Anthropology and its Many Modernities: When Concepts Matter

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This article provides a critical review of the multiple modernities paradigm used in anthropology today. The article also indicates how the work of anthropologists intersects with social theory and historical sociology. It will be argued that by pointing to multiple or alternative modernities in attempts to ‘liberate’ modernity from its Eurocentric, modernistic connotations, anthropologists re-inject modernity itself with new value. It will be questioned whether this is ultimately a meaningful strategy. With reference to certain branches of social theory, the article develops a position from which the multiple modernities paradigm may be readdressed. This position is based upon a recognition of the particularity of European modernity, and its defining characteristic: a continuous stress on transformation and transgression, a state of ‘permanent liminality’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)160-178
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

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