This essay explores the significance of Michel-Rolph Trouillot's final work, Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World. It posits that Trouillot's argument contains three key claims. First, that anthropology is predicated on a problematic alterity, a way of thinking about otherness and difference constituted in relation to the universal unmarked category of the West. Second, that this relation between anthropology and alterity can be fully exposed only by tracing the historical emergence of the West through its imaginative and material relations with others—a history best seen from the experience of Caribbean societies and peoples. Third, that anthropology has the capacity to provide us with the necessary moral optimism to rethink the relation between plurality and universalism that grounds the human condition, but to do so we must first rescue the concepts of culture and difference from liberal identity politics.

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