Towards a critical ethnography of political concepts

Anastasia Piliavsky, Judith Scheele


This special section approaches “politics” from a specifically ethnographic point of view. It does this by privileging ethnographically derived political concepts rather than more familiar preestablished and supposedly universal categories of political analysis. This introduction offers a general theoretical framework for doing this, and establishes a shared language of analysis. It situates current developments in relation to the history of political anthropology and of the broader discipline, and proposes a definition of the domain of political anthropology through an emphasis on politics as collective ethics. It then reflects on the relationship between language and concepts, and the articulation of different “global” hierarchies of value.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/723216