When Anthropology Overturned a Way of Seeing the World

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/04/2020 - 9:00pm in

In Gods of the Upper Air (Penguin/Random House, 2019), Charles King unveils the story behind the early twentieth century’s revolution...

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The Ifugao—People without Government

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 2:22am in

image/jpeg iconBanaue_Philippines_Batad-Rice-Terraces-02.jpg

An anarchist anthropological review of the Ifugao people who constructed elaborate rice terraces without forming a government structure.

this complex system of cultivation is accompanied by a social order in which there is no government, no courts, no judges or constitutional or statutory law

Harold Barclay

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Population and the Outbreak of Peace

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 3:02am in

By Max Kummerow

Adelyne More’s 1917 feminist pamphlet Fecundity and Civilization stated flatly that population stabilization “is the most effective way of ensuring the cessation of war.”[1] All species’ potential rates of reproduction enable exponential population growth. Population numbers are kept within environmental capacity by rising mortality as populations increase. Ecologists call this process “density-dependent mortality.” Many “group-selected” social species fight territorial wars as populations grow, such as chimpanzees, lions, wolves, hyenas, baboons, ants and humans.

Chimpanzee fight

Population density is a huge factor for fights among chimpanzees. The threat of losing territory and resources creates tension and physical confrontation until there is a standing winner. Sound familiar? (Image CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Chris Allen)

Writer Michael Balter concluded from a study of 100 incidents (in which chimpanzees inflicted deaths on rival bands) that population growth leads to violent conflict. Studies of hunter-gatherer cultures, as well as historical records of modern societies, show that wars, famine, and disease reduce life expectancy as populations push environmental limits.

Humans and many other species also “regulate” population, not necessarily intentionally, within environmental capacity through behaviors that reduce birth rates (“density-dependent natality”).

Scholars present multifaceted causes of violence and war. In Causes of War, Levy and Thompson describe how “Scholars disagree not only on the specific causes of war, but also on how to approach the study of war…psychologists generally emphasize psychological factors, economists emphasize economic factors, anthropologists emphasize cultural factors, and so on.”[2] Philosopher A.C. Grayling quotes I.A. Novikov on the purpose of war: “men fought…in order to obtain food, women, wealth, the profits derived from possession of the government, or in order to impose a religion or a type of culture…war is a means to an end.”[3]

In Better Angels of Our Nature, Steven Pinker cites The Civilizing Process (1939) in which Norbert Elias argued that progress in norms and institutions encourages settlement of disputes by law and negotiation.[4] The “do unto others” ethic and the development of altruism and empathy was slowly leading to the rejection of war, slavery, and subjugation of races, cultures, and social classes. In the place of dictatorial and genocidal behavior, more inclusive and pacifist patterns were starting to prevail.

Syrian War

Noted for being one of the deadliest wars of the 21st century, the Syrian civil war has killed thousands of people and spawned military conflicts outside of its borders. (Image source, Credit: Voice of America News)

Tragically, shortly after Elias’s civilizing book was published, barbarism re-emerged with the horrors of the Holocaust. Elias fled to the USA, but his parents fell victim to the genocide in Eastern Europe. Regarding this tragedy as well as the increase in threats of nuclear war and the ongoing bloodshed in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere, it is clear, as Pinker admits, that reduction in violence may not be enduring.







Population Regulation and Peace

Nothing in sociobiology, genetics, or cultural studies provides compelling evidence that war is absolutely inevitable or, on the other hand, can be thoroughly eliminated. That said, there is strong evidence that ending population growth facilitates enduring peace. I classified 150 countries into three violence categories.[5] The table compares fertility rates and population change. Total fertility rate (TFR) is a statistic summarizing numbers of births per woman.

Table 1: Violence and Fertility Rates

Violence Category

Number of Countries
Average 2013 TFR
2013 Population (billions)
% Population Change 1960-2013






Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators. Countries missing fertility data and countries with <1,000,000 population in 2013 and four oil sheikdoms with major in-migration were omitted.

