Rekeying Key Words for the Contempor
Culture, nature, body, personhood, science, and technology are a
the key words of anthropology, the study of human beings in the
and in their worlds—including their social and cultural worlds an
environments, ecologies, and planetary forces with which they
act. Key words, of course, key di√erent registers of meaning.
strange attractors, they describe dynamic patterns through w
since at least the eighteenth century, anthropology has engage
folded, and refolded itself. Or, to shift keys again, perhaps they ar
proteins with multiple surface receptors to which alternative stem
can attach. Anthropology, Immanuel Kant suggested in the eight
century, following David Hume, is foundational to any critical ph
phy of use to human beings.∞
Culture is both that which is distinctive, local, colorful, artistic
osophical; and that which is universally human. Culture is that
is cultivated (gebildet, civilized, woven) and that ‘‘complex
which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, an
other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of so
(Tylor 1871: 1). Culture speaks to our aspirations (cultura, a f
participle) and to that which is tied to our nature. Culture is w
meaning is woven and renewed, often beyond the conscious cont
individuals, and yet the space where institutional social respons
and individual ethical struggle take place. At issue are not just
methods but a return to some of the most fundamental mora
cultural issues that anthropology and cultural analysis have lon
dressed: issues of class di√erences, culture wars, social warrants,
reform and social justice; of mental health and subjectivation; of
ocratic checks and balances, institutions of ethical debate, regul
and the slow negotiation of international law; of access to inform
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