Seminar November 22: Do Metahumans Govern? Reflections from Georgia / Florian Mühlfried
15 listopada 2022 | Karolina Dziubata
We sincerely invite you to the next scientific seminar of the Department of Anthropology and Ethnology of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań! Tuesday (Nov. 22) at 09:30-11:00, room 2.122.
Do Metahumans Govern? Reflections from Georgia
This presentation takes off from Marshall Sahlins dictum that all societies are governed by metahumans such as „divinities, the dead, species-masters and other[s] … endowed with life-and-death powers over the human populations”, and that consequentially, no society can be called egalitarian. This dictum has recently been discarded by Natalia Buitron und Hans Steinmüller who argue that among horticulturalist societies in Amazonia classically referred to as „egalitarian”, both individuals and metahumans are experienced as unstable, incalculable, unknowable and opaque, which means that it is far from clear who rules whom. With this presentation, I would like to add another perspective. I will state that some societies whose political life is shaped by an egalitarian ethos are in fact metaphysically governed by metahumans, but that their politics is derived from attempts to restrict their grip of these metahumans on the everyday. I will demonstrate this form of pre-modern secularism on the example of former so-called segmentary societies residing in highland Georgia.
Florian Mühlfried is Professor of Social Anthropology at Ilia State University (Georgia). He has been a Lecturer at the Tbilisi State University, a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, a Visiting Professor at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), and an Assistant Professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. His publications include the monographs Mistrust: A Global Perspective (2019) and Being a State and States of Being in Highland Georgia (2014), the edited volume Mistrust: Ethnographic Approximations (2018), and the co-edited volumes Sacred Places, Emerging Spaces: Religious Pluralism in the Post-Soviet Caucasus (2018) and Exploring the Edge of Empire: Soviet Era Anthropology in the Caucasus and Central Asia (2011). He is a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge Journal of Anthropology and editor of the journal „Caucasus Survey”. His research interests include anarchism, citizenship, mistrust, religion, and feasting.