Awe may promote altruistic behavior

WASHINGTON – Inducing a sense of awe in people can promote altruistic, helpful and positive social behavior according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others,” said Paul Piff, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. He was lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (gehiago…)

Academic Meetings, Graduation Season, and a Bit from Rousseau

Meetings are rituals, and rituals need symbols, and decorations. I’ve been to a lot of meetings in my time as an academic where I sat bored and confused, but still fulfilled my function as a decoration, and clap on cue. And to a large extent, that is what such ritual is about: clapping on cue about that to which you are brain dead.

Perhaps Rousseau was thinking of such academic meetings when he wrote in the 19th century “On this showing, the human species is divided into so many herds of cattle, each with its ruler, who keeps guard over them for the purpose of devouring them” (Rousseau).

Which of course starts me thinking about the many times I do indeed act like a herded cow, and so do my fellow academics. The most obvious place I am such a decoration is in May graduation ceremonies. I march into a stadium to a lively tune in an ungainly outfit, and then with the other faculty who all react in unison. March, clap, stand, and sit all in unison moving rhythmically just like the her do cattle waiting to obediently rush down a chute, at the end of which we might, ro all we know, be devoured. We then sit—decorations for the larger ceremony, just like the potted plants on stage. In fact, when I sat on a stage recently in Chico State’s graduation ceremony, there were literal potted plants on either side of the stage, bookending the potted plants in the robes. The redeeming value of the whole thing was the excitement and joy that many of our students and their families felt. (gehiago…)

Action waves in the brain

Revista latinoamericana de investigación crítica

Revista latinoamericana de investigación crítica
(Año II No. 2 Enero-Junio de 2015)

Carlos Fidel. Jorge Gibert-Galassi. Daniel Buquet. Juan Pedro Blois. Yuri Fernando Torrez Rubín de Celis. Andrés Tzeiman. Svetlana Inés Jaramillo Doniush. María Nancy Ortiz Naranjo. Miguel Hernández Monsalve. Carlos Barba Solano. Susana Mallo Reynal. Martín Granovsky. [Autores de Artículo]
Revista Latinoamericana de Investigación Crítica. 
ISBN 2409-1308
Buenos Aires.
Mayo de 2015

Introducción: Carlos Fidel
Tema central: Dilemas y perspectivas de las Ciencias Sociales
La producción “indexada” en las ciencias sociales latinoamericanas. 1993-2012. Jorge Gibert-Galassi
Producción de las ciencias sociales en América Latina. Daniel Buquet
La sociología en Brasil y Argentina en perspectiva comparada. Juan Pedro Blois
Los avatares de las Ciencias Sociales. Juegos de poder y estructura académica en las carreras de sociología de las universidades públicas en Bolivia. Yuri Fernando Torrez Rubín de Celis
Estado y Desarrollo en las ciencias sociales latinoamericanas. Debates protagónicos en el posneoliberalismo (2006-2013). Andrés Tzeiman
Otras temáticas
Los rezagos de la ciencia del Derecho Constitucional latinoamericano. Svetlana Inés Jaramillo Doniush
El latido del texto. Juegos de saber, poder y resistencia en la escritura académica en ciencias humanas. María Nancy Ortiz Naranjo
Juventudes organizadas en conflicto con Estado y Sociedad. Miguel Alejandro Hernández Monsalve
Aportes de coyuntura
La política social en México ¿Cambio de época o matiz universalista a una trayectoria dual? Carlos Barba Solano
Regulación del cannabis. Nuevas legalidades en Uruguay 2014. Susana Mallo
Leonardo Padura: “Los herejes poseen toda mi simpatía”. Martin Granovsky
Sociedad y Artes
“Del Golfo al Pacífico”. Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF)

Ethnography as theory

Laura Nader


Ethnography is never mere description, rather it is a theory of describing that has always been controversial as to the what and how thus inspiring a dynamic intellectual process. The process has been methodologically eclectic and innovative, governed by both consensual and outdated rules. Throughout more than hundred years of Anglo-American ethnography, observation has been combined with a wide variety of theoretical outlooks from structured-functionalist to critical writings.

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Immanence and fear: Stranger-events and subjects in Amazonia

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro



This article proposes to explore the political correlates of Amazonian perspectival ontologies. From a Taulipang mythical narrative about the origin of the anus (as transcribed by Koch-Grünberg) to a Nambikwara explanation of Brazilian I.D. cards (as reported by Joana Miller), Amazonian ethnography allows us to perceive how “bodily” affects and “spiritual” encounters conspire to project a particular conception of power, sociality and truth.

