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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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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.

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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