Quoting Luhrmann on (the anthropology of) emotion


‘Six factors [of emotion]: feeling, physiology, facial expression, display rules, appraisals (primary and secondary) and representations. The point of delineating each of these six factors is that all of them are present in the experience of an emotion, and yet none of them determine that emotional experience. To disaggregate them is to underscore that we are both deeply embedded within, and created through, the social, and in some sense free of it as well.


There are basic emotions, in that the body responds reliably and predictably to insults, loss, and threat. Indeed, from that perspective, as Paul Ekman (1994) has said, all emotions are basic. And yet that very basic, physiological, gut-based automatic judgement means that an emotional experience is a moral judgement, Lutz’s great insight from her Ifaluk analysis.


Emotions are our most basic moral reactions. We feel disgust; we feel rage; we feel joy; we feel these responses to the way others behave and events unfold. That insight makes our politics physical and fundamental. Our opinions are not airy cognitive ideas, but core to the very physical experiences of our body. Emotions, Richard Shweder tells us, become ‘complex narrative structures’ that give shape and meaning to our lives (1994, p. 37). Emotions are the way we make fundamental judgements on the rightness or wrongness of social acts.’



~ Luhrmann 2006, ‘Subjectivity’ in Anthropological Theory, Vol. 6: 3.,  p. 355.




Leave a comment

Filed under Anthropological Awesome, Anthropology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s