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The We and Them of Anthropology

I think about the ‘we’ and ‘them’ of anthropology quite frequently. I have always found the royal ‘we’ a bit of funny notion. Who is included in this ‘we’? Such a simple word, all of two letters, and yet it has an ambivalent presence. It can be an act of loving kinship—we are here together. We look out for one another. Or it can be an act of violence through the denial of difference: ‘we’ are just like you, so your concerns are invalid. We know what’s best. We are not amused.

The complex negotiation of simultaneous and often contradictory sameness and difference across legal orders, societies, nations, communities, disciplines, and histories drives my research of human-fish and colonial relations in Canada, and this negotiation of sameness and difference is encapsulated in the use of the word ‘we’. The State often tells Indigenous people in Canada that we are a ‘we’. It does this by asserting ‘we’ are all Canadian, so we are all one happy family of Canadian citizens loyal to the laws and principles of the Canadian State. But, paradoxically, when it suits it, the Canadian State does recognize difference (on its terms), and in so doing it frames all Indigenous peoples in Canada (through the state’s preferred moniker ‘Aboriginals’) as a contemptable ‘them’: one amorphous group of vaguely inter-related First Peoples it can treat with the same indifference and barely veiled disgust. (This produces the further problem of forcing upon Indigenous peoples a ‘we’ unasked for by any of us: the ‘we/them’ as The Other which situates the default body of authority and knowing as a white, non-Indigenous one). In Canada, it bears noting that the since the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued its report in 1996, the Canadian State claims to recognize (though often fails to honour) a ‘nation-to-nation’ relationship between itself and First Peoples. This speaks to the articulation, in this place at least, of Indigenous peoples as nations and/or societies with our own laws, histories, language and claims to land/territory. However, the actual mobilization of this nation-to-nation relationship is another matter entirely. All too often, ‘we’ as Indigenous peoples are denied this nationhood and framed instead as a social, economic, and legal  ‘problem’ the State is saddled with. We and Them as distancing tools to avoid acknowledging ongoing legal-governance duties across nations. (gehiago…)

Anthropological knots: Conditions of possibilities and interventions

Sarah Green



This paper outlines how the Anthropological Knots debate to which its contributors responded was framed, and offers its own threads for approaching the two questions addressed by it: first, what is it that makes anthropology in the contemporary moment possible? And second, what might intervention in anthropological terms look like? The paper argues that an ethnographic focus is essential to answering both questions. Such a focus is implicitly conceptually comparative, and generates a simultaneous sense that there are no guaranteed understandings which always already hold across space or time; but it also implies that the diversity, endless and complex as it may be, is not random: there are always particularities that make a difference, and which have specific implications for intervention. So while Anthropological Knots generates a sense of endless entanglement, these are crucially historically and socially framed entanglements, both conceptually and in practice.

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Experimental forms for the expression of norms in the ethnography of the contemporary

George Marcus


This article considers the methodological state of ethnographic projects that are situated in the context of complex global assemblages and projects, and of a tradition of critique that has defined the purpose of much anthropological research over the past two decades. How does the recent surge of concern with value as the analytic object of study mesh with the explicit normative concerns in the ways that many ethnographic projects are conceived and narrated? Value is both an object and informing frame of such projects. This article probes experiments in the weaving of longstanding theoretical orientations to value in the mesh of contemporary fieldwork itself.

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counterpunch NEWS UPDATE 5-2-2015

Mike Whitney says Freddie Gray would not be dead if he’d been white.

Roberto J. González examines the Army’s cutting-and-pasting of cultural knowledge.

Nick Alexandrov looks back to when the violence in Baltimore really started.

Rob Urie on Baltimore, police violence and economic justice.

Jeffrey St. Clair tells the parable of the premature Osprey.

Robert Fantina on Hillary Clinton the elitist, imperialist, politician extraordinaire.

Jean Bricmont wonders if Europe remembers what happened 40 years ago.

Eric Draitser on the politics of ‘looting’ and ‘violence’.

Andre Vltchek reveals the hidden tears of Punjab.

Pepe Escobar on NATO versus China, Russia and Iran.

Alison Weir reveals how a Washington Post columnist cherry-picked estimates on Israel’s nukes.