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CUSAS Talk: Dr Geoffrey Hughes (LSE)

When Oct 19, 2017
from 05:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Geoffrey Hughes (LSE): Ethnography and Comparison in Anthropology's Orient: A Theory of Envy


Extant theories of envy tend to reduce it to a subjective emotion. Theoretical emphasis is placed on individual feelings about those who have more or those who are hierarchically superordinate. Yet envy can also be studied as a more objective social relationship that implicates individuals and groups in forms of mutual recognition in which the nature of identity, social difference, and social hierarchy must be negotiated. After all, stigmatized individuals and groups are often envied for their freedom, their carnal license, their violence, and their indolence (among other things) at the same time that they supposedly envy their social betters. I use the tradition of Orientalist ethnography to argue for an anthropological theory of envy that treats it as a social relation that emerges from attempts to negotiate (and reconcile) identity, difference, and hierarchy. However, I also seek in Orientalist ethnography an invitation to a related conversation about generosity.

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