Ahmad, Irfan. 2021. “A New Holistic Anthropology with Politics In.” In Irfan Ahmad (ed.) Anthropology and Ethnography Are Not Equivalent: Reorienting Anthropology for the Future. New York: Berghahn: 112–40.
Abstract: Refreshing as I find Tim Ingold’s position enunciated in his many writings (2008a; 2008b; 2014; 2017), I critique them for effacing politics and IR. Integral to this effacement is the term “the people,” which he uses without accounting for its theoretical baggage and wider implications. Tracing the trajectory of anthropology’s subject matter from “the primitive,” “race,” “tribe,” “the native,” “culture,” and so on to “the people,” I ask how replacing earlier terms with “people” is useful. My first contention is that anthropology cannot continue to remain obsessed with “others” as it did with nonelites Not only should we study “ourselves,” but we must also ask how a population becomes “other” in relation to “us.” My second argument is that for anthropology to be a telling voice beyond its departmental silo, it must begin to practice a new holism— not the kind of yore and nearly hushed by Ingold, but a reformulated one that disavows spatial immediacy as much as disciplinary parochialism. This chapter is divided into four sections. Discussing their neglect, it underlines how politics and IR are important to any anthropological inquiry. From there, it proceeds to show how “the people” as a term is highly contested. The first two sections make this argument. The second argument in the third section demonstrates the need for a reformulated holism with politics, IR, and multidisciplinarity as its lynchpins. Without this notion of holism, so goes the contention, there cannot be a robust anthropology of terrorism or of “Islamic terrorism.” The final section dwells on the third argument about the dialectical interrelationship between the real and the true.