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T.M. Luhrmann

My proposal is that local theory of mind – what I call here the ‘infrastructures of mind’ – shapes the way people recognize and experience supernatural presence. That is, I argue that the local cultural invitation to imagine thoughts, mental images and inner sensations in particular ways – as potent, powerful and dangerous, for instance, or as the heart of an authentic self – will affect the way people recognize and experience God’s voice. I compare interview data from similar churches in the US, Ghana and Chennai, to show that there are systematic differences in the way people experience God and that these differences appear to reflect culturally different understandings of mind. The often-unnoticed infrastructures of the thing that thinks – the way we think about our thinking – alters not only our mental experience but also the very texture of our reality.

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Apartheid of Thought

The Power Dynamics of Knowledge Production in Political Thought

Camilla Boisen and Matthew C. Murray

In engaging with Lawrence Hamilton’s Freedom Is Power and its position in the lexicon of academic production from the Global South, this paper explores how Hamilton’s claim about institutions utilising idealised concepts that can have counterproductive social effects is also broadly observable in knowledge production itself. This paper draws in broad and brief terms how representation of ideas has been an issue at the heart of political thought historically before discussing how ideas from the South and other under-represented areas now serve to counter not just a hegemony of power but of ideas themselves. This is a necessary extension of the theory to consider, in order to have its desired effect as ideas are perquisites to actions. The paper also challenges the reader with their role in idealising the production of knowledge and the underlying social pressures and political power relations that shape the ideas that motivate ‘real’ political structures and institutions.

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The historical anthropology of thought

Jean-Pierre Vernant and intellectual innovation in ancient Greece

S. C. Humphreys

This article illustrates the need for a historical anthropology of the longue durée, dealing with pre-modern societies, by analyzing the work of Jean-Pierre Vernant on the development of thought in ancient Greece. Vernant's anthropologies began with Marx and the historical psychologist Ignace Meyerson; he was influenced by the Durkheimian Louis Gernet and later by Lévi-Strauss. His early interest in relating Greek rationality to social organization led him increasingly into work on Greek religion and tragedy. This article builds on his work by studying the social contexts of communication that facilitated the proposal and elaboration of unconventional ideas.

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Craig San Roque

This article explores the relationship of Central Australian 'Dreaming', or Tjukurrp, to symbol and thought formation in Aboriginal culture. Acknowledgment is given to ethnographic and indigenous descriptions of Tjukurrp and to Aboriginal mythopoeia, but the author is primarily concerned with how thoughts are made and what they are made of. Comparisons are drawn to European myths and cults in order to understand how Tjukurrp and myth might influence intercultural transference. The author suggests that through an anthropological and psychoanalytical analysis of intercultural conversations and an understanding of Tjukurrp's structure and content, non-indigenous people working in health and law might appreciate and comprehend Aboriginal thinking and thus be more effective in various aspects of engagement. In this meditation on thought formation and failure, the author seeks to understand the relationships between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, so that those who intend to help do not end up destroying.

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José Eisenberg

The author provides a historical analysis of the use of gender metaphors in republican discourse, chiefly the representation of the republic as a father (patria) and as a mother (matria). Both metaphors are present throughout the history of Western political thought, from ancient Rome to the Modern Era. The text shows that their use has profound implications in the way citizenship is conceived and loyalty to the republic can be justified. Finally, the text also identifies a third republican metaphor, fraternity, which has been mostly neglected by republican thought, with few important exceptions. The author concludes by exploring the normative and theoretical possibilities opened up by substituting fraternity for the gendered metaphors.

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José Eisenberg

The author provides a historical analysis of the use of gender metaphors in republican discourse, chiefly the representation of the republic as a father (patria) and as a mother (matria). Both metaphors are present throughout the history of Western political thought, from ancient Rome to the Modern Era. The text shows that their use has profound implications in the way citizenship is conceived and loyalty to the republic can be justified. Finally, the text also identifies a third republican metaphor, fraternity, which has been mostly neglected by republican thought, with few important exceptions. The author concludes by exploring the normative and theoretical possibilities opened up by substituting fraternity for the gendered metaphors.

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Naila Keleta-Mae

In this article I examine the performances of black girlhood in two texts by Ntozake Shange—the choreopoem “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf” (1977) and the novel Sassafras, Cypress and Indigo (1982). The black girls whom Shange portrays navigate anti-black racism in their communities, domestic violence in their homes, and explore their connections with spirit worlds. In both these works, Shange stages black girls who make decisions based on their understanding of the spheres of influence that their race, gender, and age afford them in an anti-black patriarchal world dominated by adults. I draw, too, from Patricia Hill Collins’s work on feminist standpoint theory and black feminist thought to introduce the term black girl thought as a theoretical framework to offer insights into the complex lives of black girls who live in the post-civil rights era in the United States.

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Andrew Nash

For most of its existence, the academic study of politics has been based on the reading of the texts of a recognised number of great thinkers from Greek and Roman antiquity through the European middle ages to modern Europe. In the English-speaking world, the example of ‘Greats’ at Oxford – and ‘Modern Greats’ (philosophy, politics and economics) after 1920 – has been crucial in establishing this approach. In 1928, in his inaugural lecture as Professor of Political Science at Cambridge, Ernest Barker (1930:204) still saw the central role of the history of political thought as uncontroversial: ‘The more the development of political ideas is studied, the richer will be the development of political theory’.

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Freedom and Power in the Thought of Hannah Arendt

Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Theatre

Hanako Koyama

Arendt scholars have given exhaustive attention to the importance of actors in Hannah Arendt's political thought. This paper focuses on the role of non-actors, which I argue are also important for a full understanding of her view of politics, freedom and power. It argues that instead of a monistic, action-centred model, Arendt advances a dualistic model of politics, a model which affords a unique position to non-acting beings through the conceptual distinction between actor and audience, or actor and spectator. My paper also argues that she might conceive an interaction between them when she offers a theatrical model of contemporary political action, relaxing the distinction which otherwise remains rigid through most of her work. This paper tries to show that civil disobedience presumes the sympathetic gaze of spectator because its actor requests the distinctively moral perspective of non-active audience in a theatrical setting of the public realm.

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Maria Antonietta Perna

The present paper aims to explore the Spinozean notion ‘multitude’ as it is used in texts by Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, although I shall only touch upon the latter’s work to the extent that it appears to agree with Negri’s theses. Doing so will bring up an issue which, in my view, impinges on the articulation of the praxis of liberation envisioned by the above philosophers. In particular, although their analyses adopt ontology as a point of departure, and this is a core methodological tenet in their thought, they fall short of offering an account of the ontological structures of agency which would be adequate to ground the motivation for the appointed ethico-political task.