Have we reached ‘peak democracy’?
Certainly, if we look at some global measures of democratic societies, it looks as though progress has stalled – and perhaps even gone into reverse.
Have we reached ‘peak democracy’?
Certainly, if we look at some global measures of democratic societies, it looks as though progress has stalled – and perhaps even gone into reverse.
Farmland in Kenya’s north has deteriorated because of loss of soil nutrients and agro-biodiversity, putting livelihoods of 12 million people at risk.
If the Brexit vote tells us anything, it is surely this: that despite being ‘the fifth largest economy’ in raw GDP terms, many people do not feel prosperous. Britain has preferred to paper over the cracks of widening inequality and social unease in recent decades by hiding behind ostensibly high output-per-capita statistics inflated by City salaries. Last June, the simmering volcano of resentment exploded in the most spectacular fashion.
In the days since the US election result, much has been made of the ‘whitelash’ that appears to have propelled Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.
And so our membership of one of the world’s greatest multinational partnerships has been reduced to a single-issue protest over immigration. The dog whistle has been dispensed with. Now, with less than a week to go, those who wish us to leave the European Union have plugged their rhetoric into a speaker that emits a continuous low but all too audible hum.
In their article ‘Landscape, time and cultural resilience: a brief history of agriculture in Pokot and Marakwet, Kenya’ Matthew Davies and Henrietta Moore consider the Marakwet and Pokot communities of northwest Kenya, both of which have been subjected to a range of external agricultural interventions. The authors find a dynamic, yet hidden ‘cultural resilience’ spanning several centuries.
Henrietta Moore comments on the Brexit campaign in the New Statesman
As the European refugee crisis worsens, the UN summit in New York to agree on the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) couldn’t come at a more pressing time. Mass movement from the so-called developing world into the EU is a reminder of the stark global inequalities the 17 proposed goals and 169 targets are designed to address.
What’s different – and crucial – this time is that the raft of new targets are being applied universally. Unlike their predecessors, the millennium development goals (MDGs), which only applied to those countries deemed to be “developing”, the SDGs will require all nations to work towards them.
Professor Henrietta Moore ponders the potential effects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on philanthropy in a recent article in Alliance Magazine.
Read Henrietta Moore’s take on Davos 2016 in The Guardian (19 January 2016)
“In 2016 we need to jettison our obsession with economic “growth” and instead focus on how we achieve genuine prosperity.” Henrietta Moore shares her thoughts on the trends and breakthroughs for 2016 on the Bond UK website.
Based on recent fieldwork, this paper examines the intersecting economic activities of Marakwet women in northwest Kenya with a particular focus on exchange friendships. We highlight the need to expand previous definitions of tilia, based on male exchange of livestock, to include a variety of exchange friendships including those between women.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) already accounts for roughly 700,000 deaths per year globally and has been forecast to rise to 10 million deaths by 2050. The scariest thing is that we’ve known about this possible outcome for decades and done nothing to prevent it, Henrietta Moore writes in The Independent.
I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Dr Benjamin Kipkorir on 20 May 2015. Born in 1940 in Kapsowar, Elgeyo-Marakwet District in Kenya, Ben was the pre-eminent Marakwet intellectual. Through his work on the Marakwet, he made an enormous contribution to the history and anthropology of Kenya, championing oral historical techniques as well as ‘ethnography of the self’ in the days beforepostcolonial reflexivity had become established. Ben’s support and astute critique has been present from the very beginning of my academic career, when I arrived in Kenya as a PhD student. In fact, in 1981 he convened the conference at the University of Nairobi where I gave the very first paper on my Marakwet research, and his edited collection The Kerio Valley contained my first publication. It’s hard to believe that his kindly, wise, critical voice will no longer be heard.
You probably didn’t realise it, but today is Commonwealth Day. In fact, it’s likely that the vast majority of the 2.2 billion people around the world who call one of the 53 Commonwealth nations home didn’t know either. Fifty years ago – and earlier, as Empire Day – this would have been a day of celebration for people in Britain, India, Nigeria and many other places besides. But with every passing year, it seems, the ‘ties that bind’ Britain and its former colonies together are loosening.
Like a sleepwalker roused from his dream, the world is slowly waking up to the full nightmare of the Ebola outbreak decimating west Africa. With small numbers of cases turning up in western countries, governments here are belatedly pledging action to fight the disease, which has already claimed almost 5,000 lives. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – all countries struggling to recover from wars still fresh in the memory – have buckled under the onslaught of this horrific virus.
