1 Immanent anthropology: a comparative study of ‘process’ in contemporary France

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Abstract

This paper presents a comparative critique of the ‘processual temporalities’ which infuse both social-scientific theorizing and selected Western cultural practices. Through study of a public-private partnership which emerged from a biotechnology project devised for producing ‘self-cloning’ maize for resource-poor farmers, I analyse how processual temporalities were central to re-gearing knowledge practices towards market-orientated solutions. In a study of characterizations of the ‘state of flux’ which affects life in a French peri-urban village, I explore how processualism is identified as a component of a metropolitan hegemony which villagers ‘resist’ through idealizing ‘enduring temporalities’ of cultural practice. Drawing on Arendt and Deleuze, I analyse processualism as a dominant contemporary chronotope, mediating and disciplining conflictive temporalities and practices, underwriting economic projects of deterritorialization and restructuring – whose idiom is also prominent in social-scientific paradigms. I substitute an ‘immanent anthropology’, which advocates a non-transcendental ontology of cultural practice and analysis – displacing anthropological analysis onto a polychronic temporal foundation.

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