0.171: Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: Vassos Argyrou

Anthropology and the Will to Meaning, by Vassos ArgyrouThis interlude in the series is to finally introduce the work of Dr. Vassos Argyrou (Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Hull), specifically his book, Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: A Postcolonial Critique (London: Pluto Press, 2002) which I have referred to in the past on several occasions (a condensed version of his argument can be found in “Sameness and the Ethnological Will to Meaning” [full text PDF]. Current Anthropology, 40 (1), 1999: 29-41). This introduction is necessary since arguments and examples from chapters of that volume will appear in a number of the remaining essays. While my impression is that this volume has received little attention by anthropologists, I nonetheless strongly recommend it as a source of very sharp critiques of the western discipline, one that limits the import of post-modernism as a relatively safe branch of criticism, while showing that clearly anthropology has yet to face its day of reckoning.

Impossible Anthropology: Sameness

There is no need for any confusion about Anthropology and the Will to Meaning, no need to reconstruct its argument from between its lines, or to speculate about what it might really be about. Argyrou spells it out clearly and explicitly on the first page: “This book is about the impossible,” with his aim being, “to explain — contrary to those who foresee, foretell or call for an end to anthropology…why ethnographers, having repeatedly grappled with the impossible and failed, must nonetheless persist in their efforts to win a battle that is already lost” (2002, p. 1). And what it is that “impossible”? “In ethnological belief and practice, the impossible is the tenet of Sameness” (2002, p. 1).

[A lot of this argument takes us back to, and extends, what we encountered in an earlier post in the series, especially when speaking of Michel de Montaigne and Tzvetan Todorov, re-articulated in a subsequent post as the principle of ethnocentric egalitarianism.]

While anthropologists seem to celebrate cultural diversity, Argyrou argues that this masks an inherent attachment to sameness. Behind the applause for difference, anthropologists maintain “the ultimately unworkable idea that despite, or perhaps because of their differences, all societies embody the Same cultural value and worth” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 1). Moreover, in the very attempt to prove Sameness (which he always capitalizes, as with Same), anthropologists end up producing its opposite:

“Sameness can never manifest itself in the world. Indeed, every attempt to demonstrate that this elusive social condition exists and is real does nothing more than reproduce its contrary, namely, Otherness, which is to say difference understood as cultural inferiority.” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 1)

The opposite of this Sameness of putative equality is not “difference” as such, but rather racism and ethnocentrism. Argyrou in fact finds that there is not one single paradigm that divides the world between West and Other that has not been guilty of ethnocentrism (2002, p. 2).

What Crisis? What Critique?

There never was a crisis of representation in anthropology:

“the best guarded secret in the discipline is that there has never been a crisis in ethnological representation….No such crisis has ever befallen the discipline because the most fundamental ethnological representation — the representation without which there would be no anthropology — is questioned by no one….The representation is none other than Sameness.” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 3)

What anthropologists refer to as post-modern challenges to the discipline, Argyrou instead labels as generally heterodox, and certainly part of the game. He argues that because “heterodox discourse strives to uphold Sameness”: while ethnographic representations may be fictions, as in partial truths, that is not to say all representations – all, except Sameness (Argyrou, 2002, p. 3). Why, asks Argyrou, is not Sameness itself recognized as a fiction and a partial truth?

When it comes to post-colonial theory, this does not fare much better under Argyrou’s critical analysis. Speaking of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe, Argyrou disputes the value of a post-colonial discourse that is “dependent on Europe itself for its effectiveness”:

“The West remains at the centre of the world even when, or rather because it decides to provincialize itself. It is still at the centre precisely because it is it that authorizes its own ‘decentring’.” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 6)

More than arguing that postcolonial discourse is a Western-centered activity, Argyrou argues that its objective ought to be “demonstrating the limits of anthropology, sociology, philosophy, of Western discourses in general” and not simply by writing “subaltern histories, native anthropologies, indigenous sociologies or philosophies,” that is, not by writing within “the discursive domain opened up and authorized by the powers that be” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 6). The aim ought to be “to write the history of history, the anthropology of anthropology, the sociology of sociology and the philosophy of philosophy” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 6). Once again, this leads us back, in part, to Wallerstein and the Gulbenkian commission’s analysis of the institutionalization of the social sciences and understanding their Eurocentric bases (see here).

