The force of custom: Law and the ordering of everyday life in Kyrgyzstan, Judith Beyer (Université de Constance)

Anthropologie à Nanterre

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Mardi 12 Mars 2019 16:00 - 18:00
Bâtiment Ramnoux (E), salle E105 (1e étage)
200 avenue de la République, Nanterre


In this talk, I offer a unique critique of the concept of 'postsocialism', a new take on the concept of legal pluralism, and a plea to bring ethnomethodological approaches into correspondence with ethnographic data. Drawing on a decade of anthropological fieldwork and engagement with Central Asia, I will focus on describing how my informants in rural Kyrgyzstan order their everyday lives and rationalize their recent history by invoking the force of custom (Kyrgyz: 'salt').

Although 'salt' is often blamed for bringing about more disorder and hardship than order and harmony, as I will exemplify with the example of mortuary rituals, it allows my informants to disavow responsibility for their actions by pushing a model of ‘how things get done here’ to the front. Invoking 'salt' enables actors even as they claim to be constrained by it, it opens up possibilities to conceptualize, classify, and contextualize large- and mid-scale developments in an intimate idiom. It also is a way to communicate to others that one is an expert in and of one’s own culture. An ethnomethodological perspective, as I pursue it, challenges a conception of social order as hidden within the visible actions and behaviours of members of society. Rather, it examines how members produce and sustain the observable orderliness of their own actions.

« Anthropologie à Nanterre » est un séminaire d’anthropologie généraliste, organisé par le Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative et le Département d’anthropologie de l’université Paris Nanterre. Le séminaire a lieu le mardi de 14h à 16h à l’Université Paris Nanterre, bâtiment Clémence Ramnoux (E), salle E105 (1er étage).

Les séances sont ouvertes à tout.e.s, selon les conditions sanitaires.

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