Maurice Bloch

Maurice Bloch
The London School of Economics and Political Science | LSE

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107
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Publications

Publications (107)
Article
This essay considers the contribution that social and cultural anthropology can make to other disciplines. This contribution is of two sorts. First, anthropology offers a glimpse of what society may have been like for most of human history when the state and its invading presence are absent. Such knowledge cannot be obtained directly but studying c...
Article
In this paper, I consider the problems and advantages of combining the traditional subdisciplines of anthropology, especially the problem of combining studies that attempt to interpret and represent the “from the inside” point of view of a particular group of people, a practice typical of ethnography, with the more scientific approach that ultimate...
Article
Mary Douglas and peanutsThe article celebrates the importance of Mary Douglas’ book Purity and Danger. It then considers subsequent explanations or the prevalence of beliefs about pollution especially recent suggestions by evolutionists that these serve as innate protection against various forms of poisoning and contagion. The article concludes by...
Article
CONVERTING TO CONSERVATION - Forest and Labor in Madagascar: From Colonial Concession to Global Biosphere. By Genese Marie Sodikoff. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2012. Pp. xix + 245. $70, hardback (ISBN 978-0-253-00309-6); $25, paperback (ISBN 978-0-253-00577-9). - Volume 56 Issue 2 - MAURICE BLOCH
Article
Full-text available
The paper concerns the role of intentionality in reasoning about wrong doing. Anthropologists have claimed that, in certain non-Western societies, people ignore whether an act of wrong doing is committed intentionally or accidentally. To examine this proposition, we look at the case of Madagascar. We start by analyzing how Malagasy people respond t...
Chapter
A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion presents a collection of original, ethnographically-informed essays that explore the variety of beliefs, practices, and religious experiences in the contemporary world and asks how to think about religion as a subject of anthropological inquiry. •Presents a collection of original, ethnographically-inform...
Article
A charitable sale housed in the Paris showrooms of Christie’s displayed works created by European artists. These were painted over or on the backs of specially commissioned carved house shutters typical of the Zafimaniry region of Madagascar. The present article considers and contrasts the two types of creativity juxtaposed at the Christie’s sale....
Book
Depuis des décennies, les anthropologues voient dans l'esprit leproduit exclusif d'une culture coupée de toute base biologique ou naturelle. Ils ignorent ou rejettent ce que les sciences neuronales et la psychologie cognitive nous apprennent sur le fonctionnement de l'esprit humain. Occupés à distinguer l'inné du culturel, leurs critiques cognitivi...
Book
What is human sociality? How are universals such as truth and doubt variously demonstrated and negotiated in different cultures? This book offers an accessible introduction to these and other fundamental human questions. Bloch shows that the social consists of two very different things. One is a matter of continual adjustments between individuals...
Article
In this provocative new study one of the world's most distinguished anthropologists proposes that an understanding of cognitive science enriches, rather than threatens, the work of social scientists. Maurice Bloch argues for a naturalist approach to social and cultural anthropology, introducing developments in cognitive sciences such as psychology...
Article
Anthropology combines two quite different enterprises: the ethnographic study of particular people in particular places and the theorizing about the human species. As such, anthropology is part of cognitive science in that it contributes to the unitary theoretical aim of understanding and explaining the behavior of the animal species Homo sapiens....
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This volume examines the hypothesis of the coherence of each society. It presents discussion from anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers and economists. This chapter focuses upon the Zafimaniry concept of debt and credit from an anthropological perspective. Text is in French.
Article
The target paper claims to contribute to the conceptualisation of kinship but is, in fact, only concerned with descriptive kinship terminologies. It uses Optimal Theory to analyse this vocabulary but it is not clear if this is to be understood as a psychological phenomenon. Jones does not make clear how this special vocabulary might relate to kinsh...
Article
This is a commentary on Henrich et al. The Weirdest people in the world, BEHAVIORAL AND BRAIN SCIENCES (2010) 33, 61–135. In our commentary, we welcome the critical appraisal of the database used by the behavioral sciences, but we suggest that the authors’ differentiation between variable and universal features is ill conceived and that their categ...
