An anthropology of lying

Trump and the political sociality of moral outrage

by Carole McGranahan

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It has long been a truism that politicians lie, but with the entry of Donald Trump into the US political domain, the frequency, degree, and impact of lying in politics are now unprecedented. An anthropology of lies does not seek to correct them but instead asks, How do we understand lies and liars in their cultural, historical, and political context? Asking this question allows us to see clearly the work of lies, including their meaningful and sometimes violent consequences. By thinking anew about the anthropology of lying, anthropologists can show the unexpected ways that community can form around lies.