Anthropology in conversation with an Islamic tradition

Emmanuel Levinas and the practice of critique

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As an alternative to approaching Islam as an object for anthropological analysis, this article develops the idea of an anthropologist participating in a conversation going along within an Islamic tradition. The idea of a conversation is developed through the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and his ideal of knowing as a ethical relation with an infinite other. Levinas opposes a sterile and oppressive relation of ‘totality’ where the knowing self encompasses the other within concepts and thought that originate in the self, with a critical and creative relation of ‘infinity’ in which the alterity of the other is maintained and invites conversation that brings the self into question. The article discusses recent disciplinary discussions of how anthropology should engage with alterity that have been framed in terms of ontology and post-secular anthropology in the light of Levinas’s ideal of knowing as ethical and critical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-106
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume24
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Fingerprint

anthropology
conversation
foreignness
totality
ontology
Islam
Emmanuel Levinas
Anthropology
Alterity
philosophy
Postsecular
Ideal
Infinity
Anthropologists
Ontology
Philosophy
Critical Practice
Totality

Keywords

  • Islam
  • Anthropology
  • Emmanuel Levinas

Cite this

@article{9433732c997f434b8de0bb148e89d846,
title = "Anthropology in conversation with an Islamic tradition: Emmanuel Levinas and the practice of critique",
abstract = "As an alternative to approaching Islam as an object for anthropological analysis, this article develops the idea of an anthropologist participating in a conversation going along within an Islamic tradition. The idea of a conversation is developed through the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and his ideal of knowing as a ethical relation with an infinite other. Levinas opposes a sterile and oppressive relation of ‘totality’ where the knowing self encompasses the other within concepts and thought that originate in the self, with a critical and creative relation of ‘infinity’ in which the alterity of the other is maintained and invites conversation that brings the self into question. The article discusses recent disciplinary discussions of how anthropology should engage with alterity that have been framed in terms of ontology and post-secular anthropology in the light of Levinas’s ideal of knowing as ethical and critical practice.",
keywords = "Islam, Anthropology, Emmanuel Levinas",
author = "Johan Rasanayagam",
note = "Funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland This research was funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. I would like to thank Arnar Arnason, Alison Brown, Tim Ingold, Jo Vergunst, and the anonymous JRAI readers for their critical feedback, which greatly improved the quality and coherence of this article.",
year = "2018",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1111/1467-9655.12753",
language = "English",
volume = "24",
pages = "90--106",
journal = "Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute",
issn = "1359-0987",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Anthropology in conversation with an Islamic tradition

T2 - Emmanuel Levinas and the practice of critique

AU - Rasanayagam, Johan

N1 - Funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland This research was funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. I would like to thank Arnar Arnason, Alison Brown, Tim Ingold, Jo Vergunst, and the anonymous JRAI readers for their critical feedback, which greatly improved the quality and coherence of this article.

PY - 2018/3

Y1 - 2018/3

N2 - As an alternative to approaching Islam as an object for anthropological analysis, this article develops the idea of an anthropologist participating in a conversation going along within an Islamic tradition. The idea of a conversation is developed through the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and his ideal of knowing as a ethical relation with an infinite other. Levinas opposes a sterile and oppressive relation of ‘totality’ where the knowing self encompasses the other within concepts and thought that originate in the self, with a critical and creative relation of ‘infinity’ in which the alterity of the other is maintained and invites conversation that brings the self into question. The article discusses recent disciplinary discussions of how anthropology should engage with alterity that have been framed in terms of ontology and post-secular anthropology in the light of Levinas’s ideal of knowing as ethical and critical practice.

AB - As an alternative to approaching Islam as an object for anthropological analysis, this article develops the idea of an anthropologist participating in a conversation going along within an Islamic tradition. The idea of a conversation is developed through the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and his ideal of knowing as a ethical relation with an infinite other. Levinas opposes a sterile and oppressive relation of ‘totality’ where the knowing self encompasses the other within concepts and thought that originate in the self, with a critical and creative relation of ‘infinity’ in which the alterity of the other is maintained and invites conversation that brings the self into question. The article discusses recent disciplinary discussions of how anthropology should engage with alterity that have been framed in terms of ontology and post-secular anthropology in the light of Levinas’s ideal of knowing as ethical and critical practice.

KW - Islam

KW - Anthropology

KW - Emmanuel Levinas

U2 - 10.1111/1467-9655.12753

DO - 10.1111/1467-9655.12753

M3 - Article

VL - 24

SP - 90

EP - 106

JO - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

JF - Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

SN - 1359-0987

IS - 1

ER -