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The Ground Between: Massey 146.701 Class of 2016

A collaborative class project, by the masters degree in social anthropology students of Massey University, New Zealand, 2016.

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Transcript of The Ground Between: Massey 146.701 Class of 2016

146.701-16: Collaborative Prezi
The Parallel Lives of Philosophy and Anthropology
Chapter 2:

The Ground Between
How much is a life worth? Is a life worth more than a life? (cf. Cang-uilhem, p. 58)
Didier Fassin: anthropologist-sociologist and medical doctor, former VP of Doctors Without Borders, and Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Studies. (www.sss.ias.edu)

Full Bio, from IAS website:
Fassin is well-known for his cross-disciplinary work that draws on his skills and knowledge as a doctor and a social scientist.
This book chapter gives us an insight into his interest in the power relationships inherent in the relationship between those with the power to inflict trauma on others (cf. his book, co-authored with Richard Rechtman,
The Emprie of Trauma: An Inquiry into the Condition

of Victimhood
The chapter is also greatly informed by his humanitarianism work, as exemplified by his book
Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present
In order to explore the differences and crossovers between philosophy and anthropology, Fassin draws on the work on 'life' that Foucault *could* have done, but did not. He compares and contrasts the work of Georges Canguilhem and Hannah Arendt, citing the former as having been concerned with the inequality between "lives" (plural), and the latter with the "sacralization of life (singular)" (p.58).
Fassin draws on a story from a video documentary, from the 2008 Gaza war, Shlomi Edar's
Precious Life,
to make his points about the conflicts between "life" being precious, and some "lives" being expendable. He relates this to how philosophy works with "life" as an abstract concept, while anthropology studies "lives" as an ethnographic reality, along the way exploring the apparent illogical paradox of the suicide bomber ending his/her own life in order to further the cause of some other lives.
He finishes (p. 70) by pointing out that, ultimately, life itself will "resist philosophical reduction as well as anthropological interpretation", which brings us full-circle back to his opening remarks, citing Geertz, that "nobody quite knows exactly what (anthropology) is".
Tells how Brazil became the first developing country in the world to implement universal access to AIDS therapies and the difficulties faced in implementing this access. Also highly acclaimed.
Central theme of social abandonment. Focuses on the story of Catarina, an inhabitant of the "death catalyst" that is the asylum, Vita. Six major book awards including Margaret Mead award of the AAA.
- Sigmund Freud
- [Jacques Lacan]
- Félix Guattari
- Gilles Deleuze
- Pierre Clastres
Ethnography in the Way of Theory
Anthropology often centres around the reporting of details and an application of theoretical and/or philosophical concepts. Biehl offers that this latter concept be exchanged for theory from the perspective of the subject.

Answer the questions:
How do they identify themselves and the situation they find themselves in?
How do they view the world around them?
How is they cope with living in it?
"Continually adjusting itself to the reality of contemporary lives and worlds, the anthropological venture has the potential of art: to invoke neglected human possibilities and to expand the limits of understanding and imagination."
Novo Hamburgo
Example of a Porto Alegre favela
photographic essay available at joaobiehl.net
Two major works in English:
Deleuze and Guattari's concept of desiring-machines, just as Freud's counter-theory, leans on a universalism of experience across all peoples; is either concept equally applicable for all people?
So what does this mean?
"Left all by himself,
knowing that no one will respond,
that nothing will crack open the future."
Biehl's essay is about returning to an empathetic kind of ethnography and argues "against reducing ethnography to proto-philosophy" (2014, p. 97). He calls for a moral purpose to be evoked from our fieldwork, not letting the stories of the people we research to be lost in a sea of complex theorising. His style of writing also imbues this sense of empathy, written in a romantic, grieving and anti-prosaic form, altering the reader's perception.
Freud's Libido
"Relentlessly driven by a force Freud called the libido, the collective energy of life's instincts and will to survive, the id must be satisfied! We're all born with the id in full force. It's unregulated and untouched by the constraints of the world outside of our minds. When a baby gets hungry, does she sit quietly and wait until someone remembers to feed her?"
(Dummies.com, n.d.)
"...the first stage of Freud 's theory of psychosexual development is the oral stage. During this time, a child's libido is centered on the mouth so activities such as eating, sucking, and drinking are important. If an oral fixation occurs, an adult's libidinal energy will remain focused on this stage, which might result in problems such as nail biting, drinking, smoking, and other habits."
Followed Jacques Lacan. Went to his seminars, required the staff at the asylum (La Borde) that he ran to attend his lectures. Guattari was to be published in a journal, Communications, but Lacan advised against it, saying he would be published by Lacan instead. Guattari pulled out of Communications but Lacan never published Guattari's work.

On discovering Guattari's involvement in Anti-Oedipus, which basically "attacked [Lacan's] entire academic career", Lacan got Guattari drunk to squeeze information out of him. After the book was published, they never met again.