TFRs averaged 1.6 in recently peaceful, formerly violent countries and 4.2 in recently violent countries. Using ANOVA or CHI2 statistics to test the null hypothesis of “no difference between group fertility rates” gave a p-value of 10-12, confirming what is obvious from casual inspection of the data: High fertility rates are strongly correlated with mass violence and low fertility rates with peace.

Life expectancy at birth was 23.4 years longer in the peaceful countries. Average 2008 infant mortality rates were 8.5 per 1000 people in peaceful, low-fertility countries versus 83/1000 in violent, high-fertility countries. Per capita incomes in high-fertility violent countries averaged 13.8% of the average per capita income in the low-fertility/peaceful countries—$4,155 versus $30,020.[7]

Low fertility rates are strongly associated with peaceful outcomes, even in formerly violent cultures whose neighbors are so-called “hereditary enemies.”[8] Declines in fertility rates nurture and enable peace.

Solutions to the Many Influences of Violence

United Nations generally assembly

United Nations representatives meet in yearly general assembly meetings hoping to find solutions for lasting peace. (Image CC BY 2.0, Credit: Basil D Soufi.)

Many other factors aside from population growth influence outbreaks of mass violence. Propaganda can increase hatred and foment violence. Incompetent or power-hungry leaders blunder into wars. But there are solutions our society can pursue: Institutions such as the United Nations can help maintain peace; peace treaties can resolve disputes; and cultural and institutional changes can reduce tendencies to violence.

The rejection (or adoption) of violence entails in-depth analysis and, often, the climbing of learning curves. Yet underlying all other factors is the fact that population growth creates rising competition for scarce territory and resources. Conversely, population decline reduces motivation and necessity for violent conflicts and fosters higher education levels, rule of law, and trust.

Peace and justice advocates should devote more attention to supporting family planning and the demographic transitions that have helped women and children enjoy longer lives. These demographic transitions also enable countries to remain above poverty levels and peacefully coexist with former enemies.

Why are so few peace and justice advocates talking about population stabilization?

[1] More, A. 1917. Fecundity and Civilization: a contribution to the study of over-population as the cause of war and the chief obstacle to the emancipation of women; with special reference to Germany. Allen and Unwin, London.

[2] Levy, J. and William R. Thompson. 2010. Causes of War. Blackwell Publishing, Chichester, UK.

[3] Grayline, A.C. 2017. War: An Enquiry. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA. This echoes Thucydides who summed up causes of war as fear, glory, and interest (desires for gold, territory, slaves, etc.).

[4] Pinker, S. 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature. Penguin, New York.

[5]“Violent” were roughly defined as “thousands killed in the past 40 years in war, civil strife, or genocide.” “Peaceful” were “peaceful since WWII.” Admittedly, this was a “quick and dirty” classification effort based on news accounts, historical reading, and general knowledge. I looked at deaths in war statistics and found them to be surprisingly hard to pin down. Estimates of deaths vary greatly depending on source. The “medium” category is really “not sure” in some cases.  Results are so clear that no change in the overall conclusion could result from a few misclassifications.

[6] Figures in Table 4 are averages of country statistics, not weighted by country population. Global average fertility weighed by population was around 2.5 in 2013.

[7] Statistics all from World Bank, World Development Indicators data.

[8] My relatives fought and died in the World Wars between France and Germany that killed millions. Now those countries share a common currency, lasting peace and low fertility rates.

Max Kummerow, Ph.D., is a retired business school professor and population activist who researches demography, ecology, and economic development. He has presented papers at ESA, PJSA, NCSE, PAA, and EAERE meetings showing the benefits of accelerating the world’s stalled demographic transition toward lower fertility rates.


The post Population and the Outbreak of Peace appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Book Review: Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs edited by Amanda Lashaw, Christian Vannier and Steven Sampson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/02/2020 - 10:59pm in

In Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs, editors Amanda Lashaw, Christian Vannier and Steven Sampson bring together contributors to advance the growing field of NGO anthropology. Written by anthropologists with intimate knowledge of NGOs in different contexts, the chapters offer rich and profound ethnographic analysis that examines the world of NGOs without neglecting their contexts and histories of action. This collection is required reading not only for those interested in NGOs and development, but also for those seeking a renewed and fruitful look at longstanding issues in anthropology, writes Natalia Castelnuovo Biraben.

Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs. Amanda Lashaw, Christian Vannier and Steven Sampson (eds). University of Alabama Press. 2017.

Find this book: amazon-logo

In addition to being an exhaustive and valuable compilation of studies, Cultures of Doing Good: Anthropologists and NGOs, edited by Amanda Lashaw, Christian Vannier and Steven Sampson, is also the first book of the series ‘NGOgraphies: Ethnographic Reflections on NGOs’. The launch of this series confirms the consolidation of a field of research: the Anthropology of NGOs.

Undeniably, the emergence of this field can only be understood within the programme of structural adjustment and neoliberal policies implemented in the ‘Global South’ at the onset of the 1970s and through the 1980s, which mainly resulted in the decrease of state-sponsored welfare, in parallel to the emergence of an almost unquestioning belief in NGOs as suitable and flexible agents of democratisation and service provision. From then on, NGOs have become increasingly involved in development, leading to the so-called ‘NGO boom’ of the 1990s and to what Victoria Bernal dubs ‘NGO fever’ in this collection (2017), referring to their initial explosion and their later expansion up until the early 2000s.

Anthropological studies of NGOs are, in turn, based on another field of research, that of development, and they are circumscribed by what contributor David Lewis calls ‘Aidnography’, which includes the analysis of the organisational practice and lifeworlds of NGO workers, as well as the structures and processes of the neoliberal architecture of the aid system. As Lewis appropriately points out, studying the ethnography of aid involves shifting attention away from those who are ‘developing’ to the ‘developers’ themselves. The plethora of NGOs in the 1990s provided anthropologists not only with a research topic, but also with a field of intervention that, in many cases, brought along their own involvement. This complicated the relationship while fostering deeper reflection on the researcher’s role and ethics.

The ethnographic studies compiled in Cultures of Doing Good refer to different contexts and geographies: Serbia, Tanzania, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Peru and the United States (New Orleans). These analyses, however, all share a series of premises. To begin with, they understand ‘NGO’ as a problematic category that encompasses organisations with divergent traditions, aims, interests and positions. Thus, it is deemed necessary to be wary of any a priori definition based on compartmentalised categorisation or on normative and prescriptive assumptions. Along this line, several contributors agree on the lack of consensus regarding how to conceptualise the role of NGOs, sharing the notion that it is a category without a clear definition and that therein lies its power. The ‘NGO form’ (Bernal and Inderpal Grewal 2014) is presented as unified, globally legible and serves as an umbrella under which highly diverse projects, policies and organisational structures can coexist, in addition to being a legitimate form of organisation for requesting and securing funds.

In fact, sticking to a literal definition of NGOs as non-governmental organisations overlooks the fact that many are deeply intertwined with states, and that frequently the borders between states and NGOs are ‘porous’ (a number obtain their basic funding from states) (Natalia Castelnuovo 2013; Lewis 2011). This brings us back to Evelina Dagnino (2011), who highlights that ‘civil society and the state are always mutually constitutive’ and that their relationship is a key dimension in the construction of democracy (124). In relation to the proximity of NGOs to states, some studies stress not only their inherently ambiguous character, but also that they are often considered ‘parallel states, as the glue of globalization, as translators and as intermediaries that create and sustain translocal and transnational circuits’ (Arjun Appadurai 2002; Erica Bornstein 2003; Analiese M. Richard 2009; Mark Schuller 2009, Millie Thayer 2010, in Bernal 2017: 38). All these observations are significant in that they call for an analytical focus on NGO practice and action, on how these actions serve to justify their existence, access to funds and their use and on the complex dynamics, relationships and negotiations between diverse actors in changing political contexts.

