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Gavin Smith

A short description of a fieldwork experience in highland Peru is used to illustrate how Bailey’s work during his last years at the University of Sussex provided key elements for the author’s ethnographic method and understanding of culture. This is followed by the author’s memories of his time as a doctoral student under Bailey’s supervision. This narrative is then re-envisioned through the lens of selected tools from Stratagems and Spoils.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
An account of normative and pragmatic rules in Norwegian local politics
Christian Lo

In Norwegian local politics, the so-called ‘hourglass-model’ has, since the early 1990s, served as a normative blueprint for the separation between politics and administration. In essence, the model suggests that all communication between elected politicians and municipal administrators should be passed through the top political and administrative leaders: the mayor and the chief municipal executive. Yet, the normative rules prescribed by the model are routinely breached through more pragmatic procedures. In the chapter, F. G Bailey´s game theory is applied to analyse the enactment of the hourglass-model in three Norwegian municipalities. The author demonstrates the strength of Bailey’s framework through capturing how the hourglass-model affects the dynamics of local politics under different circumstances and by addressing the question of why the model is reproduced despite its obvious fallacy. Under certain conditions, the author argues, the hourglass-model may serve to ensure that political competition remains focused on achieving consensus and that the actions taken by the municipal administration reflect the agreed goals of the municipal council. However, the author also applies Bailey’s framework to understand shifts in these social dynamics as political competition escalates into more pragmatic fights.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Work and legacy of F. G. Bailey
Stanley R. Barrett

This chapter consists of a critical overview of Bailey’s major books in the field of political anthropology, including his early ethnographic work in India, his contributions to anthropology at home, his theoretical volumes and the examination of the links between power and religion in his final book. Special attention is paid to the important changes in the author’s perspective as he became increasingly disillusioned with the suitability of positivism for a complex and disorderly world. The chapter concludes with an evaluation of criticisms levelled at Bailey’s approach to politics, especially his celebrated treatise on the agency model in Stratagems and Spoils.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Can F. G. Bailey’s toolbox aid our understanding of irrigation bureaucracies?
Namika Raby

This chapter approaches bureaucracies as mechanistic systems struggling to perform functions that are suited to entrepreneurial styles of modern management. In resource-scarce communities facing droughts or poverty, the system functions in an environment of uncertainty or dynamism. As a result, such bureaucracies must wrestle with choice among normative, strategic, and pragmatic rules (Treason, Stratagems, and Spoils 2001) of their institutions in order to cope with influences coming from the top down, from the state, and from the bottom up, from community-based organizations. This choice among normative, pragmatic, and strategic rules by the bureaucracy is the ad hoc response to the asymmetrical flow of information resulting from the contingencies thrust upon them by the politicians and or the ordinary people. Case studies from the internationally implemented Participatory Irrigation Management Program in Sri Lanka, India and the Philippines and the Quantification Settlement Agreement in Imperial Valley, California, are used to illustrate how these choices result in different outcomes at variance to the original goals.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Robert H. Wade

This chapter reflects the main ‘lesson’ I drew from the experience of doing a PhD in Bailey’s department at Sussex – the lesson being the virtues of understanding ‘big level’ phenomena by ‘soaking and poking’ at street level. I’ve written a lot about the World Bank with this approach. My chapter starts with reference to Tomas Piketty’s recent Capitalism and Ideology, in which he gives ‘ideology’ (or ‘mindset’ or ‘world view’) much more causal role – in income/wealth inequality trends – than other economists do. Then on to the Washington Consensus ideology, dominant in western capitals since 1980s, about appropriate public policies for developing countries. My interest is in how its dominance has been protected, via ‘the social construction of reality’. Then to ethnography – of a particular two-day meeting at UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, based in Geneva) I attended in 2012, on ‘rethinking trade policy’ with some 30 people (as I recall, offhand). I bring out how little rethinking there was, by design. The ‘rethinking’ meeting confirmed the Washington Consensus – which is all the more striking, because UNCTAD is the one UN development agency meant to be run by and for developing countries.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Kevin Avruch

