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.

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

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