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Abstract

In most literature on human cultural evolution and the emergence of large-scale cooperation, the main function of cultural conventions is described as providing group-markers. This paper argues that cultural conventions serve another purpose as well that is at least as important. Large-scale cooperation is characterized by complex division of labour and by a diversity of social roles associated with cultural institutions. This requires ubiquitous ‘role-interaction coordination’ – as it will be labelled. It is argued that without cultural conventions this type of coordination would be cognitively intractable. Thus, apart from functioning as group markers, they are first and foremost important group-makers.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

The attribution of mental states (MS) to other species typically follows a scala naturae pattern. However, “simple” mental states, including emotions, sensing, and feelings are attributed to a wider range of animals as compared to the so-called “higher” cognitive abilities. We propose that such attributions are based on the perceptual quality (i.e. imageability) of mental representations related to MS concepts. We hypothesized that the attribution of highly imaginable MS is more dependent on the familiarity of participants with animals when compared to the attribution of MS low in imageability. In addition, we also assessed how animal agreeableness, familiarity with animals, and the type of human-animal interaction related to the judged similarity of animals to humans. Sixty-one participants (19 females, 42 males) with a rural (n = 20) and urban (n = 41) background rated twenty-six wild and domestic animals for their perceived similarity with humans and ability to experience a set of MS: (1) Highly imageable MS: joy, anger, and fear, and (2) MS low in imageability: capacity to plan and deceive. Results show that more agreeable and familiar animals were considered more human-like. Primates, followed by carnivores, suines, ungulates, and rodents were rated more human-like than xenarthrans, birds, arthropods, and reptiles. Higher MS ratings were given to more similar animals and more so if the MS attributed were high in imageability. Familiarity with animals was only relevant for the attribution of the MS high in imageability.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

In this paper I complicate the boundaries of fieldwork by grappling with my academic and personal investment in the histories of conflict in Northern Ireland. Counter to rationalist assumptions that envision fieldwork as an accumulative acquiring of knowingness, it is often through affective mechanisms that we begin to sense the constellations of longings, emotions and lived experiences that endure through conflict. Aesthetic narratives such as novels are a powerful medium that can activate such sensibility. Thinking with feminist and other critical ir interventions, I reflect on sensing the unbearable lightness of the Troubles through a reading of the novel Milkman by Anna Burns. I propose reading as a fieldwork practice that, by dabbling with affect and disrupting neat boundaries between the field, the data and the analysis, can disclose alternative ways of knowing, allowing us to (momentarily) become more fluent in the everyday affective grammar of/in conflict.

Open Access
In: Political Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)

Abstract

Scholarship has often compartmentalised issues associated with injustice, political violence, and past wrongdoings. To contextualise questions of political change and justice across time and space, we introduce a dynamic, layered and transversal understanding of these processes. Drawing on Inés Valdez’s notion of “justice as a political craft,” we explore situated struggles for change and justice. Coping with injustice is contingent on context-specific conceptual and practical understandings of justice and grounded in particular experiences. Drawing on symbolic sites—the Uprising, the Audience, the Body, the Affect, the Island, and the Map—we highlight a variety of struggles against past, present and future injustices. Struggles for political change arise out of expanding, sometimes exploding, transitional justice knowledge(s). Claims to (in)justice are being made and received in different physical and symbolic sites. We lay out a framework of justicecraft to capture these intricacies, drawing on different conceptual lenses and empirical illustrations.

Open Access
In: Political Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)
In: Maritime Spaces and Society
Author:

Abstract

Based on the sketches of the ethnographic fieldwork I undertook in Lebanon and Jordan in 2018–2019, this article hopes to shed light on the ethical questions about earning and spending involved in between the institutional field and the field site. It traverses from the “dance” of hospitality in which multiple social expectations are in action and require constant negotiation, to the talks of money in which the research relationship and its “give and take” dynamic and inequality stand out among the multiple social relations and entangled expectations. Essentially, the article examines the performance I made in the research relationship in order to meet the multiple, and at times conflicting, expectations produced in both the “field” and our academic “field”.

Open Access
In: Political Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)

Abstract

This article examines the role played by philanthrocapitalist foundations in impact investing for international development, focusing on the covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Initiative (covax) as a response to the current pandemic. Philanthrocapitalists and development institutions are increasingly turning to “blended finance” and “social bonds” to address the gaps in funding required to meet global development agendas, particularly in the arena of global health. These impact investing mechanisms deploy public or philanthropic money to leverage for-profit investment in development, by “de-risking” (providing guarantees for) interventions that might otherwise put private capital at risk. Via covax, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has platformed a pandemic response centred on this approach, resisting alternative responses – such as the proposal for a temporary waiver to pharmaceutical patent rights – that seek to challenge the prevailing trade architecture. The global policy response to covid-19 thus accelerates the “financialization” of development and cements the role of philanthropy in “de-risking” for-profit impact investment.

Open Access
In: Public Anthropologist
Author:

Abstract

Mayotte, a French department since 2011 despite being socially, culturally and geographically one of the Comoro Islands, has in recent years been a primary destination for migrants from the neighbouring island of Ndzuani. The strains placed upon the infrastructure of Mayotte have led to increasing acts of violence against these migrants, while the French state deports them in their thousands. However, while economics and politics may be the ostensible cause of resentment towards these people, the fact that the two islands have much in common, and that the majority of the population of Mayotte are descended from earlier migrants from Ndzuani, suggest that deeper social forces are at work. In this paper I explore the often antagonistic, often intimate relationships between the two groups, drawing upon the concept of mimesis to analyse the encounter between two peoples who are, in different ways, subaltern in their own land.

Open Access
In: Across the Waves
In: Across the Waves

Abstract

How is it that the European Parliament (EP), the only directly elected institution of the European Union (EU), has both empowered right-wing populist politicians in the UK and France, and helped challenge the right-wing populist governments of Hungary and Poland? Part of the response lies in institutional rules shaping the EP’s elections and its authority, which this article discusses critically. The paradoxical impact of the EP on European right-wing populism leads to another question: Should the EP privilege the rights of right-wing populist and anti-system actors; or, to the contrary, should it “protect democracy against democracy”? This article draws from political theorist Chantal Mouffe’s agonistic politics to assess comparatively the measures the EP majority has taken to limit the influence of right-wing populists within the chamber and beyond in EU member states. It critiques the exclusionary cordon sanitaire within, and conditionality and the “judicialization of conflicts” without, which the EP discusses passionately also.

Open Access
In: Populism