American Anthropological Association 114th Annual Meeting

  • Joe Webster (Invited speaker)

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


    Seriously Repugnant Ethics? The Religion and Politics of the Orange Order in Central Scotland In the context of recent debates about both ontology and ethics, what might an anthropology of hate look like? Take, for example, the casual religious bigotry that forms an important part of everyday social life in Scotland’s Orange Order social clubs. Afternoons spent in one such club in North Lanarkshire meant inhabiting a ‘world’ of Protestant triumphalism – a world that was also defined, in part, by alcohol-fuelled diatribes against ‘Irish papist fenian bastards’. While knowing their words to be offensive, in moments of more sober reflection, my informants nonetheless urged me to give a ‘warts and all’ account of life in the Order. How, then, can anthropology take such a world ‘seriously’, in its own terms? Can such sectarian vitriol be properly described as forming a kind of ‘ethical life’? If it can be described thus, how might anthropology critique this form of ‘ethics’, this ‘world’? Drawing inspiration from Keane’s (2014) suggestion that ‘we shouldn’t decide in advance what ethics will look like’, this paper argues that religious bigotry and hatred are important but often overlooked parts of ethical life. It also suggests that endeavouring to ‘take seriously’ the cosmology of Scottish Orangemen (or any cosmology, but perhaps especially those the anthropologist finds repugnant) involves, in the first instance at least, placing that life-world above critique.
    Event typeConference
    LocationDenver, United StatesShow on map