Individuality is often interpreted as a force for the separation and autonomy of the individual. This book takes a different approach: the contributors explore the expression of individuality as a form of social action inextricably linked to questions of belonging. This book addresses a continuing effort within anthropology to interrogate sociality. Using case studies from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, the contributors examine a wide range of topics. Covering everything from studies of childhood and family relations to patterns of movement for tourism, work, and religious pilgrimage; from the spinning of fashions to the sculpting of life narratives, the contributors analyze the shifting forms of the cultural politics of distinction. The book illustrates the variation and ingenuity with which people in various settings claim diverse forms of individuality, their motivations for doing so, and the outcomes of their actions.
In this follow up to their widely read earlier volume, The Trouble with Community, Vered Amit and Nigel Rapport ask: 'Do notions of community remain central to our sense of who we are, in the dislocating context of globalization, or can we see beyond community closures to a human whole?'
This volume explores the variable nature of contemporary sociality. It focuses on the ethical, organizational and emotional claims and opportunities sought or fashioned for mobilizing and evading social collectivities in a world of mobile subjects. Here is an examination of the tensions and interactions between everyday forms of fluid fellowship, culturally normative claims to identity, and opportunities for realizing a universal humanity.
The book offers a new perspective on human commonality through a dialogue between two eminent anthropologists who come from distinct, but complementary positions.
'Community' is one of social science's longest-standing concepts. The assumption, of much social science, has been that it is in communities -- and to communities -- that human individuals, as social and cultural beings, belong. Communities are said to embody that interactive environment from which individuals' identities and senses of self derive, and in which they continue to dwell.
The trouble with 'community' is that this is not necessarily so; the personal social networks of individuals' actual experience crosscut collective categories, situations and institutions. Communities can prove unviable or imprisoning; the reality of community life and identity can often be very different from the ideology and the ideal.
In this provocative new book, anthropologists Vered Amit and Nigel Rapport draw on their various ethnographic experiences to reappraise the concept and the reality of 'community', in the light of globalization, religious fundamentalism, identity politics, and renascent localisms. How might anthropology better apprehend social identities which are intrinsically plural, transgressive and ironic? What has anthropology to say about the way in which civil society might hope to accommodate the on-going construction and the rightful expression of such migrant identities? Nigel Rapport and Vered Amit give their own answers to these questions before entering into dialogue to assess each other's positions.
Nigel Rapport is Professor of Anthropological and Philosophical Studies at the University of St. Andrews. He is author of Transcendent Individual (1997). Vered Amit is an Associate Professor at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the editor of Realizing Community (2002).