Liberal Agency Research Paper

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Historically, anthropologist if they have professed agency of a people, have located agency within 'people' who have the ability to reason, the ability to consent (Mehta 1990). Agency, therefore, can be understood as a trait which is given to those who are like 'us', to societies in which people act according to the same, or very similar doctrines of being. That is, according to Seth (2001), "we are all individuals": A defining feature of liberalism, and a major part of its appeal, is that it seems to place the accent on both [individuals, and all]. At one level (e.g., from the viewpoint of the individual) what matters is the particularity; at another level, from the viewpoint of politics, what matters is abstracting from all these particularities to their common form. (Seth 2001: 74) While agency can be broadly defined as a self-fashioning, or making do with what you have. It has been Liberal understandings of agency (as above) which have become ubiquitous. Liberal agency is too often radically reduced to the…show more content…
As an anthropologist, the most effective way of doing this, is by engaging with ethnographies. Through this essay, I will engage the ethnographies of Dalidowicz, Mahmood, and Abu Lughod, and pair them with the theoretical constructs of improvisation (Hallam and Ingold 2007), imitation and mimesis (Taussig 1993), and Agency as Tactics (De Certeau 1998). Through these pairings, the concept of liberal agency is shifted through the perspectives of women, providing a sense of agency that has been re-imagined through lived experiences. This, in turn, challenges the notion of culture as a static construct, and provides a framework for re-imagining culture as dynamic and contextual, and in a continuous relationship to
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