world, opening space to alternatives. Actually, the reconfiguration of twentieth-century capitalism is associated with a growing mistrust of political institutions, the crisis being “organic”, in the Gramscian sense (Gramsci 1975). Recent social movements and insurrections around the world—from the “colored revolutions” in Central Asia to the Spanish indignados, the US Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, uprisings in Bosnia—have raised the issue of alternatives as a reaction to the incapacity of capitalist political institutions—from electoral democracy to dictatorships—to deal with people’s problems and meet their aspirations for emancipation and a better future.