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Malinowski Memorial Lectures

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Judith Scheele updated

State-like and state-dislike in the anthropological margins

Dr Judith Scheele, Directrice d’études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in France, and currently Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin.

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2019 at 6.00pm
Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building, Houghton Street, LSE

This lecture argues for a return to the study of political institutions in so-called ‘stateless societies’, and for the need to free them from their association with locally circumscribed, unmarked or even ‘unthought’ practice. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, there is a growing interest beyond anthropology in non-state political arrangements (whether they are described negatively, as the result of ‘state failure’, or positively), often phrased in terms that lack ethnographic depth and sophistication and that are hence easily dismissed by critics as neoliberal ideology-mongering. On the other, a focus on the ‘non-state’, historical and contemporary, opens up crucial perspectives on its alleged opposite, ‘the state’, and, through it, on questions of different regimes of historicity, and region-formation as a political endeavour. In other words, it might provide insights into political anthropology as a study of shared thought and imagination, beyond all-encompassing notions of power, and thereby reformulate our units of inquiry. In order to do this, it is necessary to question the categories at hand (‘stateless’, ‘non-state’, ‘anti-state’, also of course ‘the state’), and resituate them in a wider, regional and historical context of political relations, of competition, emulation, rejection and encompassment. This is what this lecture attempts to do, with special reference to North Africa and the Sahara.

Judith Scheele is Directrice d’études at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in France. She has carried out research in Algeria, Mali and Chad, on questions of region-formation, trade, Islamic law, armed conflict, and local and regional politics. She is the author of Village Matters: Politics, Knowledge and Community in Kabylia (2009), Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century (2012), and The Value of Disorder: Autonomy, Prosperity and Plunder in the Chadian Sahara (2019). 

This event is free and open to all with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. 


Past lectures




Functional Origins of Religious Concepts
Dr P. Boyer, 13.05.1999

Erotic Dreams and Nightmares from Antiquity to the Present
Dr C. Stewart, 30.04.1998

If Malinowski met Boas in Barrow...:Looking across the Boundaries of Fieldwork from the 1890s to the 1990s
Dr B. Bodenhorn, 20.05.1997

Compassion for the Other: Kinship as Constituted Intentionality in Fiji
Dr C. Toren, 12.03.1996

Postcolonialism and the Political Imagination
Dr J. Spencer, 11.05.1995

The Soul's Body and its Afflictions - An Amazonian Perspective on the Nature of Being Human
Ms A. C. Taylor, 10.03.1994

Questions of Belief - Reflections from Film on Anthropological Practice
Dr H. Morphy, 18.03.1993

Tamed Violence: Genital Symbolism in Portuguese Culture
Dr J. de Pina-Cabral, 20.02.1992

Ritual as Intellectual Property
Dr S. Harrison, 09.05.1991

Basque Visionaries in Trance, 1931
Dr W. Christian, 17.05.1990


Malinowski's Precedent - The Imagination of equality
Dr R. Fardon, 11.05.1989

The Concept of the Person and the Ritual System
Dr A. Iteanu, 28.04.1988

Between Myth and History
Dr O. Harris, 11.05.1987

The Two Sides of Money
Dr K. Hart, 13.03.1986

The Gift, the Indian Gift and the Indian Gift
Dr J. Parry, 09.05.1985

Anthropology and Psychology
Dr D. Sperber, 06.03.1984

Sacred Models
Dr R. L. Stirrat, 15.03.1983

The Architect and the Bee: Reflection on the Work of Animals and Men
Dr T. Ingold, 03.03.1982

Egalitarian Societies
Dr J. Woodburn, 05.05.1981

Culture in a Netbag: The Manufacture of a Subdiscipline in Anthropology
Dr M. Strathern, 11.03.1980


Anthropology and the Analysis of Ideology
Dr Talal Asad, 06.03.1979

Modes of Reproduction
Dr A. McFarlane, 06.02.1978 

The Past and Present in the Present
Dr M. E. F. Bloch, 07.12.1976

On Asking Questions
Dr E. Goody, 04.03.1975

The Couvade: A Problem Reborn
Dr P. G. Riviere, 05.03.1974

Forms and Norms: The Economy of Social Relations
Dr J. H. R. Davis, 27.02.1973

The Golden Fleece
Mr J. A. W. Forge, 07.03.1972

The New Anthropology and its Critics
Mr E. W. Ardener, 23.02.1971

The Analysis of Social Situations
Dr G. Kingsley-Garbett, 24.02.1970


Theories of Myth
Dr P. S. Cohen, 08.05.1969

The Magical Power of Words
Dr S. J. Tambiah, 20.02.1968

In the Beginning
Dr J. R. Fox, 16.05.1967

Spirit Possession
Dr I. M. Lewis, 08.03.1966

Ritual and Social Change
Dr J. N. M. Beattie, 16.02.1965

Anthropological Perspectives
Dr M. P. Banton, 25.02.1964

A Chinese Phase in Social Anthropology
Dr M. Freedman, 30.10.1962

The Concept of Objectivity in Social Anthropology
Dr R. Leinhardt, 05.12.1961


Rethinking Anthropology
Dr E. R. Leach, 03.12.1959