Review Article. Engaging Power. Recent Approaches to the Study of Political Practices Davide Pero


At a time when the world is facing profound challenges and transformations (the erosion of human rights, the destruction of the environment, the criminalisation of immigrants and the resurgence of fundamentalisms of all sorts – to name just a few) the need for the anthropological study of political processes has hardly ever been greater. In fact, the unique sensitivity and commitment of anthropology to culture, translation, lived experiences, people’s views and everyday practices, holism and context, comparison, long-term fieldwork and ethnographic detail, deconstruction and reflexivity (all features generally less present in other fields of studies) make the discipline’s engagement with things political quite necessary. However, to meet this demand, both scholars and students of (political) anthropology need an updated conceptual tool-kit. In this review essay I will discuss three recent volumes that in their different ways contribute to this toolkit. Particular attention will be given to the question of subaltern people’s responses to the political challenges they are facing, an issue addressed in all the three texts, although in quite different ways.