Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity.

by Marc Auge; John Howe Review by: Nigel Rapport The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 359-360 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Stable URL: . Accessed: 04/06/2012 15:35
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the salienceof 'cultural over religious differences..and as communication Agarwalpresentsa seand first-handresearch.not a reasonfor failingto begin it. rangingfrom reluctanceof male world all crowdingin and all 'demanding' be to officialsto registerland or subsidiesin female given meaning. allows identification of commonlyenshrinedin law..whose socio-culturalpatas ternsit often more closelyapproximates. part of a distinct'zone'.kin to introduction an anmarriage) which 'keep .The chief excesses are difficultiesfacedby women when tryingto are four: an overabundanceof eventsin the manageland.In South Asia. and postmodernitya patchworkof modalities and that they routinely 'voluntarily'give up of equal worth. typesof inequality Discussing dowry and inheritance. alongsideSri Lanka.' (pp. rural female labour force participation rate.BOOK REVIEWS 359 South Asian studies and a new take-off point should its for socialactivists: issue in paperback it it guarantee the wide readership deserves..Historicalandethnographicdata concerningthe formulationof contemporarylegal positions. including land reform legislations. 3). which to be as the globe shrinksthroughterresby supplemented census data.95 (cloth).. and 1980s struggles. court action) is less effective than politicalpressureby groups.hostility. Prominent among reasons identified terized. 122 pp. divided into four zones. 437).g. of view of .95 (paper) practice and between ownership and control and If modernity implies a progressiveevolution. post-maritalresidence. community and state.consistently overlookingthe strategicimportance of land. Agarwalextends AmartyaSen's 'bargaining' to approachbeyond the household/family the market. vi. the single most important source of security . between hitherto separateissues and apparently diverse struggles. then 'supermodernity' (postrightfulclaims. uxorilocality. arable land is likely to remain . rural. an overabundanceof time in names.Colonial and post-colonialerosion of while land rights highlightstheir vulnerability. land scarcity).and opposition women are likely to encounter in affirmingtheir rights in land' (p.'for a . ties entrenched in the gaps between law and Verso. an overabundanceof space in Marshallinga vast range of ethnographies. has failed to recognize both the parof ticularity the ruralSouthAsianwoman'spoof sition and also the unique value of the process claiming land as a privilegedentry point into wider struggles. it structures relationships .recapitulationof the book's central arguments and case-studies of land-struggle movements highlight differencesin styles and outcomes between 1940s peasantmovements. and presents 'welfare'.to sanctionsagainsthandlingthe plough which to make meaning.refusesto be defeatist: macro-surveysis a challenge for future research. ?29.) John thropology supermodernity... genealogical. Non-places: (transl.among whose members the benefits of availableresourcesare sharedequally'(p.publishedreports trialand cosmic travel. Patterns emerge which reveala South Asian continuum. moved by pragmatic political lackof reliable concerns. but.. Agarwalconcludes that it is the recognitionand forging of links which contributesto and is necessaryfor any success:links between academics.'efficiency'. majority of rural households. New York. Finally. virtually never get land' (p.g.g.. ?9. but.. Meanwhile. inequaliHowe. leadingto the conclusion that individualresistance (e.taking issue along the way with (amongothers)JackGoody. ries of mapsand tablesdetailingregionaldiversities in those factorsnow identifiedas havinga bearingupon women's likelihood of claiming and controlling land (e. land within the pur. An exampleof the merit of this is the highlightingof commonalities' 377) (p.handingover sharesto brothers modernity's 'positive expression') is characor sons. A range of ethnographies bilateral matriand coveringthose traditionally lineal communities which accepted female land-ownershipin practice(sanctionedor not by religious law) permit cross-regionalcomparisons.and between spread across women's groups geographically South Asia. MARC. London.1995....Women's Universityof Durham property rights are finally seen always to be linked with practices (e. 369). kin' (p.. 74 per cent. She is frank about the shortcomingsof 1950sethnogmethodological raphiesand sometimes unreliablecensus data generalizations' to make occasionally'"heroic" and (p. and defines social status and political power .for Auge.made by governmental governmentalagencies alike. in overt which women moved towards'organized action as a group' (p. 1-2).'equality'and 'empowerment' argumentsto make the case for a united South Asian movement to improve women's 'fall-backposition' through independent land rights..and South India appearingnot as an anomalous or residual part of India. both individualand or even going into the fields...activistsand local women. mean thatwomen 'otherthan as daughters widows . ranked in order of the 'degreeof difficulty. . devoid of self-conscious organized action by groups of women. that the '[household] is a unit of congruentinterests. 259). northwest Indian Hindus being seen to be closer to their Pakistanineighboursthan to their South Indiancoreligionists.Focus on femaleentry into the labourforce. 146).AUG. 324). by excess.Agarwal factorsand identifiesa wide rangeof separable whetherandwhich faccheckscross-regionally CAROLINEOSELLA tors are in correlation..Equally damaginghave been and nonassumptions.

