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Complicities: politics and ethics at the edges of responsibility I 
Jessica Cooper (University of Edinburgh)
Tobias Kelly (University of Edinburgh)
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Morality and Legality
Friday 2 April, 14:15-15:45 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

What happens to our understanding of responsibility when we think through notions of complicity?

Long Abstract

Scholarship across political anthropology has engaged the concept of responsibility as a local and analytical concept that stitches together legal and moral systems (Cooper 2018; Dave 2014; Davis 2012; Jain 2006; Kelly 2011; Lambek 2010; Nelson 2009; Trinka and Trundle 2014; Wright 2018). Much of this work focuses on responsibility as a form of liberal governance and ideology; a precisely demarcated set of individualised causal relations through which the potentiality of justice under liberal law emanates. Ethnographic work has also shown the vast complexities of negotiations around the meaning of responsibility in different contexts. But what happens to our understanding of responsibility when we think through notions of complicity: a sense of our mutual involvement with others in the perpetration of harm? This panel asks what forms of ethical relation might overlap and depart from an analytical and empirical focus on responsibility. It offers a consideration of complicity as an ethical, social and political relation that can run through, across or adjacent to claims of responsibility. We ask what ethical imperatives and relationships are brought into view when we foreground complicities across different scales? What are the limits of a concept like complicity? And how might turning to complicity help us to make better sense of the everyday negotiation of ethics and politics across ethnographic sites?

Accepted papers: