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The Ontological Turn

The Ontological Turn Author Martin Holbraad
ISBN-10 9781316883198
Release 2017-03-10
Pages
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A new and often controversial theoretical orientation that resonates strongly with wider developments in contemporary philosophy and social theory, the so-called 'ontological turn' is receiving a great deal of attention in anthropology and cognate disciplines at present. This book provides the first anthropological exposition of this recent intellectual development. It traces the roots of the ontological turn in the history of anthropology and elucidates its emergence as a distinct theoretical orientation over the past few decades, showing how it has emerged in the work of Roy Wagner, Marilyn Strathern and Viveiros de Castro, as well a number of younger scholars. Distinguishing this trajectory of thinking from related attempts to put questions of ontology at the heart of anthropological research, the book articulates critically the key methodological and theoretical tenets of the ontological turn, its prime epistemological and political implications, and locates it in the broader intellectual landscape of contemporary social theory.



Truth in Motion

Truth in Motion Author Martin Holbraad
ISBN-10 9780226349206
Release 2012-06-01
Pages 320
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Embarking on an ethnographic journey to the inner barrios of Havana among practitioners of Ifá, a prestigious Afro-Cuban tradition of divination, Truth in Motion reevaluates Western ideas about truth in light of the practices and ideas of a wildly different, and highly respected, model. Acutely focusing on Ifá, Martin Holbraad takes the reader inside consultations, initiations, and lively public debates to show how Ifá practitioners see truth as something to be not so much represented, as transformed. Bringing his findings to bear on the discipline of anthropology itself, he recasts the very idea of truth as a matter not only of epistemological divergence but also of ontological difference—the question of truth, he argues, is not simply about how things may appear differently to people, but also about the different ways of imagining what those things are. By delving so deeply into Ifá practices, Truth in Motion offers cogent new ways of thinking about otherness and how anthropology can navigate it.



Framing Cosmologies

Framing Cosmologies Author Allen Abramson
ISBN-10 9781526107183
Release 2016-08-19
Pages 336
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How might the anthropological study of cosmologies the ways in which the horizons of human worlds are imagined and engaged illuminate understandings of the contemporary world? This book addresses this question by bringing together anthropologists whose research is informed by a concern with cosmological dimensions of social life in different ethnographic settings. Its overall aim is to reaffirm the value of the cosmological frame as a continuing source of analytical insight. Attending to the novel cosmological formations that emerge in such fields as modern markets, political landscapes, digital media and popular cinema, the book's key task is to explore how modern circumstances are constituted within the variable imagination of worlds and their horizons. It will be of interest to all students and researchers in anthropology, as well as scholars in fields as diverse as film studies, cultural studies, comparative religion, science and technology studies, and broader social theory.



Thinking Through Things

Thinking Through Things Author Amiria Henare
ISBN-10 9781135392727
Release 2007-01-24
Pages 248
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Drawing upon the work of some of the most influential theorists in the field, Thinking Through Things demonstrates the quiet revolution growing in anthropology and its related disciplines, shifting its philosophical foundations. The first text to offer a direct and provocative challenge to disciplinary fragmentation - arguing for the futility of segregating the study of artefacts and society - this collection expands on the concerns about the place of objects and materiality in analytical strategies, and the obligation of ethnographers to question their assumptions and approaches. The team of leading contributors put forward a positive programme for future research in this highly original and invaluable guide to recent developments in mainstream anthropological theory.



The Anthropologist as Writer

The Anthropologist as Writer Author Helena Wulff
ISBN-10 9781785330193
Release 2016-03-30
Pages 288
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Writing is crucial to anthropology, but which genres are anthropologists expected to master in the 21st century? This book explores how anthropological writing shapes the intellectual content of the discipline and academic careers. First, chapters identify the different writing genres and contexts anthropologists actually engage with. Second, this book argues for the usefulness and necessity of taking seriously the idea of writing as a craft and of writing across and within genres in new ways. Although academic writing is an anthropologist's primary genre, they also write in many others, from drafting administrative texts and filing reports to composing ethnographically inspired journalism and fiction.



