Jarrett Zigon

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Jarrett Zigon
Jarrett Zigon.jpg
  • BA
  • MA
  • PhD
Alma mater
  • University of Delaware
  • St. John's College
  • University of New York
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Amsterdam
  • Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Main interests
  • Phenomenology
  • Hermeneutics
  • continental philosophy
  • Ethics
  • philosophical anthropology
  • political theory
    • Martin Heidegger
    • Emmanuel Levinas
    • Maurice Merleau-Ponty
    • Hannah Arendt
    • Jacques Derrida

Jarrett Zigon is a social theorist, philosopher, and anthropologist at the University of Virginia, where he is the William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Bioethics and Professor of Anthropology, as well as the founding director of the Center for Data Ethics and Justice at the University of Virginia. Previously, he had been at the University of Amsterdam and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.[1] Zigon is best known for his writing on ethics and political theory – most particularly for his conceptions of moral breakdown, moral assemblages, attunement, dwelling, and relational ethics. This work has had a major influence on the anthropology of ethics, and critical phenomenological approaches to ethics and politics. He has developed these concepts while writing about the war on drugs and addiction, as well as data science and artificial intelligence.[2] Zigon is committed to an ongoing conversation between anthropology and philosophy. He has contributed several articles to openDemocracy on addiction, the war on drugs, and political activism.

Overview of major works

A War on people: the drug war and the hermeneutic politics of those who resist it

This provocative study examines the role of today’s Russian Orthodox Church in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Russia has one of the fastest-growing rates of HIV infection in the world 80 percent from intravenous drug use—and the Church remains its only resource for fighting these diseases. Jarrett Zigon takes the reader into a Church-run treatment center where, along with self-transformational and religious approaches, he explores broader anthropological questions—of morality, ethics, what constitutes a “normal” life, and who defines it as such. Zigon argues that this rare Russian partnership between sacred and political power carries unintended consequences: even as the Church condemns the influence of globalization as the root of the problem it seeks to combat, its programs are cultivating citizen-subjects ready for self-governance and responsibility, and better attuned to the neoliberal world the Church ultimately opposes.[3] The post-Soviet years have widely been interpreted as a period of intense moral questioning, debate, and struggle. Despite this claim, few studies have revealed how this moral experience has been lived and articulated by the Russians themselves. This book provides an intimate portrait of how five Muscovites have experienced the post-Soviet years as a period of intense refashioning of their moral personhood, and how this process can only be understood at the intersection of their unique personal experiences, a shared Russian/Soviet history, and increasingly influential global discourses and practices. The result is a new approach to understanding everyday moral experience and the processes by which new moral persons are cultivated.[4]

Morality: an anthropological perspective

Morality: An Anthropological Perspective provides the first account of anthropological approaches to the question of morality. By considering how morality is viewed and enacted in different cultures, and how it is related to key social institutions such as religion, law, gender, sexuality, and medical practice, Morality takes a closer look at some of the most central questions of the moral debates of our time.[5]

In the media

External links


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