Academia, anthropology, Ethics, Research, Research Metodology, sociology

Why we need an anthropology beyond good and evil

As some of you may have noticed, not only has my blog shifted from a specialist focus within the field of anthropology to a more generally anthropological one, but the new name of the blog wishes to challenge how we do anthropology.

Overall my aim now is to push towards a different way of doing anthropology. When I say a different way, I do not mean a ‘new’ way. Indeed, the roots of my attempt have a rather well established pedigree in the field. Yet long years of self-criticism and reflection within the discipline known in the US as ‘cultural anthropology’ have caused many to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

The established pedigree I am referring to originates with Malinowski and perceives anthropology as a scientific effort aimed to explain or to highlight facts about cultures and in particular, in my case, humans. Within this tradition, I can also mention another anthropologist whom has greatly influenced my work, Gregory Bateson, and another, whose theoretical discussion of anthropology and relativism I appreciate despite my strong criticisms of his study of Islam (Marranci 2008), Ernest Gellner. Surely in the case of Malinowski and most of the anthropology of those times, the issue of colonialism had an impact and should be considered. Yet in the attempt to get rid of the bath water (the moral mistake of colonialism), during the 1970s and in particular 1980s, anthropologists threw out the baby itself by adopting post-modernism and relativism as an approach to reality.  Continue reading

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anthropology, sociology

Restarting from Anthropology Beyond Good and Evil

starting overMy blog Islam, Muslims and an Anthropologist started in 2007 and since then 228,803 people (an average of 38,000 per year) have read my posts concerning various aspects of Muslim lives.

During this time I had the honor of discussing events and topics with readers on this and other platforms. Some posts have been extremely popular such as Gaza: bad politics needs blood (which had 13,000 readers) to “Mamma li Turchi!!”, Italy and the Saladin Syndrome (discussing the situation of Italian Muslims) and back in 2007, this blog was among the first to highlight the condition of Rohingya Muslims in The other, invisible suffering of Burma.

We also cannot forget the ‘polemics’ with some of the main demonizers of Islam, such as with Dr Denis MacEoin regarding his infamous report for Policy Exchange (my blog was the first to highlight the incredible problems with the methodology); or my, sometimes sarcastic, exchanges with Mr Jihad Watch.

Today Islam, Muslims and an Anthropology moves on to another more general dimension, a blog titled Anthropology Beyond Good and Evil, a blog which encompasses all my interests in the field of anthropology, from anthropology of  religion, youth, globalization and modernization processes, to the anthropology of crime, identity, and so on. Surely Islam and Muslims will remain one of the main topics of discussion, but I felt that after six years I needed to expand the themes to more fully reflect my research and interests.

Another change will be the length of the posts. Other than for some exceptions, my posts will be normally between 500 and 1000 words in length, so that I can contribute more often than usual and keep up with current events with short commentaries.

I hope that many of you whom have followed Islam, Muslims and an Anthropologist for these past six years will find the change interesting and refreshing. As usual you are welcome to debate the posts and I hope to read more of your comments.

Gabriele

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Academia, anthropology, Australia, Ethics, Islam, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Terrorism, University, War on Terror

Think Tanks, weak research and the case of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Australia

Think Tanks, often linked to a party in the nation’s political system, are becoming increasingly popular (particularly in the US and the UK), receive funds, and produce very easily digestible research, ready-made for the rushed politician. Think Tanks do not have to adhere to the same quality standards that university research has to or, when they are supposed to meet similar standards,  there is no effective means of monitoring it. Ethical issues, ethical conduct of research and often methodology remains unexplained in reports written to impress more than explain complex issues. In an era where simplification often resembles “The Complete Idiot’s” guides, Think Tanks provide a fast, public friendly, easy to use policy support for difficult decisions.

Continue reading

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America, anthropology, Bush, David Horowitz, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Robert Spencer, sociology, Terrorism, War on Terror

American Muslims, Muslimphobia, and dangerous chemerias

The debate concerning Islam and Muslims in the US is a very heated one – sometimes beyond metaphors. The fear that Sharia will rule in the land of the free is a strong one, so much so that there has been more than one attempt to legally ban ‘sharia’.  Newt Gingrich, former House speaker who led the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, exclaimed

Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools as a way to “replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia

The list of American anti-Muslim politicians, commentators and pundits is long and often all linked to the Christian Republican right. The most quoted are  Ann Coulter, whom invited a Muslim student to take a camel instead of a plane, Fox News personality Sean Hannity, whom drew a parallel between Islam and Nazism, Glenn Beck,  Daniel Pipes , as well as showbiz personalities such as the well known “Jihad watcher” and the “femme fatal” of  fear mongering, author of “Stop the Islamization of America“. Continue reading

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America, anthropology, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, jihad, Muslim family, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, War, War on Terror

Not all children are the same – some are collateral damage

President Barack Obama, looked terribly distressed at the vigil to commemorate the victims, twenty of whom were children. Obama’s words, as well as his emotions, were sincere. He said

 The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old..They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.

The Newtown shooting has been a terrible tragedy, so shocking that it has reopened the debate about gun crime in a country with  300 million of them among a population of 311 million.  Could the massacre have been avoided? In the current situation, probably not. That school could have been anywhere, and the killer apparently acted out of his mind rather than out of a plan. Continue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Fashion, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Sunni, Terrorism, University

Prayer bumps, Muslim haters, and the danger of scientific popularization

Recently I came across a short article titled: The Muslim ‘prayer bump’ and Traumatic Brain Injury. Since I am interested in both religion as well as neuroscience, I eagerly read the short post. To my disappointment, I had to conclude that this was another, yet more sophisticated and insidious, attempt to demonstrate that Islam has horrible consequences for practising individuals. The gist of the article is as follows. Muslims pray five times per day, and as part of the Muslim prayer (salah), the Muslim prostrates and  touches the ground with his or her forehead and nose (sujud). The article proceeds to inform the reader that in doing so, millions of Muslims develop what, in Islamic jargon, is called  zebibah (Arabic for raisin), or a prayer bump. In other words, the repeated pressure of the head on the prayer mat will produce a discolouration of the skin in the area of contact, and in some cases, apparently, provoking a ‘bump’. Continue reading

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anthropology, Arab-Israeli conflict, CyberOrient, Democracy and Justice, Freedom, Islam, Israel, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Journalism, Middle East, Politics, Refugees, Religion

UN resolutions, Palestine, Israel and trimming the tree: when fear of demography matters

The desperation of a Palestinian mother

Today many Palestinians and people believing in justice and the right to self-determination are celebrating the overwhelming vote to recognise Palestine as a non-member state. This was a clear message that the world (or at least the UN represented world) sent to the US, Israel and allies that enough is enough. Indeed, had the UN been a real democratic organization without historically dictated (hence old) rights of veto, Palestine would today be a recognised nation. Surely, morally, humanly, and in the name of justice, this is news to celebrate. It also shows the extent to which the US, with few acolytes left, and Israel, with probably even fewer, are geopolitically isolated. Continue reading

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