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04/07/07

New blog: Islam, Muslims, and an Anthropologist

The Anthropology of Islam and Jihad Beyond Islam are the most recent books by Gabriele Marranci. In January this year he has started his own blog Islam, Muslims, and an Anthropologist. He is also writing for the excellent Middle East blog Tabsir.

Gabriele Marranci explains:

By nature, academic publications, even when attempting to reach the general public, are not very widely read outside the ivory tower of academia. (...)For this reason I also started, with Prof. Daniel Varisco, and regularly contribute to, Tabsir.

I believe that anthropologists, as Franz Boas and Margaret Mead have taught us, should engage and contribute to their time by facilitating debate.

In his recent post Collateral damage in the Wars on Terror: between Afghanistan and Glasgow, he comments on the public discourse and press coverage of the recent car bombings in Britain that were linked to al-Qaeda:

Yet are these attacks really al-Qaeda-sponsored? It is too early to say, but I have the impression that this series of attacks were the work of some ‘amateurs of terror’.

(...)

Prime Minister Gordon Brown misleads us when repeating ,

“It’s obvious that we have a group of people - not just in this country, but round the world - who’re prepared at any time to inflict what they want to be maximum damage on civilians, irrespective of the religion of these people who are killed or maimed are to be.”

It’s obvious, I would say, that this is not what those people want; this is, in this case, the inevitable ‘collateral damage’. This group of people kills because they want to achieve their idea of justice and good; they are fighting their battle against ‘evil’ to affirm ‘good’; they are ‘gifting’ us with a purifying fire which will be able to bring joy and prosperity in the future. They are gifting their victims with paradise, they are terrorising us for what they think is right, though costly to achieve. So they say.

Yet are we not terrorising, killing and maiming Afghan civilians to achieve what we think is the right cause? Have we not killed, possibly tortured, illegally detained (i.e. kidnapped), thousands of innocent people, or asked rogue Middle Eastern dictatorships to do so, to achieve what, paraphrasing Mr Brown, is in the interests of a perversion of our western democracy?

During these years of research with different Muslims, having different ideas and beliefs, I have reached the conclusion that we, the homely people of all colours, cultures, faiths and nationalities have found ourselves between not just one ‘War on Terror’ but two. And here is the issue: Terror fighting terror, the only result can be an endless chain of death.

>> visit Gabriele Marranci's blog

SEE ALSO:

Anthropological perspectives on suicide bombing

Anthropologists on the Israel-Lebanon conflict

"Discuss politics!" - How anthropologists in Indonesia engage with the public

More and more anthropologists, but they're absent from public debates - "Engaging Anthropology" (1)

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