Comparative Metaphysics

Comparative Metaphysics Author Pierre Charbonnier
ISBN-10 1783488581
Release 2016-09-01
Pages 400
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An advanced introduction to the new philosophical anthropology and an understanding of the most contemporary developments in it.



Not Quite Shamans

Not Quite Shamans Author Morten Axel Pedersen
ISBN-10 0801461413
Release 2011-03-18
Pages 272
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The forms of contemporary society and politics are often understood to be diametrically opposed to any expression of the supernatural; what happens when those forms are themselves regarded as manifestations of spirits and other occult phenomena? In Not Quite Shamans, Morten Axel Pedersen explores how the Darhad people of Northern Mongolia's remote Shishged Valley have understood and responded to the disruptive transition to postsocialism by engaging with shamanic beliefs and practices associated with the past. For much of the twentieth century, Mongolia's communist rulers attempted to eradicate shamanism and the shamans who once served as spiritual guides and community leaders. With the transition from a collectivized economy and a one-party state to a global capitalist market and liberal democracy in the 1990s, the people of the Shishged were plunged into a new and harsh world that seemed beyond their control. "Not-quite-shamans"-young, unemployed men whose undirected energies erupted in unpredictable, frightening bouts of violence and drunkenness that seemed occult in their excess- became a serious threat to the fabric of community life. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in Northern Mongolia, Pedersen details how, for many Darhads, the postsocialist state itself has become shamanic in nature. In the ideal version of traditional Darhad shamanism, shamans can control when and for what purpose their souls travel, whether to other bodies, landscapes, or worlds. Conversely, caught between uncontrollable spiritual powers and an excessive display of physical force, the "not-quite-shamans" embody the chaotic forms-the free market, neoliberal reform, and government corruption-that have created such upheaval in peoples' lives. As an experimental ethnography of recent political and economic transformations in Mongolia through the defamiliarizing prism of shamans and their lack, Not Quite Shamans is an attempt to write about as well as theorize postsocialism, and shamanism, in a new way.



World

World Author Joao De Pina-Cabral
ISBN-10 0997367504
Release 2016-11-15
Pages 134
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What do we mean when we refer to the world? How does the world relate to the human person? Are the two interdependent and, if so, in what way? What does the world mean for the ethnographer and the anthropologist? Much has been said of worlds and worldviews, but are we really certain we know what we mean when use these words? Asking these questions and many more, this book explores the conditions of possibility for the ethnographic gesture and how those possibilities can shed light on the relationship between humans and the world in which they are found. As João de Pina-Cabral shows, important changes have occurred over the past decades concerning the way in which we relate the way we think to the way we are--as a humanity--embodied. Exploring new confrontations with a new conceptualization of the human condition, Cabral sketches a new anthropology, one that contributes to an ongoing separation from the socio-centric and representationalist constraints that have plagued the social sciences over the past century.



Magic s Reason

Magic s Reason Author Graham M. Jones
ISBN-10 9780226518718
Release 2017-12-06
Pages 240
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In Magic’s Reason, Graham M. Jones tells the entwined stories of anthropology and entertainment magic. The two pursuits are not as separate as they may seem at first. As Jones shows, they not only matured around the same time, but they also shared mutually reinforcing stances toward modernity and rationality. It is no historical accident, for example, that colonial ethnographers drew analogies between Western magicians and native ritual performers, who, in their view, hoodwinked gullible people into believing their sleight of hand was divine. Using French magicians’ engagements with North African ritual performers as a case study, Jones shows how magic became enshrined in anthropological reasoning. Acknowledging the residue of magic’s colonial origins doesn’t require us to dispense with it. Rather, through this radical reassessment of classic anthropological ideas, Magic’s Reason develops a new perspective on the promise and peril of cross-cultural comparison.



