The Ontological Turn

An Anthropological Exposition

Author: Martin Holbraad,Morten Axel Pedersen

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1107103886

Category: Social Science

Page: 352

View: 689

This book provides the first systematic presentation of anthropology's 'ontological turn', placing it in the landscape of contemporary social theory.

Truth in Motion

The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination

Author: Martin Holbraad

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 0226349209

Category: Religion

Page: 320

View: 4154

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.

Thinking Through Things

Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically

Author: Amiria Henare,Martin Holbraad,Sari Wastell

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1135392722

Category: Social Science

Page: 248

View: 2898

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.

Framing Cosmologies

The Anthropology of Worlds

Author: Allen Abramson,Martin Holbraad

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 152610718X


Page: 336

View: 5211

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.

Symbols that Stand for Themselves

Author: Roy Wagner

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226869292

Category: Social Science

Page: 150

View: 9972

This important new work by Roy Wagner is about the autonomy of symbols and their role in creating culture. Its argument, anticipated in the author's previous book, The Invention of Culture, is at once symbolic, philosophical, and evolutionary: meaning is a form of perception to which human beings are physically and mentally adapted. Using examples from his many years of research among the Daribi people of New Guinea as well as from Western culture, Wagner approaches the question of the creation of meaning by examining the nonreferential qualities of symbols—such as their aesthetic and formal properties—that enable symbols to stand for themselves.

The Underneath of Things

Violence, History, and the Everyday in Sierra Leone

Author: Mariane Ferme

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 9780520925717

Category: Social Science

Page: 299

View: 2360

In this erudite and gracefully written ethnography, Mariane Ferme explores the links between a violent historical and political legacy, and the production of secrecy in everyday material culture. The focus is on Mende-speaking southeastern Sierra Leone and the surrounding region. Since 1990, this area has been ravaged by a civil war that produced population displacements and regional instability. The Underneath of Things documents the rural impact of the progressive collapse of the Sierra Leonean state in the past several decades, and seeks to understand how an even earlier history is reinscribed in the present.

Not Quite Shamans

Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia

Author: Morten Axel Pedersen

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 9780801461415

Category: History

Page: 272

View: 2057

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.

After Nature

English Kinship in the Late Twentieth Century

Author: Marilyn Strathern

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521426800

Category: Social Science

Page: 240

View: 6004

Central as kinship has been to the development of British social anthropology, this is the first attempt by an anthropologist to situate ideas about English kinship in a cultural context. Marilyn Strathern challenges the traditional separation of Western kinship studies from the study of the wider society. If contemporary society appears diverse, changing and fragmented, these same features also apply to people's ideas about kinship. She views ideas of relatedness, nature and the biological constitution of persons in their cultural context, and offers new insights into the late twentieth-century values of individualism and consumerism. After Nature is a timely reflection at a moment when advances in reproductive technology raise questions about the natural basis of kinship relations.


An Anthropological Examination

Author: Joao De Pina-Cabral

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780997367508

Category: Social Science

Page: 134

View: 2849

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.

The Metamorphoses of Kinship

Author: Maurice Godelier

Publisher: Verso Books

ISBN: 184467746X

Category: Social Science

Page: 638

View: 6365

A declining marriage rate, rising divorce rate, families breaking up and reforming, homosexual marriage and adoption. Where are the transformations in the family today taking us? In order to understand what is happening and what awaits us, the world-renowned anthropologist Maurice Godelier has decided to open up the whole question of kinship, surveying the accumulated experiences of humanity as regards marriages and unions, the organization of lines of descent, sexuality and sexual prohibitions. In parallel, Godelier studies the history of the study of kinship, from the nineteenth century to the present, in order to develop his own hypotheses. He concludes that it is nowhere the case that a man and a woman are sufficient on their own to bring a child into existence, and nowhere are relations of kinship or the family the foundation stone of a society. Godelier argues that the changes of the last thirty years do not herald disappearance or death agony of kinship but rather its remarkable metamorphosis - one that, ironically, has brought us closer to the "traditional" societies studied by ethnologists.

How Things Shape the Mind

Author: Lambros Malafouris

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262019191

Category: Psychology

Page: 304

View: 7428

An account of the different ways in which things have become cognitive extensions of the human body, from prehistory to the present.

The Slain God

Anthropologists and the Christian Faith

Author: Timothy Larsen

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0199657874

Category: Religion

Page: 256

View: 827

Throughout its entire history, the discipline of anthropology has been perceived as undermining, or even discrediting, Christian faith. Many of its most prominent theorists have been agnostics who assumed that ethnographic findings and theories had discredited religious beliefs. Despite being a major site of friction between faith and modern thought, the relationship between anthropology and Christianity has never before been the subject of a book-length study. Inthis groundbreaking work, Timothy Larsen examines the point where doubt and faith collide with anthropological theory and evidence.

