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

Integration, statistics and mistakes of logical typing

Are Muslims integrating or not? Are they loyal to their non-Muslim nations or not? Do we have an enemy within? Many questions for many answers. Normally mass media and in particular newspapers are the main sources of these questions and surveys and polls are the answers. Many questions and many surveys, more or less official, methodologically sound or unsound, private and public, ideological or apologetic have followed 9/11 all around the ‘Western world’. Many numbers and few words are used to convince the public that Muslims are either dangerous aliens or better citizens than the non-Muslims. A battle of opposite perspectives with only one thing in common: numbers.

The main discussion tends to be integration. Muslims are tested and re-tested about the state of their integration, even when they have been an integral part of a country for three or more generations.  Continue reading

Long silence and a distant move


Dear all,

I have not written for a while in my blog nor podcasted on my Ipadio’s channel.

The reason is that I have moved (yes again!) from NUS in Singapore to finally Australia (as was planned since the time I left Aberdeen)This time I have landed at Macquarie University, in Sydney, and I am a member of the Anthropology Department. There will be interesting developments in this department as far as the study of Muslims is concerned and I will keep you updated.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in pursuing a postgraduate degree, please consider our department (more information here) and of course I will be more than happy to discuss your ideas.

You can contact me at my usual gmail account (see my webpage) or my department email (gabriele.marranciATmq.edu.com)



Worldwide Association for the Study of Religion: a work in progress

The Worldwide Association for the Study of Religion is an association for scholars studying religion or with an interest in religion that aims to develop a platform accessible to any scholar or student wherever he or she might live.  The goal of the association is to study religion in all of its forms and not to lobby for any particular religious or non-religious belief.

The Worldwide Association for the Study of Religion is intended to be a forum that is extremely wide in scope for scholars in the humanities and social sciences as well as biological and evolutionary sciences, such as cognitive neuroscience. The Worldwide Association for the Study of Religion is a non-profit organization. Continue reading