Sitting here on a beautiful day in London with all the newspaper headlines saying the feel-good factor is coming back, it’s very easy to think that everything that’s happened since 2008 was just a terrible nightmare and now we can all relax. But I do not believe that is the case. This week the Sunday Times Rich List quoted the largest ever annual growth in wealth of the richest people in the UK and the recent OECD report put inequality at the highest rate for several decades. If you look at the American figures, from 1976 to 2007, 1% of the population in the USA took 40% of the income.
Read Henrietta L. Moore on her new UCL Institute in the NewStart online magazine, 21 May 2014
The discipline of anthropology has a long history of fascination with secrecy and secret knowledge. What has been given less attention is the manner in which the idea of secrets dominates the imaginative construction of the domain of anthropology itself and acts as the evident, but nonetheless concealed, centre around which the desire of the anthropologist circulates. In this book chapter Henrietta L. Moore discusses the ways in which secrecy and silence have defined her research in an African community over the last 25 years.
Targeted interventions can work, but more remains to be done to change people’s behaviour.
Read Henrietta L. Moore’s editorial on the 2013 UNICEF report “Female genital mutilation/cutting: a statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change”.
What happens when people “achieve”? Why do reactions to “achievement” vary so profoundly? And how might an anthropological study of achievement and its consequences allow us to develop a more nuanced model of the motivated agency that operates in the social world? These questions lie at the heart of this volume. Drawing on research from Southeast Asia, Europe, the United States, and Latin America, this collection develops an innovative framework for explaining achievement’s multiple effects – one which brings together cutting-edge theoretical insights into politics, psychology, ethics, materiality, aurality, embodiment, affect and narrative.
The notion of ‘sociality’ is now widely used within the social sciences and humanities. However, what is meant by the term varies radically, and the contributors to this edited collection identify the strengths and weaknesses of current definitions and their deployment in the social sciences. By developing their own rigorous and innovative theory of human sociality, they re-set the framework of the debate and open up new possibilities for conceptualizing other forms of sociality, such as that of animals or materials. This book is an invaluable resource, not only for research and teaching, but for anyone interested in the question of what makes us social.
What makes art valuable? Why in times of crisis do people buy contemporary art? This paper published in the Cardozo Law Review Vol 33 (6) discusses whether or not investment in art can ever be seen as rational, and explores how the contemporary art market is expanding to include not just works of art, but art as a form of cultural practice.
Thinking about art events allows us to pose old questions in new ways: “what does art do for us”; “what do we expect from art”; “what do we hope for when we go to an art event”? Art institutions certainly recognise that the expectations of their audiences have changed, and a large measure of this is evident in the drive towards participation. A strange form of “democracy” has taken shape where we no longer ask what the work might demand of the viewer/participant/gallery-goer, but instead ask what it is that they require of the work.
This paper was presented on 4 November 2011 at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
In this new post for the LSE Review of Books, Henrietta Moore discusses the books that inspired her and awoke her interest in anthropology. It all started with stories, in particular Greek and Roman myths: “important for the not-yet-anthropologist was the idealisation of kinship, the hopeless question of family inheritance, the ties of loyalty and their relation to fealty. Can you know your true self and how much of the answer to that question is about origins?
In this new book, published in June 2012, the editors invite leading and new scholars and activists from across the globe to highlight tensions or ‘flash-points’ in contemporary debates about sexuality. The volume offers innovative ways forward in terms of thinking about sexuality – both theoretically and with respect to policy and programme development.
This paper explores the frailty of particular notions of ‘actant’ and ‘affect’ for an understanding of the emergent socialities that cross virtual and actual worlds. It uses work on robots and avatars to explore a humanly grounded theory of sociality.
Margherita Margiotti reviews Henrietta L. Moore’s The Subject of Anthropology: Gender, Symbolism and Psychoanalysis for the LSE Review of Books.
In this piece for openDemocracy.net Henrietta L. Moore and Sabine Selchow introduce their reconceptualisation of the Internet as a set of interactions in process, turning away from mainstream understandings of it as a ‘tool’ and / or ‘space’ that enables political action. This reconceptualisation means that questions about what is happening ‘on’ the Internet, and how the internet is used, by whom, and with what impact on the ‘actual’ world no longer have sufficient analytical purchase.
