Christian nationalism, a long-running and arguably increasingly influential political force, appears to consist mainly of an open set of affectively charged but cognitively underdetermined concepts and images that are capable of being constituted in a number of widely divergent forms. Despite this potential variety, the various instantiations of Christian nationalisms documented by the anthropology of Christianity tend to have similar features, even as they are actualized in quite different milieux and understood as being responses to quite different threats. Drawing on ethnographic work in the United States, this article argues that this recurrent crystallization of Christian nationalism into the specific form under certain conditions—the adoption of a temporally ambivalent eschatology, an ethics oriented around mimesis, and, most of all, an outward-facing ressentiment—works to self-catalyze the production of a racialized Christian nationalism that envisions itself at once as an entitled majority and as an embattled minority.
Ressentiment and Christian Nationalism in the Anthropology of Christianity
Reflections in and out of Fashion
James D. Faubion
‘Misfits’ are proof positive that the anthropological chestnut of ‘the psychic unity of mankind’ glosses over the actual psychic disunity of the anthropic. The proof militates against rendering misfitness merely as a social construction even as it militates in favour of rendering it as a ‘polythetic class’, the unity of which is not based in the common features of all tokens of a given type but instead in their ‘family resemblance’. Members of the family include those who are deemed incompetent, but also those deemed best suited to specific social stations. Misfitness may also be sought and not merely ascribed. In every case, misfitness has an ethically ambiguous status – and so offers us a lesson of the systemic place of the ‘irritant’ within but also at the edge of and beyond the bounds of any current anthropology of ordinary ethics.
A Symposium on Michael Banner's The Ethics of Everyday Life
Michael Banner, Lesley A. Sharp, Richard Madsen, John H. Evans, J. Derrick Lemons and Thomas J. Csordas
What Moral Theology (and Moral Philosophy) Needs from Social Anthropology Michael Banner
The Ethics of Suffering in Everyday Life Lesley A. Sharp
Ethical Narrative and Moral Theory Richard Madsen
Specifying the Relationship between Social Anthropology and Moral Theology John H. Evans
The Ethics of Everyday Life: The Next Word J. Derrick Lemons
Reading Michael Banner on Moral Theology and Social Anthropology Thomas J. Csordas
Descriptions, Norms, and the Uses of Ethnography Michael Banner
Conversations in South India and the Anthropology of Ethics
This article contributes to the anthropology of ethics through an analysis of conversations among Muslim and Hindu householders in Tamil Nadu, India, about instances of alms/charitable giving where there is no expectation of direct reciprocity and where both giving and taking make reference to religion. I argue, first, that people make certain kinds of giving or taking ethical or unethical through talk and, second, that instances of ‘ethical talk’, which constitute reflections on and evaluations of action, point to questions concerning freedom and choice in people’s efforts to lead lives that are good or ‘good enough’. Such conversations also reveal a striving toward accepted forms of societal attachment and detachment while considering the claims that people can or should make upon each another.
Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski’s South African engagements, 1919–1934
In this article, I focus on different strategies of anthropological engagement with government and potential funders. I do so by considering the diverse nature of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski’s encounters with South African authorities, between 1919 and 1934. I suggest that Radcliffe-Brown saw South Africa as an integrated society in which segregation was impossible, and advocated the sympathetic scientific understanding of cultural difference within this context. By contrast, Malinowski was committed to a romantic vision of holistic cultures, collaborated directly with colonial authorities, and argued for a policy of effective cultural and territorial segregation. The strategies had important longterm consequences and costs, calculable only from the privileged vantage point of history.
The story of a disturbing episode
This piece tells the story of a disturbing episode in the author's relationship with the field. Though the details are unique, the kind of ethical dilemmas it documents must be in some form or other part of the experience of a great many anthropologists – though such stories are seldom set down in print. These dilemmas include the balance we strike between participation and observation, and between the moral commitments we have as private individuals and our (no less moral) commitment as anthropologists to report on our ethnography in as impartial and objective a way as is possible. Central to this particular story is the anthropologist's relationship with his research assistant over more than two decades, and it tells of the latter's involvement in various human rights campaigns, his arrest, imprisonment and on-going trial on vaguely specified charges. I reflect on the way in which these events have affected my subsequent fieldwork and on the way I have written up. It is the story of a friendship and of a genuine intellectual collaboration between the anthropologist and anthropologist's research assistant that is probably not so uncommon but is seldom fully reflected in the ethnographies we read.
The politics and ethics of collaboration among World Anthropologies
The articles in this theme section are based on papers presented at a three-session workshop on World Anthropologies at the 2008 Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Drawing on analyses of the position of anthropological disciplinary practices in Poland, Spain, Hungary, and the US, as well as their global reception, these articles ask important and timely questions about where anthropologists conduct their research, what professional and academic societies they join, what types of relationships they should forge with scholars who live in the country or nation in which they conduct fieldwork, and how they should engage with other disciplines beyond anthropology. As these articles demonstrate, practices of collaboration are enmeshed in politically, socially, and geographically grounded histories. Although at some level this may not be a surprise to readers, specific issues remain well worth examining further and discussing within the profession.
Cumming . London : Verso . Agrama , Hussein Ali . 2010 . “ Ethics, Authority, Tradition: Toward an Anthropology of the Fatwa .” American Ethnologist 37 ( 1 ): 2 – 18 . Asad , Talal , ed. 1973 . Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter . Amherst
Towards an Ethics of Possibility
Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp
This afterword to this special issue of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, entitled ‘For an Anthropology of Cognitive Disability’, explores the intersections of disability studies and ethnographic research on cognitive difference. We offer a brief scholarly genealogy, discuss how these articles provide recognition for ‘the disarticulate’, and consider how anthropologists working on this subject might contribute to an ethics of possibility.
A Discursive Analysis of a Century of Anthropological Writings on Missionary Ethnographers
Travis Warren Cooper
describe as pristine. ( Burton and Burton 2007: 210 ) Anthropologists in general have a negative attitude toward missionaries, especially when they conceive of missionaries as agents of cultural change … [A]nthropology students learn that missionaries are