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Anthropology and Emotion


Project description

Andrew Beatty

I am developing a theoretical critique of social science writing on emotion and have published several articles which will be expanded into a book in the coming year (Anthropology and Emotion, CUP 2012). The critique is based on the view that anthropologists have mostly grounded their writing about emotion on quite limited empirical evidence and contradictory conceptions about what emotions are and how they should be understood. In contrast to approaches through discourse, and those which use person-centered and case-history methods, I propose a narrative approach that gives greater value to the situational specificity and biographical depth of emotional experience. The aim is to capture emotion in its full ethnographic and personal complexity. This approach coincides with my interest in narrative ethnography. During recent fieldwork in Indonesia, I tried to develop these ideas in the contrasting settings of Nias and Java.

A second book on Nias, called After the Ancestors (a narrative ethnography in similar vein to A Shadow Falls), was completed some time ago and needs a brief update.