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Political anthropology and its legacy

Yves Schemeil


Political anthropology focuses on the political underpinnings of social structures such as kinship and the family, a street gang, a banquet, a corporation, etc. It looks for non-professional politics wherever and whenever it can be observed – in particular when institutions remain stealthy, quasi invisible to political scientists (like latent norms, and underlying social structures). It is to political science what slow food is to fast food: a humble non-directed quest for those rare occasions where the deep meaning of rituals and beliefs can be extracted from the relatively large amount of data with which professional and amateur anthropologists are confronted. Compared to mainstream political science, it turns politics upside down, and works bottom-up instead of top-down, horizontally instead of vertically, with networks as substitutes or rivals to governmental institutions. It combines the universal and the specific. It is conducive to extended comparison across time and space with no regard for disciplinary insistence on ‘historicity’, ‘continuity’, and ‘incomparability’.
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hal-01985653 , version 1 (18-01-2019)


  • HAL Id : hal-01985653 , version 1


Yves Schemeil. Political anthropology and its legacy. Bertrand Badie, Leonardo Morilno, Dirk Berk-Schlosser. Sage Handbook of political science, Sage, In press. ⟨hal-01985653⟩
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