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Showing papers in "Current Anthropology in 2020"


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a brief essay offers a preface to Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplement 21, “Disability Worlds,” which is a collection of essays about disability.
Abstract: This brief essay offers a preface to Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplement 21, “Disability Worlds.”

77 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Racism is defined as a modern system of inequity emergent in Atlantic slavery in which “Whiteness” is born and embedded as mentioned in this paper, and the operation of racist Whiteness is described.
Abstract: Racism is defined as a modern system of inequity emergent in Atlantic slavery in which “Whiteness” is born and embedded. This essay describes its transformation. The operation of racist Whiteness i...

57 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The 2018 Wenner-Gren international symposium on disability addressed this underrepresented area of research and demonstrated the transformative value of critical anthropological studies of disability for many of our discipline's key questions regarding kinship, biopolitics, the life course, inequality/racism, war and violence, technology and materiality.
Abstract: As an analytic and an object of study, disability provides a powerful lens to refocus and potentially transform thinking about new and enduring concerns shaping contemporary anthropology. At its most basic, the recognition of disability as a universal social fact helps us to understand the cultural specificities of personhood and to reconsider the unstable boundaries of the category of the human. This special issue of Current Anthropology is based on a 2018 Wenner-Gren international symposium on disability addressing this underrepresented area of research. The articles published here demonstrate the transformative value of critical anthropological studies of disability for many of our discipline’s key questions regarding kinship, biopolitics, the life course, inequality/racism, war and violence, technology and materiality, and the importance of disability to decolonizing perspectives in anthropology.

47 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Erving Goffman's 1963 foundational discussion of stigma has been both embraced and critiqued in disability studies and other fields as mentioned in this paper, and it has been discussed in a variety of contexts.
Abstract: Erving Goffman’s 1963 foundational discussion of stigma has been both embraced and critiqued in disability studies and other fields. In Goffman’s interactional and ahistorical analysis, stigma was ...

42 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors traces the long-run contribution of the employment of enslaved Africans in large-scale commodity production in the Americas to the rise of the capitalist global economy, and demonstrates the long run contribution of slaves to the development of the global economy.
Abstract: This article traces the long-run contribution of the employment of enslaved Africans in large-scale commodity production in the Americas to the rise of the capitalist global economy. It demonstrate...

42 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that disability expertise is the particular knowledge that disabled people develop and enact about unorthodox configurations of agency, cultural norms, and relationships between selves, bodies, and the designed world.
Abstract: This paper stakes out a space for a critical global disability anthropology that considers disability not as a medicalized classification of impairment but as a relational category. Disability expertise, I argue, is the particular knowledge that disabled people develop and enact about unorthodox configurations of agency, cultural norms, and relationships between selves, bodies, and the designed world. Disability expertise is a descriptive domain, that is, a container into which ethnographers might enumerate observations about how disabled people enact personhood and moral agency in diverse cultural settings. To illustrate what I mean by disability expertise, I draw examples from one interlocutor’s experiences, described in interviews conducted during broader ethnographic research in Russia. I elaborate one particular domain of disability expertise: managing perceptions of disability, especially the tendency of nondisabled people to view disability through the tropes of suffering and pity. I call for anthropologists to claim disability anthropology as a space for critical, interdisciplinary knowledge production.

41 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Pascal Boyer1
TL;DR: This article found that people spontaneously interpret divination as less likely than other statements to be influenced by anyone's intentions or interests, which is enough to give divination an epistemic advantage compared with other sources of information, answering question 1.
Abstract: Divination is found in most human societies, but there is little systematic research to explain (1) why it is persuasive or (2) why divination is required for important collective decisions in many small-scale societies. Common features of human communication and cooperation may help address both questions. A highly recurrent feature of divination is “ostensive detachment,” a demonstration that the diviners are not the authors of the statements they utter. As a consequence, people spontaneously interpret divination as less likely than other statements to be influenced by anyone’s intentions or interests. This is enough to give divination an epistemic advantage compared with other sources of information, answering question 1. This advantage is all the more important in situations where a diagnosis will create differential costs and benefits, for example, determining who is responsible for someone’s misfortune in a small-scale community. Divinatory statements provide a version of the situation that most participants are motivated to agree with, as it provides a focal point for efficient coordination at a minimal cost for almost all participants, which would answer question 2.

