• anthropology

    Schumacher’s ‘Buddhist economics’

    by  • 4 April, 2016 • anthropology, Buddhism, neoliberalism, religion • 2 Comments

    I’ve been talking to a colleague recently about developing a project on religion and economics under the auspices of the Religion and Political Culture Network (RPCN) at the University of Manchester. This has got me thinking about Buddhism, economics and Buddhist economics, and has led me to reread Ernst Friedrich Schumacher’s classic essay Buddhist...

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    Needham’s review of Paul Veyne’s ‘Did the Greeks believe in their myths?’

    by  • 17 August, 2015 • anthropology, belief, religion • 0 Comments


    This post is a continuation of my thoughts in my previous post… Now to Needham’s review of Veyne’s book. The review is short, and much is taken up with flattering comments on Veyne’s style, but overall the conclusion is negative—he characterises the argument as ‘erratic and inconsistent’. On my reading, Needham makes three substantive points, which I...

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    The Meaning and End of Religion

    by  • 22 July, 2015 • anthropology, belief, religion • 0 Comments


    Over the weekend I read Wilfred Cantwell Smith‘s The Meaning and End of Religion (1962). I knew a little about this book from Talal Asad’s 2001 article (jStor paywall), which I suppose is the main way most anthropologists of religion have come to know its content too. Asad lavishes praise on Smith at the beginning of...

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    Speaking Ethically Across Borders Conference: Registration Open!

    by  • 11 December, 2013 • anthropology, anthropology of ethics, ethics across borders • 0 Comments

    A conversation between Western Christendom and the Mongol Empire: 
Pope Innocent IV sends a mission to Central Asia, carrying one of a series of letters that were exchanged between the pontiffs and the Mongol khans in the thirteenth century. (Source: Wikipedia)

    Registration is now open for the conference: Speaking Ethically Across Borders: Interdisciplinary Approaches 8-10 January 2014 CRASSH, University of Cambridge With lectures by: Michael Lambek (Toronto) and Simon Coleman (Toronto). Including papers by: Michael Lempert (Michigan), John Marenbon (Cambridge), Carlo Severi (EHESS), Hallvard Lillehammer (Birbeck). ***For registration and further details: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25021 *** ***The Facebook...

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    Cultures of Belief — post-print version of article

    by  • 10 April, 2013 • anthropology, belief, Inner Mongolia, religion • 0 Comments

    As promised, here’s a post-print version of my Cultures of Belief article, which was published in Anthropological Theory. cultures-of-belief-post-print The text is identical to the journal version, but the formatting is different — this is the version I’m allowed to distribute according to the publishing agreement. If you have access to the journal, for...

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    Cultures of Belief – New paper out in Anthropological Theory

    by  • 10 April, 2013 • anthropology, belief, Mongolian Buddhism, religion • 0 Comments

    Anthropological Theory

    I’ve just had a new paper out in Anthropological Theory — this is behind a paywall, I’ll make a post-print version available through this website soon for those who don’t have access to the journal through an academic library. The paper is titled ‘Cultures of ignorance’. In a nutshell, the argument is that academic...

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    Literacy, religious renaissance and the ‘morality system’

    by  • 4 April, 2013 • anthropology, anthropology of ethics, religion • 0 Comments

    Safari ya roho akhera, ‘the journey of the soul into the afterlife’, was published in 1999 by Said Amour Al-Habsy in Oman — image from Becker’s 2009 paper.

    This is a cross-post from ethics.CRASSH. Felicitas Becker on Islamic reformism and Sufi traditionalism in Tanzania I’ve just read two fascinating papers by Felicitas Becker on moral conflict in East Africa. Both papers describe the relationship between Islamist reformers and Sufi-influenced traditionalists in rural Tanzania. Broadly speaking, the Islamists are young, have international connections (though these...

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