Repository logo
 

Anthropology Bright and Dark: Relativism, Value Pluralism, and the Comparative Study of the Good

Accepted version
Peer-reviewed

Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Robbins, Joel 

Abstract

In ‘Dark Anthropology,’ Ortner questions the critical potential of anthropological studies of ethics, and particularly of research focused on studying cultural articulations of the good. She promotes instead the study of people’s critiques of the neoliberal darkness that besets their lives. Suggesting that critical, dark anthropology is handicapped by opposing itself to the study of the good, I reconsider the critical potential of the anthropological study of difference. This critical potential has been attenuated, I argue, by relativism’s focus on the negative sides of various cultural formations. I argue instead for an approach to difference based on value pluralism and its claims about the diversity of the good. I illustrate the potential of the comparative study of the good in these terms in part by considering contemporary research on prosperity gospel Christianity and also recent work from many parts of the world on hierarchy as a valued social form.

Description

Keywords

Journal Title

Social Analysis: The International Journal of Anthropology

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0155-977X
1558-5727

Volume Title

Publisher

Berghahn Books

Publisher DOI

Publisher URL

Sponsorship
None