The use of the term "machine" as opposed to "subject" was Guattari's move to disassociate with Lacanian terminology; though he found the term problematic in any case as it could so easily be confused with consciousness. Important to note that whole entities (molar; i.e. a whole person) is not the machine, the whole part (molecular) is the machine. For example, the mouth is the machine of speech (among other forms). Desiring machine was later adapted to "assemblage" due to some confusion over the term .
The founding thinker of Political Anthropology, Clastres mainly researched societies
political power structured
(i.e. no chiefs) such as the Guayaki Indians.
Deleuze was an incredibly popular teacher, so much so that the professor who lectured after him in the classroom hated him. Foucault disliked Deleuze and Anti-Oedipus, despite writing the forward for the
Theory of desire machines
- The opposite of Freud's (and by proxy Lacan's) hypothesis. The third sentence of Anti-Oedipus [AO] is "What a mistake to have ever said
id" .
- AO essentially states that all molecular entities within the universe are "machines" connected together in some kind of massive factory. These machines both run on and "produce desire" which contrasts with Freud's concept of subconscious lacking. Any two machines are always connected in some way; e.g. a mother's breast (production-creation) and a child's mouth (production-drawing). The same molecular unit can draw and create.
- Freud's theory operates from a place of lack and therefore the need to fill the 'void'. Deleuze & Guattari's contrasts this by operating from a place of innate desire.
- Desire is unconscious and has no limits. "there is no 'no' in the unconscious." .
Both are photographic collaborations with Torben Eskerod.
"What is most important in Anti-Oedipus...
...[is] its history of desiring-production, which may be regarded as a social history of the interrelationship of desire and power"
Catarina desired autonomy but this was not granted to her automatically due to the power desires of other(s) - she nonetheless exerted this desire in other abstract ways.
(lit. "wish") refers to an unconscious desire, bound to immoveable infantile needs.
Something else?
"The threnodic first-person voice, breaking every now and again into
moral rage
, suggests that there may be more going on than mere reporting of distant oddities."
Geertz (1998) on Pierre Clastres, emphasis added.
Quadriple agenda?:
- Do away with reducing ethnography to a form of
"proto-philosophy". Are we over-analysing our research subjects?
- Return to your subjects to gain new context, our work
will always remain unfinished.
- Ethnography can be a form of art: capture your
subjects singularity, capture their soul.
- Invoke reaction: create a "moral rage" in the reader
to impact humanity.
"Insular academic language and debates and impenetrable prose should not be allowed to strip people's lives, knowledge, and struggles of their vitality - analytical, political, and ethical."
(Biehl 2014, p. 111)
(Biehl, n.d.a)
A refreshing change of perspective
(Google, n.d.)
(portoimagem-II, 2010)
(Walters, 2013)
(Deleuze & Guattari, p. 1)
(Bogue, 1989, p. 89)
(Bogue, 1989, p. 105).
book .
(Walters, 2013)
(Eskerod, n.d.)
(Cherry, 2016)
(Headshot image: Biehl, n.d.a)
(Beyer, 2009)
Like Biehl, also wrote "against... ...ethnocentric European social philosophies that privileged economic rationality over political intentionality" .
(Biehl, 2014, p. 112)
(All images not in/from books: Biehl, n.d.b)
(All images in/from books: Eskerod, n.d.)
Initial Discussion Questions
Biehl's ethnographic style shows the anthropologist's ability to evoke emotional response in the reader. Is this kind of non-objectivity (as opposed to Clara Han's style) anti-[socially] scientific. Is it unethical?
Catarina was one of Biehl's primary philosophical resources.
The anthropologist gives us both forms of memory together, the hollow clarity of photographic anthology and the tantalizing whiff of distilled tar inviting anew the imagination of what lies
(Biehl, 2014, p. 101)
between these images .
In the currently-running AAA vote
I desperately hope that his seminar is recorded and posted on U-Tube!
Ghassan Hage: An articulate and compelling advocate for a new kind of critical anthropology, and a 'post-postcolonial' scholar.
"There are no nasty people. There are just
struggling to make sense (of their lives). I cannot find my way through accusatory politics of people." (Video, 24 min).
If there are no 'evil' people, just struggling people who sometimes do evil things, maybe it is time for a new approach?
The perpetual struggle between hope and fear
Present efforts to change this are not working. so maybe it is time for an other way?
The illusion of defining one's own worth by excluding the other
"... we are at home insofar as we feel we can strive to be at home" (p. 153, TGB)
An object lesson of the folly of being abusive towards an accomplished 'intellectual'!
"There are dominant and dominated people within a reality, but just as, if not more, important, there are dominant and dominated realities" (p. 152, T.G.B.)
"... illusio ... involvement in the game of life ... creates time and indeed is time itself." (TGB, p. 156)
The double-bind of the 'intellectual' speaking out publicly
anthropology in the 21st century?

