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Order and Disorder

Order and Disorder: Anthropological Perspectives

Keebet von Benda-Beckmann
Fernanda Pirie
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Order and Disorder
    Book Description:

    Disorder and instability are matters of continuing public concern. Terrorism, as a threat to global order, has been added to preoccupations with political unrest, deviance and crime. Such considerations have prompted the return to the classic anthropological issues of order and disorder. Examining order within the political and legal spheres and in contrasting local settings, the papers in this volume highlight its complex and contested nature. Elaborate displays of order seem necessary to legitimate the institutionalization of violence by military and legal establishments, yet violent behaviour can be incorporated into the social order by the development of boundaries, rituals and established processes of conflict resolution. Order is said to depend upon justice, yet injustice legitimates disruptive protest. Case studies from Siberia, India, Indonesia, Tibet, West Africa, Morocco and the Ottoman Empire show that local responses are often inconsistent in their valorization, acceptance and condemnation of disorder.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-002-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Law, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Plates
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)
    Keebet von Benda-Beckmann and Fernanda Pirie

    The issue of order and how it is generated and maintained is one to which considerable sociological attention has been directed over the decades. Many early ethnographic studies were concerned with the question of how order was produced in small-scale, acephalous societies, those beyond the control of any state. More recently, however, anthropologists have tended to turn their attention away from the issue of how order is maintained in isolated communities to relations of power and domination in more complex societies – the effects of colonialization, domination and resistance, inter-state relations and globalization. Forms of hierarchy, hegemony and the unequal access...

  6. Chapter 2 Order and the Evocation of Heritage: Representing Quality in the French Biscuit Trade
    (pp. 16-33)
    Simon Roberts

    Inviting us to reflect on the themes of ‘order and disorder’, the editors direct our attention back to a vast agenda of unfinished business.¹ Some items on that agenda have been exhaustively considered, even if they remain unresolved. Among those items, two durable if contested assumptions are generally lurking somewhere in the background when we think about the constitution and reproduction of the social world. First, is an idea that a large part of the regularity we see around us can be attributed to the willed achievement of those in power. Second, is the persistent notion that commitment to a...

  7. Chapter 3 Pride, Honour, Individual and Collective Violence: Order in a ‘Lawless’ Village
    (pp. 34-53)
    Aimar Ventsel

    This chapter is about the maintenance of order in a post-Soviet Arctic village not far from the coast of the Arctic Ocean. Siberia as a region and legal anthropology as a field of study are only weakly linked. Soviet ethnography, like Tsarist Russian, post-Soviet and recent Western scholarship, has, among other things, described and analysed legal norms and the social structure of researched groups (Popov 1946, Dolgikh 1960, Shirokogoroff 1976, Gurvich 1977, Boiko and Kostiuk 1992, D’iachenko and Ermolova 1994, Grant 1995, Krivoshapkin 1997, Fondahl 1998, Ziker 2002). However, there is no literature on how these norms and concepts are...

  8. Chapter 4 Order, Individualism and Responsibility: Contrasting Dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau
    (pp. 54-73)
    Fernanda Pirie

    The ‘problem’ of order in societies that sanction violence has posed an analytic challenge to anthropologists since Evans-Pritchard’s (1940) classic work on the Nuer. More recently, studies of violence and conflict in Melanesian societies have been used to critique certain models of social order. Strathern (1985), for example, uses a Melanesian example to cast doubt on the idea that order is the proper state of society and needs to be imposed on individuals who are, by natural propensity, asocial beings, a model which is associated with state legal systems. It should not be assumed, she says, that such a view...

  9. Chapter 5 Vigilante Groups and the State in West Africa
    (pp. 74-89)
    Tilo Grätz

    Many contemporary African states are weak states in the Weberian sense of the term because they lack full control of their territories, an absolute monopoly of violence and feature ineffective institutions (Jackson and Rosberg 1982, Roitman 1999, von Trotha 2000). The existence of local powers, authorities and independent political arrangements, as well as legal structures and modes of resource appropriation, further accentuates this picture. Parallel power structures and practices range from corporate groups which organize tax evasion, corruption, smuggling and informal production, to autonomous realms of local jurisprudence, including adjudication, sanctioning and taxation, to opposing political movements, quasi-independent regions and...

  10. Chapter 6 Imposing New Concepts of Order in Rural Morocco: Violence and Transnational Challenges to Local Order
    (pp. 90-111)
    Bertram Turner

    In this paper the maintenance of local order in south-west Morocco is analysed as the interaction between different models of order informed by different but interrelated legal spheres. These models are based on different legal repertoires which incorporate different notions and ideals of what order actually is, according to various moral codes and philosophies. These concepts of order partially overlap but may be mutually exclusive or contradictory in certain circumstances. Thus, the paper concerns a plurality of concepts of order and their respective relations to practices of regulating disorder. The focus is on the connection between concepts of local order...

  11. Chapter 7 Law, Ritual and Order
    (pp. 112-131)
    Peter Just

    Virtually all human action depends on order, creates order, defends order, contests order. One hardly needs to be a cognitive scientist to recognize that human mental activity is, fundamentally, a process of conferring categorical order on a universe in which phenomena and processes are unique and continuous (Lakoff 1990). And, whether one prefers the earlier formulations of Sapir (1986) and Whorf (1964) or the more recent and fashionable ones of Michel Foucault (1982, 1994), it seems that few fail to take for granted the crucial and determinative role that natural language plays in ordering one’s perception of reality. So any...

  12. Chapter 8 The Disorders of an Order: State and Society in Ottoman and Turkish Trabzon
    (pp. 132-149)
    Michael E. Meeker

    How should we understand the relationship of a state order and a social order?¹ Is it possible to theorize the state apart from society, and society apart from the state? For example, would it be possible to institute a state as a kind of protective umbrella for a collection of societies, as in the instance of a collection of tribes, peasantries and citizens, speaking different languages and ascribing to different religions? And might such a state, in its role as a protective umbrella, take a variety of forms, including the form of a liberal and democratic state as anticipated by...

  13. Chapter 9 Anthropological Order and Political Disorder
    (pp. 150-165)
    Jonathan Spencer

    My theme in this chapter can be simply summarized in three juxtaposed quotes. The first is from F.G. Bailey’s late 1960s introduction to political anthropology,Stratagems and Spoils: ‘I have picked out in this introduction certain moral themes which ride between the lines of the book. Behind these themes – and behind the whole endeavour – is a repugnance for disorder, for the mere jumble of facts in which no pattern can be perceived, for “mere anarchy”’ (1969: xiii). The second is from ‘Thick Description’ (Geertz 1973), probably the single most quoted anthropological essay of the 1970s: ‘Nothing has done more, I...

  14. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 166-168)
  15. Index
    (pp. 169-176)