In the meantime, as we develop these critiques, one has to understand that the academic game is in fact a game, and to expose it as a game.

Laughing at the West

“The academic game is the game of knowledge (and ignorance) which is inextricably, if not always intentionally, also a game of power. The only way to put an end to this game (…under conditions of domination…) is to play it better than the players themselves. The only way to undermine the power of Western definitions of the world that burden the rest of the world is to beat the powers at their own game….play enough or as much as necessary to expose it for what it really is — only a game — a game not because it is innocuous but because it is arbitrary and cannot be grounded anywhere.” (Argyrou, 2002, pp. 6-7)

It cannot be grounded anywhere, Argyrou tells us, and he explains:  “there is no Western discourse — not a single one — that can be grounded anywhere or in anything except in its own arbitrariness….there is no Western discourse that cannot be exposed in its groundlessness and arbitrariness — that cannot be disenchanted and demythologized” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 9).

One of the aims of Argyrou’s discourse is “to make the audience laugh at the grandiose claims of Western discursive power” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 8). Who is the audience? “Those who are at the receiving end of this form of power” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 8). His discourse strives,

“to expose the arbitrary nature of Western power and to remind Others what they already know: that it is naïve, to say the least, to think that one small group of societies, in an insignificant part of the world, during an infinitesimal (in the wider scheme of things) time-span has reached such a level of enlightenment as to decide for all of us what it means to Be.” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 8)

Don’t Go There?

As I mentioned on other occasions, Argyrou’s volume is a required text for my course in Decolonizing Anthropology, the same course that I taught for the first time as I launched this blog. Inevitably I credit/blame Vassos Argyrou for some of the inspiration behind this project. I also acknowledge my thanks for our email correspondence in the past. For their part, students had mixed feelings: some were seething, openly disdainful of the book; others felt depressed by it; and some rather enjoyed it. It depends in part on the self-awareness and goal orientations of graduate students themselves: they do not often like to ask themselves the question of what the hell they are doing in anthropology, because it could unravel their hastily, partially made plans, or cast into doubt poor advice that they had trusted as wise and offered without self-interest. One would think they should be grateful for the opportunity to ask themselves what they are doing in anthropology, what they wish to do with anthropology, or what they will allow anthropology to do to them…while they can still choose alternatives, or commit themselves to fashioning something new. What we really do not need are more Malinowskian repeaters who deceive themselves into paths that take them into permanent academic underemployment as adjuncts, forever bitter and worn. That only means that anthropology is still an adventure – yay! – but keep in mind that in some real life adventures people do fall off cliffs, freeze to death, get eaten by bears, and so forth.

I want to say a little more about another adventure, the game of which Argyrou speaks. Agyrou is careful to say, in the opening quote I used, “contrary to those who foresee, foretell or call for an end to anthropology” (Argyrou, 2002, p. 1). On one level, I think that I might understand him: if you call for an end to anthropology, you remove yourself from the game by essentially declaring that there is no game to be played, even before the game plays itself out. On another level, I don’t like being told where I cannot go (and most in fact tell me where to go, which I also don’t like, but for other reasons). Argyrou says that anthropology is impossible, but it’s important to keep trying…and I am not so sure that is the best answer.

It seems to me that calling for an end to anthropology is a major taboo, the touch stone of just how radical a critique aims to be. Dr. Wendy Wilson-Fall, an associate professor in Pan-African Studies at Kent State University, wrote here recently to say: “At times I wonder that we are at least as involved in writing about anthropology as in doing anthropology, and that writing must be presented as validation of anthropology and other anthropologists.” As a validation of anthropology, and other anthropologists – must this always be the predetermined happy ending? Is it to be expected of those with secured jobs in anthropology that, ultimately, they will have to defend their field? If so, can one ever really trust such critiques for being really critical? Because it would seem to me that the way you go about the game of objectivity is to write as if you had no interest vested in your position, to write as if you had nothing to lose, to write like no one would reasonably expect you to write. Anything else is predictable, and it too brings the game to a very quick end, if you are playing smart opponents. The other option is to call for an end to the game, so that you can steal the ball.

