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DASA's Maxim Bolt has been invited to give the prestigious Malinowski Memorial Lecture 2018 at the London School of Economics (LSE). The Lecture is awarded annually to outstanding anthropologists at an early stage of their career.

‘Fluctuating formality: anthropology and the structure of difference’
Dr Maxim Bolt, University of Birmingham

Date: Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 6.00pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London

This lecture reflects on an apparently dated concept: structure. Spanning institutions of state and market, it focuses on formality as a kind of structuring, and a lens for understanding the production of difference. Formality is both ethnographic object and theoretical emphasis. One of Malinowski’s legacies was a sensitivity to the ways lives and relationships weave in and out of institutional contexts and social-structural prescriptions. This has acquired fresh significance with the study of state idioms of power and bureaucratic organisation. At the same time, the history of anthropological theory is itself one of fluctuating formality: between the systemised specification of structure or network, and the looser evocation of a world that exceeds either of these. But, instead of picking one side or the other as point of departure, how might anthropologists weave in and out of formalised structures with their informants? The lecture explores these issues with a focus on the enduring entrenchment of racial distinctions in South Africa.

Maxim Bolt is Reader in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham, and a Research Associate at WISER, University of the Witwatersrand. He is an anthropologist working on questions of economy, and increasingly law and the state, in southern Africa. His first monograph, Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence (CUP 2015), won the 2016 British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award. In 2016, Maxim began a three-year project on wills, inheritance and class reproduction in Johannesburg, connecting questions of socio-economic position to those of kinship, property, and legal and bureaucratic process.

This event is free and open to all with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis.

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