Accepted Paper:

Rationality and its limits  


Aleksandar Boskovic (Institute of Archaeology)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will explore whether institutions do "think" more rationally than individuals, as proposed by Mary Douglas. The interaction between individual expectations and institutional constraints will be explored with reference to recent debates about nationalism and ethnicity.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing upon Mary Douglas's ideas of how we mirror our social relations when addressing the wider issues, related to ideology, the paper will explore the possibilities for interpreting recent political developments in Europe in a new key. The resilience of nationalism and ethnicity (along with some other issues related to identity) and some other concepts traditionally studied by anthropologists proved to be much more complicated and more open to debate than assumed by scholars like Gellner and Hobsbawm several decades ago. The role of the anthropologists within the realm of the political (the politics of anthropology) also needs to be re-evaluated. The question of whether institutions or individuals are behaving more rationally when faced with everyday problems is another interesting point of departure for future anthropological research.

Panel P073
Predicaments of public anthropology and fundamental questions for the future of the discipline (Commission on Theoretical Anthropology)