Life Beside Itself

Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic

Author: Lisa Stevenson

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 0520282604

Category: Medical

Page: 251

View: 3916

"This ethnographic study examines two historical moments in the Canadian Arctic: the Inuit tuberculosis epidemic (1940s to the early 1960s) and the subsequent suicide epidemic (1980s to the present). The colonial Canadian North was imagined as a laboratory for a social experiment to transform Inuit into bona fide Canadian citizens by, among other things, reducing their death rate. This experiment demanded Inuit cooperation with the forms of anonymous care the state provided--including the evacuation of tubercular Inuit Southern Sanatoria, which left many Inuit families without the story or image of their loved one's death. A similar indifference to who lives or dies is manifest in the adoption of the "suicide hotline"--an explicitly anonymous form of care where caregivers exhort unidentified Inuit to live while simultaneously expecting them to die. Through attention to the images through which people think and dream, Stevenson describes a world in which life is "beside itself": the name-soul of a teenager who dies in a crash lives again in his friend's newborn baby, a young girl shares a last smoke with a dead friend in a dream, the possessed hands of a clock spin uncontrollably over its face. For the Inuit, life is "somewhere else," and Stevenson attempts to articulate forms of care adequate to that truth"--

Why We Play

An Anthropological Study

Author: Roberte Hamayon

Publisher: Hau

ISBN: 9780986132568


Page: 370

View: 3174

Whether it's childhood make-believe, the theater, sports, or even market speculation, play is one of humanity's seemingly purest activities: a form of entertainment and leisure and a chance to explore the world and its possibilities in an imagined environment or construct. But as Roberte Hamayon shows in this book, play has implications that go even further than that. Exploring play's many dimensions, she offers an insightful look at why play has become so ubiquitous across human cultures. Hamayon begins by zeroing in on Mongolia and Siberia, where communities host national holiday games similar to the Olympics. Within these events Hamayon explores the performance of ethical values and local identity, and then she draws her analysis into larger ideas examinations of the spectrum of play activities as they can exist in any culture. She explores facets of play such as learning, interaction, emotion, strategy, luck, and belief, and she emphasizes the crucial ambiguity between fiction and reality that is at the heart of play as a phenomenon. Revealing how consistent and coherent play is, she ultimately shows it as a unique modality of action that serves an invaluable role in the human experience.

Beyond Nature and Culture

Author: Philippe Descola

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022614500X

Category: Social Science

Page: 488

View: 6903

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.

Comparison in Anthropology

The Impossible Method

Author: Matei Candea

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9781108474603

Category: Social Science

Page: 395

View: 9131

Why and how do social and cultural anthropologists make comparisons? What problems do they encounter in doing so, and how might these be resolved? What, if anything, makes one comparison better than another? This book answers these questions by exploring the many ways in which, from the nineteenth century to the present day, comparative methods have been conceptualised and re-invented, praised and rejected, multiplied and unified. Anthropologists today use comparisons to describe and to explain, to generalise and to challenge generalisations, to critique and to create new concepts. In this multiplicity of often contradictory aims lie both the key challenge of anthropological comparison, and also its key strength. Matei Candea maps a path through that entangled conversation, providing a ground-up re-assessment of the key conceptual issues at the heart of any form of anthropological comparison, whilst creating a bold charter for reconsidering the value of comparison in anthropology and beyond.

Christian Moderns

Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter

Author: Webb Keane

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 9780520939219

Category: Religion

Page: 336

View: 8619

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.

Praying and Preying

Christianity in Indigenous Amazonia

Author: Aparecida Vilaça

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 0520289145

Category: Social Science

Page: 316

View: 1673

Praying and Preying offers one of the rare anthropological monographs on the Christian experience of contemporary Amazonian indigenous peoples, based on an ethnographic study of the relationship between the Wari’, inhabitants of Brazilian Amazonia, and the Evangelical missionaries of the New Tribes Mission. Vilaça turns to a vast range of historical, ethnographic and mythological material related to both the Wari’ and missionaries perspectives and the author’s own ethnographic field notes from her more than 30-year involvement with the Wari’ community. Developing a close dialogue between the Melanesian literature, which informs much of the recent work in the Anthropology of Christianity, and the concepts and theories deriving from Amazonian ethnology, in particular the notions of openness to the other, unstable dualism, and perspectivism, the author provides a fine-grained analysis of the equivocations and paradoxes that underlie the translation processes performed by the different agents involved and their implications for the transformation of the native notion of personhood.

God's Agents

Biblical Publicity in Contemporary England

Author: Matthew Engelke

Publisher: Univ of California Press

ISBN: 0520280474

Category: Religion

Page: 292

View: 8883

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.

Comparative Metaphysics

Ontology After Anthropology

Author: Pierre Charbonnier,Gildas Salmon,Peter Skafish

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield International

ISBN: 9781783488582

Category: Philosophy

Page: 400

View: 575

An advanced introduction to the new philosophical anthropology and an understanding of the most contemporary developments in it.