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Social Anthropology

Fire and Identity as matters of concern in Corsica


This article connects the recent anthropological interest in human/non-human assemblages with one of the hoariest problems to haunt anthropologists of identity and nationalism: the question of the link between people and land. Drawing on elements of a Latourian (and Tardean) 'sociology of associations' and on theories of distributed cognition, the article unpacks divergent ways of watching forest fires on the French island of Corsica. In Corsica, fires are often treated as revelatory of the real differences between insiders who love the land and outsiders who merely 'visit'. The article argues that unpacking the multiple connections between people and things which are made and remade in the process of watching fires can get us beyond the classic anthropological analysis of such claims as 'rhetorical', 'metaphorical' or 'imaginative', without however falling into the trap of radical alterity -a false alternative which has too often dogged the anthropological study of identity.

Candea, M. 2008. 'Fire and Identity as matters of concern in Corsica'. Anthropological Theory, 8(2), 201-216.

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