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Demetris Tillyris

Contra the prevalent way of thinking about the dirty-hands problem, this article suggests that dirty hands need not necessarily entail suffering and that a politician who does not suffer for his dirty-handed acts should not be cast as a bad politician. In so doing, the article: (i) argues that the connection between DH and suffering is unsatisfactorily totalising and rests on a contentious conception of conflict as a dysfunction and (ii) develops an alternative account of the good dirty-handed politician, which is associated with what proponents of the prevalent view of the problem find impossible: calm acceptance of – even indulgence in – one’s dirt. This recognition has important implications for our contemporary culture of contrition and for the way we evaluate the characters of our politicians.

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Note on the Question of Animal Suffering in Medieval Islam

Muslim Mu‘tazilite Theology Confronted by Manichean Iranian Thought

Didier Gazagnadou

suffering are not commonplace in medieval Islamic thought. However, the work of Cheikh Bouamrane on human freedom in Mu‘tazilite thinking devotes a section to this question ( Bouamrane 1978: 158–160 ). Indeed, rich and intense debates took place during the

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Between Structural Violence and Idioms of Distress

The Case of Social Suffering in the French Caribbean

Raymond Massé

Structural violence has become a central concept in critical medical anthropology. It emphasises the importance of structural health determinants such as poverty, political violence and other collateral aspects of globalization. Diseases and epidemics are viewed as being pathologies of power. The goal of anthropology is no longer to analyse the influence of culture on illness and disease, but rather to engage in pragmatic efforts to remedy social inequalities that express themselves through ill-health. Such opposition between culture and politics may not be consistent with the need for a comprehensive anthropology that emphasizes the subtle and complex articulations between the multiple dimensions of health. Based on an analysis of depression and social suffering in postcolonial Martinique (French Caribbean), a plea is made for a new understanding of the relationship between local idioms of distress on the one hand and intermediate social, political and economical factors on the other. There is also a discussion of some of the pitfalls related to an exclusive focus on the political economy of health.

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Robyn Ashworth-Steen

Halbertal comments, this seems to be one of Maimonides’ weakest philosophical arguments. 7 By denying the existence of evil and considering it as the absence of good it does not address the pain and suffering that is certainly very real to the ones

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From Villainous Letch and Sinful Outcast, to “Especially Beloved of God”

Complicating the Medieval Leper through Gender and Social Status

Christina Welch and Rohan Brown

of perceptions of the contagion. Typically a lower-class church official who “brought people before the ecclesiastical court for acts such as illicit intercourse,” 9 as Walter Curry notes, “Chaucer’s Summoner is dangerously ill, suffering from a

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Nathalie Etoke

This essay is an intimate account of my encounter with Aimé Césaire. I first met him in high school. I was seventeen years old, and I had never read any work comparable to his Notebook of a Return to the Native Land. That book left me confused. The more I read the less I understood. A student in lettres modernes at Université Charles De Gaulle, I became tormented by identity issues. My years in France introduced me to racism, to an other who observed me without seeing me—between us centuries of violence, stereotypes, misunderstanding, unrequited love, unresolved conflict, unshared suffering. How do you get rid of the cutting glance that murders the Promise of Tomorrow? Césaire gave me an answer to that question.

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Otherwise than Meaning

On the Generosity of Ritual

Don Seeman

The thought experiment ‘ritual in its own right’ implies a suspension of dominant interpretive paradigms in anthropological research. This essay begins by juxtaposing the foundational accounts of Weber and Geertz—both of whom associate ritual with the quest for meaning in suffering—with the phenomenological account of Emmanuel Levinas, who argues that suffering is inherently “useless” and therefore resistant to meaning’s claim. All three theorists are then juxtaposed with the Warsaw ghetto writings of a twentieth-century Jewish mystic, Kalonymos Shapira, whose work exemplifies the tension between meaningful and useless suffering in a real social setting. Shapira’s work bears comparison with Levinas’s, and lends support to the idea that our preoccupation with meaning may stem from a particular religious genealogy of social theory. Ritual can be analyzed as a ground of intersubjectivity or transcendence rather than meaning, which makes it more akin to medicine, in Levinas’s terms, than to theodicy.

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The Evil that Men Suffer

Evil and Suffering from a Durkheimian Perspective

Massimo Rosati

After the End of a Dark Century: Philosophical and Theological Discourses on Evil, complex, highly interesting and full of religious, philosophical and existential implications. One has to hope that the theological and philosophical reflection on evil and suffering will also continue in a post-metaphysical world, even if this hope is part of an ongoing debate. As fascinating as these questions may be, I will not address any of the classical, philosophical and/or theological problems on evil in this paper. Rather than concentrating on this kind of approach to evil, I would like to try and offer a different way of dealing with a subject, which has long been neglected in the sociological field, and is almost absent among Durkheimian studies too. In other words, I would like to approach the problem of evil from a point of view similar to Durkheim?s sociology of religion. However, I will keep the modern philosophical turn in the theological discussion on evil as a background, since one of my objectives is to try and isolate the specific and distinctive characteristics of a Durkheimian idea of evil in the light of the modern transition from suffering to evil.

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Human Rights, Victimhood, and Impunity

An Anthropology of Democracy in Argentina

Michael Humphrey and Estela Valverde

This article explores human rights politics in the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Argentina. Its ethnographic focus is the phenomenon of families of victims associations, usually led by mothers, that first emerged to protest against mass disappearance under the military dictatorship. Democracy has also produced new families of victims associations protesting against different forms of state abuse and/or neglect. They represent one face of the widespread protest against a 'culture of impunity' experienced as ongoing insecurity and injustice. Private grief is made an emotional resource for collective action in the form of 'political mourning'. The media, street demonstrations, and litigation are used to try to make the state accountable. State management of this public suffering has sought to determine legitimate victimhood based on a paradigm of innocence. The political mourning of victims and survivors charts the social margins of citizenship in the reduced, not expanded, neo-liberal democratic state in Argentina.

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Eric Langenbacher

One of the most important developments in the incipient Berlin Republic's memory regime has been the return of the memory of German suffering from the end and aftermath of World War II. Elite discourses about the bombing of German cities, the mass rape of German women by members of the Red Army, and, above all, the expulsion of Germans from then-Eastern Germany and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe have gained massive visibility in the last decade. Although many voices have lauded these developments as liberating, many others within Germany and especially in Poland—from where the vast majority of Germans were expelled—have reacted with fear. Yet, do these elite voices resonate with mass publics? Have these arguments had demonstrable effects on public opinion? This paper delves into these questions by looking at survey results from both countries. It finds that there has been a disjuncture between the criticisms of elites and average citizens, but that the barrage of elite criticisms leveled at German expellees and their initiatives now may be affecting mass attitudes in all cases.