PCTP Member Profile
Prof Michael B. Carrithers
My most recent ethnographic interest has been public culture in Germany, particularly East Germany. This goes with a more general, theoretical, concern with how cultural, social and political changes come about -- or, to put that more exactly: what must generally be true for human social life to be so changeable as it is?
In an earlier round of this theoretical question I proposed that we think of human beings as having a particularly intense form of intersubjectivity, and a particularly rich and creative capacity for social forms. Recently, though, I have begun to concentrate on rhetoric as a key to such change. (See my home page here for some more thoughts on that.) For one feature of our particularly human sociality is our capacity to persuade, convince, teach or cajole one another, always in circumstances in which the outcome is not foreordained.
Rhetoric is also another way of thinking about a long-standing concern (of myself and so many others) with the role of narrative, and narrative thinking, in human life.
And then there is another, associated, question, and that is: what is the difference between societies in which rhetoric is almost always applied face to face, to known people, and societies made up of both known people and strangers? Especially since strangers are so often both the producers, and the object, of rhetorical action?
In one way or another all these questions inform my current research. One project, a Professorial Fellowship from the ESRC, examines these questions in respect to East Germany, a place so very fecund in historical mutability. On another project, concerning Angling in the Rural Environment (led by Dr Elizabeth Oughton of Newcastle University), I am a co-investigator, studying the rhetoric of different institutions and persons bearing on angling and the river environment.
- Nature of publics and public sphere
- Rhetoric and culture
- Rhetoric of photography
- Narrative as a form of social and cultural understanding
- Theories of interaction, dialogism and mutualism, activity theory
- East Germany
- Carrithers, Michael. (2009). Culture, Rhetoric and the Vicissitudes of Life. Volume 2, Studies in Rhetoric and Culture. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
- Carrithers MB (2000). 'Hedgehogs, Foxes and Persons: Resistance and Moral Creativity in East Germany and South India'. In Being Human: Anthropological Universality and Particularity in Transdisciplinary Perspectives. N Roughey New York: Walter de Gruyter. 356-379.
Journal papers: academic
- Carrithers, M. (2012). Seriousness, irony, and the mission of hyperbole. Religion and society advances in research 3(1): 51–75.
- Carrithers, M., Bracken, L.J. & Emery, S. (2011). Can a Species Be a Person? A Trope and Its Entanglements in the Anthropocene Era. Current Anthropology 52(5): 661-685.
- Carrithers, Michael (2008). From inchoate pronouns to proper nouns: a theory fragment with 9/11, Gertrude Stein, and an East German Ethnography. History and Anthropology 19(2): 161-186.
- Carrithers, Michael B. (2006). “Witnessing a shipwreck” German figurations in facing the past to face the future. Revista de antropología social 15: 193-230.
- Carrithers, Michael B. (2005). Anthropology as a moral science of possibilities. Current anthropology 46(3): 433-456.
- Carrithers, Michael B. (2005). Why anthropologists should study rhetoric. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11(3): 577-583.
- Carrithers M. B. (2000). On polytropy or the natural condition of spiritual cosmopolitanism in India the Digambar Jain case. Modern Asian studies 34(4): 831-861.
Journal papers: online
- Carrithers, Michael B. (2007). Story seeds and the inchoate. Durham Anthropology Journal 14(1): 1-20.
- 2006: ANGLING IN THE RURAL ENVIRONMENT (£68142.00 from Esrc)
- 2006: SOCIALITY AND RHETORIC CULTURE (£353073.60 from Esrc)