The title is from Freddy’s 1978 paper. Tertius gaudens (literally, ‘third man rejoicing’) refers to a third party who benefits from conflict between two others. The gaudens is a strategist and manipulator. Numen conveys religion, divinity, and power. A numen controls via collective beliefs and values. Their legitimacy transcends the self-serving gaudens. Discussion of third parties runs through much of Freddy’s work: political stratagems to acquire ‘spoils’; tension between individualism and action on behalf (or perceived to be on behalf) of a community; the nature of leadership and control over followers; the dangers of a world dominated in the name of numen. I focus on the range of theoretical books between Stratagems and Spoils and God-Botherers and Other True Believers. Third parties are also important in the theory and practice of conflict resolution. In this chapter, I bring together Freddy’s conceptions of third parties with what we know about how they function in the world of disputes and conflicts; and I use what we have learned about third parties in conflict resolution to expand the range of Freddy’s concepts.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Modernity and malevolence in Tribal India
Andrew Willford

From fieldwork among Irula and Alu Kurumba communities within the Nilgiris mountains of South India, this chapter examines increased anxiety and psycho-social symptoms associated with socioeconomic and cultural transformations. Drawing upon F. G. Bailey’s classic work, I argue that the conflicts between value systems associated with Adivasi (indigenous), Hindu, and civil society have become intensified through landscape transformations in recent years, resulting in a generalized sense of malevolence within communities. Reduced access to land has undermined the cultivation of traditional dietary and ritual staples. As local residents put it, ‘food was medicine’, and ‘now we are sick’. Many have left their respective village-based communities as itinerant laborers. One consequence of this livelihood shift has been the neglect of communal ritual life centered upon ancestral ‘sacred groves’. The disruption of ritual life, in turn, has produced shifts in diet and access to traditional medicines, as well as a drift towards Hinduism, associated with the Tamil population. A rise in ‘new illnesses’ has resulted. Community healers speak of increasing illness due to intensified sorcery. The anxieties and symptoms, in turn, reflect and exacerbate growing inequality and precarity. Notions of change and malevolence construct a tribal harmony that is retroactively imagined in its perceived demise. Against a structuralist or functionalist understanding, and following Bailey’s influential critiques of ‘ideological holism’, I argue that a growing archive of local ideas about cultural loss partially obscures underlying pathologies of power within rural India, and the forces that divide and defer the tribal from non-tribal.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Contradiction and change in Yugoslavia and Croatia
Mary Kay Gilliland

Bailey’s models for describing and analyzing sociocultural conflict and contradiction in Tribe, Caste and Nation (1960) influenced work in Yugoslavia and Croatia during two distinct periods of research. The chapter first describes family, gender, and household life in Yugoslavia in the years following Tito’s death. Bailey’s rich understanding of the ways in which people invoke competing, but overlapping models for the ways things should be, and his attention to everyday life, described in case studies, provided an approach that uncovered subtle but meaningful changes in household patterns and in gender roles and relationships. Women learned to use bridge-actions to achieve greater autonomy. The chapter shifts focus to a second period of work, the early 1990s, a period marked by economic and political tensions that eventually led to war. Again, drawing on Bailey as a theoretician and scholar, the chapter describes changes in understandings tied to ethnicity and nationalism at a local level. In both cases, overlapping systems and contradictions among them provided space for shifts in behavior, and ultimately thought, about gender, families, ethnicity, and more.

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
Open Access (free)
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Difficulties and challenges for the forensic medical system in Mexico
Isabel Beltrán-Gil
María Alexandra Lopez-Cerquera
Linda Guadalupe Reyes Muñoz
Sandra Ivette Sedano Rios
Nuvia Montserrat Maestro Martínez
, and
Diana Newberry Franco

As a result of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic, in 2020 forensic institutions in Mexico began using extreme measures in the treatment of bodies of confirmed or suspected cases, due to possible infection. A series of national protocols on how to deal with the virus were announced, yet forensic personnel have struggled to apply these, demonstrating the country’s forensics crisis. This article aims to reflect on two points: (1) the impact that COVID-19 protocols have had on how bodies confirmed as or suspected of being infected with the virus are handled in the forensic medical system; and (2) the particular treatment in cases where the body of the victim is unidentified, and the different effects the pandemic has had in terms of the relationship between the institutional environment and the family members of those who have died as a result of infection, or suspected infection, from COVID-19.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal