Why Do We Need Misanthropology in Anthropology? An Exploratory Essay in Deliberating the Research Subfield


  • Bojan Žikić Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia




misanthropology, humanitas, virtue, atrocity, society and culture


Building up on Morson’s idea of misanthropology as the study of the cussedness of human nature I limit that notion to human social and cultural life, suggesting that misanthropology should be considered as misery inflicted upon humans by humans through mediation of society and culture. It is a plea for anthropological investigations into whatever is opposed either to our cultural notion of humanitas, or to what is considered as a virtue in any given social or cultural context. I argue that such context could be crucial in understanding of what is locally thought of as morally, good, or positive, as well of what is opposed to these, but also that any such particular conception should not prevent anthropologists from considering human suffering as an objective and not just contextually dependable fact.


Download data is not yet available.


Armstrong, Gary. 1998. Football Hooligans: Knowing the Score. New York: Berg.

Baron-Koen, Sajmon. 2012. Psihologija zla. Beograd: Clio (orig. Simon Baron-Cohen, Zero Degrees of Empathy. A New Theory of Human Cruelty, London: Allen Lane 2011).

Bausinger, Hermann. 1969. Folklorismus in Europa: Eine Umfrage. Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 65: 1-8.

Bax, Mart. 1997. Mass Graves, Stagnating Identification, and Violence: A Case Study in the Local Sources of "The War" in Bosnia Hercegovina Anthropological Quarterly 70 (1): 11-19.

Best, Alyssa. 2005. Abortion Rights along the Irish-English Border and the Liminality of Women’s Experiences. Dialectical Anthropology 29 (3/4): 423-437.

Bidney, David 1996. Theoretical Anthropology. With a new introduction by Martin Bidney. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers (Second edition, orig. New York: Columbia University Press 1953).

Bošković, Aleksandar. 2006. Balkan Ghosts Revisited. Racism - Serbian Style. Anthropos 101 (2): 559-564.

Bošković, Aleksandar. 2014. Antropološke perspektive, Beograd: Institut društenih nauka (engl. trans: Perspectives in anthropology).

Çetinkaya, Y. Doğan. 2014. Atrocity Propaganda and the Nationalization of the Masses in the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars (1912–13). International Journal of Middle East Studies 46 (4): 759-778.

De Graeve, Katrien. 2015. ‘They Have Our Culture’: Negotiating Migration in Belgian–Ethiopian Transnational Adoption. Ethnos 80 (1): 71-90.

Dickey, Sara. 1993. Cinema and the Urban Poor in South India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Douglas, Mary. 1966. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Douglas, Mary. 1970. Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology. Cresset Press: Barrie & Rockliff.

Douglas, Mary. 1992. Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory. London: Routledge.

Durkheim, Emile. 2012. Sociologija i filozofija. Zagreb: Naklada Jesenski i Turk/ Hrvatsko sociološko društvo (orig. Socilogie et philosphie, Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan 1924)

Engle, Karen. 2001. From Skepticism to Embrace: Human Rights and the American Anthropological Association from 1947–99. Human Rights Quarterly 23(3): 536–559.

Farmer, Paul. 1997. “On suffering and structural violence: a view from below”. In Social suffering, eds. Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das, and Margaret Lock, 261-284. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Farmer, Paul. 2006. AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Farmer, Paul E. Bruce Nizeye, Sara Stulac, Salmaan Keshavjee. 2006. Structural violence and clinical medicine. PLoS Med 3(10): e449.

Fine, Gary Alan. 1979. Small groups and culture creation: the idioculture of Little League baseball teams. American Sociological Review 44 (5): 733-745.

Foa, Anna. 2000. The Jews of Europe after the Black Death. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1973. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. London: Tavistock (orig. Naissance de la clinique: une archéologie du regard medical, Paris: Presses universitaires de France 1963).

Fraser, Suzanne, Carla Treloar, Joanne Bryant, and Tim Rhodes. 2014. Hepatitis C prevention education needs to be grounded in social relationships. International Drugs, Education, Prevention & Policy 21 (1): 88-92.

Gangestad, Steven W, Glenn J. Scheyd. 2005. The Evolution of Human Physical Attractiveness. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 523-548.

Gaibazzi, Paolo. 2014. Visa problem: certification, kinship, and the production of “ineligibility” in the Gambia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20 (1): 38-55.

Georgevitch, T. R. 1918. The Killing of the Khazar Kings. Folk-Lore: A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, and Custom 29 (3): 238–247 .

Goodale, Mark. 2006. Toward a Critical Anthropology of Human Rights. Current Anthropology 47 (3): 485-511.

Heintz, Monica (ed.). 2013. The Anthropology of Moralities. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.

Harris, Magdalena, Bethan McDonald, Tim Rhodes. 2014. Hepatitis C testing for people who inject drugs in the United Kingdom. Why is uptake so low? International Drugs, Education, Prevention & Policy 21 (4): 333-342.

