Tim Ingold reveals the general lines of an anthropology which stems from the sensitive experience of wandering. Aesthetics has a meaningful and relevant function, whereas biological paradigms allow this anthropology to emerge beyond the separation between nature and culture. It is possible to understand Ingold’s works as a continuation of the theory of culture defined by Ernst Cassirer and Aby Warburg as the anthropology of man in motion, thanks to new ethnological fields and new discoveries in biology. Ingold blends the theory of the living beings with the theory of culture. This combination presupposes to highlight the dynamical transformation of shapes, which means to renew the morphological approach. Why does the ethnological interpretation of « works of art », which are artistic creations as much as cultural documents, take a central place in this anthropology ? If phenomenology is fundamentally related to anthropology, the anthropology of art becomes decisive, because art reveals the paradigms that make this articulation possible. To a certain extend, we witness today this aesthetical turning point in anthropology.
The right to die as a prominent contemporary social movement is seen to originate as a response to concerns about biomedical interventions prolonging life at all costs. However, assisted dying is simultaneously a biomedical intervention reliant on biomedical technologies and based on a language of biomedical technique. Although right to die activists often use this language when making their arguments, paying close attention to the voices of right to die advocates allows a nuanced approach attenuated to the multifaceted and contradictory aspects of experience. The way they speak about death reveals underlying concerns closer to Heideggerian notions of « art » and continuities with earlier conceptions of an « art of dying ». By embracing death’s inevitability, or living in a way of being-towards-death, activists are often much more concerned with the art of living and dying than they are with biomedical technique.
How not to lose along the research pathway the human being, who is most often absorbed in sets and wholes, fragmented or put into brackets in favor to other entities, like action, relation or experience ? The author then suggests considering as the subject of existential anthropology the human being as he exists. In this point of view, what he calls phenomenography therefore insists on the significance of shadowing one individual at a time to observe how he exists, that is how he continues instant after instant. This implies on the one hand to study singularity rather than wholes and groups, the empirical unit rather than interactions, passivity rather than the sole action ; and on the other hand to reflect on the place of relations, the theoretical omnipresence in anthropology of which the author criticizes, and on the complex, always-mitigated human modes of presence.
To undertake a phenomenological approach of the foreigner is to engage in the choice of describing what is indescribable. This difficult seizure of another’s strangeness is explained by the difficulty of finding data rigid in space and time for its description. It is an inherent issue to the human being in general, because the identity, that is to say, what singularises the other or constitutes its specificity, escapes any analysis. It is always under construction. The unchanging otherness of any subject is non-synthesizable. Hence, the idea of making an indirect mode of phenomenological description in order to grasp in the foreigner what his strangeness is or his irreducible asymmetry. Acceptance of the foreigner’s own freedom allows the other or the self/ego to live with him. Whatever the figure of the foreigner, living together is favored by the development of an ethics of encounter that encourages the integration of this one with his otherness or its transcendence and not the development of communautarism which can bring rivalry between communities.
The article is about intimate meanings of chronic pain through anthropology of
experience. The pain fills all the existence as it registered over time. The individual
becomes the intruder of its own existence, he is hunted by a negative power which seizes him
and is all the more destructive that he fails to turn away from it.
Therapeutic efficacy is at the heart of medical anthropology interested in diverse healing practices across the world. We here take up this debate once again based on fieldwork conducted within jamu practices in Yogyakarta (Jogja) in Java, Indonesia. The daily preparation and consumption of beverages made with fresh plants, rhizomes, spices, barks that we roll, press, mash and liquefy evokes a therapeutic efficacy situated in lived experience. We borrow from merleau-pontian phenomenology of perception, deleuzo-guattarian rhizomatic thought and Javanese philosophy of the body to understand therapeutic efficacy as a line of flight or of deterritorialization. Doing so, we recall that that therapeutic efficacy reduced to infra-phenomenal causal correlations, as in the current scientific standard of the randomized clinical trial (RCT), does not exhaust the human experience of the therapeutic process.
