Anthropologists Doing Philosophy

HAU Journal must be the only academic journal which I find myself reading papers from regularly and out of sheer curiosity about the content, simply when I find them through social media or browsing online, without needing them for any immediatly pressing academic work. Coming from philosophy myself, it’s refreshing and helpful to see how these anthropologists take up philosophical concerns — and philosophical texts! — in novel ways.

Here’s one paper by Anne-Christine Taylor offering some short but very helpful clarification of the term ‘ontology’ as used by anthropologists and philosophers. Perhaps a little too structuralist for some but the points she makes against de Viveiros de Castro and G. E. R Lloyd seem plausible. This interview of hers with Aparecida Vilaça, soon before the latter gave the inaugural Claude Lévi-Strauss Lecture at the College de France, which was excellent, is also much to be recommended.

And here‘s a paper by Veena Das on ethics, death, kinship, and life taken as a whole is extremely powerful. She thinks in dialogue with quite a few philosophers: Cavell, Diamond, Korsgaard, Moran, Wittgenstein, and Emerson. Would the attention was reciprocal! Just one quote here:

But worse perhaps is the idea that a single sentence on your deathbed, or a single gesture could negate what your life was about, and it is only the subtle understandings with others—the work of a life time—that could protect you from these kinds of unforeseen, unbidden, expressions that might come out of your mouth but which, you would want to believe, were not yours.

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