1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Ritualism as Agency and Cultural Capital: The Role of Meetings in Political Protest in Rome and Bangkok

Examining two cultures that emphasize display and ideals of “looking good,” I explore anti-eviction politics in Rome and Bangkok from a comparative perspective.  I draw on my ethnographic research in both cities to argue against the usual dismissal of elaborate ritual and courtesy in political life as empty formalism, suggesting instead that these devices can work powerfully both for and against the interests of individuals and groups facing eviction.  In both countries, a tradition of democratic protest constantly clashes with hierarchical ideals and baroque bureaucracies.  In the use of stylized idioms of self-presentation, we can discern the most intense battles over the material future of the poor and the dispossessed.  Here, too, we can more effectively discover the dynamics of the representation of local, regional, and national pasts.

  • Conference Room, Brooks Hall 2nd Floor
    Reception follows in Brooks Commons, 1st Floor
    Sponsored by Department of Anthropology & The Thai Student Organization



Event Date: 
Friday, 6 April 2012 - 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Michael Herzfeld
Speaker Title: 
Professor of Anthropology & Curator of European Ethnology in the Peabody Museum, Harvard University