Ethics, self-knowledge, and life taken as a whole

Veena Das


What does thinking of “world as a whole, life” entail for ethnography? Would the modification of life with the adjectival everyday— i.e.“every day life”—provide a different lens with which to take forward our notions of ethics, or rather, ethicallife, in anthropology? The argument of this paper is that everyday life can not be taken as a given, or treated as an object that can be directly apprehended. Rather we have to ask what picture of intimacy, closeness, or ordinariness we might be able to imagine to render everyday life as knowable? Within this picture of everyday life, ethics are not a matter of finding a specialized vocabulary through which moral life can be rendered but rather of tracing the work that goes into making everyday life inhabitable.


everyday life, ethics, kinship, time, self, death

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/701379