Am I calling for an “end to anthropology”? I would think that on some level this was already clear. On an institutional level, and in agreement with Wallerstein (a former teacher by a choice of mine), supporting the notion of opening the social sciences, to one another, and to reunify the science and the humanities, effectively means the end of anthropology as a discipline. On a different level, and depending on how one defines anthropology, it can never end as an expression of human interest in other humans – which is an interest that has been pursued for millennia, without institutional barricades, ramparts, bulwarks, and pulpits. A zero anthropology then is not no anthropology at all – that is a matter left to the curiosity of humans – but an anthropology that ceases to pin itself to power, that ceases to mystify us to its origins, its social position, and its vested interests. Well, let’s see, we have not reached zero just yet.

Some Reviews:

Harris, Mark. 2006. “Review of: Anthropology and the will to meaning: a postcolonial critique – Argyrou, Vassos.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 12 (1): 259-260.

Robbins, Joel. 2003. “Review of: Vassos Argyrou. Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: A Postcolonial Critique. London: Pluto Press, 2002. Vi + 129 pp., notes, references, index.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 45 (3): 640-642.

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15 thoughts on “0.171: Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: Vassos Argyrou

  1. Stacie Gilmore

    “There is no need for any confusion about Anthropology and the Will to Meaning”

    Speak for yourself! I don’t get it.

    “Sameness itself is a construct and hence … whatever sense, meaning, and purpose we find in the world exists only because we placed it there in the first place.” (1999, S37)

    Is this really new to anthropology? Also, in a critique of sameness, why does Argyrou keep using the word “we”? If his points about “we,” our collective mindset (?), resonated with my experience, I wouldn’t have to think so hard to understand what he’s saying. For example, he speaks about the fear of an absurd world…. Do I really fear an absurd world? Maybe I recognize it andprefer making sense of things and having aims to direct my actions. Certainly I have fears, worth examining, but absurdity wouldn’t make that list by a long-shot … No, I think his argument needs to recognize that anthropology fits into different peoples’ lives in different ways.

    In particular, not everyone is acting on a “will to secure Sameness.” He says,

    “But this is not simply or even mainly a will to power or a will to truth. It is above all a will to meaning – a desire for an ethically meaningful, that is, socially unified world.” (1999, S37)

    Every anthropologist from Victorian anthropology to heterodox discourse has had this same will? A universal anthropological will? If that was my will, wouldn’t I recognize it? — Which I don’t. Maybe some people would place themselves in this category, but not all, and I’m sure there are many other desires influencing people’s actions.

    Given his claim that we all “strive to demonstrate Sameness,” he also argues that ethnology “must persist” in doing this (1999, S37). I was concerned by his discussion of what, in his opinion, incorporating Sameness means:

    “… the incorporation of Sameness into history would mean nothing less than tolerating the arbitrariness and absurdities of the world, chief among them racism and ethnocentrism. This is not to say recognizing that such absurdities exist; it is to say, rather, recognizing that they are intrinsic and inescapable characteristics of the world, and anthropologists do not.” (S36)

    Is he saying that we “do not” and should not incorporate Sameness in this way, or that we “do not” and should? Yes, maybe racism and ethnocentrism are arbitrary and historically intrinsic, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say “inescapable,” or that they should be completely “tolerated.”

    There’s a difference between (a) not being able to escape a belief and (b) imposing it on others. The latter is where I would draw the line, with respect to tolerance. To give a personal example: On racism, my parents don’t believe white people (i.e. me) should date black people. I did, once in high school, and they went berserk (“what will the grandparents think?”), making my house a living hell, forcing me to *choose.* Yes, I tolerated it, even though it was arbitrary, and gave in. And, being even more of a jerk, I told my boyfriend the reason. But was it all“inescapable”? My parents could’ve kept their mouths SHUT and let me live my life. I could’ve ignored them, hoping they’d get over their fit, but chose not to. In short, “tolerate” it AS “inescapable” is what I did. I regret it. And, for this, Argyrou’s sentences strike me as wrong. He says “ethnology must exist.” BUT, ethnology is a discourse, directed at other people, not unlike my parents’ comments about race. Maybe, in some cases, ethnology just needs to shut up and leave people alone.

    People can still make personal meaning in their lives without enforcing a “socially unified world.”

    1. Maximilian Forte

      There are a lot of questions in here, some tied up in each other, and others restating each other in different ways…in other words, I am offering excuses in advance for probably not answering all your questions.