Beyond Nature and Culture

Beyond Nature and Culture Author Philippe Descola
ISBN-10 9780226145006
Release 2013-08-01
Pages 488
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Philippe Descola has become one of the most important anthropologists working today, and Beyond Nature and Culture has been a major influence in European intellectual life since its French publication in 2005. Here, finally, it is brought to English-language readers. At its heart is a question central to both anthropology and philosophy: what is the relationship between nature and culture? Culture—as a collective human making, of art, language, and so forth—is often seen as essentially different from nature, which is portrayed as a collective of the nonhuman world, of plants, animals, geology, and natural forces. Descola shows this essential difference to be, however, not only a specifically Western notion, but also a very recent one. Drawing on ethnographic examples from around the world and theoretical understandings from cognitive science, structural analysis, and phenomenology, he formulates a sophisticated new framework, the “four ontologies”— animism, totemism, naturalism, and analogism—to account for all the ways we relate ourselves to nature. By thinking beyond nature and culture as a simple dichotomy, Descola offers nothing short of a fundamental reformulation by which anthropologists and philosophers can see the world afresh.



Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece

Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece Author Charles Stewart
ISBN-10 9780226425382
Release 2017-04-06
Pages 288
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On publication in 2012, Dreaming and Historical Consciousness in Island Greece quickly met wide acclaim as a gripping work that, according to the Times Literary Supplement, “offers a wholly new way of thinking about dreams in their social contexts.” It tells an extraordinary story of spiritual fervor, prophecy, and the ghosts of the distant past coming alive in the present. This new affordable paperback brings it to the wider audience that it deserves. Charles Stewart tells the story of the inhabitants of Kóronos, on the Greek island of Naxos, who, in the 1830s, began experiencing dreams in which the Virgin Mary instructed them to search for buried Christian icons nearby and build a church to house the ones they found. Miraculously, they dug and found several icons and human remains, and at night the ancient owners of them would speak to them in dreams. The inhabitants built the church and in the years since have experienced further waves of dreams and startling prophesies that shaped their understanding of the past and future and often put them at odds with state authorities. Today, Kóronos is the site of one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the Mediterranean. Telling this fascinating story, Stewart draws on his long-term fieldwork and original historical sources to explore dreaming as a mediator of historical change, while widening the understanding of historical consciousness and history itself.



The Anthropology of China

The Anthropology of China Author Charlotte Bruckermann
ISBN-10 9781783269853
Release 2016-07-13
Pages 292
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Putting China into the context of general anthropology offers novel insights into its history, culture and society. Studies in the anthropology of China need to look outwards, to other anthropological areas, while at the same time, anthropologists specialised elsewhere cannot afford to ignore contributions from China. This book introduces a number of key themes and in each case describes how the anthropology and ethnography of China relates to the surrounding theories and issues. The themes chosen include the anthropology of intimacy, of morality, of food and of feasting, as well as the anthropology of civilisation, modernity and the state. The Anthropology of China covers both long historical perspectives and ethnographies of the twenty-first century. For the first time, ethnographic perspectives on China are contextualised in comparison with general anthropological debates. Readers are invited to engage in and rethink China's place within the wider world, making it perfect for professional researchers and teachers of anthropology and Chinese history and society, and for advanced undergraduate and graduate study.