This paper suggests an alternative understanding of the Internet and its role in contemporary politics. Rather than taking it as a tool or a space for politics, the paper conceptualises the Internet as a set of interactions in process that constitute the political, and indeed the social and the economic. As such it is not a tool or a space to enable life, but life itself.
In this anniversary edition of ‘Global Civil Society’, activists and academics look back on ten years of ‘politics from below’, and ask whether it is merely the critical gaze upon the concept that has changed – or whether there is something genuinely new in kind about the way in which civil society is now operating.
A rapid perusal of the usual sources provides definitions of ‘intangible’ as ‘incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch’;’incorporeal or immaterial’;’vague, elusive, fleeting’; ‘not definite to the mind’. Perhaps more arresting is the idea that intangibility applies to assets in the good will of a business. Amusingly, if you search for the term ‘intangible’ on Dictionary.com, it offers you the option to ‘see images of intangible’. A quick click on that link gives you images relating to intangible cultural heritage in Estonia, Fiji and Vietnam, among other places. A series of further clicks on randomly chosen images from among the same set inevitably results in the response ‘website could not be found’! The intangible appears and disappears, but what remains is a series of questions worth exploring about the links between intangibility, culture, and assets.
This chapter appears in the collection ‘Heritage, Memory and Identity.’
On 7th September 2011 the Kenyan Government passed a bill outlawing female circumcision or FGM. In what ways and to what extent Kenya’s prohibition of FGM will be enforced is still to emerge. In the Marakwet community, where Henrietta L. Moore has been researching female initiation and social change, she has already observed the ways in which initiation ceremonies are sensitive to wider national and international political pressures.
Ranging from African initiation rituals to Japanese anime, and from sex in virtual worlds to Schubert songs, Henrietta Moore focuses on how best we might approach the relationship between critical thought and politics, as well as the dynamics of intimacy and meaning in contemporary cultural and social life. This book explores how the ideas of social analysts and ordinary people intertwine and diverge, and argues for an ethics of engagement based on an understanding of the human need to engage with cultural problems and seek social change.
We often imagine the brain as a sort of high-powered, superbly engineered evolutionary computer. But it is actually a wonderfully baroque structure, made up of incompletely integrated units. Read Henrietta L. Moore’s Prospect-article on neuroscience’s bold claims about human culture.
This article discusses the recent conversion to radical Protestant beliefs in a community in northern Kenya that has resulted in new forms of knowledge and agency. The moral continuities and discontinuities between researcher and researched cannot in this situation be glossed by making the informants rational in context or by asserting the existence of culturally distinct worldviews.
This dazzling compendium of some of the world’s most prominent and diverse thinkers examines the question, ‘What is the future of culture in the age of globalization?’ The essays in this volume represent a major theoretical and methodological challenge to the social sciences, and question the nature of globalization and the culture of change.
‘The Subject of Anthropology’ draws on anthropology, feminism and psychoanalysis to develop an original and provocative theory of gender and of how we become sexed beings. Arguing that the Oedipus complex is no longer the fulcrum of debate between anthropology and psychoanalysis, Moore demonstrates how recent theorizing on subjectivity, agency and culture has opened up new possibilities for rethinking the relationship between gender, sexuality and symbolism.
Written not just for professional scholars and for students but for anyone with a serious interest in how gender and sexuality are conceptualized and experienced, this book is the most powerful and persuasive assessment to date of what anthropology has to contribute to these debates now and in the future.
We might agree that culture matters, but how much should it matter, and to whom? Arguments about culture are always fraught, because they are perennially entangled in a debate about transcendence versus recognition. Should we live our lives according to principles that apply to the whole of humanity, or should we be guided by the historical specificity of lives lived? The circularity of these debates defies simple narratives or solutions.
This chapter appears in Transcultural Bodies, an ethnographically rich exploration of FGC among African diasporas in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia.
Bringing together distinguished scholars and original voices from anthropology’s diverse subfields, Feminist Anthropology: Past, Present, and Future probes critical issues in the study of gender, sex, and sexuality. Contributors offer significant reflections on feminist anthropology’s winding trajectory. In so doing, they examine what it means to practice feminist anthropology today, at a time when the field is perceived as fragmented and contentious.