Book
Full-text available
Le choix d'une photographie de Jacques Faublée et les raisons de ce choix
Article
Bloch on Bloch on ‘Religion’ Maurice Bloch Why Maurice Bloch’s Work on ‘Religion’ Is Nothing Special but Is Central Laurent Berger Maurice Bloch, or How to Think Persistence in Religion? David Berliner Is Ritual Really Like a Hat? Or, The Category Formerly Known as ‘Religion’ Fenella Cannell The Cognitive Turn and the Materiality of Social Life: On...
Article
This book presents an interdisciplinary study of the role of spirituality and religious ritual in the emergence of complex societies. Involving an eminent group of natural scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume examines Çatalhöyük as a case study. A nine-thousand-year old town in central Turkey, Çata...
Article
Autobiographical memory and the SelfCombining approaches from the social and cognitive sciencesThis paper puts side-by-side recent work on autobiographical memory and social science writings concerning the Self, the «individual» and the «person». It proposes that social scientists, in their numerous works on the subject, are talking about narrative...
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Full-text available
It is proposed that explaining religion in evolutionary terms is a misleading enterprise because religion is an indissoluble part of a unique aspect of human social organization. Theoretical and empirical research should focus on what differentiates human sociality from that of other primates, i.e. the fact that members of society often act towards...
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This essay discusses the reputation of Claude Levi-Strauss, comparing and contrasting the high esteem which he is accorded by French intellectuals and the French public with that held by foreign anthropologists.
Article
This paper examines the link between truth and sight, and the implications of this link for our understandings of the concept of evidence. I propose to give an example of precisely how we might attempt to generalize about a phenomenon such as the recurrence of the association between truth and sight without ignoring important anti-universalist poin...
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Full-text available
This is a reprint of Bloch, Maurice. 2007. “Durkheimian anthropology and religion: Going in and out of each other's bodies.” In Religion, anthropology, and cognitive science, edited by Harvey Whitehouse and James Laidlaw, 63–88. Ritual studies monograph series. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.
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This commentary criticises Bering on two counts. First, because we do not know what he attributes to natural selection and what he sees as derived representations. Second, Bering's ethnography of religion is inadequate. People who practise ancestor worship are not concerned with their own survival but with that of others. Many supernatural beings a...
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Full-text available
INTRODUCTION Names are words, and as words they are constituent elements in speech acts. Alone, or in combination with other linguistic phenomena, they are sounds that, as a result of the conventions learnt by speakers of a particular community, evoke in the minds of hearers or speakers’ mental responses (see the chapter by Lambek (Chapter 6) for a...
Article
This book brings together recent work by Maurice Bloch which explores thehighly controversial territory between the cognitive and social sciences. The essays are of broad, theoretical interest and aim to combine naturalistic approaches to cognition with a recognition and respect for the cultural and historical specificity of ethnography. All the es...
Article
Full-text available
The article revisits the old controversy concerning the relation of the mother's brother and sister's son in patrilineal societies in the light both of anthropological criticisms of the very notion of kinship and of evolutionary and epidemiological approaches to culture. It argues that the ritualized patterns of behavior that had been discussed by...
Article
Ethnohistory 48.1-2 (2001) 293-299 This collection makes clear one thing: the old distinction between anthropology and history has by now completely disappeared. The subject matter of the two disciplines is the same, although of course there traditionally has been a difference of focus: historians looking more at the past, anthropologists at the pr...
Article
Children (aged 7 to 16 years) and adults from a remote Zafimaniry village in eastern Madagascar were probed for their intuitive understanding of the biological inheritance of bodily features. They were told a story about a baby adopted at birth, and were asked whether, when grown, he would be more likely to resemble his birth parents or his adoptiv...
Article
The article revisits the old controversy concerning the relation of the mother's brother and sister's son in patrilineal societies in the light both of anthropological criticisms of the very notion of kinship and of evolutionary and epidemiological approaches to culture. It argues that the ritualized patterns of behavior that had been discussed by...
Article
A theory of art: On Alfred Gell’s Art and AgencyThis review focuses on the cognitive implications of Alfred Gell’s book, Art and Agency. From the start, Gell refuses the concept of aesthetics and suggests that we see art as a form of social communication. Accordingly, artworks stimulate the imagination through the many types of intentionality that...
