Power and Its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics (Anthropology, Culture and Society)

Power and Its Disguises: Anthropological Perspectives on Politics (Anthropology, Culture and Society)

John Gledhill

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: B016WL9AB0

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


‘Gledhill manages to cover a lot of ground in drawing out the thematic and theoretical focuses of political anthropology, brilliantly giving them life through a wide variety of empirical examples. ... The book will serve as a very good introduction to political anthropology for any student of power and politics.’ Journal of Peace Research

In this fully updated edition of Power and Its Disguises, John Gledhill explores both the complexities of local situations and the power relations that shape the global order. He shows how historically informed anthropological perspectives can contribute to debates about democratisation by incorporating a ‘view from below’ and revealing forces that shape power relations behind the formal facade of state institutions. Examples are drawn from Brazil, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sri Lanka, amongst others.

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global culture of consumerism. Bryan Turner argues that the appeal of the ‘Islamic state’ is not so much dependent on whether people accept religious teachings as rational and coherent, but on how far they prove compatible with changes in everyday lifestyle is brought about by the flow of commodities (Turner 1994: 90–2). As Christine Gailey (1989) has shown, Tongan commoners interpret ‘Rambo’ movies in a way that is totally at odds with the ideologies of their Hollywood creators. The appeal of

structures of domination’, and it is often difficult to decide whether to label particular actions by individuals or groups as ‘resistance’ in the first place. Keesing does regard ‘resistance’ as a valuable notion, providing it is taken as a rich metaphor, not a precise concept. It illuminates facets of power relations which are easily overlooked because the actions in which relatively powerless people engage are different from the dramatic confrontations that attract the attention of historians

peasantries, and urban working classes. Later European colonialism’s growing need for a bureaucratic infrastructure produced not simply a Western-educated native elite but hordes of schoolteachers, clerks and other minor functionaries. These developments shaped the political legacy of the colonial era, but they also reinforce the point that the colonial systems of nineteenth-century industrial capitalist metropoles had distinct transformative effects linked to the ‘modernity’ of their power

patronage and resources. Yet Cardenismo proliferated cacicazgos (Gledhill 1991, Rus 1994, Rubin 1996). The group of violent village bosses whom Paul Friedrich calls ‘The Princes’ in his ethnography of the village of Naranja, in Cárdenas’s home state of Michoacán, provides an example of the kinds of actors through which this ‘reforming’ state consolidated its political networks (Friedrich 1986). De la Peña argues that the creation of a formal structure of mass representation in state institutions

village politics as a group. They saw it as symptomatic of a general threat to male patriarchal authority posed by other kinds of social change and a situation of economic crisis. The male faction that presented itself as champion of a struggle against a return to reactionary theocracy appealed to the official discourses of the post-revolutionary state to legitimate its position. It succeeded in securing a new secular administration of the water, following a meeting in which the outgoing

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