Deleuze and Anthropology

This entry takes on two subjects. First, it addresses the influence that anthropology had on the work of the mid-twentieth century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, and second, the influence that Gilles Deleuze’s work has subsequently exerted on anthropology. In Deleuze’s encounter with anthropology, he ended up seeing anthropological structuralism as a limit to thought. However, he saw Anglo-American anthropology, and some later French anthropology, as powerful tools for conceiving different arrangements of the world, and he ended up relying heavily on these materials when he constructed his own Nietzschian Longue durée speculative anthropology. As a discipline, anthropology has had little interest in Deleuze’s speculative anthropology; however, it has seen both Deleuze’s overall aesthetics and many of his concepts as theoretical engines that could be used piecemeal at will, with little concern for the role they played in Deleuze’s overall thought, or for how having these ideas reterritorialized in anthropology might affect them. In the end, this entry suggests that despite the outsized reception of Deleuze in anthropology, a real encounter with Deleuze’s thoughts have yet to occur; despite this lack of a true, sustained engagement, anthropological use of Deleuzian concepts has still been incredibly productive in the discipline.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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