ambient pietism

Anastasia Piliavsky 谈到当代人类学向保守主义的回退,导致的两个后果。

  • 一种是坚持功能主义,将社会分析简化为一套现成的信仰:如相信物质、相信个人内心、相信追求自主……
  • 另一种是对外界思想的虔信(ambient pietism),用自己的道德或政治立场来取代分析。如对女权或殖民的立场判断,——当这些立场被规范成各种理论时,就变成了一种对已有信念的重申。这些理论内置的立场判断阻碍了真正的社会解释。理论上讲,使人们的世界观不再存在差异的,是所谓的「常识」——那些社会机构强加给世界的,关于政治、自我、人性……的常识。


The real damage to anthropology, however, is the paradoxical retreat into conservatism, from which the discipline’s founders painstakingly broke: the deployment of one’s own beliefs and values as heuristics for the study of all human life. The consequences of this retreat are many and I shall mention here only two. The first is the persistence of functionalism, or the reduction of social analysis to a set of ready-made beliefs, whether beliefs in the primacy of the physical world (materiality) or in the individual’s inner, psychological life (affect) or in the universal pursuit of autonomy (resistance). The second is anthropology’s ambient pietism, or the displacement of analysis with assertions of one’s own moral or political stance. It is all very well to believe in gender equality or the evils of colonialism, but when our own normative position is deployed as fundamental social theory—such as feminist or postcolonial theory—it does little more than reassert the already-held beliefs. The evaluative judgment built into it blocks social explanation and generates results that are complacent, conventional, and closed to the discovery of new things. The confusion of advocacy for analysis has made contemporary anthropology allergic to any kind of genuine moral or political difference. If earlier generations saw the comprehension of fundamental moral difference—head hunting, cannibalism, tribal warfare, and the like—as their duty, the new clings increasingly to the familiar close to home. Theoretically, what has displaced different people’s cosmologies are “common sense notions—of polity, self, and essential, shared humanity—that metropolitan actors and institutions foist upon the world” (Scheele and Shryock in press). The result is the growing poverty of anthropological theory, and the retreat of the discipline from the frontline of social theory.

Piliavsky, Anastasia. 2017. “Disciplinary Memory against Ambient Pietism.” HAU-JOURNAL OF ETHNOGRAPHIC THEORY 7(3):13–17.

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