The book provides the most comprehensive selection of readings and insightful overview of anthropological theory available. It identifies crucial conceptual signposts and new theoretical directions for the discipline and discusses broader debates in the social sciences.
The 1970s were great years: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, flared trousers, low-fat margarine, Charlie’s Angels and a wine that went by the name of Bull’s Blood. A decade when women were women and men were men. The 1970s were great years for anthropology because back then was the only time we’ve ever been sure in our mindst that we knew what sex and gender were. Like all good things, this certainty has since come to an end. This paper is about certainty and uncertainty, and about the instability of particular kinds of conceptual project.
“Descriptions are always partial; they are carved out of complex realities and can never be complete or finished. Accounts of other cultures, of past times, of others’ motivations, are always interested accounts, oriented toward some purpose. Facts are not facts until they are formed into narratives, framed within models, and become subject to interpretations. There is, therefore, no world that can be simply described independent of our engagement with it. Logically, there can be no objective truth about individuals and societies. However, if truth is impossible then what is the purpose of our concern with truthfulness?”
This article interrogates the problem of the global and the local in anthropology, and asks how their interconnections might be theorized. When anthropologists call for an examination of the global in concrete terms, they often fail to appreciate the place of ‘concept-metaphors’ whose purpose is to maintain ambiguity and a productive tension between universal claims and specific historical contexts.
“I want to suggest that there are three key areas of theoretical difficulty: how to theorise children’s agency, how to theorise their rights, and how to theorise the nature of the ‘child’ itself. These are not new theoretical questions. They are all interconnected, and they link to and underpin such diverse domains of enquiry as children and social policy, war trauma and child soldiers, cognitive development, language use, sexuality and labour.”
Politics is about judgement and decisions. For the citizens of the UK, as elsewhere, these moments of judgement are most evident at the points when their lives touch the State – in the case of this project, voting, jury service and becoming a citizen.
Two events loomed large in the imagination of those employed by universities in England this year: the publication of the Research Assessment Exercise results and the agreement on a new review system for quality assurance in Higher Education. […]
Public service reform is top of the political agenda. Without fresh ideas, the obituary for the welfare state will read, “Fondly remembered – Failed to deliver”. There will be nowhere for the public sector to go except the corrosive route of break-up, privatisation, confusion and citizens’ distrust.
There is, however, a new vision for government, based not on serving citizens but on co-operating with them. The idea is simple. Citizens, on their own or coming together at a neighbourhood or some other level, play a key role in the design and delivery of public services.
We call this the Mutual State. It draws on a long history of mutual approaches that enlist people as partners rather than users. But it recreates a new form of mutuality focused on participation and social entrepreneurship rather than conventional ownership.
This pocketbook describes the new mutuality and sets out the vision of government it embodies.
This volume sets out recent thinking on witchcraft in Africa, paying particular attention to variations in meanings and practices. It examines the way different people in different contexts are making sense of what ‘witchcraft’ is and what it might mean.
This paper looks at the changing nature of work, drawing primarily on examples from the less developed and newly industrialized countries of the world. It suggests several ways we might have to revise or extend our understanding of the term’work’ in light of increased female participation in the waged labour force.
Last year the editors of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society invited feminists worldwide to comment on the millennial transition. Representing a disciplinary and generational range of writers, the resulting collection is at turns inspiring, troubling, provocative, despairing, celebratory. Some of the essays give voice to anxieties, others are more hopeful; some reflect back, others look forward. Many of these fifty-plus short essays speak to themes of gender, nationality, global independence, transnational corporate domination, racial and ethnic identities, and complex intersections among these systems. Readers will find eye-opening writing that is thoughtful, committed, and passionate about feminist futures.
The 1970s were great years: Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, flared trousers, low-fat margarine, Charlie’s Angels and a wine that went by the name of Bull’s Blood. A decade when women were women and men were men. The 1970s were great years for anthropology because back then was the only time we’ve ever been sure in our mindst that we knew what sex and gender were. Like all good things, this certainty has since come to an end. This paper is about certainty and uncertainty, and about the instability of particualr kinds of conceptual project.
[German translation of ‘Whatever happened to women and men? Gender and other crises in Anthropology’ in Trabalhos de Antropologia e Etnologia, Vol. 45(1-2).]