      In terms of what is “new” in anthropology, certainly the concept of “sameness” is not — but his point is that we do not really stop to reflect on the implications of how we go about establishing that “sameness” exists. By “we” he means our dominant theories, and generations of anthropologists who followed those theories, and later in the book he goes through each theory one by one. Essentially he extends the line of thinking that we saw in those two previous posts to which I linked, and the argument works like this:

      To prove that ultimately we are all the Same, what do we do about the obvious differences? Well one thing is to say that the differences are superficial, merely differences in form, that all we have to do is to explain away their veneer of difference to find how they are like us, culturally. There are a couple of other strategies, each of which I will get to in upcoming posts (it may take a while). In each case, their cultures get undervalued, while ours is preserved as the bedrock, the standard for establishing sameness. In upholding such sameness, we have just denigrated their cultures. The “proof” of sameness comes via ethnocentrism…the very opposite of sameness.

      Another example would be monogenesis/cultural evolutionism — ostensibly anti-racist, right? We are all the same, the “psychic unity of mankind”. So how do the cultural evolutionists explain difference? They explain them away: we all evolve along the same single cultural trajectory, we will all think the same thoughts because we all have the same brains, wired in the same way, we have the exact same capacities, and everything invented by one group of humans could be independently invented by all others without diffusion. But we are not all the same…well, the evolutionists say, that’s because some of us (Europeans by chance) are most advanced along this single line of evolution, and others are more backward, as if further back in time…let’s say, like Africans. Suddenly, the proponents of unity and equality have created an argument that treats others as backward…ethnocentrism again. In fact, when theory became policy, ethnocentrism became ethnocide.

      By “inescapable” I think he means that as long as preserve this construct, Sameness, we will continue to reproduce that which we think we oppose. And we do preserve it, because if we did not believe that there was Sameness, we would have to give up on fieldwork altogether…because how do you understand and explain others if you possess only Difference? It is a dramatic statement, but then again, remember what he says about playing the game.

      I doubt I answered everything, sorry.

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  3. Stacie

    Sorry. Re-reading your explanation. It didn’t completely make sense the first time. I still don’t buy the claim that we can’t give up on sameness, even in the way you re-explained it. “Fieldwork” is just a specific way of interacting, so why can’t we change it?

    Partially, I think Argyrou and others don’t WANT to give up on the game, for a variety of reasons.

    Example: Do professors make SO LITTLE money that they’re forced to put their research into a book to sell for monetary gain? NO. He’s charging $35+ for the mere privilege of reading what he’s said about US (anthropologists) …. $35 just to PLAY the game. Why didn’t he publish online so we could all read it? You can’t play a fair game with people who limit the game.

    They specify the players and the rules (…grad school, publishing…). Then THEY play a game ABOUT other people, charging those others admission just to watch or jeer. Even if others do pay, that doesn’t mean they’re being allowed to play. No, the game goes on, and if the fans get too rowdy, the ref boots them.

    Something similar bothered me in the discussion of HTS. Someone proposed that if we wanted to learn about HTS we should read the newest book written. Isn’t it ironic that to learn about a PUBLICLY-FUNDED program, US citizens have to purchase a book? Shouldn’t those who demand the funding be required to disclose key information? Instead, they don’t HAVE to, because they already have a system of securing direct funding from us without full consent, backed by police and legal force.

    I’m even hesitant to call it “a game.” Sure, we’d LIKE to be able to laugh, but it’s not exactly laughable. Laughing does *something,* esp. when egos are involved, but not enough. I especially don’t the idea of seeing peoples’ lives as “a game”. That’s what anthropologists are doing, writing about other people’s lives. Maybe anthropologists HAVE traditionally seen it as a game, and maybe that’s part of the problem: A game of grades, of getting a job, of getting published, of coming up with the newest theory and getting recognition from peers.

    I would cite THAT as the anthropological game Argyrou is playing, more than some vague abstraction about “Sameness.” I mean, I’d like to be able consider Argyrou’s ideas sincerely. I’m cynical precisely BECAUSE I don’t have access to “The Book” so can’t play the same game.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      You’re right, Argyrou does not want to give up on the game. However, he does say that he wants to play it, to better the other players at their own game. Whether he achieves that or not is obviously open to debate. I do not disagree with your points on their own, but they might be misunderstanding Argyrou. As for paying to read his volume…well, this game as always is only open to those willing to pay a door fee and table charge, or, an annual club membership fee.