Kelly, Tobias. 2012. Sympathy and suspicion: torture, asylum, and humanity. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18 (4): 753-768.

Kovač, Senka. 2006. Les signes du viellisement. Antropologija 1: 19-25.

Laidlaw, James. 2002. For an Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8 (2): 311-332.

Lambek, Michael. 2000. The Anthropology of Religion and the Quarrel between Poetry and Philosophy. Current Anthropology 41 (3): 309–20.

Long. Lynellyn D. 2004. Anthropological perspectives on the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. International Migration 42 (1): 5-31.

Lyon-Callo, Vincent. 2004. Inequality, Poverty, and Neoliberal Governance: Activist Ethnography in the Homeless Sheltering Industry, Toronto: Broadview.

Malinowski, Bronislaw. 1948. Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays. Selected, and with an Introduction by Robert Redfield. Glencoe, Il: The Free Press.

Marrow, Jocelyn, Tanya Luhrmann. 2012. The Zone of Social Abandonment in Cultural Geography: On the Street in the United States, Inside the Family in India. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry 36 (3): 493-513.

Mishtal, Joanna. 2012. Irrational non-reproduction? The “dying nation” and the postsocialist logics of declining motherhood in Poland. Anthropology & Medicine 19 (2):153-169.

Morson, Gary Saul. 1996. Misanthropology. New Literary History 27 (1): 57-72.

Panter-Brick, Catherine. 2002. Street Children, Human Rights, and Public Health: A Critique and Future Directions. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 147-171.

Pavlovitch, Pavel. 2010. The Stoning of a Pregnant Adulteress from Juhayna: Thee Early Evolution of a Muslim Tradition. Islamic Law and Society 17 (1): 1-62.

Quesada, James, Laurie Kain Hart, Philippe Bourgois. 2011. Structural Vulnerability and Health: Latino Migrant Laborers in the United States. Medical Anthropology 30 (4): 339-362.

Radcliffe-Brown, Alfred Reginald. 1945. Religion and Society. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 75 (1/2): 33-43.

Reischer, Erica, Kathryn S. Koo. 2004. The Body Beautiful: Symbolism and Agency in the Social World. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 297-317.

Rhodes, Tim, Milena Simic, Sladjana Baros, Lucy Platt and Bojan Žikić. 2008. Police violence and sexual risk among female and transvestite sex workers in Serbia: qualitative study. BMJ 337;a811.

Ricoeur, Paul. 1969. The Symbolism of Evil. Boston: Beacon Press.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 2008. A Talent for Life: Reflections on Human Vulnerability and Resilience. Ethnos 73 (1): 25–56.

Schieffelin, Edward. 1976. The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers. New York: St Martin’s Press.

Silverman, Eric K. 2004. Anthropology and Circumcision. Annual Review of Anthropology 33: 419-445.

Singer, Merrill. 2004. The social origins and expressions of illness. British Medical Bulletin 69 (1): 9–19.

Slobin, Dan I. 2003. “Language and thought online: cognitive consequences of linguistic relativity”. In Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of Language and Thought, eds. Dedre Gentner and Susan Goldin-Meadow, 157-192. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Stroup, Timothy. 2014. “Looking backwards and forwards”. In Westermarck, ed. David Shankland, 106-115. Occasional Paper No. 44 of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Published in association with Anglo-Finnish Society. Canon Pyon: Sean Kingston Publishing.

ten Dam, Casper. 2010. How to Feud and Rebel: 1. Violence-values among the Chechens and Albanians. Iran and the Caucasus 14 (2): 331-365.

Vinh-Kim, Nguyen and Karine Peschard. 2003. Anthropology, Inequality, and Disease: A Review. Annual Review of Anthropology 32: 447–74.

Vukomanović, Milan. 1992. Is There a Moral Justification for Fratricide?: The Ethical Dilemma of the Bhagavadgita and the Mountain Wreath. Human Mosaic 26 (2): 69-79.

Widlok, Thomas. 2004. Sharing by Default?: Outline of an Anthropology of Virtue. Anthropological Theory 4 (1): 53-70.

Winkelman, Michael. 1998. Aztec human sacrifice: Cross-cultural assessments of the ecological hypothesis. Ethnology 37 (3): 285-298.

Žikić, Bojan. 2011. Društveni činioci zdravstvene vulnerabilnosti marginalizovanih društvenih grupa (engl. trans: Social Factors of Health Vulnerability of Marginalized Social Groups). Etnoantropološki problemi 6 (3): 783-805.

Žikić, Bojan. 2015. What Makes People Good or Bad? (Mis)Anthropological Essay on Searching for Social/Cultural Reasons on Judging the Other People. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 10 (4): 927-943.




How to Cite

Žikić, Bojan. 2016. “Why Do We Need Misanthropology in Anthropology? An Exploratory Essay in Deliberating the Research Subfield”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 11 (4):967-88. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v11i4.1.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

<< < 1 2 3 4