Key Themes

Recovering the Anthropological Foundations of Social Life

Arpad Szakolczai, Professor of Sociology at UCC, is a leading social theorist and political anthropologist. In a series of eight books Prof. Szakolczai provides a comprehensive genealogical analysis of pathogenic currents in modernity. Drawing from social and political thought from the Greeks to Weber, and from anthropology and literary criticism -Arnold van Gennep, Marcel Mauss, Rene Girard- he argues that modernity and enlightenment are characterized by a series of schizmogenic logics and by spiraling and recursively intensifying mimetic errors, culminating in the present global liberal market society as a sacrificial carnival. Pathways back from our potential descent into darkness towards guiding radiant ideals are explored in themes of the redemptive and transfigurative powers of beauty, joy, friendship, care, love, and ethics of mutual reciprocity as persisting in anthropologically universal social forms such as play, sociability, rites de passage as meaning-giving experiences and gift relation as the basis of general economy.

Prof. Szakolczai is a member of al scholarly network in International Political Anthropology (IPA) based in Florence which runs an annual Summer School, an academic journal, conferences and related activities.

Amnesia and Ethical Social Memory

Dr. Kieran Keohane teaches and researches on the transformation of everyday life under conditions of the neo-liberal revolution. Recent publications include The Domestic, Political and Moral Economies of Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, and The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization. Dr Keohane co-anchors an international scholarly network on Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization (SPCC), and his current work focuses on the fading and dissolution of individual and collective memory due to ongoing processes of individuation and the weakening of traditional institutions, as identified by Durkheim and formulated by Halbwachs; and a parallel psychoanalytic literature highlighting the importance of shock, trauma, repression and aphasia in the psychic life of individuals and societies. Lacking memory, persons and societies live in a liminal extended present and become prone to manipulation. What is remembered -and what is forgotten- is central to power in contemporary societies, and the recovery of memory is one of the most urgent ethical-political problems of our age.

With Dr Tom Boland, Dr. Ray Griffin and Dr. John O’Brien, Dr Keohane co-directs an annual Summer School on Economy & Society; this takes up the theme of re-ethicizing economics and rethinking Irish culture. The SPCC network and the Economy & Society Summer School are key components of the Centre’s infrastructure.