From a
(slum) in Novo Hamburgo , just north of Porto Alegre in Southern Brazil. Discovered a
love for education, which he excelled at, early in
life ;finishing school a year earlier.
(Dominguez, 2010)
(Biehl, 2013, p. 7)
Princeton University, New Jersey
-Professor of Anthropology
-Faculty Associate
-Co-director of Program in Global Health & Policy
Has a passion for story
telling, evident in his writing of Catarina Moraes. His essay is based largely around the narrative of this "forgotten" woman, left at Vita, an asylum which Biehl refers to as a "zone of abandonment".

(Dominguez, 2010)
Originally studied
-Journalism (BA, 1985)
-Theology (BA, 1985)

Continued with
-Philosophy (MA, 1991)
-Anthropology (MA, 1994)
-Religious Studies (PhD, 1996)
-Anthropology (PhD, 1999)
(All academic history: Princeton University, 2016)
"There, in Novo
Hamburgo it is
Catarina. Here it is
I will be ca
lled this now."
Clara Han - The Anthropology of Care
The Difficulty of Kindness: Boundaries, Time and the Ordinary:
Research Interests in Clara Han's own words:
Violence, Care, Urban Poverty and everyday life;
Affliction and Illness experience;
Death and dying

Veena Das
Didier Fassin
Joao Biehl
Bhrigupati Singh
Although this article does not delve much into this area, Clara Han's work in La Pincoya is placed against a neo-liberal political background, and she examines identity, relationships, urban poverty and the temporality of time arising in family situations where household incomes are dependent on government benefits and low wages.


Main Ideas within the 'The Ground Between Chapter
Ordinariness - anthropology of everyday life
Idea of self in the 'other' - "Each of us has a biography that is distinctively our own but does not belong to us" (Silverman quote pg 90) and "that the first obstacle to acknowledging the other is not the other but myself".
Dignity and the preservation of.
'Catching moments' and 'pretending' - not for self gratification, not out of obligation, but rather to maintain the ordinariness of life, a continuation of relationships and dignity under great stress, arguantar.

I’m deeply committed to what I do. I’ve learned not to ‘other’ the other … in the sense that there are many that face extreme situations of economic scarcity – but is poverty an identity? We think of them [the poverty stricken] as a blanket, homogeneous group. Is that how we want to think about the conditions of poverty? That’s how it affects me, in a sense. To know that there’s an imperative to think more complexly about these situations and about people’s lives and not to pigeon hole.
‘The things I’ve learned from Professor Clara Han’ From - http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2007/10/03/things-ive-learned-with-professor-clara-han-34594/ retrieved 10/03/2016

‘Symptoms of Another Life: Time, Possibility and Domestic Relations in Chile’s Credit Economy’ in Cultural Anthropology, The Journal - http://www.culanth.org/articles/82-symptoms-of-another-life-time-possibility-and retrieved 10/03/2016

'The stranger and the enemy: comment on Clara Han’s essay’ Didier Fassan in Social Anthropology Volume 21, Issue 3, http://ejournals.ebsco.com.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/Direct.asp?AccessToken=95JI5I18XXDZDZDEZPJEUXDX5DKP8II494&Show=Object retrieved 10/03/2016

Clara Han biography on John Hopkins University staff website- http://anthropology.jhu.edu/Clara_Han/ retrieved 10/03/2016

Santiago, Chile.

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Anthropologists Engage Philosophy
Illness and Death
When Lived Experience Challenges Theory
When Landmarks and Signposts Become Obscured
William James
A Shared
of Moral Theory
Wrapped in
Recycling the Cloth
Point of Crisis:
Running on Empty
Search for Wisdom
“I lived the life of a scholar full time”. P.26 (so said Arthur Kleinman) From his work in China, begun in 1968, Kleinman demonstrated that mental distress is more likely to present as somatized symptons by Chinese or East Asian patients. As a medical doctor and as a psychiatrist Kleinman felt unsettled, he wanted not just information, but meaning, to ‘rethink medicine as a part of culture. Kleinman refers to feminist philosopher Joan Tronto (1993) as being one of the few theorists who addresses caregiving as moral experience.
Foucault speaks of caregiving as a paradox of the powerful and the powerless. Power relationships, theology, politics, economics, are all part of the complexity of philosophical concepts that wrap around caregiving. However…this captured from Caregiving: philosophy of caregiveing? Monday, February 27, 2006 ‘Gumbo metaphysics…..hmmmm…okay, that sounds like a name for it’, “Sometimes all the theories and the pedagogies, methods, and research driven practices surround me and make me dizzy. Then I wake up in the morning , reaching for something that makes me “feel” like I understand my place . Often it comes in the form of phrases and passages from others who have lead, from the wisest of our teachers, including Jesus, Ghandi, a president, a Pulitzer writer, or someone closer to home, a colleague, my pastor, my neighbor, my husband or son.
Snippets, like you said….I grasp them, and hold them in my heart and my mind to help me make sense of the world I work in and walk through.
Kleinman said, ‘Looking once more for solace from philosophy’. P122 ‘I had been treating experience as a philosophical problem, a relevant but inadequate formulation, when what I was really after was understanding experience as practice’. P.124
“Caregiving was clearly a burden, but to the end it also strengthened and even enobled me”. p.126 ‘Caregiving comes as close to anything I have encountered to offering an existential definition of what it means to be human’. P.125