  4. Stacie

    “…this game as always is only open to those willing to pay a door fee and table charge, or, an annual club membership fee.”

    Yes, open to those willing to pay, but also sustained by those happy to collect and pocket the funds. Professors don’t have to pay to read books out of the library freely available to them. They GET PAID to do it.

    I guess the other question is whether or not I should cheer him on, if I could agree with some of the goals, which I would definitely consider if I could see some common aims… BUT, I think the abstractness of his argument hurts him.

    I haven’t been out of a university for long, but I can barely stand to read anthro theory now because most seems out-of-touch. It took almost a year for one of my neighbors to realize I agree with him on most of the issues he rants about daily, probably because I spend too much time listening and nodding. That’s what students do right? Anyway, that’s how I always played the teacher-student game. Finally, I got an email one day from my neighbor with the subject line, “I never knew you cared,” and first sentence, “You have appeared to be a well-mannered college graduate…”. Clearly, HOW you communicate the message impacts WHO understands what you’re saying.

    Knowing this, I’m not especially interested in going back to anthro-theory-speak. I’m not convinced that communicating in this way is going to get anyone anywhere, especially if the discussion is only directed at the in-crowd, when they seem pretty content with how things are going. The fact that I can’t understand what Argyrou is saying, after reading his article more than once, only reaffirms that.

    I don’t think it’s an issue of being more “educated,” that if I were more educated I could understand him. We’re working off different styles of communication and thought that are hard to piece together and don’t exactly “speak” to each other. I could spend more time trying to make them fit but don’t have the patience when I can’t see the value yet.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Sure they get paid Stacie, that’s what professionalization is about. On the other hand, given that students on average spend about 10-12 years in their PhD program alone in the U.S., added to the BA and maybe an MA as well, the student loans that accumulate, and the deferred income, while living in rat holes…they had better get paid. Very few will sacrifice so much to then look forward to a career of pure volunteerism with zero remuneration. In other words, I am lost as to why you raise this payment issue. I don’t see how it fits.

      Try finding a paragraph or sentence from Argyrou that really has you stumped, and paste it in here. I will see if I can do some translation. Yes, there is plenty of theory-speak, and it is always a challenge to speak in other terms when speaking about theory itself. Anyway, this will get easier as the posts come…which will be god knows when because grading papers is taking me much longer than I wished, or expected…as usual.

      1. Stacie

        Another thought on payment: I

        n apprenticeships, paid internships, and on-the-job training, the supervisor’s salary doesn’t come out of the pockets of students and, likewise, the student receives compensation. One key difference is that both engage in work that’s of value beyond the teacher-student relationship.

        Universities, on the other hand, seem to be upholding a strong division between “work” and “education.” Students do work, but the tasks are “exercises” that don’t become “real work” unless they take up a teaching position at a university. Many have to do outside jobs in addition to school work.

        Having both engaged in work that could bring compensation seems ideal, but, especially in anthropology, little of the work has direct value outside the university. If I’m not mistaken, the hard sciences have more external sources for funding and training.

        Maybe it’s seen as a cop-out to mix education and money, but, if so, it’s a huge hypocrisy that works to the detriment of the students alone. Faculty do “work” and get paid, and do so at the expense of students who are being “educated.” Obviously they don’t see mixing education and paid work as a cop-out, so why not do the same for the benefit of students? Probably because the ‘business’ wouldn’t be sustainable if this were how it had to function . . . I really don’t know . . . it does seem to speak to problems in the kind of work being done at universities & within anthropology . . .

  5. Stacie

    I wouldn’t expect zero remuneration, but academic publishing is something that seems to go above and beyond that. Salaries v. student loans and living in rat holes… I don’t know. From the perspective of a rat hole, it seems to be a vicious cycle.

