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Ideas and inspiration from Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations In memoriam, 1949-2012 Anthropology and Moral Optimism ©2012-2013 Living Anthropologically.

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Presentation on theme: "Ideas and inspiration from Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations In memoriam, 1949-2012 Anthropology and Moral Optimism ©2012-2013 Living Anthropologically."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ideas and inspiration from Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Global Transformations In memoriam, Anthropology and Moral Optimism © Living Anthropologically

2 Optimism and Pessimism  Seem like opposites, but  More of one does not mean less of the other  Reducing one does not increase the other  Need both  Antonio Gramsci called for “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”: realistic knowledge of the world, but resilient hope and understanding that things can be different © Living Anthropologically

3 Hope  Hope is most important when things are going badly in the world; in the face of almost certain destruction, hope is a Gramscian optimism of the will. Such “unrealistic” hope begins in considering the possibility that tiny cracks might yet break open the dam.  Anna Tsing, Friction (2005:267) © Living Anthropologically

4 Why do biological anthropologists  Measure hormonal levels for longitudinal data  “Mothers and Others”  Meticulously document baboon grooming  “What are Friends For?”  Measure height and nutrition for the Maya of Guatemala  “The Tall and the Short of It” © Living Anthropologically

5 Why do archaeologists  Sift through garbage and food waste  “Clean Your Plate”  Excavate terraces in the Bolivian Altiplano  “The Secrets of Ancient Tiawanaku”  Investigate plantation records and knickknacks  “The Challenge of Race to American Historical Archaeology” © Living Anthropologically

6 Why do socio-cultural anthropologists  Scour historical accounts for references to “berdache”  “Strange Country This”  Study texting in Zimbabwe  “Cell phones, Sharing, and Social Status in an African Society”  Keep doing fieldwork in the Middle East  “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?” © Living Anthropologically

7 Why do linguistic anthropologists  Sit in silence with the Apache  “To Give up on Words”  Record the talk of boys and girls  “Talk in the Intimate Relationship”  Decipher sign language among the Bedouin  “Village of the Deaf” © Living Anthropologically

8 Not just arcane facts… Not a retreat or refuge… Anthropology  a counter-punctual dialogue with Western power  challenges assumptions to effect change © Living Anthropologically

9 (1) You have suggested that humans are by nature selfish and greedy; (2) I will show you fundamental human empathy and altruism; (3) So that you and I can think of ways to include human values as part of our economic concerns.

10 (1) You have said that inequality and hierarchy is inevitable; (2) I will show you cooperation and solidarity; (3) So that you and I can work together against the harmful effects of pronounced inequality.

11 (1) You have claimed short-term profit concerns must be followed; (2) I will show you ancient technologies with long-range dynamism and sustainability; (3) So that you and I can work toward the long-term health of the planet we share.

12 (1) You say capitalism produces progress everywhere; (2) I will show you the underside of capitalist development, at home and abroad; (3) So that you and I can be more realistic about addressing issues of poverty and inequality.

13 (1) You have said that capitalist globalization is invincible; (2) I will show you resistance, appropriation, and transformation; (3) So that you and I can envision a future not driven by sheer accumulation.

14 (1) You have suggested that biological race determines behavior; (2) I will show you that beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors vary within and across racial lines; (3) So that you and I can envision a future where one race does not dominate another.

15 (1) You have argued that heterosexual monogamy has a biological basis; (2) I will show you a range of successful marriages and families; (3) So that you and I can envision a future where individuals and families are not persecuted.

16 (1) You have suggested that gender inequality is ancient and enduring; (2) I will show you an astounding range of gender arrangements; (3) So that you and I can work toward gender equality.

17 (1) You have argued that human violence is inevitable; (2) I will show you the potential for human kindness and compassion, within and across borders; (3) So that you and I can envision a future where conflict does not lead to bloodshed.

18 (1) You have said we need to use military might to liberate oppressed peoples; (2) I will show you that people do not necessarily think they need “liberation”; (3) So that you and I can more carefully consider how and when to intervene.

19 At the end of the day Futures murky Utopias just lost innocence Seize “moral optimism” of anthropology But not naïve liberalism © Living Anthropologically

20 © Living Anthropologically

21 Choose moral optimism and hang onto it Not because naïve—can’t afford naïveté We choose this side of humanity Alternatives are lousy Anthropology is best way to show Human richness and variability © Living Anthropologically

22 Thank You Please copy and share! stay connected Click for Kindle Subscription

23 stay in touch  Link to   Suggestions and comments welcome   If this was helpful, please click to donate and spread the wordclick to donate  All donations promote Living Anthropologically © Living Anthropologically


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