41 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The concept of disability is a concept that grows as we think about it, forcing us to adjust our conversations in vocabulary and rhetoric depending on which disability world we inhabit or address.
Abstract: Disability is a concept that grows as we think about it, forcing us to adjust our conversations in vocabulary and rhetoric depending on which disability world we inhabit or address. Understanding d...

30 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the angst of deeply committed volunteers in China, engaging with anthropological debates on ethics under conditions of moral breakdown, is explored, under market socialism, sacrificial v...
Abstract: This article explores the angst of deeply committed volunteers in China, engaging with anthropological debates on ethics under conditions of “moral breakdown.” Under market socialism, sacrificial v...

28 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The 158th Wenner-Gren Symposium as discussed by the authors was held in Sintra, Portugal, in the autumn of 2018, where the authors summarized and reflected on the variou...
Abstract: This introductory article outlines the general orientations of the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s 158th symposium held in Sintra, Portugal, in the autumn of 2018. It summarizes and reflects on the variou...

27 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors ask, if one of the legacies of slavery in the Americas was the racialization of enslaved Africans, and indeed the racialisation of the modern world, did this legacy of race not also imp...
Abstract: This essay asks, If one of the legacies of slavery in the Americas was the racialization of enslaved Africans, and indeed the racialization of the modern world, did this legacy of race not also imp...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors examine the growing influence of nongovernmental organizations and the changing role of the state in cultural heritage policy and argue that the current rearticulation of the discourse of heritage and cultural policy is intertwined with a general transformation whereby the contours of the State are increasingly frayed and its functions disassembled across a broad terrain.
Abstract: In this article, I examine the growing influence of nongovernmental organizations and the changing role of the state in cultural heritage policy. These processes rely on an accelerated transnational circulation of policy ideas grounded in a notion of culture as development and participation. In the occupied West Bank, several local but internationally funded organizations work to preserve the historic built environment, supplanting the heritage agency of a beleaguered, nonsovereign Palestinian Authority. In Italy, the government itself has disempowered its own heritage agency. Neoliberal cultural policy discourse has inspired legislative reform that has left the Italian heritage management severely underfunded. In both Italy and Palestine, the lack of state involvement has given nonstate actors increasing responsibility for heritage and blurred the boundary between the state and these nonstate entities. Contrasting colonial and noncolonial contexts, I show how quasi-colonial conditions of fragmentation and forms of state failure are spreading under neoliberal globalization. I argue that the current rearticulation of the discourse of heritage and cultural policy is intertwined with a general transformation whereby the contours of the state are increasingly frayed and its functions disassembled across a broad terrain.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors build on the critical disability theory of affordances that I have been developing through ethnographic inquiries and the notion of microactivist affordances, by which they mean microactivists.
Abstract: This article builds on the critical disability theory of affordances that I have been developing through ethnographic inquiries and the notion of “microactivist affordances,” by which I mean micro ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors introduce and elaborate on the notion of shared breath as a way of understanding human and nonhuman copresence and offer descriptions and narratives about three Indigenous groups in Russia and Canada, namely, Veps, Western Woods Cree, and Interior Salish St'at'imc.
Abstract: We introduce and elaborate on the notion of “shared breath” as a way of understanding human and nonhuman copresence and offer descriptions and narratives about three Indigenous groups in Russia and Canada, namely, Veps, Western Woods Cree, and Interior Salish St’at’imc. These data illustrate vividly how the underused metaphor of shared breath sheds light on active participation in life by and respectful relations with nonhuman beings, thus surpassing other overly used spatial, physical, and spiritual metaphors. We move beyond the physical aspects of discrete spaces and materials in extending consideration to pertinent metaphorical and tangible aspects of the verbal, sonorous, and ritual performances undertaken by humans in order to negotiate and reinforce relations with other beings. Relationality is continuously accommodated and regenerated by human and nonhuman agencies through ritual acts that include blowing, chants, breathing, drumming, visualizing, and smoking. The shared breath through which these encounters take place emblematizes turning moments, when new directions may be taken and long-term relations of respect may be established, validated, and reinforced. Shared breath is both a medium and a modality of shamanic and animist relationality, offering a new way of looking at human-nonhuman contact and exchange in animist ritual contexts and beyond.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is proposed that the evolution of human cooperative behavior required a capacity for self-sustained, self-referential thought manifested as an integrated worldview, including a sense of identity and point of view, and the cultural formation of kinship-based social organizational systems within which social identities can be established and transmitted through enculturation.
