anthropology of morality

anthropology of morality
The Anthropology of Morality
A Dynamic and Interactionist Approach

par Monica Heintz


Why, when and where are some moral systems supported and followed whilst others are condemned? Are moral values culturally relative or universal? Can immoral actions be tolerated in times of crisis? Is the dream of becoming better sufficient for prompting virtuous behavior, or should we dream about what is best? Do moral values last? The divergence in practices and codes of moral belief and action present significant challenges but also offer opportunities to anthropologists for understanding social life.

In this book, Monica Heintz explores these questions, drawing on case studies from Eastern Europe that encompass migration, religion, economic and social policies and paying particular attention to the way morality works in communities undergoing rapid social change. She uses these examples to reflect on the wider question of societal conflict and change, showing how they are driven by moral values. By highlighting the centrality of such values as engines for action and questioning the limits of universal moral values, she argues that anthropology has the capacity to shed light on the study of human morality more generally.

couv stanford2bis

couv stanford2bis
The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons: A Seventeenth-Century Novel

par Kristin Ingrid Fryklund (traduction), Brigitte Baptandier (introduction et notes) et Mark Edward Lewis (introduction)   

Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2021, 304 p.
Traduit de l’édition chinoise : Taizhong, Ruicheng shuju

The Lady of Linshui—the goddess of women, childbirth, and childhood—is still venerated in south China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Her story evolved from the life of Chen Jinggu in the eighth century and blossomed in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) into vernacular short fiction, legends, plays, sutras, and stele inscriptions at temples where she is worshipped. The full-length novel The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons narrates Chen Jinggu’s lifelong struggle with and eventual triumph over her spirit double and rival, the White Snake demon. Among accounts of goddesses in late imperial China, this work is unique in its focus on the physical aspects of womanhood, especially the dangers of childbirth, and in its dramatization of the contradictory nature of Chinese divinities. This unabridged, annotated translation provides insights into late imperial Chinese religion, the lives of women, and the structure of families and local society.

9782365190398 475x500 1

9782365190398 475x500 1
Petits pays, grandes musiques : le parcours d'un ethnomusicologue en Méditerranée

par Bernard Lortat-Jacob

Société d'ethnologie, 2021, 512 p.

Synthèse d’une vie de chercheur, d’enseignant et de musicien, le présent ouvrage de l’ethnomusicologue Bernard Lortat-Jacob offre une vision panoramique des musiques populaires des pays parcourus par l’auteur (Maroc, Sardaigne, Roumanie, Albanie) en même temps qu’une leçon magistrale de musicologie. De la même façon que, de tout temps, et sans l’aide de l’écriture, les sociétés humaines ont su édifier des systèmes politiques, échafauder des cosmogonies, penser des procédures juridiques, imaginer des techniques complexes, produire des merveilles d’art plastique, de façon analogue, ces mêmes sociétés font résonner des chefs-d’oeuvre de la polyphonie vocale, le plus souvent ignorés de nos contemporains. Petits pays (simples villages gouvernés par la tradition), grandes musiques (sublimes chœurs d’hommes faisant vivre une improvisation toujours renouvelée), l’ouvrage de Bernard Lortat-Jacob introduit le lecteur dans l’intimité des cultures populaires, donnant à comprendre que, conformément à la formule de Gilbert Rouget, « la musique, c’est toujours beaucoup plus que la musique ».

Sous la plume de Giovanni Giuriati, la préface retrace le parcours de l’auteur, « figure centrale de l’ethnomusicologie européenne », tandis que dans une postface/volte-face inédite, l’auteur lui-même explique le pourquoi et le comment de son évolution personnelle sur plus de trente ans.


Leaving: A narrative of assisted suicide

par Anthony Stavrianakis

University of California Press, 2020, 248 p.

The first book length anthropological study of voluntary assisted dying in Switzerland, Leaving is a narrative account of five people who ended their lives with assistance. Stavrianakis places his observations of the judgment to end life in this way within a larger inquiry about how to approach and understand the practice of assisted suicide, which he characterizes as operating in a political, legal, and medical “parazone,” adjacent to medical care and expertise. Frequently, observers too rapidly integrate assisted suicide into moral positions that reflect sociological and psychological commonplaces about individual choice and its social determinants. Leaving engages with core early twentieth-century psychoanalytic and sociological texts arguing for a contemporary approach to the phenomenon of voluntary death, seeking to learn from such conceptual repertoires, as well as to acknowledge their limits. Leaving concludes on the anthropological question of how to account for the ethics of assistance with suicide: to grasp the actuality and composition of the ethical work that goes on in the configuration of a subject, one who is making a judgment about dying, with other participants and observers, the anthropologist included.

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