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Bruce Kapferer



The ERC-funded Egalitarianism Project hosted by the University of Bergen aims at a multi-dimensional critical approach to the issue of Egalitarianism. The concept of Egalitarianism is extraordinarily broad, as is the no less nebulous ideal of equality, having virtually ontological value in modern Euro-American thought, increasingly so globally.

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Not Utopia Yet: Income-Sharing Egalitarian Intentional Communities in North America


Mari Hanssen Korsbrekke

How is egalitarianism negotiated in self-proclaimed egalitarian intentional communities?

This project is an exploration of inner dynamics of intentional communities in the US, and the history and meaning of utopian egalitarian social experimentation in relation to historical contexts in modern times. Intentional communities are groups of people coming together in most often residential spaces to achieve a high degree of social and communal cohesion. Through the tensions between the individual and the communal I explore the micro-negotiations of egalitarian communards and their understanding of egalitarian and in-egalitarian dialectics.

Community visions poster.


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Post-polis: The (in)egalitarian dynamics of emerging urban orders (project description)




Bjørn Bertelsen

What does the notion of the urban mean when the city is replaced by megapolises lacking physical centres and clear-cut boundaries? What egalitarian and inegalitarian possibilities and dynamics do such globally emergent urban configurations hold? Many of the new structures, and in particular in what is commonly referred to as the global South, experience the disintegration of a centrally governed city with a polis that was often colonially imposed. Simultaneously and in both the global North and South many urban areas experience an increased use of automated and digital systems of governance that emerge in tandem with urban zones that reflect corporate forms of experimentation, privatization and, thus, fragmentation.

This project aims to compare mainly two large-scale urban contexts in what is commonly labelled the global South and North, namely, Maputo and San Francisco. Such juxtaposition addresses the questions raised by critically investigating ongoing and future urban configurations in terms of how these constrain, structure or open up egalitarian possibilities. This will include analysing the socio-political impact of various forms of technology (such as implementation of the Internet of Things, infrastructural arrangements and digital surveillance and tracking possibilities), novel forms of ordering urban space (such as privatized cities, gated communities, security arrangements), emergent forms of politics (such as autonomous or occupied areas, urban citizen-run zones or riots) and questions relating to the urban comprising depositories of wealth.

Picture 1: Bairro Polana Caniço, Maputo, January 2016.
Eradication of housings of the poor as part of rapid gentrification. New gated community condominiums about to be constructed in the background. Photo: Bjørn Enge Bertelsen.


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Violent Becomings in Mozambique

Rolf Scott How does the state of Mozambique configure it self in relationship to the people defined within its borders? Read more …

Refugees and Human Rights, a Project Description!

Marina Gold

My research project has been looking at the refugee crisis from two distinct perspectives:

1) the relationship between human rights discourse (as an egalitarian ideal) and the refugee crisis

2) the managing structures of refugees

Initial fieldwork has been carried out in Switzerland, given the high numbers of international NGOs that articulate human rights discourse, and the increasing numbers of refugees arriving from Italy and Austria. Switzerland has received 479 asylum applications per 100,000 inhabitants, which is above the European average of 260 applications per 100,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, 24.6% of Switzerland’s population is composed of foreigners. The other particularity of Switzerland is its highly democratic system of government, where people are involved in direct decisions affecting the country’s national and international policies. This was the case with one of the last referendums which voted to establish a quota on European citizens working in Switzerland, which has placed enormous stress on the Swiss government’s negotiations with the EU.



Dr Marina Gold

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Fracking and the Price of Democracy

Anna Szolucha

How much will fracking cost the people of Britain? The promises of jobs and economic wealth seem increasingly illusory in the face of the real costs already paid by local councils and residents.

All developments involve change and all bring benefits as well as costs which are not evenly distributed. The prospect of financial gain for the companies exploring for shale gas, the promise of new jobs and local prosperity come at a price.

The imbalance in benefits and burdens that are involved in all shale gas developments has already been experienced by local residents in Lancashire even though fracking has not really started yet. They report few benefits but a whole range of adverse health and social impacts such as increased stress, community conflict and an atmosphere of distrust and surveillance that are an effect of the prospect of fracking in the area.


However, the costs of fracking for the local communities are not merely figurative but also quite literally – monetary. The costs that local councils and communities have to incur in order to be able to participate effectively in the planning process raise questions about the price they have to pay just to have a say about fracking; the price they have to pay for democracy.

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Revolution Through Practice and Fluid Relations

Rolf Scott, Marina Gold of the Egalitarianism research group, has recently published a new book at Palgrave Macmillan US, named Read more …

Reflections on Charlie Hebdo and Comments in the American Anthropologist

Rolf Scott, The Event of Charlie Hebdo; Imageries of Freedom and Control and comments from Angelique Haugerud in American Anthropologist Read more …

Brexit and Remain: A pox on all their house


This text by Bruce Kapferer was firstly published in Focaalblog August 18, 2016, Focaalblog

DSC_0252Bruce Kapferer, giving a lecture in Ascona, March 2016


A crisis is always good for humor. The English satirical magazine Private Eye caught the spirit of uncertainty and the possible tragedy of Brexit—that many of those who voted for it may have intensified their abjection as a result. One spoof comment for The Daily Turkeygraph (a composite of the conservative Daily Mail and Telegraph papers) written by Jeremy Paxo (a reference to the news commentator Jeremy Paxman, also a brand of stuffing mix) was headlined “TURKEYS VOTE FOR CHRISTMAS IN REFERENDUM CLIFFHANGE.R. Another for The Indepandent (sic, The Independent, a liberal/conservative paper) headlined “BRITAIN VOTES TO LEAVE FRYING PAN AND JUMP INTO FIRE.”

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Grassroots Challenging “Liberal Democracies”

Rolf Scott The Occupy Movement in San Francisco and Ireland, and The Shale Gas Development in the UK; Grassroots Challenging “liberal Read more …

Casino Cities – Las Vegas, Macau and Monaco!

Rolf Scott

During the month of April (7th to 24th) 2016, Bruce Kapferer and Rolf Scott travelled on a short fieldwork to concretize the beginning of an investigation into what we name Casino cities, or a comparison between Las Vegas, Macau and Monaco. The project originates in Kapfere’s wanting to compare old world European capitalism (Monaco) with new world capitalism as in the USA (Las Vegas), and the new Asian capitalism as manifested in particular in China (Macau). His hypothesis was that the major casino cities are “experimental” centers of global capitalism, as manifest in specific culture-cosmological orientated approaches to gambling, but also as importantly, revealed through the symbolism of specific architectures, innovative technologies of gambling, of desire, and the spectacle.


The 350 foot (107m) pyramid casino resort of Luxor shining its light into the heavens, with the interconnected Las Vegas strip spreading out into the background. Photo taken from the Internet.

Further, how the cities are organized, the particulars of their social life, and how they interrelate with their larger surroundings. In other words, an overall comparison, – would disclose essential aspects on the different types of capitalism, as well as how it manifests it self globally. As such, Casino cities when viewed from afar, can at the very least be seen as future projecting hotspots for certain types of symbolic imagery driven by and reconfirming globally influential powers. That it is so, is further evident in that the investors of these cities are dominated by major global “player” billionaires, of which the most prominent Vegas figures are Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn and their counterpart in Macau is Stanley Ho.

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