Abstract: Extensive cooperation among biologically unrelated individuals is uniquely human. It would be surprising if this uniqueness were not related to other uniquely human characteristics, yet current the...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines Berlin's ascendance to the status of a global city and in particular the tethering of this discourse to the city's attraction for institutions of world literature. Drawing on...
Abstract: This article examines Berlin’s ascendance to the status of a global city and in particular the tethering of this discourse to the city’s attraction for institutions of world literature. Drawing on ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors sketch key concerns surrounding the digital reproduction of enslaved and colonized subjects held in cultural heritage collections and centralize one photograph of a crying Afro-Cari.
Abstract: This article sketches key concerns surrounding the digital reproduction of enslaved and colonized subjects held in cultural heritage collections. It centralizes one photograph of a crying Afro-Cari...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: One of the most productive lines of inquiry in the anthropology of Christianity has explored how Christian adherence structures time as discussed by the authors, and the organizing idea here has been rupture, whether the break wi...
Abstract: One of the most productive lines of inquiry in the anthropology of Christianity has explored how Christian adherence structures time. The organizing idea here has been rupture, whether the break wi...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors explored the relationship between digital place and disability through an ethnographic study of disability experience in the virtual world Second Life and developed a notion of digital topography to illuminate the implications of digital place for disability and human experience more generally.
Abstract: In this article I explore the relationship between digital place and disability through an ethnographic study of disability experience in the virtual world Second Life. I discuss how forms of landscape and interface shape disability experience, how building relates to “being-inworld” in digital place, and how proximity and collaboration relate to disability embodiment in a virtual context. “Participant building” on a virtual island created for this research, “Ethnographia,” complements participant observation and other methods to investigate these questions of digital place. Through these lines of analysis, I develop a notion of “digital topography” to illuminate the implications of digital place for disability and human experience more generally. This allows for differentiating digital places from digital media and thus forging conceptual frameworks that reflect how the internet is not a unitary entity. It also allows for considering digital emplacement as related to, but distinct from, digital embodiment. This helps draw attention to questions of digital placemaking alongside the better-known phenomena of avatars. Avatars are important, but it is crucial to highlight the virtual geographies without which the emplacement of those avatars would be impossible. These materials speak to broad questions regarding embodiment, ability, the digital, and the real.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Tarahumara (Raramuri) are a Native American people from Chihuahua, Mexico, who have long been famous for running, but there is widespread incredulity about how and why they run such long distan...
Abstract: The Tarahumara (Raramuri) are a Native American people from Chihuahua, Mexico, who have long been famous for running, but there is widespread incredulity about how and why they run such long distan...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors investigates how a particular theological position and practice, or "orthodoxy", or "Islam as a discursive tradition" is related to a particular denomination in the context of Islam.
Abstract: This article makes useful for the study of Christianity Talal Asad’s concept of Islam as a discursive tradition. It investigates how a particular theological position and practice, or “orthodoxy,” ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors argue that their conceptualization and the role of empathy in sociality need to be clarified, taking issue with a recent proposal by Bubandt and Willerslev.
Abstract: The aim of our contribution is to clarify the nature of empathy and its role in sociality. Taking issue with a recent proposal by Bubandt and Willerslev, we argue that their conceptualization and d...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors propose an alternative idiom of sovereignty: a vulnerable sovereignty emerging with Hindu deities and based on interdependency and coexistence, and stress that vulnerability does not necessarily make the deities powerless but is the point where the sovereign deity reasserts its power.
