Troubling complicities The anthropologist as (im)moral subject?

Kali Rubaii, Saiba Varma


This creative article seeks to trouble dominant modes of how anthropologists position themselves as moral subjects and grapple with their complicity with/in empire today: what we call “bearing witness” and “denunciation/confession.” In contrast to these models, we perform and theorize our own complicities by staying with the multiple social, relational, political, and epistemological entanglements that our fieldwork produces. Through a braided dialogue, we demonstrate the multiple responsibilities and relationalities that come with the positions we occupy as subjects, researchers, and narrators of empire. We define complicity as an active, transitive engagement with others as we are situated in multiple structures of power. Theorizing complicity helps us reveal what relations of knowledge and power we are responsible for making visible and how we can analytically respond to them. By pluralizing complicity, our aim is to stimulate much needed conversation on questions of anthropology’s relation to tentacles of empire.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/727740