Anthropology’s Peripheries

Talk given in the reserach seminar at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm.


Remote peripheries play a crucial, yet ambivalent role in the history of anthropological thought. Once primary loci of intellectual reflection, the villages and islands at the end of the world moved to the margins of the discipline. Urban, development, migration, science & technology, or area studies have taken their place at the intellectual core of anthropology. In this talk, I would like to put the periphery – at least temporarily – back into the centre of anthropological reflection and show how the seemingly remote is not only entwined with but right at the heart of important processes at a global scale.

Based on ongoing research in the Himalayas and Pamirs, I suggest three notions to help understand the dynamics of remoteness and connectivity at the edge of nation-states and disciplines: cosmopolitans, pathways, and the second life of development.