1st Edition

Keeping Company An Anthropology of Being-in-Relation

By Amanda Kearney Copyright 2022
    194 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    194 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers up a study of relational modalities in a moment of increasingly vexed identity politics. It takes inspiration from the art of keeping company, a relational habit derived on a kincentric ontology and praxis of interconnected life among the Yanyuwa, Indigenous owners of lands and waters in northern Australia. Diving deep into this multidimensional art of relating, the book critically engages with the counter habit of reductive identity politics and the flattening qualities that come with exceptionalism, individuated rights, limited empathic reach and a lack of enchantment in the other. Moving between ethnographic insights, conceptual analysis and personal reflection, Keeping Company offers an accessible engagement with some of the tricky aspects of identity politics as navigated in the present moment across sites of cultural difference. It will interest scholars and students from anthropology, sociology, philosophy and Indigenous studies, and others who are driven to be in better relationship with the world, with their neighbours, with strangers and with themselves.

    Introduction: Life in the relational is hard work

    1 We just hate you becauseā€¦

    2 Flatlands and identity politics, broadening the ontology of relating

    3 An anthropology of being-in-relation

    4 Keeping company

    5 From interculturalism to modalities of enchantment


    Amanda Kearney is a Matthew Flinders Fellow and Professor of Indigenous and Australian Studies at Flinders University, Australia.

    "This is a brave, beautifully written exploration of the nature of human lives, showing that it is possible for us vulnerable, fragile creatures to live together in a shared world. Kearney raises fundamental questions about trust and difference, showing what thoughtful anthropology can achieve." - Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo

    "Keeping Company is compulsory reading for all who seek insight into themselves and their relationship to Indigenous peoples. Arguing against the flatness of essentialist politics currently in vogue, Kearney provides an alternative future for Australian race relations that is nuanced and complex." - Barry Judd, Professor of Indigenous Studies, Melbourne University

    "Interleaving compelling descriptions and theorizations of relational existence, Keeping Company draws on Kearney's extensive engagements with Yanyuwa families to show how relationships survive colonial violence and racist legacies, by keeping faith with the Dreaming ancestors who brought the interconnected cosmos into being." - Michael Jackson, author of Between One and One Another