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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Academia, anthropology, Ethnic Minorities, Islam, Islam and Christianity, jihad, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia, Terrorism, University

Muslims in Singapore, Multiculturalism and clapping hands

On the 14-16 July 2010, MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), in collaboration with Oxford University, University of Melbourne and the Department of Malay Studies at National University of Singapore, has organized the International Conference on Muslims in Multicultural Societies. According to the main organizer, the conference was aimed to

profile Singapore’s best practices in general and more specifically the Singapore Muslim community’s contribution to the state and in promoting Islamic values that embraces diversity. Additionally, this conference serves as a platform for other Muslim communities to share their experiences – models, systems and processes, and exchange ideas for further development of Muslims in multicultural societies. Continue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Catholic Church, David Horowitz, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Immigration, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islam in Europe, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, jihad, Journalism, marranci, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Pope, Religion, Research, Robert Spencer, Terrorism, The UK, Uk government, University, War on Terror

“Islam is evil”. “No! Islam is peace”: The fallacy of the ‘scripturegnosis’ argument

The debate, despite enlightenment and modernization, remains the same as that which Dante advocated in the Divine Comedy: is Islam evil or a religion of peace? On one side of the argument, and siding with Dante, is Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and self-declared ‘Islamophobe’ in the real meaning of the word (fearing Islam as religion). Of course, for both Dante and Wilders (who is facing trial in his own country), Islam and the Qur’an are, in the very words of Wilders, ‘bad’ and ‘evil’. Wilders also used adjectives such as ‘retarded’, ‘fascist’ and ‘anti-democratic’ – thus dangerous and worthy of being banned. Different variations on a theme of ‘Islam is evil’ can also be found in the work of several authors, for example Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’or and Magdi Allam among many others. Continue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Australia, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, sociology, University

Muslims as ‘cultural objects’ 

More and more we can find examples in which Muslims are reduced to their material culture and religious culture: Muslim women reduced to their hijabs, niqabs, burkas, chadors; Muslim men represented as repressive, violent, fanatic and irrational and so on. Just read some commentaries about Muslim women, or about Muslim life in general, and you will be able to understand why I say that Muslims are reduced to their ‘material culture’.

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Academia, anthropology, Arab-Israeli conflict, India, Islam, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, Terrorism

Down to the bones: have we really changed?

Recently we have witnessed another carnage, this time in Mumbai, perpetrated by people who are ready to kill for their ideological, political and religious beliefs. Among those murdered, coming from all walks of life and are of different ethnic, national and religious origin, there are also two Jewish parents who leave 2-year-old Moshe orphaned. He was lucky enough to remain alive. This absurd gratuitous violence against unarmed and defenseless people is not the first occurrence and will not be the last. Continue reading

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