Thinking Big: Maurice Bloch on 'An evolutionary approach to the beginnings of "religion" and the collapse of states'
On the all-glass top floor, under a white snowy sky, a distinguished old friend of the department, Professor Emeritus Maurice Bloch of the LSE, engages an audience of 75 (including many students). This was the biggest turn-up yet in our ongoing seminar series this year. Professor Bloch spent some time as a guest at the Department in the 90s. He returned to give a passionate defence of anthropology's potential for grasping and adressing the Big Questions!
From the abstract:
"The talk will cover the kind of very large questions that characterised late nineteenth century anthropology. We must recognise that most contemporary anthropologists have by now abandoned such projects with fear and horror. However, we find that these large questions remain wide interest to the general public. By having moved away modern anthropologists have simply left a void which is being filled by scholars from other disciplines. What social and cultural anthropologists have to contribute to such questions is thus simply lost.
The talk will react to such a situation by proposing a rapid overview of a new grand theory. The first step in the construction of this theory concerns the nature of the human social in general. The second half of the talk will examine how this examination might throw light on the highly historically specific developments that are the growth and nature of the Abrahamic "religions".
Thanks, Maurice, for this tour de force of the past, present, and what the future may hold for our discipline. Another successful event in celebration of the Department's 50th anniversary year.
Rumour has it that Bloch even gave an exclusive interview that will be published in the next issue of the student magazine KulaKula.
Next up is Professor Tony Crook on Fredrik Barth, the Baktaman, Bolivip, secrecy and knowledge. (https://www.uib.no/antro/86181/fredrik-barth-baktaman-and-bolivip). Welcome.