From the first to the second ‘crisis’ in Kleinman’s life he ‘struggled to come to terms with what legitimacy and intellectual authority philosophy could offer in the way of realistic insights on the great challenges and tragedies of everyday life’.p.122 He read from the past and current philosophers, who could offer him professional guidance, but philosophy did not offer him the wisdom he sought.
James and Kleinman not only share a grounding in theology, medicine and the science of psychology, they have both suffered institutional resistance on their shared views of moral theory and experience. James suffered what he termed his ‘soul sickness’ which was only resolved after an extended period of philosophical searching. For four decades Kleinman was influenced by James, most tellingly through the painful loss of his wife Joan. Kleinman drew on James’s writings on ‘the divided self’ a mirror of what he had previously experienced through his medical career and his lived experience with his dying wife. The words of William James most resonated in Kleinman’s search for wisdom. “James could come right down into my experience and illuminate it from within”.
We know from Kleinman’s published writings he was heavily immersed in philosophical debate around the issues of social and bio-medicine, Vietnam controversies, his thoughts of his professional life, demands of a young family and his place ‘in the world of ideas’. We may posit, from the journal he kept with its ‘collection of earnest phrases and instructive quotes’ by 20th century philosophers that he was still searching, looking outward for answers to a guide to the art of living. To this end I will quote from two philosophers barely mentioned but of having a clear connectedness to the struggles of Kleinman. “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind”. Bertrand Russell 1971. Though Ortega Y Gasset speaks of globalization and nationhood his words echo the individual in his search for the art of living. ‘The most basic definition of “crisis” is that it is an internal reaction to an external event’. ‘thinking finds its ultimate metaphor in the act of living; it is an insertion of one’s self into the world’. R. Jahanbegloo (2012)
In his younger days, Arthur Kleinman ‘cut his cloth’ according to his concept of what would constitute a successful life. Through critical moments of crisis, Kleinman would come to understand, as Sartre posited, ‘human life must be understood from the double perspective of what makes us and what we make of what we are made’. P.44.
As Kleinman became unraveled, his intuitive yet inchoate thoughts derived through intellectual insights and clinical knowledge would subduct beneath ‘a seething morass of emotion’ causing him to ‘unpick’ the abstract formulas of philosophical thought to the illumination of the ‘real’ in the art of living that is central to what Kleinman terms the human condition.
Suddenly the legitimization of intellectual authority
was in question, as the ‘great thinkers of the past
century, who had, in their time, reworked philosophical
paradigms to fit the worlds they encountered’,(p.121)
so too would Kleinman experience the transformative
process that wraps around the intimacy of caregiving
and suffering. Who should he turn to in his quest for

It is my view that Kleinman has consistently externalized
modes of being until crisis took him out of the theoretical
and dropped him into a destabilization of his academic
and domestic world.

It remains a key question in this chapter as to how Arthur Kleinman was able to ‘escape’ ‘this whole new world of intimacy’ the lived experience of caregiving. After 35 years of marriage and family, multiple ‘mentoring’ roles within academia, careers in bio-medicine and psychiatry, that until his wife was inflicted with neurodegeneration, how authentic was the search for wisdom.
Moral theory, from an anthropological view is wrapped up in cultural ideologies and experience. Kleinman’s passionate advocacy for teaching Moral Theory and Experience, though it mirrors’s James’s own, would seem to lack substance when measured against his lived life prior to the intimacy of caregiving.
“There is nothing new under the sun”. Ecclesiastes 1:4-11
“There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know”. Ambrose Bierce.
Quotation #23539 from Michael Moncur’s (Cynical) Quotations.

The Ground Between offers multiple insight from the authors and contributing
philosophers on theories and concepts of caregiving. It should be noted that the authors share the intimacy of past relationships as friends, colleagues, and collaborators. For the purposes of this presentation we shall illuminate Kleinman’s journey into caregiving, attempting to shed a glimmer of light from other selected authors. Crossing the divide between the ‘real’ and concepts we can turn our gaze to the affinities between philosophy and anthropology. Through Kleinman’s ethnographic account of his wife’s illness, death, and his transmutation from the framework of scholarly enquiry to the enlightenment of love followed by loss Kleinman was able to situate caregiving in its rightful and universal place. “It is a practical ritual of love”. “Caregiving comes as close as anything I have encountered to offering an existential definition of what it means to be human”. P. 125
N.B. Kleinman’s journey might be met with a similar response to the ‘soul wrapping;’ that comes after immersion in baptizemal waters:
“philosophizing that presumes a view from afar risks estranging us from the very experiences to which we are trying to do justice”. Montaigne p.42
We can take a certain poetic license in the art of living/giving/being. From the words of Merleau-Ponty: “it is an element of being, an incarnate principle of genesis and growth which is inexhaustible”. “A pregnancy of possibles”. “others feel him to be at the service of the sonata”. P.87

