Category Archives: Europe

British National Identity: The Roots of the Crisis

‘Western values’ have officially remained more or less the same since the liberal revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, whereas society has since been transformed — first by industrial capitalism and the nation-state, now by corporations running amok in an increasingly integrated world economy. For at least a century western societies have been based… Read More »

French anthropology and the riots

Didier Fassin began his commentary on French anthropology’s non-response to last year’s riots (AT February 2006) with a reminder that an army of Andean ethnographers likewise missed the rise of Shining Path in Peru. While his subject matter is specifically French, the issue of anthropology’s relationship to contemporary society is a general one. Fassin’s editorial… Read More »

The London Bombings: A Crisis for Multi-culturalism?

The London bombings of 7 July have provoked an orgy of anxious introspection in the British media. Its chief focus has been the parlous condition of our national identity. How could four British men blow up themselves and scores of innocent commuters? If the second, failed round of bombings seemed to play into the phobias… Read More »

The French ban of the veil

France is notorious these days for two things – getting up the nose of the Americans (from French fries to ‘freedom’ fries) and banning the veil in schools. The second of these is a ‘total social fact’, something that taps into the deepest and most contradictory currents of modern French history. As an anthropologist who… Read More »

Varieties of national economy

  …be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air. — The Tempest IV: I, 147 There is a shop near our local park that sells little girls’ ballet dresses. The yellowing models in the window do not… Read More »