Another Way to Compose the Common World - The AIME project

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Paper prepared for the session ‘The Ontological Turn in French Philosophical Anthropology’, An Executive Session of the AAA Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 23, 2013, in 2014 | Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4 (1): 301–307, DOI:


If it is notably difficult to do the anthropology of those who invented the anthropology of ''others'', it is in part because they have managed to avoid doing their own. This most primitive and most aboriginal lack of reflexivity makes any sort of self-examination a skewed enterprise. This is why it is fairly useless to try to distinguish philosophy from anthropology when one wishes to find one's way through such an entangled jungle. You need anthropology - associated whenever possible with its set of ethnographic methods – to overturn philosophy’s claims that it has already reached universality; and you need philosophy – with its own set of interpretative skills – to make sure that anthropology’s claims to scientific status are not a form of provisional and provincial metaphysics. Each discipline spurs the other to restart its inquiries into the collectives that are constantly enmeshed by conquest, commerce or war.