Bhrigupati Singh
How Concepts Make the World Look Different: Affirmative and Negative Genealogies of Thought

Bhrigupati Singh


1997-2000 B.A. (Hons) in English from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University

2000-2001 M.A. in Anthropology of Media School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

2009 - Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University
Currently A. Prof. at Brown University

Lecturer in Anthropology and Religious Studies,
King’s India Institute, King’s College, London. 2013-14

Postdoctoral Scholar at Harvard University
October 2009 – July 2011

Johns Hopkins University
Clara Han
Veena Das
Chapter 7: Affirmative and Negative Genealogies of Thought
"I describe a long standing philosophical antagonism between what we might call dialectical and non dialectical genealogies of thought" (p. 160)
Greek Dialectics
'The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments'
Hegelian Dialectic
'concerned with or acting through opposing forces'.
'the contradiction between two conflicting forces viewed as the determining factor in their continuing interaction'
non dialectical?
*Scott, 1990. Cited p.160
Friedrich Nietzsche
Gilles Deleuze
Non-dialectical Philosophical Genealogy


"We will misunderstand the whole of Nietzsche's work if we do not see 'against whom' its principal concepts are directed. Hegelian themes are present in this work as the enemy against which it fights" Deleuze, 1983. (p.162)
"my readers know perhaps in what way I consider dialectics as a symptom of decadence"
"three ideas define the dialectic: the idea of a power of the negative as a theoretical principle manifested in opposition and contradiction... the valorization of the 'sad passions' as a practical principle... and the idea of positivity as a theoretical and practical product of negation itself"
Polarities: Sovereign Power as Mitra and Varuna
on sovereign power
"sovereign power exerting a near totalizing force over an abyss of 'bare life'" Singh p.166.
Georges Dumézil
'Bipolar Sovereignty'
"I take force to mark a potentiality for coercion, and contract to signify a variably negotiable bond, involving different modes of give and take"
Singh says:
Varuna and Mitra represent a relationship of "unresolved, nondialectical tension",

they exist as "potential tendencies of power, two forms among others that power over life may take" (p.168)
"I contend that Agamben's transcendentally negative dialectical concept of sovereignty entails a totalizing elevation of Varuna (the terrible) in such a way as to wholly eliminate the potentialities, threats, and possibility of Mitra"
Mitra and Varuna actually come close to a structuralist duality through their polar interaction
Kalli's story: Varying Thresholds of Life
Inspired by his encounter with Kalli, Singh asks:
"How might we think of the dead and the unborn and spirits and deities as participants among the living?"
Varying Thresholds of Life
"points of passage across phases of life"

"varying degrees of intensity" of spirits etc.
Durkheim on religion:
religious principles behave as forces, have real effects
"the moral authority of society"
The social is merely part of a "vast continuum of human and non-human life" (Deleuze 2001:6)

This continuum "composed of varying thresholds that move along different rhythms of conscious and nonconscious levels of time" p.174

Singh uses this understanding to think about different intensities in spiritual life in Shahabad.


Varying Intensities of Life
"the fatality of these ideas of negation and of imitation is that they obscure the possibility of a spiritual inheritance that may be shared and contested in ways that create the possibility of a cohabited future between neighbors and rivals"
Dialectic interpretations of conversion
Instead, Singh is interested in:
'agon' from Nietzsche

'agonistic cohabitation'
Agonistic Intimacy
"varying intensities of conflict and cohabitation"

"a form of collective energy, what Deleuze calls 'differential intensities'"
Discussion of ethics
"Evaluative terms such as noble and base do not name a dichotomy (like good or evil) but coordinates within which, and in excess of which life forces flow and way and wane" p.180
"noble or active, as distinct from reactive energies"
So what's it all about?
My impressions:
There's a lot!

Distinctions about genealogies

Demonstrated a nondialectical

Opens up opportunities for thought
in anthropology

"rather than dualisms, I have stressed gradients and degrees and varying modes and intensities"
p. 183
a Lunar Anthropology
With commentary by Isaac Tombleson
However, Singh states this polarity is "not necessarily a return to structuralist 'dualisms'"
"a small shift in the modality of a force or a widening in the range of available contracts may hold the difference between a feeling of freedom or exploitation" p.168
"it's not a question of negating dialectics, but of setting out a different style of thought" p.184
the phases of the moon represent the fluctuations and varying intensities of non-dialectic thought
What is philosophy?
What is anthropology?
Bergsonian Timeline
Henri Bergson in
Highland Yemen
Steven C. Caton
also referred to as an 'arabist', researching all aspects of Arabic life.
Professor of anthropology at Harvard University
Courses at Harvard, offered in 'Spring 2016':

