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Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books
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New Books in Anthropology New Books Network

    • Wetenschap

Interviews with Anthropologists about their New Books
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    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Ismail Fajrie Alatas, "What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    What Is Religious Authority?: Cultivating Islamic Communities in Indonesia (Princeton UP, 2021) by Ismail Fajrie Alatas draws on groundbreaking anthropological insights to provide a new understanding of Islamic religious authority, showing how religious leaders unite diverse aspects of life and contest differing Muslim perspectives to create distinctly Muslim communities. Taking readers from the eighteenth century to today, Alatas traces the movements of Muslim saints and scholars from Yemen to Indonesia and looks at how they traversed complex cultural settings while opening new channels for the transmission of Islamic teachings. He describes the rise to prominence of Indonesia’s leading Sufi master, Habib Luthfi, and his rivalries with competing religious leaders, revealing why some Muslim voices become authoritative while others don’t. Alatas examines how Habib Luthfi has used the infrastructures of the Sufi order and the Indonesian state to build a durable religious community, while deploying genealogy and hagiography to present himself as a successor of the Prophet Muḥammad. Challenging prevailing conceptions of what it means to be Muslim, What Is Religious Authority? demonstrates how the concrete and sustained labors of translation, mobilization, collaboration, and competition are the very dynamics that give Islam its power and diversity.
    Ismail Fajrie Alatas is an assistant professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and History at New York University. 
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    • 1 u. 48 min.
    Annemarie Mol, "Eating in Theory" (Duke UP, 2021)

    Annemarie Mol, "Eating in Theory" (Duke UP, 2021)

    As we taste, chew, swallow, digest, and excrete, our foods transform us, while our eating, in its turn, affects the wider earthly environment. In Eating in Theory (Duke UP, 2021), Annemarie Mol takes inspiration from these transformative entanglements to rethink what it is to be human. Drawing on fieldwork at food conferences, research labs, health care facilities, restaurants, and her own kitchen table, Mol reassesses the work of authors such as Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans Jonas, and Emmanuel Levinas. They celebrated the allegedly unique capability of humans to rise above their immediate bodily needs. Mol, by contrast, appreciates that as humans we share our fleshy substance with other living beings, whom we cultivate, cut into pieces, transport, prepare, and incorporate--and to whom we leave our excesses. This has far-reaching philosophical consequences. Taking human eating seriously suggests a reappraisal of being as transformative, knowing as entangling, doing as dispersed, and relating as a matter of inescapable dependence.
    Kai Wortman is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Education, University of Tübingen, interested in philosophy of education.
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    • 55 min.
    Vaibhav Saria, "Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India" (Fordham UP, 2021)

    Vaibhav Saria, "Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India" (Fordham UP, 2021)

    Hijras, one of India’s third gendered or trans populations, have been an enduring presence in the South Asian imagination—in myth, in ritual, and in everyday life, often associated in stigmatized forms with begging and sex work. In more recent years hijras have seen a degree of political emergence as a moral presence in Indian electoral politics, and with heightened vulnerability within global health terms as a high-risk population caught within the AIDS epidemic.
    Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India (Fordham UP, 2021) recounts two years living with a group of hijras in rural India. In this riveting ethnography, Vaibhav Saria reveals not just a group of stigmatized or marginalized others but a way of life composed of laughter, struggles, and desires that trouble how we read queerness, kinship, and the psyche.
    Against easy framings of hijras that render them marginalized, Saria shows how hijras makes the normative Indian family possible. The book also shows that particular practices of hijras, such as refusing to use condoms or comply with retroviral regimes, reflect not ignorance, irresponsibility, or illiteracy but rather a specific idiom of erotic asceticism arising in both Hindu and Islamic traditions. This idiom suffuses the densely intertwined registers of erotics, economics, and kinship that inform the everyday lives of hijras and offer a repertoire of self-fashioning beyond the secular horizons of public health or queer theory.
    Engrossingly written and full of keen insights, the book moves from the small pleasures of the everyday—laughter, flirting, teasing—to impossible longings, kinship, and economies of property and substance in order to give a fuller account of trans lives and of Indian society today.
    Hijras, Lovers, Brothers is the winner of the 2021 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences.
    Shraddha Chatterjee is a doctoral candidate at York University, Toronto, and author of Queer Politics in India: Towards Sexual Subaltern Subjects (Routledge, 2018).
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    • 58 min.
    Robin Derricourt, "Creating God: The Birth and Growth of Major Religions" ( Manchester UP, 2021)

