Laura Caso Barrera and Mario M. Aliphat F.
Translator Quentin Pope
Can anthroposophists be considered environmentalists? Based on the author’s recent ethnographic research, this article seeks to delineate the profile of the anthroposophical environmentalist, a figure belonging to a particular form of environmentalism. In the last two centuries, anthroposophy (founded by Rudolf Steiner, 1861-1925) has elaborated a universalistic narrative named “spiritual science.” Today, through a “salvific approach” and a “karstic life,” anthroposophy informs different, blended, environmental practices intertwined with ecological and social issues that include spirituality, anti-modernism, human-nonhuman relationships and alternative sciences. Consequently, the ecological movements inspired by anthroposophy have a wide and increasing diffusion globally and this, in turn, stimulates anthropology to produce appropriate ethnographic knowledge of this form of environmentalism.
The humanitarian is often seen as the great moral figure of our time. In this article, I explore how the idea of the humanitarian, as a global public figure, is related to broader ideas of liberalism, agency, ethics, and care. I draw on ethnographic examples from Haiti to first paint a portrait of the humanitarian as a person concerned with certain ideas of care, suffering, and salvation. I then offer a more general theoretical account of the figure of the humanitarian and suggest that this figure is tied to a larger story about liberal responses to cruelty and suffering. In the end, I suggest that the figure of the humanitarian tells us much about the normalization of emergency around the world and about what I call the banality of care.