one might expect a supermodernanthropology to acknowledgea certaincontinuity-inall as conceptual-diversity characterizing human societiesalike.and an overand as reflexively of abundance egos. this too is an ideology. socio-cultural Supermodernity. as a species of social an ideologicalconception (admittedly. There follows a rathertoo brief discussionof lying in the naturalsciences.and that between Whereas..refugeecamps. 200 pp. but uttering statements believed to be false (though possibly that place and modalities. so on. for the possibilityand experienceof non-placeis neverabsentfrom any placeis completelyitselfand separate.These are. entails radical changes in scale. the law-courts.J. in short. though.stations. waiting-rooms. With this definition in place. 41). of No-one has ever been unaware the relativity of socio-cultural'places'.the second never totally completed. useful will find particularly Anthropologists diversity'in lying. afterwhich the social sciences come under the is that Mauss. identity and history) was never more than a a useful semi-fantasy. advertising. wastelands. deceivingone another. buand reaucracy.gods and economies)reconstitute themselves in practice.the European.the non-placerepresentcontrastive first never completelyerased. 1994.individualsenteringand leaving spaces. with the intention to deceive others about the state of the world.building sites.Here the chapteron 'cultural Barnes introducesgrippingethnographyfrom Gilsenan on the Lebanon and du Boulay on Greece. ?35. can thereforebe fenced off from epistemologicalproblemsto do with the concept of truthas such (but see below). of which componential and and individuals groupsare transparent representativeexpressions.which we do quite innocently.The Durkheim-Mauss orthodoxy. ing is defined not as utteringerroneousstatements . even for those who worked towards its collective produces materialization. of the appreciation the individualas the indisconcrete' (becauseit pensable'anthropological come together'thatthe sois 'when individuals cial is engendered( is French. Cambridge: Univ. But supermodernity of a proliferation non-places:transitpoints and temporaryabodes.etc. and This is a provocative hopeful essay from a Frenchscholarwho remainsunconvincedby and yet recognizes 'postmodernanthropology' the blind alley up which Maussiannotions of notionsof society the personand Durkheimian have led European anthropologyseeking to notions of come to terms with late-capitalist identity and otherness.the image of a closed and self-sufficientworld (of relations. politics(Vietnam. NIGEL RAPPoRT University St Andrews of of a packof lies:towards sociology lying (Themes in the social Sci. . the ideology rests on an orof ganization spaceet al. in fact). individuals free themselvesfrom conventional subjectively of constraints decorand itinerary.Auge admits. damned lies. twenty-first century will be anthropological' (pp.. 35.includingthe interesting fact that Nixon's staff managedto lie when publicizingthe recipe for his daughter'swedding cake). Aug6'sessay stimulatesand emboldens. and no placeis completelyother.Peoplearealways and neverat home in supermodernity. It also makes anthropology poised to undertakea study of 'new civilizations'.). wherein lying commonly occurs.For supermodernity entails population movements. of localizeduniverses of is refreshingto find them reached via a critique of Durkheimremains. and military briefings . Lying. xiv. since 'the social begins with the individual'(p. 20). have alwaysbeen our raw materials. A ('lies. omy) momentarily Of course. globalism and non-places.have been drawn before (Simmel spoke of how modem excess led to the blas6). provisionalmyth..all the time. malls. Press. because time. ? socialscientists which surelyalso occurs.360 BOOK REVIEWS offers instant access to any part.war BARNES.the legitimacy an anthro- pology of the near.alone but one of many. bibliogr..the characterization of as of the post-supermodern a transformation our consciousnessof distinctions.Here. which supermodernity overwhelms and relativizes.And the should help us experienceof supermodernity rid ourselvesof it. 111). space and the individual.So thatwhile a number of of its conclusions. the emphasisseems to be more on lying by researchsubjectsin response to enquiries.Furthermore. If a Durkheimianism 'the world' is cuspidallyevolving from 'then' (the mechanical/thetraditional)to 'now' (the organic/the supermodern). Barnesexaminesthe many areas in social life. where travellersbreak step and thousands of individualitineraries(of unmediated individualengagementswith the global econconverge.00 (cloth).of societiesidentifiedwith cultures conceivedas completewholes. and no more pure than traditional 'places'. these lies greatideologicaldisaffinity.95 (paper) ProfessorBarnes'sguided tour throughthe litindeed eratureof lying is an adroitperformance .Fixty and social relationsand cultural routine (groups.'). and the piling up of culturalmaterialagainst 'the itself.the current. and indeed is expectedto occur. which remind one of the enormous extent to which everydaysociallife dependson .of natives as much as ethnologists)which needs up-dating.A.perhapsthis has something to do with the fact that the author trainedas a ballet dancer with Ninette de Valois'scompany before emLybarkingon his careeras an anthropologist. But non-placesare the real measureof our time.

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