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Event ethics and their elasticity: weddings in Botswana and the exploration of the tacit extraordinary

Abstract
Abstract

Whereas Michael Lambek situates the exploration of the significance of ‘ordinary ethics’ in the everyday as the study of ‘the ethical in the conjunction or movement between explicit local pronouncements and implicit local practices and circumstances’, this article takes the opposite view by drawing attention to special events that appear to engage – or provide space for – extraordinary ethics. Special events and their extraordinary ethics bring into relief the implicitness of the ordinary in everyday ethics. Weddings in Botswana are moments in the social life of the individual, the family and the community that produce such event ethics. On one level, the event ethics relate to the execution of these highly stylized weddings in terms of concerns about their performance and marital arrangements. On another level, the event ethics can have tacit dimensions that belong to the special nature of the occasion. This article argues not only that ‘ordinary ethics’ may be privileged through the study of what is tacit in social interactions, but that ‘event ethics’ also demonstrate the importance of the tacit.

Résumé

Alors que Michael Lambek situe l'exploration de l'importance de « l’éthique de l'ordinaire » au quotidien comme l’étude de « l'éthique dans la conjonction ou le mouvement entre des énonciations locales explicites et des pratiques locales implicites », cet article prend une position contraire en attirant l'attention sur des événements particuliers qui semblent faire intervenir (ou fournir un espace à) une éthique de l'extraordinaire. Ces événements particuliers et leur éthique de l'extraordinaire mettent en relief le caractère implicite de l'ordinaire dans l’éthique quotidienne. Au Botswana, les mariages sont des moments, dans la vie sociale de l'individu, de la famille et de la communauté, qui produisent une telle éthique de l’événement. Sur un plan, l’éthique de l’événement se rapporte à l'exécution de ces mariages hautement stylisés en termes de préoccupations concernant le déroulement et les arrangements conjugaux. Sur un autre plan, l’éthique de l’événement peut avoir des dimensions tacites qui relèvent de la nature particulière de l'occasion. Cet article soutient que l’« éthique de l'ordinaire » peut être privilégiée à travers l’étude de ce qui est tacite dans les interactions sociales, mais aussi que l’« éthique de l’événement » démontre également l'importance du tacite.

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Africa
  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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