déjà lu



déjà lu Translations

JCSAOba-Smidt, Chikage. 2013. “The Structure of "History" among People without Writing: An Analysis of the Boorana Oral Chronicle in Southern Ethiopia.” Japanese Journal of Cultural Anthropology 78(1):26–49.

In this paper, I describe how people without a writing tradition preserve and construct their own history, based on a research on the Oral Chronicle of the Boorana in southern Ethiopia. The Boorana has a socio-political institution based on generation sets called gadaa. It has eight generation sets. Boorana choose their leader from the 6th generation set. This leader called abbaa-gadaa bears the main responsibility for politics and ceremonies during the eight years during which he belongs to the gadaa generation set. There were 70 abba-gadaa until now according to the Oral Chronicle. Boorana can memorize all the names of the abba-gadaa of the past, and narrate events, which are said to have happened in the time of each abba-gadaa. I focus on the concept of maq-baasa, which was frequently used by narrators. Here, I describe the law of history which Boorana believe in, which can be illustrated by the discourse of the maq-baasa. The maq-baasa are the “given names” of the abba-gadaa. There are seven “given names” and each name is, in Boorana imagination, linked with a specific destiny such as conflict, disaster or peace. Seven maq-baasa names are to be given to the different abba-gadaa in a cyclical order. 3 The Boorana believe that all events happen according to the regular cycle of the maq-baasa names and the destinies linked to them, given to each abba-gadaa. I document such a way of thinking about the laws of history through an analysis of several historical narrations which mention the cycle of maq-baasa. This structure is used to construct Boorana history, which shows the important role of specific structures for memorizing history. In the conclusion, I point out three perspectives on the structure of historical memories, which Boorana use. First, there is a correlation between historical memories and the maq-baasa cycle. The maq-baasa cycle has the role not only for constructing history but also for determining which events shall be memorized or not. Second, on the other hand, the same memorizing system produces different histories, thus different versions exist among Boorana. They sometimes even create historical memories in order to apply them to the maq-baasa cycle. Third, the view on history as being controlled by the maq-baasa cycle constructs not only the history of the past, but also the present and the future. The Boorana try to foresee the future according to the laws of history. Even accidental events will thus be involved into the cyclical historical program.




In this paper, we go through the history of the construction of tango as heritage. The period analyzed here begins in the late 90's and extends until 2010. We analyze the factors underlying the cultural policies that came to surface after the "turn" of tango as heritage in Buenos Aires, that is to say, after the activation and promotion of this popular genre on part of the political power (Morel 2009). Through a process analysis, we outline the official efforts behind this recognition. Simultaneously, we examine the impact of tourism as a decisive factor in the political-cultural approaches of the successive administrations. Our aim is especially focused on two main aspects: first, we highlight the heritage-driven policies that went along with the activation process of this genre, and, secondly, we note the consolidation of the cultural policies and actions which had to do, mainly, with the organization of tango events in relation to the promotion of tourism in the city. Under this framework, we explore the negotiations and disputes which, later on, led to the creation of the Buenos Aires Tango Festival and its institutionalization within the official cultural program.

Keywords: political heritage, festivals, tourism, tango

Le Journal des anthropologues

Gourarier, Mélanie. 2011, "Négocier le genre? Une ethnologue dans une société d’hommes apprentis séducteurs (Negotiating Gender? An Ethnologist Works Embedded in a Society of Men Apprenticing Seduction)." Le Journal des anthropologues n°124-125, p.159-178.


A young woman researcher had particular experience while conducting a study on an exclusively male population. Starting from there, the article questions the functions of the gender assignments endowed upon the researcher during her study, in order to fully integrate them into the process of understanding the data. The reflexivity analysis done concerning the researcher’s working path in the field hence allows approaching the upward hierarchic mobility system based on the progressive acquisition of “male skills,” a system which has structured the career path of the individuals within the reference group. In such a context, where gender identity is constructed, assignments to which the researcher is confronted depending on his or her gender make room for negotiation and proper organization of the study.

Keywords: sex/gender, reflexivity, masculinity, negotiation, field, seduction

Ferrández, Luis Fernando Angosto (2012). The Omnivorous Science: Jean and John Comaroff on the Politics of Anthropology, Capitalism and Contemporary States. AIBR Revista de Antropología Iberoamericana, Vol. 7 (3), pp.271 – 296.


Few social scientists reach the status of contemporary classics. Jean and John Comaroff are among those who could be included in that category. Their current work is indeed on the crest of the wave of social analysis, but at least since the 1980s it has been followed, debated and also challenged within the field of anthropology. Beyond this disciplinary area, their work has resonated and continues to resonate in the spheres of sociology, politics and legal studies, in a clear demonstration of the strength and the potential of anthropological knowledge when it engages the ‘big issues’. It is only a part of the written production of John and Jean Comaroff that has been translated into Spanish, but contemporary Spanish and Latin American anthropologists are familiar with many of their theoretical proposals. Here is an op­portunity to gain insight into these proposals and into the views of the Comaroffs on the politics of anthropology, capitalism and contemporary states. This interview was conducted in Sydney (Australia) on 08 May 2012. I should like to thank Jeremy Beckett for comments on the interview transcript.

Keywords: Jean Comaroff, John Comaroff, Culture, Omnivorous science

Markus Verne (2013). The Limits of Contextualism. Malagasy Heavy Metal, "Satanic" Aesthetics, and the Anthropological Study of Popular Music. déjà lu Translations (2013)

This article was first published in 2012 in German in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 137 (2), pp. 187-206.  The original is not available on-line.  It was chosen by the German Association of Anthropologists as  the most appropriate article for republication in déjà lu. They requested its author to translate it into English, which he has done.  We are honoured to open the section "déjà lu Translations" with this publication.


During the last fifteen years or so, the study of popular music has increased in popularity within the field of anthropology. Theoretical approaches are however, only rarely concerned with aesthetics, with the ways in which music is experienced and with its relation to everyday life. Instead, explanations focus on the social, historical and political contexts in which popular music is performed, echoing the way in which popular music is dealt with in critical theory and cultural studies. Drawing on ethnographic research on heavy metal in the highlands of Madagascar, this article attempts to point out the shortcomings of these contextualist approaches by taking aesthetic experience as the point of departure for the study of popular music. Showing how during fieldwork in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, Satan emerged as an allegory that served both metal fans and musicians as a means to express their aesthetic experiences and to further reflect upon the music’s unique character, the article argues that the anthropological study of popular music needs to refocus on its own traditional methodologies – long-term participant observation, above all – in order to no longer neglect music’s most central aspect: its ability to deeply move us. Keywords: anthropology of music, popular music, aesthetics, heavy metal, Madagascar