    Robin Derricourt, "Creating God: The Birth and Growth of Major Religions" ( Manchester UP, 2021)

    What do we really know about how and where religions began, and how they spread? 
    Robin Derricourt considers the birth and growth of several major religions, using history and archaeology to recreate the times, places and societies that witnessed the rise of significant monotheistic faiths. Beginning with Mormonism and working backwards through Islam, Christianity and Judaism to Zoroastrianism, Creating God: The Birth and Growth of Major Religions ( Manchester UP, 2021) opens up the conditions that allowed religious movements to emerge, attract their first followers and grow. Throughout history there have been many prophets: individuals who believed they were in direct contact with the divine, with instructions to spread a religious message. While many disappeared without trace, some gained millions of followers and established a lasting religion. Derricourt considers and gives new insights on the origins of major religions and raises essential questions about why some succeeded where others failed. And who does not want to know that!
    Robin Derricourt is an Honorary Professor of History in the School of Humanities at the University of New South Wales and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He holds a PhD in archaeology from the University of Cambridge. His previous books include Inventing Africa: History, Archaeology and Ideas (2011), Antiquity Imagined: The Remarkable Legacy of Egypt and the Ancient Near East (2015) and Unearthing Childhood: Young Lives in Prehistory (2018), which received the PROSE Award for Archaeology and Ancient History.
    Bede Haines is a solicitor, specialising in litigation and a partner at Holding Redlich, an Australian commercial law firm. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Known to read books, ride bikes and eat cereal (often). bede.haines@holdingredlich.com.
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    • 57 min.
    Anthony Q. Hazard, "Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race, and World War II" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    Anthony Q. Hazard, "Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race, and World War II" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    The realities of race that continue to plague the United States have direct ties to the anthropology. Anthropologists often imagine their discipline as inherently anti-racist and historically connected to social justice movements. But just how true is that? In Boasians at War: Anthropology, Race, and World War II (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) Anthony Hazard examines the work of Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, Ashley Montagu, Margaret Mead, and Melville Herskovits to examine the ways they did -- or didn't -- theorize the emergence of racism as both systemic and interpersonal. Putting their work in the context of the black freedom struggle, Hazard evaluates the ways in which these anthropologists engaged racism both in the discipline of anthropology and in the wider world. 
    In this episode of the podcast, hose Alex Golub sits down with Tony and has a frank talk about the strengths and weaknesses of some of American cultural anthropology's key figures. They also discuss some 'meta' questions, including how we should judge people who lived in a different time and different context from us, and where the line between 'ally' and 'co-conspirator' as anthropologists and other academics take their moral sensibilities outside the academy and into the broader world.
    Associate professor of anthropology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
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    • 1 u. 5 min.
    Natasha Behl, "Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Natasha Behl, "Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Why do we find pervasive gender-based discrimination, exclusion and violence in India when the Indian constitution builds an inclusive democracy committed to gender equality? This is the puzzle that animates Natasha Behl’s book, Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India (Oxford University Press, 2019), but it is, as we explore in episode eight of New Books in Interpretive Political and Social Science, in no way merely an intellectual one. To the contrary, Gendered Citizenship is a book that is guided by Behl’s own bodily experiences of gendered politics in India and also in the academy. Through her study of India, Behl offers a persuasive critique of the existing literature on citizenship in political science, particularly in democratisation studies, as well as of her experiences as a graduate student in a hostile discipline. Along the way she develops an account of situated citizenship that not only serves as the methodological basis for her fieldwork, but, as we discuss, is itself a kind of empirical political theory.
    Congratulations to Natasha Behl for being awarded the soon-to-be-officially-announced 2021 Lee Ann Fujii Award for Innovation in the Interpretive Study of Political Violence of the American Political Science Association! Listeners interested to know more about Lee Ann Fujii’s life and work can listen to the recent interview in this special series with two of her former students, Jessica Soedirgo and Aarie Glas.
    To download or stream episodes in this series, please subscribe to our host channel: New Books in Political Science.
    Nick Cheesman is a Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University, and a committee member of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group.
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    • 56 min.

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