Article
This review focuses on the cognitive implications of Alfred Gell’s book, Art and Agency. From the start, Gell refuses the concept of aesthetics and suggests that we see art as a form of social communication. Accordingly, artworks stimulate the imagination through the many types of intentionality that have gone into producing them; and they themselv...
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Full-text available
Traduit de l'anglais par Gerard Lenclud Psychologie de la colonisation a ete ecrit en 1948 a Madagascar, un an apres la rebellion qui s'y deroula et qui conduisit a l'un des episodes les plus sanglants de la periode coloniale en Afrique. Dans ce livre, termine au lendemain de la repression, Octave Mannoni s'efforce d'apporter une explication a cett...
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Full-text available
Autobiographical memory and the historical memory of the more distant past. The article concerns the contrasting approaches to memory found in psychology and the social sciences. In particular it shows that the characteristics of autobiographical or episodic memory, its lack of explicitness, the fact that the remembered can be recalled in ever new...
Article
Parler de l’argent aujourd’hui, dans notre culture, consiste tout d'abord a entrer dans un monde mythologique, celui de la science economique. Dans cet univers, les non-inities voient s'affronter des etres mysterieux mais infiniment puissants comme l'inflation, la reprise, les investissements... tous gouvernes par la puissance menacante qu'Adam Smi...
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Traduit de l'anglais par Anne Chapoutot Dans son celebre ouvrage sur la representation de la mort, Hertz, plus tard repris par de nombreux anthropologues, fait remarquer que de nombreuses cultures ne voient dans la mort ni un evenement ponctuel ni le franchissement d'une ligne sans epaisseur, mais un phenomene faisant partie integrante d'une longue...
Article
Maurice Bloch has for many years been developing an original and influential theory of ritual. In this book he synthesizes a radical theory of religion. Rituals in a great many societies deny the transience of life and of human institutions. Bloch argues that they enact this denial by symbolically sacrificing the participants themselves, so allowin...
Article
It is argued in this article that anthropology has relied upon a psychologically misleading and overly linguistic model of culture. Psychological studies show that concepts are principally formed independently of language. Moreover, studies of expertise show that in order to become an expert at a familiar task or a set of tasks a person needs to or...
Chapter
This collection is concerned with the symbolic representation of money in a range of different societies, and more specifically with the moral evaluation of monetary and commercial exchanges. It focuses on the different cultural meanings surrounding monetary transactions, emphasizing the enormous cultural variation in the way money is symbolized an...
Article
This article brings together two of the best known myths of the Merina of Madagascar. Both are concerned with food and, more particularly, beef eating. these myths are seen as a general speculation on problems arising from the concept of descent which for the Merina is focused on their megalithic tombs. In the idiom of descent, being like the ances...
Article
LambekMichael:Human spirits: a cultural account of trance in Mayotte. (Cambridge Studies in Cultural Syatems). xix, 219 pp., map. Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 1981. £17.50. - Volume 46 Issue 2 - Maurice Bloch
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Marriage presents a problem where the respective status of affines should be equal. Except in the case of systems with direct exchange, it is an asymmetrical transaction in the short term and therefore introduces an element of hierarchy conflicting with equality. Merina marriage ceremonies are examined as an example of the way this contradiction is...
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This lecture starts by considering the old problem of how to account for social change theoretically and criticises some of the models used either because they see the social process in terms used by the actors and so are unable to explain how it is that actors can change those terms, or they see the mechanisms of change as occurring in terms total...
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The Complex ranking systems of South Asia and Polynesia offer a special challenge and a special trap to the anthropologist or historian attempting to explain their development. He will inevitably trace the political and economic development of the state and link those to the appearance of new types of power groups and new structures of stratificati...
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Recent studies of symbols in ritual share two features. First, they isolate symbols from the ritualprocess; second, they interpret symbols as units containing meaning. In this paper I want to argue thatsymbols in ritual cannot be understood without a prior study of the nature of the communication medium of ritual in which they are embedded, in part...
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Article
Contrary to previous accounts, the Merina have cognatic, endogamous descent categories. As a result of Merina imperialism and French colonialism they are now dispersed all over Madagascar. Those of free descent still prefer to marry endogamously, although embarrassed at the taint of incest attaching to it, and to be buried in the tombs of the origi...

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