A second conceptual and analytical node that underlies these ethnographic studies refers to the moral character of NGO engagement and how it is expressed, as well as the meanings different actors attach to it. Sampson’s contribution argues that ‘entanglement’ is a consequence of engagement. In their search for securing resources and maintaining moral legitimacy, NGOs become entangled with other actors and institutions. This can facilitate or undermine their own projects. Bernal analyses how the entanglement of NGOs and donor agencies shapes contradictory and tense negotiations as well as hierarchical relations. In these contexts, not only funding is at stake; there is also a dispute linked to the disciplining power of donors that might change what NGOs do, how they document it and the language they speak (23). Bernal points to an international donor regime with clear effects, which governs the NGO landscape in ways that can stimulate or constrain their activities by not only imposing an agenda, but also by establishing priorities that alter their dynamics and the context of their activities.

If development is ‘a moral mission, seeking to improve the quality of life for people in other societies’ (Sampson, 5), NGOs are also part of that project (or civilising crusade), backed by interventions that grant legitimacy to the art of governing behaviour and shaping subjectivities. Their project of humanity improvement – a different version of what Tania Murray Li (2007) called ‘the will to improve’ (2007) – is part of the moral language that connects diverse groups and individuals to NGOs. Far from attempting to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ NGOs (assessing, for example, project results or identifying and differentiating good practices from bad ones), the research gathered here presents the world of NGOs as a world of ‘doing good’ (William Fisher 1997), which involves moralised practice that reveals itself in various forms. It is in the moral sphere of ‘doing good’ and helping ‘vulnerable groups’ through their advocacy, mobilisation or channelling of resources that NGOs support their moral stance.

Although the chapters do not delve into the historical processes that determined civil society (and continue to do so) in the post-colonial world, the ‘civilising mission’ of the fifteenth and twentieth centuries served as justification for the intervention upon peoples and geographies, as well as for their colonisation, and aimed to expand and dominate through a European (mainly British, French, Portuguese and Spanish) model of administration and civilisation.

Certain aspects of this civilising project are still in force today and permeate the moral mission of development. They are sustained on ideas, practices and representations that range from the salvation and rescue of groups, to their representation through lack, problems and needs or through images of population lacking alternatives and freedom of action. Development usually exploits the image of passive, poor, ignorant people, usually people of colour, waiting for a white Western hand to rescue them (Chandra Talpade Mohanty 1991). As observed by Nicholas Thomas (1994), representations are authorised ways of constructing subjects, their possible actions and historic roles, and according to Mohanty, they should be considered part of the ‘colonialist move’ (1991), because they involve specific constructions of the ‘colonial’, ‘third-world’ and/or ‘underdeveloped’ subject and serve to legitimise the exercise of power upon this subject as well as the dominant idea of Western superiority.

Bernal points to a reconfiguration of Global North-South power relations and to a new type of political order, where ‘human rights’ (gender equity, the rule of law, transparency, etc) serve the North as a means to exercise surveillance and intervention across national borders (55). Nermeen Mouftah’s chapter makes a significant contribution in this line of research on what ‘doing good’ means for NGOs. The author explores how notions of ‘doing good’ intersect with the NGO form, shaping religious emergent practices against a backdrop of geopolitics and national politics. Mouftah suggests analysing the NGO as a site that draws on religion to motivate and mould development initiatives and, fundamentally, as a key locus for defining, delimiting and disciplining religion in public life and building new forms of religious practice, in this case specifically for reimagining Islam.

A third aspect that underlies these ethnographic studies in different ways refers to understanding NGOs, on the one hand, as a lens or ‘portal’ for examining and reflecting on broader topics, and on the other, as a site for reflection about ethical-methodological dimensions that stem from anthropologists’ involvement with NGOs. Looking through NGOs has become a privileged path for analysing connections between the global and the local, examining the forms taken on by neoliberal restructuring and the nature of development.

Moreover, certain scholars have stated that since 1980 and with more emphasis over the 1990s, states began perceiving NGOs as flexible tools for maintaining or extending their power (Fisher 1997) or as part of ‘an emerging system of transnational governmentality’ where states outsource their functions through these organisations (James Ferguson and Akhil Gupta 2002: 990). Thus, NGOs increasingly became an interesting lens for reflecting on their role as vehicles of neoliberal policies, as well as examining their responses to the impact of globalisation in local populations and in national processes.

