Book Summary: Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania / Liisa H. Malkki

In her ethnographic work, Malkki researches the Hutu refugees in exile in Tanzania who had to flee their homes in Burundi due to a bloodbath of ethnic conflicts with the Tutsis, a minority group that controlled the military in the country. Malkki categorizes refugees as camp and town refugees and thus conducts multi-sited fieldwork in... Continue Reading →

Book Summary: The Wherewithal of Life: Ethics, Migration, and the Question of Well-being / Michael Jackson

In his book, Michael Jackson looks deeply into the lives of three individuals, Emmanuel Mulamila, Roberto M. Franco, and Ibrahim Ouedraogo while shedding some light on their journeys that concern the endurance of life via different ethical modes of being, how these individuals approach and derive meanings from their extraordinary encounters in life, and what... Continue Reading →

Towards a Transformative Anthropology with Tim Ingold

Anthropology, as a discipline, has been concerned with the very lives of people—focusing on how different people experience and interpret the world, which many other disciplines in the social sciences have been attentive to as well. Nevertheless, the most remarkable trait that has distinguished anthropologists from scholars of other fields has been the participant-observation method that they... Continue Reading →

Morality—a Social Essential?

“Nothing is true, everything is permitted” was supposedly the last words of the founder of a 12th-century Persian assassin group called Hashashin. It is a quote that has inspired thinkers like Nietzsche to include it in his work and regard it as the freedom of the spirit (1989). Although such a way of thinking argues that a “truly free individual” would not conform to social moral obligations due to a supposed contradiction between one’s “true... Continue Reading →

Book Review: Politics of Piety / Saba Mahmood

Mahmood, S. (2012). Politics of piety: the islamic revival and the feminist subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.  This thought-provoking yet complicated book is a groundbreaking analysis of the complex relationship between religious practices and beliefs of (some) Muslim women and modern secular liberal discourses on feminism and other issues. The ethnography, published in 2004 by... Continue Reading →

Enlightenment, the Rediscovery of Rationality?

A common way of describing the Enlightenment period centers around the discourse of “rationalization”. It is assumed that it is by abolishing the orders of the Church that the individuals empowered themselves via exercising their reason and purging the bigotry that was accumulated throughout the Dark Ages of Europe. For such reasons, when one speaks... Continue Reading →

Can the Secular Speak of Human Economic Activity?

If we are to investigate discourses of economics brought by people of varying intellectual backgrounds such as anthropology, sociology, history, and economics, we can see how some thinkers have looked into structures, some have investigated morality, some have examined cultures, and some have examined pure numbers. After having an (superficial) exposure to such different views on a very human aspect of... Continue Reading →

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