-Anthropology of Arabia
(tribal organization and its continuing importance; gender relations; varieties of Islam and their influence; old and new forms of urbanism)

-Dissertation Writers' Workshop
Research and teaching interests cited are:
Linguistics, cultural studies, gender, Yemeni poetics and politics, politics of water sustainability.
Early worked focused on anthropological linguistics and oral poetry. His first book was an ethnography of Arabic oral poetry merged with the political culture of the time.
"Peaks of Yemen I Summon": Poetry as Cultural Practice in a North Yemeni Tribe
First ethnographic study of Yemeni poetry. Shows a rich folkloric system where poetry is art as well as a political and social act.
Lawrence of Arabia: A Film's Anthropology
Analyses issues relating to class, gender, colonialism, and cultural differences. "[A] many-prismed book that poses important questions of ethnographic representation and the discourse of power."
Yemen Chronicle: An Anthropology of War and Mediation
"[An] invaluable assessment of classical ethnographic procedures but also a profound meditation on the political, cultural, and sexual components of modern Arab culture."
Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930
Contributing chapter: "Speaking Back to Orientalist Discourse at the World's Columbian Exposition"
Middle East in Focus: Yemen
Editor: "describes Yemen's geography, economy, politics, history, culture, society, presenting a comprehensive but accessible overview of the country from many different angles."
Bioinsecurity and Vulnerability (Advanced Seminar Series)
Contributing Chapter: "Global Water Security and the Dominization of Qat: The New Water Governmentality and Developing Countries like Yemen."
"Henri Bergson in Highland Yemen" a result of rethinking his book,
Yemen Chronicle
Yemen Chronicle
itself is a reinterpretation and revisit of 3 years of fieldwork in Yemen for his book
"Peaks of Yemen I Summon"
Key philosopher:
Henri Bergson
- Polish Jewish descent ('Bereksohn' family)
- Famous entrepreneurial family
- Left Judaism on learning of evolution theory but stated an interest in Catholicism in his will
- Born in Paris, moved to London shortly
thereafter and back to France at age 9
- Suffered from rheumatism; half-paralysed

- Studied science, maths and the humanities
- "Anticipated" quantum mechanics before its discovery on noting that time is "asymmetric"

- Nobel Prize in Literature (1927)
- Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (1930)

- Resurgence of interest due to Deleuze -
Born: Paris 1859
Died: Paris 1941
Nobel Award 1927
Grand Cross 1930
Time & Free Will
, 1889
Matter & Memory
, 1896
Creative Evolution
, 1907
Two Sources of Morality & Religion, 1932
Married Louise, 1891
Received PhD, 1881
Moved to London, ?
Moved to Paris, <1868
Timeline of
Henri Bergson
] (in terms of space, time & consciousness) with secondary concepts of
used to define or understand it.
Key concept(s):
Devised durée in response to Herbert Spencer and Immanuel Kant's theories. The latter believed free-will (and consciousness) to exist outside space and time and is therefore indeterminable. Bergson considered this to be confused with "spatial representation". Also went up against Einstein.
as a quantitative multiplicity or
homogenous time
as qualitative multiplicity
or heterogenous durée
Two types of 'duration': homogenous (
) and heterogeneous (
). Time is a spatial construct and not really durée at all but rather an inaccurate symbol.
Durée is a product of states of consciousness melding into each other. To separate them out is to spatialise them and render them inexact.
Think of eating a dish (a good one). At various moments you see, feel, think, hear, smell different things about the same dish. Yet these are all in the same morsel-moment. We separate them out but in fact they are of the same durée.
Perhaps another dialectic vs. non-dialectic conversation (Singh)?
Representative of Bergson's
at the time of each moment
Bergsons durée: similar to 'thought'?
No beginning, no end, seemingly random at times, consists of various auxiliary thoughts, emotions and responses to senses coming and going at various rates
How does this affect ethnography?
Caton offers the example of his rewritten work (alongside the original) from
Yemen Chronicle
Bergsonian representation of durée in film?
Mon : Tue : Wed : Thu : Fri : Sat : Sun
Enduring Memory (
) Example
"heterogenous Tuesday"
"homogenous Friday"
Is imagining a subjective interiority ethical?
How to do it:
Possibly only three ways?:
Imagined interiority (as per Caton's example).
of questions. Much more than what you'd normally ask in 'traditional' ethnography and much more personal in nature.
Reserve durée-ethnography for moments of reflexivity.
Noticeable Contrasts:
Reads like an novel.
Perhaps, then, it becomes more readable for those not familiar with this field of study.
Does not begin at the 'beginning' (which doesn't exist in this theoretical space).
Contains a lot of the participants 'thoughts', even if somewhat arbitrarily assigned ("representation of a consciousness" & "imagined interiority").
The 'third' (nb: Biehl) is affected very differently in the two writings.
Chapter 12
Action, Expression and Everyday Life: Recounting Household Events