As for the ethical-methodological debates that stem from the involvement (or not) of anthropologists in NGOs, the authors develop different positions, while still acknowledging the substantial role NGOs play as  ‘navigational tools during fieldwork’, in that they ‘may operate as connectors, as partners for engagement, and as helpful “mirrors” of the potentials and contradictions of anthropological work’ (Lewis, 33-34). As pointed out in the volume, the proximity of anthropologists to NGOs creates liaisons while generating a series of difficulties: NGO activists and anthropologists share social worlds, artefacts and bureaucratic practices that might lead the latter to neglect a critical stance and adopt the NGO’s perspectives as their own. Thus, while researchers, such as contributor Katherine Lemons, deem it necessary to remain uninvolved in NGOs that usually attempt to ‘co-opt anthropologists’, Amanda Woomer’s chapter argues, like others, for an ‘activist engagement’, which entails involvement, shifting away from critique and moving into action.

From the perspective of activist engagement, working in an NGO is not only essential to carry out this type of research, but also the only possible path to effect change, ‘to blur the lines between academic and activist, researcher and volunteer’ (Woomer, 188). Both perspectives are political; neither is neutral. They invite us to reflect on the intermediary position of NGOs, which act as brokers, interpreters and translators (David Lewis and David Mosse 2006), not only for beneficiary communities and states, but also for anthropologists. As Bornstein points out, ‘working on behalf of others, NGOs depict themselves as representing others, much like anthropologists do’ (183).

This collection is required reading not only for those interested in the world of NGOs, but also those working in the field of development studies in particular and anthropology in general. Written by anthropologists with intimate knowledge and experience of NGOs in different contexts, the chapters offer rich and profound ethnographic analysis of the different edges of the Anthropology of NGOs, examining the world of NGOs without neglecting their contexts and histories of action. This volume is of immeasurable value not only because the authors’ perspectives shift away from the widespread normative and prescriptive approach to NGOs in the literature, but also because it presents a renewed and fruitful look at the long-established problems of anthropology, such as globalisation, modernity, development, state-civil society, power configurations and North-South domination.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Image Credit: Pixabay CC0.


Video on My Model of the Neolithic Mortuary House at Loftus in Britain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/12/2019 - 3:39am in

A bit more archaeology now, for those interested. Four years ago in 2015 I made this video about the model I’d made of the Neolithic mortuary house and palisade around its forecourt discovered beneath a long barrow, also from the Neolithic, at Loftus in Cleveland, Britain by Blaise Vyner during excavations from 1979 to 1981. The Neolithic was the period c. 4,000 BC when hunter-gatherers were settling down into settled communities and farming. The built long barrows to house the remains of their dead. The remains come from many different skeletons, and are often sorted according to body part. Long bones, for example, may be stored in one chamber while other parts of the skeleton were kept in another. Many of the barrows also have forecourts, some of which have traces of burning dating from the time they were built and used. From this archaeologists have suggested that the barrows were also the centres of religious ceremonies in which parts of the skeletons were handled in order to commune with the ancestors.

Mortuary houses are structures in which the bodies of the dead are kept during decomposition, after which they are buried for a second time with appropriate rituals. It’s a funerary practice found in many different society throughout the world, including North American First Nations and the people of Madagascar.

Incidentally, today is the winter solstice, which some archaeologists believe was the real time the stone circle at Stonehenge was built to mark. This is the shortest day of the year, after which the sun returns and the days start lengthening again. This would be seen by the monument’s ancient builders as the return of warmth, light and the revival of life after the cold of winter, and so an important event for early agricultural communities.

But considering how cold and miserable it’s been, I think it’ll be a very brave set of pagans, druids and hippies, who would go down there to celebrate it today. But I’ve no doubt some hardy souls will do it.


What Is Joe Biden Thinking When He Uses Words like Malarkey?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 20/12/2019 - 6:03pm in

Joe Biden’s age has become a major issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. Partly this is because he has been showing signs of early dementia while he talks. But it’s also the fact that he uses outdated expressions. Recently the Internet went crazy when he showed off his new campaign bus with its new “no malarkey” logo. Come on, man!

