STEPS TOWARD AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF AFFECT: As feelings are much of what it means to be human and as a purpose of anthropology is to recognize the humanity of ourselves and others, it is important to acknowledge and develop a more critical grasp of sentiment in our ethnography and ethnology. While discussions of empathy, sentiment, feelings, emotions, etc. are found in the ethnographic literature from early on, they have rarely taken front stage in cultural descriptions and theory. However this is changing with a growing interest in affect and the development of such concepts as “economies of affect,” “affect hunger,” and “intimate cosmologies.” The papers examine kinship, religion, and other affective systems that structure and manage feelings in a culture. Talking about emotions as significant cultural entities in and of themselves is a step towards formulating an anthropology of affect that avoids cultural explanations that are overly rationalized or reductive.
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