Within Taoist and qìgōng (氣功, mastering the qì, art of the qì) experiences, namely bodily, self-cultivation, religious and healing experiences, one can hear phenomenological resonances. Those are particularly strong with the phenomenology of perception. Not only an inherited knowledge and techniques at the crossroads of martial arts, healing arts, and the religious lore in the Chinese world, qìgōng is also a modern experience (dating back to early 20th century), and a contemporary experience (post-1979 economic reform era). Its many forms with infinite variations draw a complex configuration wherein social and politico-religious implications enable qìgōng to be defined as a social practice as well. Located between theories of knowledge and studies of experience, how can phenomenologies in anthropology feed the discussion about local phenomenologies in a reciprocal exchange between disciplines such as philosophy, social anthropology and area studies ? The article is organized in two parts : the first one recalls some aspects of phenomenology in philosophy and in anthropology which resonate in the Chinese world. The second on focuses on these resonances with the case-study of qìgōng experiences interlaced with Taoist experiences.
This article discusses the phenomenological issues, both epistemic and
methodological, raised by scientific research when engaging with living organisms. 150 years
after the publication of AR Wallace’s Malay Archipelago (1855), from which I
problematize a certain relationship to animals, I offer a series of etho-ethnological
material based on fieldwork conducted in Borneo, among a peculiar scientific community
striving to modelize the adaptive logics of exotic animal species experiencing deep
ecological changes (mostly due to deforestation and loss of natural habitat). In updating
the concept of Umwelt, I argue that the multiplicity of perceptive worlds involved
in any ethological investigation forces us to reconsider the simple taxonomic affiliation of
living organisms for the benefit of some other interactional (produced, productive)
registers of shared life. I thus suggest shifting the focus of ethnography from the detailed
depiction of interactions between (pre)constituted entities – humans/animals – to that of
the processes of their (humanimal) co-constitution through shared interactions (which
confers to any relationality an ontological status). In doing so, I underpin the importance
of the informational and communicational processes that immanently give form to life and
life to forms. Thus I am not wondering what could be a phenomenology of animals nor what
would be an animal phenomenology, but rather what sharing a phenomenologisable reality
actually produces in terms of differential relations (including epistemic ones) between
Existing research has long established that museums, by constructing new meanings for the cultural artefacts they collect, participate in the regeneration of artistic or anthropological traditions. However, scholars did not provide complete details on the processes through which meanings are being constructed. Exhibitions designed by contemporary artists and architects allow us to unveil these processes. Based on empirical research carried out in France and Canada, we demonstrate that some museums have become « laboratories of social semantic », which we define as spaces of experimentation and co-production of meaning with the audience. These laboratories rely upon the mechanisms of morphogenesis to generate new interpretations. By doing so, museum institutions gain a growing legitimacy within the creative industries and the knowledge economy.
The Quintana Roo Territory, in the Southeast of México, on the border with Belize, was established in 1902. In this peripheral region, the population is a strategic issue of sovereignty and national identity. This research conducts a historical anthropology bearing on the racialization of immigration policies, the introduction of measures of integration and development of the region and the negotiations between the central government (México) and the capital of Quintana Roo Territory (Payo Obispo, Chetumal). It focuses on the emergence of a new political and administrative entity in the margins of the nation and relocates México in the heart of post-slavery migrations. Thus, analyzing the case of the « black foreigner », it introduces a non-Indian « otherness » in the reflections on the nation, mestizaje and race.
Depilatory practices are mundane for the substantial majority of women. Hair has a strong symbolical value and manifold signification. Its absence is a way to state femininity and beauty but it is also a proof of control over one’s social image. If this social norm seems to be binding, it does not make women stop removing their hair. This discursive analysis is based on fourteen interviews. It explores the women’s perception of their own body, their hair and their shaving or hair removal practices. The agency of these women appears to be limited. The idealised image of a hairless and uniform feminine body is interiorised and shapes women’s judgements and preferences. This norm causes self-monitoring by pervading these women’s wishes and emotions. Some refuse to be told how they have to take care of their own bodies. They refuse to depilate and thus claim their freedom of choice. This symbolical act challenges the imposition of others’ preferences on women’s choices. Despite this political statement, the action of not shaving is not isolated and still tied to a social norm. However, this norm is marginal and repressed in our contemporary society.