Veena Das
Action and Expression using Austin's
Speech Acts
Illocutionary utterances
intention by the speaker

Perlocutionary utterances produce an effect upon the listener, as in persuading, frightening, amusing, or

the listener to act
J.L. Austin
1911-1960 "a British philosopher of language and leading proponent of ordinary language philosophy, perhaps best known for developing the theory of speech acts" Wiki

Cavell's commentaries on Austin's essays inspired her themes of what speech accomplishes in the everyday, themes Das encountered in her fieldwork (p. 280)

Presented by: Heather Mann
double paths to ..... electricity
Utterances that move between illocutionary and perlocutionary

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations
Philosophy amongst fragile subjects .........
Making the everyday count, making philosophy count
Stanley Cavell
(1926 - ) his work enabled her to see her participants amongst the urban poor and violated of Dehli, as having a voice within the fragility of their lives, in the "uncanniness of the ordinary" (p. 281)

Philosophical Interlocutors
“It is not for the text to answer the questions you put to it, but for you to respond to the questions you discover it asks (of itself, of you)” (2003: 248).
Austin made the claim that although a double negative in English implies a positive meaning, there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative.
the reticular thinking of Stanley Cavell ........ & Veena Das
'source of annihilating doubt and cure'
stitching action and expression
knitting in pairs
a philosophy found and expressed in the humble
women mourning violence knitting life 'back into some viable rhythm, pair by pair' p280
the mismatch of harm and healing....
willing to be open to a future together
harm and healing
the delicate task of repairing a torn spider's web

speakable and non-speakable violence
interlocutors as teachers
(p.280-281 and elsewhere)
Wittgenstein: "If I have exhausted the justifications I have reached bedrock, and my spade is turned, then I am inclined to say: This is simply what I do”.
two shores, one river
Double knitting:
Double character of the
everyday as doubt and cure
AND thinking about speech as a double path of
action and expression
Image: http://citiesofdelhi.cprindia.org/
Image: Times of India
‘What it is to inhabit the everyday within the scene of disappointment is an abiding theme of Cavell’s work’ p286
(1945 - )
slippery slopes of offence & petitioning of gods

Shifting speech acts..........that stitch together in different contexts,

contexts that "grow out of
forms of life" in unpredictable ways
Stitching the striving of the urban poor with the philosophy of performative utterance
"Within the nooks and crannies of the everyday" p.298
Punjabi Basti, Delhi
perlocutionary effects
a life's web still torn
Cavell, S., 1995.
Philosophical Passages
. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Cavell, S., 2003.Hodge, D.J. Ed.
Emerson's Transcendental Etudes,
Standford, CA: Stanford University Press
Das, V., 2007.
Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary
. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Das, V., Jackson, M., Kleinman, A. & Singh, B. eds., 2014.
The Ground Between: Anthropologists Engage Philosophy
. Durham: Duke University Press.
Kleinman, A., Das, V. & Lock, M. eds., 1997.
Social Suffering
. Berkeley: University of California Press.
http://www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/wittgensteinassessment.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veena_Das

Michael Puett
Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History
Dept of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Harvard University
1987 MA in History
1993 Dissertation research year in Beijing
1994 PhD in Anthropology from University of Chicago -
Advisor Marshall Sahlins
1994 Assistant Professor Early Chinese History, Harvard
1998 Associate Professor of Humanities
2002 Professor of Chinese History
2011 - Walter Klein Professor of Chinese History

writing and teaching at interface of three disciplines:
History, anthropology and philosophy
The Pedagogy of Puett:
Daily Doing of Philosophy -
award-winning Harvard Teacher -
Ethical Reasoning paper
Ritual Disjunctions: Ghosts, Philosophy, and Anthropology

Innovative Philosophy - Ritualise
Narrative, Authorship and Historiography: Studies on Sima Qian's Shiji
He translates early Chinese texts into English
Ritual Disjunctions:
Ghosts, Philosophy and Anthropology

Presented by Heather Mann
Michael Puett
Education & Academic Career
Marshall Sahlins
is Charles F. Grey Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books

"Allow me to begin with a ritual.............
Confucius, Laozi with infant Buddha
Photo: Alamy
40 articles, 203 papers and presentations
Other influencers:
Stanley Tambiah - also at Harvard,
Veena Das
Early Chinese philosophers:
Confucius, Xunxi , Tao, Mencius
Illustration credit: Wall Street Journal 1 April 2016
...I would like to argue that the ritual theory glimpsed here opens up some interesting possibilities for anthropological theory... ' (p220)
‘Premodern Chinese cosmology ..... [a] harmonious monism, wherein the entire cosmos was linked by the same lines of continuity as found among human families. .............
... such descriptions of premodern Chinese culture have arisen in part by taking the ideal results of ritual action and presenting them instead as founding assumptions’ p.221