‘Perhaps one of the problems with being social theorists is that we do not know how to manage a masterclass. The term is suggestive given how much discussion there has been amongst feminist theorists of the limitations for social theory for the autonomous, masculine agent, the Cartesian subject. As social theorists, we are sometimes rather like the ‘master’ running the class, and the occasionally beleaguered performer is our newly revisioned feminist subject. We want her, amongst other things, to be more innovative, give some evidence of resistance, and demonstrate her ability to reinvent herself at every moment. And we positively discourage certain forms of interpretation or praxis, certain ways of being a subject or imagining how to be a subject.’
This essay appears in Agency in Archaeology, the first critical volume to scrutinize the concept of human agency and to examine in depth its potential to inform our understanding of the past. This ground-breaking collection will be required reading for advanced undergraduate and graduate students and scholars in archaeological theory and material culture studies.
A state-of-the-art textbook on anthropological theory, Anthropological Theory Today contains chapters by some of the key figures in the field, including Henrietta Moore, Daniel Miller and Nicholas Thomas. The collection covers a range of very topical issues which are at the forefront of debates in anthropology, including gender, the body, cognition and material culture.
This paper summarises and updates the report of one of the seven Expert Working Groups established by the UK’s Health Education Authority (HEA) in October 1996 to look at the potential for health promotion with key populations – in this case that of children and young people. It seeks to establish a revitalised agenda for research into the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the UK. The article describes how contemporary sociological understandings of children and childhood have implications not only for the way in which health and health promotion strategies are conceived, designed and implemented, but for our understanding of what health and health promotion initiatives should constitute. The article calls for more research into children’s and young people’s understandings of health, and the linguistic idioms in which those understandings are expressed, as well as into the social networks and social action spaces in which children and young people operate. It argues for better integration of research and policies concerning the health of children and young people, to include institutions, agencies and organisations that have an impact on the health of children and young people.
Anthropology is no longer a singular discipline, but rather a blend of practices engaged in a variety of social contexts. A whole series of new questions have been posed by the sustained challenge which Third World, black and feminist scholars have provided to the established agenda of the social sciences and humanities in recent years. It is this context that the nature and purpose of social knowledge, and in particular anthroplogical knowledge, comes into particular focus. By examining the changing nature of anthropological knowledge and of the production of that knowledge, this book challenges the notion that only Western societies have produced social theories of modernity and of global scope. Knowledge of society can no longer be restricted to a knowledge of face-to-face social relations but must encompass the effect of technology, global consumption patterns and changing geo-political configurations. The question what is social knowledge for? is not intended to provoke an answer, but rather a series of interrogations. This work explores the question of the nature of social knowledge from a variety of perspectives.
This study focuses on the relationship between the organization of household space and gender relations, showing how that relation shifts due to changing social and economic conditions, including such factors as wage labor and education. This updated edition contains a new foreword and afterword in which Moore relates her work to more recent developments around gender, resistance, difference, and spatiality.
In this book Henrietta Moore examines the limitations of the theoretical languages used by anthropologists and others to write about sex, gender, and sexuality. Moore begins by discussing recent feminist debates on the body and the notion of the non-universal human subject. She then considers why anthropologists have contributed relatively little to these debates, suggesting that this reflects the history of anthropology’s conceptualization of “persons” or “selves” cross-culturally. The author also pursues a series of related themes, including the links between gender, identity, and violence; the construction of domestic space and its relationship to bodily practices and the internalization of relations of difference; and the links between the gender of the anthropologist and the writing of anthropology.
Cutting Down Trees is about local responses to global processes of change. This major study traces detailed changes in the agricultural system of Zambia’s Northern Province over a period of 100 years. The authors assess the ecological, social, and political changes affecting the region, and relate current development initiatives to long-run interventions. Drawing on their extensive research experience, Moore and Vaughan have produced a detailed examination of the changing nature of gender relations, household production, and nutrition.
This is the first book which examines the nature and significance of a feminist critique in anthropology. It offers a clear introduction to, and balanced assessment of, the theoretical and practical issues raised by the development of a feminist anthropology.
Henrietta L. Moore situates the development of a feminist approach in anthropology within the context of the discipline, examining the ways in which women have been studied in anthropology – as well as the ways in which the study of gender has influenced the development of the discipline anthropology. She considers the application of feminist work to key areas of anthropological research, and addresses the question of what social anthropology has to contribute to contemporary feminism.