The Misguided Search for the Political

The Misguided Search for the Political Author Lois McNay
ISBN-10 9780745681153
Release 2014-06-05
Pages 224
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There has been a lively debate amongst political theorists about whether certain liberal concepts of democracy are so idealized that they lack relevance to ‘real’ politics. Echoing these debates, Lois McNay examines in this book some theories of radical democracy and argues that they too tend to rely on troubling abstractions - or what she terms ‘socially weightless’ thinking. They often propose ideas of the political that are so far removed from the logic of everyday practice that, ultimately, their supposed emancipatory potential is thrown into question. Radical democrats frequently maintain that what distinguishes their ideas of the political from others is the fundamental concern with unmasking and challenging unrecognized forms of inequality and domination that distort everyday life. But this supposed attentiveness to power is undermined by the invocation of rarefied models of political action that treat agency as an unproblematic given and overlook certain features of the embodied experience of oppression. The tendency of radical democrats to define democratic agency in terms of dynamics of perpetual flux, mobility and agonism passes over too swiftly the way in which objective structures of oppression are often taken into the body as subjective dispositions, leaving individuals with the feeling that they are unable to do little more than endure a state of affairs beyond their control. Drawing on the work of Adorno, Bourdieu and Honneth, amongst others, McNay argues that in order to make good the critique of power, radical democratic theory should attend more closely to a phenomenology of negative social experience and what it can reveal about the social conditions necessary for effective political agency.



Songs for Dead Parents

Songs for Dead Parents Author Erik Mueggler
ISBN-10 9780226483412
Release 2017-12-02
Pages 352
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In a society that has seen epochal change over a few generations, what remains to hold people together and offer them a sense of continuity and meaning? In Songs for Dead Parents, Erik Mueggler shows how in contemporary China death and the practices surrounding it have become central to maintaining a connection with the world of ancestors, ghosts, and spirits that socialism explicitly disavowed. Drawing on more than twenty years of fieldwork in a mountain community in Yunnan Province, Songs for Dead Parents shows how people view the dead as both material and immaterial, as effigies replace corpses, tombstones replace effigies, and texts eventually replace tombstones in a long process of disentangling the dead from the shared world of matter and memory. It is through these processes that people envision the cosmological underpinnings of the world and assess the social relations that make up their community. Thus, state interventions aimed at reforming death practices have been deeply consequential, and Mueggler traces the transformations they have wrought and their lasting effects.



God s Agents

God s Agents Author Matthew Engelke
ISBN-10 9780520280472
Release 2013-10-05
Pages 292
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A study of how religion goes public in today's world. Based on over three years of anthropological research, Matthew Engelke traces how a small group of socially committed Christians tackles the challenge of publicity within what it understands to be a largely secular culture.



Christian Moderns

Christian Moderns Author Webb Keane
ISBN-10 0520939212
Release 2007-01-03
Pages 336
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Across much of the postcolonial world, Christianity has often become inseparable from ideas and practices linking the concept of modernity to that of human emancipation. To explore these links, Webb Keane undertakes a rich ethnographic study of the century-long encounter, from the colonial Dutch East Indies to post-independence Indonesia, among Calvinist missionaries, their converts, and those who resist conversion. Keane's analysis of their struggles over such things as prayers, offerings, and the value of money challenges familiar notions about agency. Through its exploration of language, materiality, and morality, this book illuminates a wide range of debates in social and cultural theory. It demonstrates the crucial place of Christianity in semiotic ideologies of modernity and sheds new light on the importance of religion in colonial and postcolonial histories.



Science and an African Logic

Science and an African Logic Author Helen Verran
ISBN-10 9780226853918
Release 2001-12-15
Pages 277
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Does 2 + 2 = 4? Ask almost anyone and they will unequivocally answer yes. A basic equation such as this seems the very definition of certainty, but is it? In this captivating book, Helen Verran addresses precisely that question by looking at how science, mathematics, and logic come to life in Yoruba primary schools. Drawing on her experience as a teacher in Nigeria, Verran describes how she went from the radical conclusion that logic and math are culturally relative, to determining what Westerners find so disconcerting about Yoruba logic, to a new understanding of all generalizing logic. She reveals that in contrast to the one-to-many model found in Western number systems, Yoruba thinking operates by figuring things as wholes and their parts. Quantity is not absolute but always relational. Certainty is derived not from abstract logic, but from cultural practices and associations. A powerful story of how one woman's investigation in this everday situation led to extraordinary conclusions about the nature of numbers, generalization, and certainty, this book will be a signal contribution to philosophy, anthropology of science, and education.