, Volume 32, Issue 1-2, pp 97-106
Date: 24 Oct 2008

Comment: Interrogating the neo-pluralist orthodoxy in American anthropology

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Rarely do I read an essay where I disagree with so many of the parts yet admire the whole. Yet, this is how I felt upon reading Anthony Marcus’s timely essay, “Interrogating the Neo-Pluralist Orthodoxy in American Anthropology.” A good deal of his essay appears to be a critique of a specific article by Akhil Gupta, and for many readers it is his specific critique of Gupta that will have the greatest value. He is, nevertheless, clearly making a larger argument about anthropology, and I therefore will for the most part avoid commenting on his reading or critique of this article. His overall call for a critical reexamination of the anthropology of the state and the need to critically reexamine our engagements with adjunct disciplines is timely and necessary.

Most of my problems with Dr. Marcus’s essay reduce to two points with which I suspect the author would in some way agree. First, in questioning some prominent thinkers’ (e.g., Gupta) positions on the anthropology of the state, he accep ...