Culture ..........[and] the work of ritual is being misunderstood ............ by placing these materials and cultures within the frameworks we do, ....... they can be nothing but the
of our theoretical discussions and philosophical projects. p.222

our theoretical models have descended from (Protestant) religious traditions - cites Asad & Sahlins, notes Das
'So perhaps now we are in a position to start
building theoretical models from other traditions as well' p.223
The world in classical China
energies and powers in constant interaction...........cause eruptions within the human and between humans, and their environment, ............
Named and mappped these energies: gui, chi, yin, yang etc

'it is important to emphasize that these classifications and mappings were not ontological descriptions of the human body or the larger cosmos; they were mappings of various patterns of interaction with the goal of altering those interactions in favorable ways.' p 224

....... 'the goal was to identify the forms of work ...... the goal was to transform the highly dangerous interactions between ghosts and living humans into one between ancestors and descendants. ....... Rather the relations between the living humans and the creature would be altered such that different and (from the perspective of the human) better patterns of interaction would be created.' p.224

not an altered cosmos, but 'human attempts to alter sets of relationships.' p225
...... 'to develop a set of practices to transform that world into something that ..... [had] better relationships and better forms of interaction.' p.225

The Constant and Endless Work due to a non-harmonious cosmos

The ancestors are... arranged into a lineage by and for the benefit of the living, at the same time that they hauntand attack the living ............ These
constructions work precisely because......they do not work.. they work only as a constant process' p226

Thus endless ritual work and sacrifice - the ruptures are always appearing and need to be 'worked upon through ritual activity' 227

a pessimistic vision ....in one sense.
Role-reversal ritual - 'being forced to act out the disjunction'
Haunted at every level with repercussions – this is how it works
‘It is indeed a ritual that operates precisely through these hauntings. At
each level the enactment is haunted by the emotions and dispositions of
the other levels............
.............. the power of the ritual depends precisely on these hauntings, and
hence the emphasis on disjunction.’ P229

Why would such rituals be productive?

'Rituals are perceived better through disjunction and reversed role-playing ...they heighten ambivalences
....to improve our dispositions in .. daily life as well'

'Rituals help us refine
dispositions and transform
more dangerous emotions into ones that allow
to relate better to those around
. ...'
Classic Texts of Confucian Literature
Liji is the “Collection of Rituals”

approx 500BCE
Puett's Conclusions p.231
As ritual theory
'These are not theories that attempt to describe the nature of ritual or the nature of the world..... They work precisely like the rituals themselves, but at a metalevel'
...............Their strength is in their tension

As a philosophical position for Anthropology ' p.231
attend our underlying emotions, language

focus on the mundane and everyday with its potential for ruptures

an ethics based on embodiment of roles and values that understands it cannot achieve fulfillment...

rethink categories with new vocabulary - revitalise cosmology and ritual - develop & work with deliberate transformatives

utilise indigenous visions
"Only through a reengagement with ritual as a constitutive aspect of the human project will it be possible to negotiate the emergent realities of our present century"
p.10 Introduction to
Ritual and Its Consequences
"Underlying the ritual, of course, is the clear
knowledge that this is not the way the world operates."
'I suspect the reason such a ritual works is precisely because it heightens the tensions of
different layerings of emotions and dispositions. All of
interactions and relations are based on complex emotions and conflicting role expectations'..... etc.
Chapter 9
Das, V., Jackson, M., Kleinman, A. & Singh, B., 2014. Introduction. In: V. Das, M. Jackson, A. Kleinman & B. Singh, eds. The Ground Between. Durham and London: Duke University Press, pp. 1-26.
Puett, M., 2002. To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center.
Puett, M., 2006. Innovation as Ritualization: the Fractured Cosmology of Early China. Cardozo Law Review, 28(1), pp. 23-36. Puett, M., 2010. The Haunted World of Humanity: Ritual Theory from Early China. In: J. M. Molina, D. K. Swearer & S. L. McGarry, eds. Rethinking the Human. Cambridge: Center for the Study of World Religons, pp. 95-109.
Puett, M. Ritual Disjunctions: Ghosts, Philosophy and Anthropology. In V. Das, M. Jackson, A. Kleinman & B. Singh, eds. The Ground Between. Durham and London: Duke University Press, pp. 218-233.
Puett, M., Weller, R., Seligman, A. & Simon, B., 2008. Ritual and Its Consequences: an Essay on the Limits of Sincerity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sahlins, M., I996. The Sadness of Sweetness: or, the Native Anthropology of Western Cosmology. Current Anthropology, June , 37(3), pp. 395-428.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-are-hundreds-of-harvard-students-studying-ancient-chinese-philosophy/280356/ Accessed 14/5/2016
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_University Accessed 14/5/2016
Professor Michael Puett on Zhuangzi in Relation to Confucius, Dec 13, 2013. Accessed 14/5/2016
Full transcript