Has Tory Victory Emboldened the Islamophobes?

Zelo Street yesterday posted an article that ‘Hatey’ Katie Hopkins has slithered out from under whatever stone she hides under, and endorsed the Tories. And in doing so made some clearly islamophobic and racist comments directed at the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Sayeeda Warsi.

Hopkins started off by gloating about the extent of Bozo’s majority. She tweeted

Boris majority on track to be bigger than Thatchers or Blair’s. Incredible turn from Labour to Tory in unthinkable seats like Redcar, jihadi-central-Stoke & Workington … Formally out of the EU in December … Nationalism is back in Britain. Time to put British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Thatcher had a majority of 140 in 1983 and Blair 180 in 1997, both of which were much larger than the Blonde Beast’s 80.

Ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Tories lost half their seats in Scotland, she declared that the ‘Ginger Dwarf from the North’ does not speak for all Scots. Which I’m sure she doesn’t, just as Bozo definitely doesn’t speak for all of Britain. But Sturgeon speaks for the majority of Scots.

As Zelo Street’s article showed, Hatey Katie then posted a meme saying ‘Safer to be in Syria’ and tweeted

We have taken back control of England from leftists & those who wish to see this country fail. Now it is time to take back our capital city. Time to Make London Great Again.

Which she then followed with

Now that nationalists are in control of England, we begin the fight back for London … It’s time to kick Sadiq Khan out of office.

She tried to make this not sound racist by including ‘love to my Indian family’, but the islamophobic and racist subtext is very clear.

She then tweeted at Sayeeda Warsi when she sent a message saying that her party must begin healing its relationship with Muslims

It’s our party now Warsi. Time you stepped down, love. Way down.

This was followed by

Your party? Hold on a minute sister. I think you will find it’s OUR party now. Britain has Boris and a blue collar army. Nationalism is back. British people first.

Zelo Street points out that Warsi is British, because she was born in Dewsbury. But Hopkins doesn’t mean that. Hopkins then went on to post a picture of a letter box, saying that this reminded her to post her Christmas cards. She then sent another tweet in the direction of Sadiq Khan, saying

Don’t think of it as a dark day darling. Think of it as a brilliant awakening. Britain is fighting back for its own.

As Zelo Street points out, the doesn’t consider Khan British either, because he isn’t white.

Tim concludes

‘Bozo’s victory has emboldened the racists. I’ll just leave that one there.’

Absolutely. Yesterday I found that a supporter of Tommy Robinson had posted a series of comments on this blog. One was objecting to my article about Mike Stuchbery suing Robinson for libel after Robinson and his storm troopers turned up at Stuchbery’s house banging on the windows and doors at all hours. In addition to demanding that Stuchbery come out to talk to them, they also accused him of being a paedophile. Stuchbery’s a teacher, and so this has made his job in England very difficult and he’s moved to Germany. But Robinson’s supporters see their leader as absolutely innocent of all wrongdoing, and claim that Stuchbery had doxed Robinson by putting up pictures of his house. Which I don’t believe Stuchbery did.

They also gloated about the extent of the Tory victory, and accused Corbyn of supporting Islamist terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah, and the IRA over here. Which he doesn’t. They also posted this comment

Oh, and if you think Islam is so wonderful, I suggest you move to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, or Iran then you can see what life is really like under Sharia Law.

They’re talking to the wrong person here. I’m not a Muslim, but I studied Islam as part of a minor degree in Religious Studies when I was at College in the 1970s. This was during the Satanic Verses controversy, and I am very well aware of the bigotry in certain sections of British Islam, and the problems confronting the Islamic world. These are social, political and economic stagnation, an absence and in some cases complete rejection of democratic government and modern human rights, corruption and religious intolerance. However, none of these are unique to Islam. As I’ve pointed out, Christianity and the West passed through similar crises in the 19th and 20th centuries, and I’ve read works by a French anthropologist arguing that Islamism is the result of a similar crisis in Islam as it grapples with modernity. As reader of this blog will be aware, I also call out and denounce Islamist bigotry as well as other forms of racism, including islamophobia.

