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Anthropological futures: for a critical political economy of capitalist time

Bear, Laura (2017) Anthropological futures: for a critical political economy of capitalist time. Social Anthropology, 25 (2). 142 - 158. ISSN 0964-0282

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1469-8676.12412


This essay deploys two articles that Firth wrote on the future of anthropology in addition to his accounts of Tikopia dreams to reveal a hidden ethics of time characteristic of anthropology. Our discipline is grounded in a taken-for-granted secular humanism. This has led to rich reflection on contrasting values and theories of ethics. I will argue, however, that in order for our discipline to become an uncomfortable science in relation to conventional economics and to address issues of inequality we need to supplement this inheritance. We need to construct a critical political economy of capitalist time. This would explicitly engage with the material timescapes of inequality in which ethics, knowledges and techniques of capitalist time interact. I demonstrate how such an analysis of time works in my own research on austerity policy on the Hooghly River. I then turn this approach onto the current institutional conditions of anthropology in the UK – that of financialised universities governed by debt. I conclude by suggesting some of

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 European Association of Social Anthropologists
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 08:06
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:32

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