Abstract: Until its defeat in 2009, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) controlled numerous civil institutions in the north and east of Sri Lanka. However, the Hindu temples within these territories managed to maintain their autonomy. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Sri Lanka, I contend that central to this paradox was contestation over who had the power to govern the life and death of Tamil subjects. Revisiting the anthropology of sovereignty, I propose an alternative idiom of sovereignty: a vulnerable sovereignty emerging with Hindu deities and based on interdependency and coexistence. I stress that vulnerability does not necessarily make the deities powerless but is the point where the sovereign deity reasserts its power. Finally, I contend that, faced with this idiom of sovereignty, the LTTE learned to embody its logic in its relation with the deities. I argue, thus, that sovereigns can also be thought of outside the notion of absolute sovereign power, bare life, and biopower and instead as sites of vulnerability.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors defined the state as having a monopoly on violence, and defined the police as technicians of sovereign violence, which marginalizes the nonviolen, non-violent population of the United States.
Abstract: Weber defined the state as having a monopoly on violence. Theories of policing that rely on his definition conceptualize police as technicians of sovereign violence. This marginalizes the nonviolen...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The polyvalent symbols and meanings of ancient religious sacrifices can be interpreted properly only after combining different differen... as discussed by the authors, and the general idea of benefiting society and placating the divine.
Abstract: Beyond the general idea of benefiting society and placating the divine, the polyvalent symbols and meanings of ancient religious sacrifices can be interpreted properly only after combining differen...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Convert Muslim women strive to disembody secularity and cultivate piety in Spain, where "Spanish" (read, Catholic and secular) and "Muslim"(read, pious and foreign) are conceptualized as mutually...
Abstract: Convert Muslim women strive to disembody secularity and cultivate piety in Spain, where “Spanish” (read, Catholic and secular) and “Muslim” (read, pious and foreign) are conceptualized as mutually ...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors review four examples of symbolic behavior from the central European Mousterian site of Krapina in present-day Croatia, including evidence of ritual cannibalism and secondary burial.
Abstract: We review four examples of ritual or symbolic behavior from the central European Mousterian site of Krapina in present-day Croatia. These include evidence of ritual cannibalism and secondary burial...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors focus on the prosthetic re-membering and dismembering of veteran bodies in a rapidly changing health milieu, and see how the political economy of violence and the violence of political economy become complicit in the production of debt, dismemberment, and prosthetic rehabilitation.
Abstract: Following the neoliberal restructuration of the Turkish welfare and banking systems in the 2000s, many veterans of Turkey’s Kurdish war faced debt enforcement due to failed payments for prosthetic limbs. Veterans responded to debt collection by turning their own bodies into spectacles of debt and sacrifice by publicly removing and showcasing their debt-ridden prostheses. The media interest in these prosthetic spectacles further amplified the visceral threat of dismemberment evoked by veterans’ embodied performances. The public debates surrounding “prosthesis repossession” cases extended well beyond veteran welfare issues, inscribing all sorts of social and political anxieties on the amputee veteran body, such as anxieties around the incommensurability between the value regimes of nationalism and neoliberalism or around the Syrian refugees. Providing a window into larger questions about the interconnections between disability, gender, nationalism, and neoliberal capitalism, prosthesis repossession cases show us how debt and disability coproduce each other at the nexus of consumer debt and nationalist welfare in Turkey. By homing in on the prosthetic re-membering and dismembering of veteran bodies in a rapidly changing health milieu, we see how the political economy of violence and the violence of political economy become complicit in the production of debt, dismemberment, and prosthetic rehabilitation.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the concepts of interference and haunting illuminate how pasts and futures interact so that the past and the future interact in a way that is new to anthropology, and the concept of interference is introduced to anthropology.
Abstract: I consider three ways of thinking about time, especially the future, that are new to anthropology. The concepts of interference and haunting illuminate how pasts and futures interact so that consid...

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Assessing the combined influence of scientists, businesses, and members of the public in defining the scope of genetics for restoring ethnic links between African and African American populations is taken, and the responsibilities of anthropologists are considered in addressing ongoing biocolonial tendencies and power disparities in the production of genetic ancestry.
Abstract: In molecular anthropology, DNA is regarded as a kind of biological “archive” that can provide unprecedented insights into human histories. More recently, genetic analysis has been used to explore t...