Some of the problems facing the Islamic world have been greatly exacerbated by outside, western interference. Saudi Arabia has gained its powerful position in the Middle East through support by the West, who have used it as a bulwark against secular Arab nationalism in the Middle East. The rise of Islamism in Algeria was partly encouraged by the country’s politically Conservative regime. They saw it as a peaceful alternative to the radical socialism preached by intellectuals with a French education. And there are movement for greater political freedom and feminism within the Islamic world.

Also, just ’cause Muslim countries are a mess doesn’t mean that Muslims over here want to turn Britain into an Islamic state or import some of the elements of Islamic politics that have held these countries back. Yes, you can find the intolerant bigots ranting against Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and so on, and there are those, who would like to turn Britain into an Islamic state. But I’ve also seen them challenged by other British Muslims. There have been demonstrations against bigots like Kalam Sadeequi and the rest. And when Akhthar and his crew were burning copies of the Satanic Verses in Bradford, one of the Islam lecturers from my old College went up there to argue with them, quoting chapter and verse from the Qu’ran why this was wrong. And attempts to launch Islamist parties over here have hardly been impressive. I remember back in the 1980s or early ’90s there was a British Islamic party launched. But it seems to have vanished without trace. If it was Hizb ut Tahrir, then this may have been because it was banned as a terrorist organisation. I’m sure you can find some far left morons, who support it and feel it should be given a voice, but they are very few and far between, despite the Islamophobic propaganda. And Hizb ut Tahrir and groups like it, from what I’ve seen, have never commanded a mass membership.

The wider Muslim community in this country thus should not be accused of terrorism or terrorist sympathies, based on the actions of the Islamist radicals. Nor should they be seen as somehow less British than anyone else in the UK.

Taken with Hopkins’ tweets attacking praising the Tories and attacking Warsi and Sadiq Khan for being Muslims, these comments do seem quite ominous. It reinforces Zelo Street’s conclusion that the Tory victory has emboldened the racist right. After Johnson published his noxious comments about Muslim women in burqas, there was an increase in Islamophobic attacks. And certainly racist incidents have been on the rise since the emergence of UKIP and the Brexit party. Brexit does seem to have encouraged racist Whites to believe that they can get away with the abuse and assault of ethnic minorities. I might be wrong – I hope I am – but I won’t be surprise if we can expect a further increase in racist incidents.

The Conservatives have always played on racism, and Johnson’s victory is going to make this worse. 

The Spirits of Crossbones Graveyard

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/02/2017 - 4:27am in

The book's author Sondra Hausner (Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford) will explore the issues raised in her book. Every month, a ragtag group of Londoners gather in the site known as Crossbones Graveyard to commemorate the souls of medieval prostitutes believed to be buried there—the “Winchester Geese,” women who were under the protection of the Church but denied Christian burial. In the Borough of Southwark, not far from Shakespeare's Globe, is a pilgrimage site for self-identified misfits, nonconformists, and contemporary sex workers who leave memorials to the outcast dead. Ceremonies combining raucous humor and eclectic spirituality are led by a local playwright, John Constable, also known as John Crow. His interpretation of the history of the site has struck a chord with many who feel alienated in present-day London. Sondra L. Hausner offers a nuanced ethnography of Crossbones that tacks between past and present to look at the historical practices of sex work, the relation of the Church to these professions, and their representation in the present. She draws on anthropological approaches to ritual and time to understand the forms of spiritual healing conveyed by the Crossbones rites. She shows that ritual is a way of creating the present by mobilizing the stories of the past for contemporary purposes.

The book's author Sondra Hausner (Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford) will explore the issues raised with:
Bridget Anderson (Professor of Migration and Citizenship, University of Oxford)
Diane Watt (Professor of Medieval Literature, University of Surrey)
Chair: Antonia Fitzpatrick (Departmental Lecturer in History, University of Oxford)