Philip Swift's Blog (7)

The Monstering of Anthropology


In 1983, Norman Tebbit, a minister in Thatcher’s government, justified cuts to the social sciences by saying that those who study ‘the pre-nuptial habits of the Upper Volta valley’ were not deserving of money. In Tebbit’s telling, a venerable, and vital, branch of anthropological inquiry – the study…


Added by Philip Swift on November 1, 2013 at 6:00am — 28 Comments

The Relevance of Anthropology? A Marxist Response


The Relevance of Anthropology? A Marxist Response



Firefly: My friends, this man’s case moves me deeply. Look at Chicolini! He sits there alone, an abject figure.


Chicolini: I…


Added by Philip Swift on November 26, 2011 at 3:30am — 23 Comments

Writing the riots


Just after ten o’clock on Monday night, there was the first intimation that trouble was coming: sounds of a mass moving up the street outside – a sense of heavy presence. Turning off the lights, I looked out of the window. Down below, some sixty people were milling about. The constituency of the crowd was mixed: some white, some black, some Asian, though mostly young men. Many of them were hooded, their faces further hidden behind bicycle breath-masks, bandanas, or more…


Added by Philip Swift on August 11, 2011 at 12:12am — 4 Comments

Phone Hacking, Sorcery and Parapolitics


‘My own view is, and I still hold with this view, that in terms of the reaction of people, the reaction is going to be primarily Washington and not the country because I think the country doesn’t give much of a shit about it other than the ones we've already bugged…most people around the country think that this is routine, that everyone’s trying to bug everyone else, it’s politics. That’s my view.’

This was Nixon, speaking in the Oval Office on the morning of the 21st…


Added by Philip Swift on August 1, 2011 at 5:18am — 6 Comments

The 'Perils of the Nation': The Activist Anthropology of Henry Mayhew

I want to tell you about Henry Mayhew. His work is neither new (he wrote during the same decades as Charles Dickens), nor was he an anthropologist, yet for all that, he produced a vital and urgent anthropology that speaks critically to our current moment.

Mayhew’s aim (in his own words) was to ‘publish the history of a people, from the lips of the people… Continue

Added by Philip Swift on November 16, 2010 at 6:30pm — 7 Comments

The Octopus: Eight Footnotes

Just back from Japan and the topic of octopuses has been on (and off) my mind for some time. Therefore, I offer an anthropological, cephalopod blog: eight footnotes, or eight ways of spilling ink (with apologies to J.L. Austin).… Continue

Added by Philip Swift on August 4, 2010 at 9:19pm — 12 Comments

High time for Hermes to take back hermeneutics


In the year 415 BC, there took place one of the most infamous episodes in the history of ancient Athenian religious politics. Residents of… Continue

Added by Philip Swift on May 31, 2010 at 3:33am — 46 Comments


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