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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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Meeting in Ascona! 8-15 of March 2016

Rolf Scott

The Egalitarian group led by professor Bruce Kapferer “celebrated” the first year of a full program with a 7 day (8th to the 15th of March) part seminar and conference in Ascona, Switzerland. The location was the beautiful setting of Centro Incontri Umani/ Centre for Studies of Society and Culture. http://www.ciu-ascona.org/index.html

The title of the event was “Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparisons”. The title reflected some of the issues relating to the complexity of the realities embraced by the concept of egalitarianism. It must here be underlined (as constantly stated by Bruce Kapferer) that the understanding of egalitarianism is dominated by how its European context, is inherently a cosmological issue of Christianity manifested in European ideals on the individual as a value and in utopian egalitarian social forms (ideologies). Our investigation must thereby go beyond the limitations inherent in reducing egalitarianism to a mere issue of equality versus inequality. Egalitarianism is not static and can not be reduced to an ideal. It finds form and can be analysed socially also outside of European influenced contexts, in a processual tug of war with hierarchy. Thus, in simple terms egalitarianism gives birth to hierarchy and hierarchy creates the conditions for egalitarianism.


From the left. Bjørn Bertelsen, Laura Simona, Bruce Kapferer, Jacob Hjortsberg, Alessandro Zagato, Theodoros Rakopoulos, Axel Rudi, and Knut Rio. Photo Rolf Scott

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Confronted with the escalating violence of state-supported narco-capitalism, ordinary Mexicans are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.


By Alessandro Zagato

A vicious war is tormenting Mexico: a silent war that rarely reaches the headlines of the international media. An inner war which many occidental powers have been following carefully, always monitoring their own interests in the area. This is a war for the appropriation of resources, for infrastructural development, for control over territories, for the implementation of a new order — a war waged against whoever tries to resist or strike back. Between 2007 and 2014, at least 164,000 people have been murdered in Mexico, more than have died in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the same time period. According to the Secretary of Public Security, more than 25,000 people are currently reported missing. These are enormous figures that still fail to account for the amount of brutality afflicting Mexican society, the trauma suffered by countless communities from Sonora to Chiapas, and the magnitude of the social transformation underway.

A peculiar aesthetics of militarism is felt when traveling through the country; ubiquitous military bases and checkpoints, high-caliber weapons displayed by policemen and soldiers in ski-masks. All this along with the military presence in the news, videos of gunfights, and graphic photos of brutalized bodies splashed on front pages. All becoming part of everyday life right throughout the country.This visual landscape is pushing people into a culture of aggression and fear, generating disorientation and social meltdown. In the military domain, each operation is open-ended and comes backed with intelligence and psychological warfare. “Military operations are truly a manner of speaking,” noted the Invisible Committee “hence every major operation is above all a communication operation whose every act, even a minor act, speaks louder than words.” Waging war today is “first and foremost to manage perceptions, the perceptions of the set of actors whether close by or far away, direct or indirect.”

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Maria Dyveke Styve on the Greek Debt Crisis for Norwegian National Radio (NRK)

The President of the Hellenic Parliament, Zoe Konstantopoulou, has set up a Debt Truth Commission to evaluate whether parts of Read more …

Solidarity and ‘truth’: two forms of egalitarian activism in the Greek crisis

Theodoros Rakopoulos, one of our post-doctoral fellows, has departed for a 12 months ethnographic fieldwork to work in the neighbourhoods of Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece. Below is an abstract of his intention in regards to expanding the understanding of the concept of egalitarianism in two directions, concerning activisms around the practices and notions of solidarity and around ‘truth’ activism.





By Theodoros Rakopoulos

The goal of my project is to investigate divergent egalitarian responses to life conditions produced in and by the current economical crisis, which dominates so much of everyday life of the Greek people. The work will focus on lower-middle class and working class individuals and the intention is to explore analytically how differently positioned actors organise what can be described as a radically diverse, yet at times overlapping, grassroots social responses to hardship.

The nature of the project necessitates that I develop my research in two directions in order to investigate different forms of egalitarian activism. These two trajectories are seemingly parallel, yet seem also to be at times interlocked.

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The Supposed Smugness of Environmental Critique: a Response to Thomas Hylland Eriksen

By Jacob Hjortsberg

Thomas Hylland Eriksen, the Norwegian anthropologist, has read Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (Klein 2014). His verdict? That Klein is being self-righteous. According to Hylland Eriksen, writing on his blog[1], Klein thinks that she is better than you, or, as he puts it, “holier-than-thou”.

It’s interesting, I think, that Hylland Eriksen chooses to focus on whether or not Naomi Klein thinks that she is morally superior to the corporate bosses who earn millions of dollars from destroying the ecosystem through fracking, that he chooses to critique her for being “smug” when she points out that we really really need to cut back on our emissions of green house gases if we want to have any plausible chance of avoiding a catastrophic 4 (or 5 or 6 or 7) degree C temperature increase by the end of the century. After all, instead of seeing this as a clear sign of Klein’s self-righteousness, he could have chosen to say that she is also just plainly right – or, to be more precise, that the facts that she is referring to are most probably correct, since they reflect a 97% scientific consensus – but still, he chooses to instead call her self-righteous. Now, why is that?

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The Manipal Centre and Professor Sundar Sarukkai

By Rolf Scott

The Egalitarian Projects is strongly represented in Mangalore, India at the Manipal Centre for philosophy and humanities (MCPH), and through its director and head of research, Professor Sundar Sarukkai who is also on our advisory board.


kozhikode sundar saroukai


Professor Sundar Sarukkai

Professor Sarukkai (PhD, Purdue University, USA) was a faculty member at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore from 1994-2009, before moving to Manipal to set up the MCPH. His area of research is primarily in the philosophy of science and mathematics, and draws on both Indian and Western philosophies. He is the author of the following books: Translating the World: Science and Language, Philosophy of Symmetry, Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, What is Science? and The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory (co-authored with Gopal Guru), as well as co-editor of three volumes on logic.

He is further an Editorial Advisory Board member of the Leonardo Book Series on science and art, which is published by MIT Press, USA and the Series Editor for Science and Technology Studies, by Routledge books.


Manipal centre for Philosophy and Humanities, Manipal University

Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities

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