This paper explores the ways in which the concept of the “dividual” has functioned as a heuristic device for varied forms of anthropological thinking. Anthropologists study different cultures or societies to reconsider their own (often Western or universal)concepts. However, that has led to controversy, especially in terms of essentializing the “other” by exaggerating and reifying differences between “us” and “them.” This paper avoids the tension inherent in the binary of the Western/universal self and non-Western/local personhood by exploring “dividuality.” Dividuality, as opposed to individuality, has taken form through comparisons not only between the West and non-West, but also between two non-Western areas, namely South Asia and Melanesia. This paper extends the comparative enterprise to also take into account the di erent theoretical discussions that helped shape the concept in di erent ways across regions. Rather than relying on the conventional, linear assumption that concept-making is a matter of abstraction that necessary follows the concrete specificities of ethnographic data, the dividual offers a particularly strong
illustration of the co-emergence of data and theory.
Section II examines the Indian model of the dividual. David Schneider, emphasizing the importance of natives’ categories, proposed a framework with substance and code comprising American kinship. In McKim Marriott’s Indian ethnosociology, those elements were combined as inseparable “substance-codes,” exchanged by transactions of food, sexual fluids, or everyday conversations. The personhood thus constituted was dividual. In the Indian context, dividuality supported Marriott’s critique of Louis Dumont’s rigid dualism, centering on purity and impurity, since it emphasized the more dynamic and uid exchanges of substances. In spite of that, the Indian model was neglected for decades, most importantly because Marriott’s ethnosociological inquiry focused only on pure indigenous categories in an isolated way, which reinforced the assumption of different, Western categories.
Section III traces how the dividual was subsequently recovered and applied to Melanesian anthropology. Roy Wagner transported David Schneider’s model to Melanesia, and Marilyn Strathern extended Wagner’s argument by transforming the dividual to explore the main topics of contemporary Melanesian studies. In particular, central to Strathern’s endeavor was a critique of mainstream Marxist feminist theory deployed to analyze systemic gender inequalities in Melanesia, and her alternative elaboration of the gender of the gift. Of equal importance were Wagner’s heuristic approach toward Melanesian personhood and Strathern’s strategy of continuous comparison between Melanesian and Euro-American contexts. Rather than seeking local dividual personhood or indigenous categories, their projects have suggested how individuals emerge through dividuality. Because of that attitude, their arguments were widely influential among Melanesianists, who sought novel explanations for continuities and changes in Melanesian societies. Furthermore, Strathern has re-contextualized her idea of dividuality to the West, drawing an analogical comparison between the dividual in Melanesian personhood and merographic relations in English kinship.
The final section summarizes differences in concept-making between Indian ethnosociology and the Melanesian heuristic approach. Moreover, juxtaposing the Indian model with contemporary situations, it suggests fresh insights for understanding humanity when individuality is not taken for granted.
Although the relationship between war and environmental resources was a concern for classical anthropology, the literature on anthropology of war in recent decades has rarely treated the environment as a main topic of inquiry. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in the relationship between military activities and the environment both in academia as well as by activists. On the one hand, defense experts now consider climate change as a security concern that contributes to regional conflicts. On the other, environmental protection has emerged as one of the key arguments in opposing wars and military facilities. In this article, I explore how this trend can be studied anthropologically.
The environment has always been a matter of concern for military strategists. Military campaigns often carry invading armies to unfamiliar terrains and unaccustomed climes, bringing them into contact with unknown disease agents. During the Cold War, however, concerns about the boomerang effects of the ever-growing destructive powers of weaponry(especially nuclear)on friendly forces and nations brought such environmental concerns to a new level. During the Vietnam War, the worldwide admonition against the use of chemical defoliants(commonly known as “Agent Orange”)gave rise to the notion of “ecocide”(or ecological-genocide), which sought to extend the protection of civilian life under international humanitarian law to nature. Such an international law framework now provides the means to file grievances for suffering caused by past and contemporary military activities based on supposed environmentally-mediated risks and harms.
Anthropologists studying international humanitarian law and human rights have typically focused on how such legal concepts are applied in practice. Drawing on the Foucaultian notion of subjectivity and governmentality, they have explored how the discourse of rights offers “idioms of distress,” while producing “victims” and bringing them together with an assemblage of advocates, scientists, lawyers and various institutions. Justice movements that draw on international sanctions against the wartime destruction of the environment also reconfigure victims’ subjectivity and reorder their relation to the environment, suffused with the remnants of a tragic past.
Landscapes and bodies scarred by past atrocities also serve as the depositories of memories, in which the traumatic past dwells like a poison that contaminates local residents unbeknownst to them. Such memory-places can be verbalized through recollections or turned into symbolic resources by local communities in the form of memorials or museums. Such sites of memories are often communally shared, just as acts of remembrance often presume and produce communities. But because such “commons of tragedy” also contaminate those communities with stigmas and risks, claims and disclaimers for such sites may reveal subtle negotiations and the aesthetics of remembrance.
In sum, the anthropology of military environment brings together concerns about the political and aesthetic implications of bringing the environment and contaminated bodies onto the center stage of international peace and justice movements. However, anthropology can also contribute by doing what it is best at: writing stories of how military-related environmental destruction leads to human suffering.