    This is one that I need explained:

    “But this is not simply or even mainly a will to power or a will to truth. It is above all a will to meaning – a desire for an ethically meaningful, that is, socially unified world.” (1999, S37)

    1. Maximilian Forte

      The “will to meaning” is meant, I think, as a corrective to the more sinister, conspiratorial phrase, “the will to power.” Here the aim is not some absolute power of others, but rather the power to explain them (to explain them to ourselves, and even to themselves). Hence the struggle is one over meaning. And what is the primary site of “meaning” in anthropology? Argyrou suggests that it is about sameness vs. difference. His main argument is that all we do, in the end, is reestablish sameness through various ways, and as a result of establishing the primacy of the Same, we can then talk about ethics as if we lived in a world where we all actually possessed commonalities, in a world that is socially unified — at least potentially — because “in the end we are all the same.”

      Does this make sense, or does it make it worse?

      Also, if someone else read this differently, please feel free to share your interpretation.

  6. Stacie

    Also, I chose this quote because of the title, which I assume is his main point, but which doesn’t make sense to me: “Sameness and the Ethnological Will to Meaning.”

  7. Stacie

    Thanks for the explanation. Does it make sense? Maybe…

    That anthropologists are largely interested in the “power to explain” makes sense, but the emphasis on Sameness & difference is harder for me to see. At some very broad theoretical/historical levels it does seem to be there, but among individual anthropologists? I’m not sure if Sameness is as widespread a motivator as he seems suggests.

    What about why anthropology must continue with its focus on Sameness:

    “We forget to objectify Sameness…. If we did, we would have to recognize that Sameness is itself a construct and hence that whatever sense, meaning, and purpose we find in the world exists only because we placed it there in the first place. And, as we well know, this is a dangerous thought. To quote Geertz (1973:102) again, “it sets ordinary human experience in a permanent context of metaphysical concern and raises the dim, back-of-the-mind suspicion that one may be adrift in an absurd world.” Ethnology, then, must persist in its endeavor to uphold Sameness in the face of all those representations that produce difference and division.” (S37)

    Is the point simply that anthropologists exist who are motivated by these concerns, and they’re not going to disappear? Which is why he proposes undercutting their discourse? By showing people that anthropology is no better than any other quest for meaning? The “Same” as other quests?:

    “… it may begin to do what we wish but are unable to achieve, namely, to undermine whatever power ethnological discourse exercises over Others. It would now be possible for Others to respond to our discourse with a knowing smile, the sort of smile that recognizes ethnology as a quest for meaning, one to be taken no more – and no less – seriously than any Other such quest.” (S37)

    Even if people recognize anthropology as no better than other quests for meaning, how does this recognition undermine the power the discourse exercises over them? The power of the discourse doesn’t seem to be entirely within their own minds…. For that matter, how does speaking within anthropological theory result in a change in the perspectives of Others, when the discourse is directed at anthropologists? Wouldn’t Others who have different quests for meanings already recognize that anthropologists’ quests are not the “Same” value as their own? Maybe they already recognize it and still wonder why anthropologists’ discourse has become elevated to such a supreme status, because recognition alone doesn’t fix the problem… ?

    Writing within anthropology seems, to me, more likely to change anthropologists’ perceptions… but … how Argyrou writes about Sameness & the will to meaning seems to suggest anthropologists’ agenda is fairly set-in-stone. So, I’m still confused about how Sameness fits with what he says are his ultimate goals, what we might call his ‘will to undermine the power of the discourse.’

    If he’s an anthropologist, that ‘will’ seems different from the ‘will to Sameness,’ so is he contradicting himself? Or is this somehow another manifestation of Sameness?

    Do my questions make sense?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I think those are excellent questions in fact. I have my own qualms, which may come up later, such as taking Difference as an absolute baseline, while questioning only Sameness. I suppose he can get away with that, looking at older anthropological theories, because he argues they explained away difference in the end. If we had an anthropology that explains away sameness, like Argyrou does, then we have another set of problems — especially when he defines difference in terms of race and ethnicity, the first being an unquestionably European construct, and the second a decisively Western academic construct.

      In terms of who makes sameness central to their work — good question. It might be the unconscious underpinning of the meta-hypotheses they carry in their heads, or it might be closer to the surface — think of those anthropologists who study human rights, cosmopolitanism, development, indigenous rights, kinship, religions, among others.

      Anyway, those are some of my rough thoughts.

      1. Zoe

        Interesting post, and your comment just above brought up the questions that were forming in my mind too.

        In the end, we should just question everything, no? Keeps us on our toes.

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