Grounded in both theory and ethnography, this volume insists on taking social positionality seriously when accounting for Africa’s current age of polarizing wealth. To this end, the book advocates a multidimensional view of African societies, in which social positions consist of a variety of intersecting social powers - or ‘capitals’ – including wealth, education, social relationships, religion, ethnicity, and others.
Regimes of Responsibility in Africa analyses the transformations that discourses and practices of responsibility have undergone in Africa. By doing so, this collection develops a stronger grasp of the specific political, economic and social transformations taking place today in Africa. At the same time, while focusing on case studies from the African continent, the work enters into a dialogue with the emerging corpus of studies in the field of ethics, adding to it a set of analytical perspectives that can help further enlarge its theoretical and geographical scope.
Nostalgia is intimately connected to the history of the social sciences in general and anthropology in particular, though finely grained ethnographies of nostalgia and loss are still scarce. Today, anthropologists have realized that nostalgia constitutes a fascinating object of study for exploring contemporary issues of the formation of identity in politics and history.
Despite the pervasiveness of barter across societies, this mode of transaction has largely escaped the anthropologist’s gaze. Drawing on data from fairs in the Argentinean Andes, this book explores fairs’ embeddedness within religious celebration, arguing that barter is addressed as a sacrifice to catholic figures and local ancestors, and thus challenging a widespread view of barter as a non-monetary form of commodity exchange. Issues of value, identity, and exchange are considered, furthering our understanding of how social groups create themselves through material circulation.
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 set the contemporary standard for cultural and natural conservation. Today, a place on the World Heritage List is much sought after for tourism promotion, development funding, and national prestige. Presenting case studies from across the globe, particularly from Africa and Asia, anthropologists with situated expertise in specific World Heritage sites explore the consequences of the World Heritage framework and the global spread of the UNESCO heritage regime.
Across Africa, funerals and events remembering the dead have become larger and even more numerous over the years. Whereas in the West death is normally a private and family affair, in Africa funerals are often the central life cycle event, unparalleled in cost and importance, for which families harness vast amounts of resources to host lavish events for multitudes of people with ramifications well beyond the event. Though officials may try to regulate them, the popularity of these events often makes such efforts fruitless, and the elites themselves spend tremendously on funerals.