For the Ankave of Papua New Guinea, men, unlike women, do not reach adulthood and become fathers simply by growing up and reproducing. What fathers—and by extension, men—actually are is a result of a series of relational transformations, operated in and by rituals in which men and women both perform complementary actions in separate spaces. Acting for Others is a tour de force in Melanesian ethnography, gender studies, and theories of ritual. Based on years of fieldwork conducted by the author and her husband and co-ethnographer, this book’s “double view” of the Ankave ritual cycle—from women in the village and from the men in the forest—is novel, provocative, and one of the most incisive analyses of the emergence of ideas of gender in Papua New Guinea since Marilyn Strathern’s The Gender of the Gift.
At the heart of Pascale Bonnemère’s argument is the idea that it is possible for genders to act for and upon one another, and to do so almost paradoxically, by limiting action through the obeying of taboos and other restrictions. With this first English translation by acclaimed French translator Nora Scott, accompanied by a foreword from Marilyn Strathern, Acting for Others brings the Ankave ritual world to new theoretical life, challenging how we think about mutual action, mutual being, and mutual life.
Jeanne Favret-Saada is arguably one of France’s most brilliant anthropologists, and The Anti-Witch is nothing less than a masterpiece. A synthesis of ethnographic theory and psychoanalytic revelation, where the line between researcher and subject is blurred—if not erased—The Anti-Witch develops the contours of an anthropology of therapy, while deeply engaging with what it means to be caught in the logic of witchcraft. Through an intimate and provocative sharing of the ethnographic voice with Madame Flora, a “dewitcher,” Favret-Saada delivers a critical challenge to some of anthropology’s fundamental concepts.
Sure to be of interest to practitioners of psychoanalysis as well as to anthropologists, The Anti-Witch will bring a new generation of scholars into conversation with the work of a truly innovative thinker.
Missionary, linguist, and ethnographer Emile Petitot (1838–1916) was known for his work in Canada’s Northwest Territories and as the author of a corpus including the first grammar of an Amerindian language and an astonishing body of transcribed ritual texts and myths. However, over the course of his twenty years in the Arctic Circle, he descended into a long delirium and began to summon imaginary persecutions, pen improbable interpretations of his Arctic hosts, and explode in paroxysms of schizoid fury. In telling this story, Pierre Déléage reconstructs, step by step and with the ethnographer’s eye, the biography of a delusion.
Delving into the obverse of the very texture of ethnographic inquiry, Déléage takes us on an enthralling journey across the indigenous Arctic world, moving skilfully between ethnobiography and the analytic conundrums that arise in profound cognitive displacement. Whoever wishes to know the cost of knowing alien cultures will find this anthropological novella hard to put down.
The Art of Life and Death explores how the world appears to people who have an acute perspective on it: those who are close to death. Based on extensive ethnographic research, Andrew Irving brings to life the lived experiences, imaginative lifeworlds, and existential concerns of persons confronting their own mortality and non-being.
Encompassing twenty years of working alongside persons living with HIV/AIDS in New York, Irving documents the radical but often unspoken and unvoiced transformations in perception, knowledge, and understanding that people experience in the face of death. By bringing an “experience-near” ethnographic focus to the streams of inner dialogue, imagination, and aesthetic expression that are central to the experience of illness and everyday life, this monograph offers a theoretical, ethnographic, and methodological contribution to the anthropology of time, finitude, and the human condition. With relevance well-beyond the disciplinary boundaries of anthropology, this book ultimately highlights the challenge of capturing the inner experience of human suffering and hope that affect us all—of the trauma of the threat of death and the surprise of continued life.
Written in the early 1970s amidst widespread debate over the causes of gender inequality, Marilyn Strathern’s Before and After Gender was intended as a widely accessible analysis of gender as a powerful cultural code and sex as a defining mythology. But when the series for which it was written unexpectedly folded, the manuscript went into storage, where it remained for more than four decades. This book finally brings it to light, giving the long-lost feminist work—accompanied here by an afterword from Judith Butler—an overdue spot in feminist history.
Strathern incisively engages some of the leading feminist thinkers of the time, including Shulamith Firestone, Simone de Beauvoir, Ann Oakley, and Kate Millett. Building with characteristic precision toward a bold conclusion in which she argues that we underestimate the materializing grammars of sex and gender at our own peril, she offers a powerful challenge to the intransigent mythologies of sex that still plague contemporary society. The result is a sweeping display of Strathern’s vivid critical thought and an important contribution to feminist studies that has gone unpublished for far too long.
How do deaf people in different societies perceive and conceive the world around them? Drawing on three years of anthropological fieldwork in Nepali deaf communities, Being and Hearing shows how questions of cultural difference are profoundly shaped by local habits of perception. Beginning with the premise that philosophy and cultural intuition are separated only by genre and pedigree, Peter Graif argues that Nepali deaf communities—in their social sensibilities, political projects, and aesthetics of expression—present innovative answers to the very old question of what it means to be different.
From pranks and protests, to diverse acts of love and resistance, to renewed distinctions between material and immaterial, deaf communities in Nepal have crafted ways to foreground the habits of perception that shape both their own experiences and how they are experienced by the hearing people around them. By exploring these often overlooked strategies, Being and Hearing makes a unique contribution to ethnography and comparative philosophy.
We have all found ourselves involuntarily addressing inanimate objects as though they were human. For a fleeting instant, we act as though our cars and computers can hear us. In situations like ritual or play, objects acquire a range of human characteristics, such as perception, thought, action, or speech. Puppets, dolls, and ritual statuettes cease to be merely addressees and begin to address us—we see life in them.
How might we describe the kind of thought that gives life to the artifact, making it memorable as well as effective, in daily life, play, or ritual action? Following TheChimera Principle, in this collection of essays Carlo Severi explores the kind of shared imagination where inanimate artifacts, from non-Western masks and ritual statuettes to paintings and sculptures in our own tradition, can be perceived as living beings. This nuanced inquiry into the works of memory and shared imagination is a proposal for a new anthropology of thought.
Available in English for the first time, anthropologist Carlo Severi’s The Chimera Principle breaks new theoretical ground for the study of ritual, iconographic technologies, and oral traditions among non-literate peoples. Setting himself against a tradition that has long seen the memory of people “without writing”—which relies on such ephemeral records as ornaments, body painting, and masks—as fundamentally disordered or doomed to failure, he argues strenuously that ritual actions in these societies pragmatically produce religious meaning and that they demonstrate what he calls a “chimeric” imagination.
Deploying philosophical and ethnographic theory, Severi unfolds new approaches to research in the anthropology of ritual and memory, ultimately building a new theory of imagination and an original anthropology of thought. This English-language edition, beautifully translated by Janet Lloyd and complete with a foreword by David Graeber, will spark widespread debate and be heralded as an instant classic for anthropologists, historians, and philosophers.
The late anthropologist Valerio Valeri (1944–98) was best known for his substantial writings on societies of Polynesia and eastern Indonesia. This volume, however, presents a lesser-known side of Valeri’s genius through a dazzlingly erudite set of comparative essays on core topics in the history of anthropological theory. Offering masterly discussions of anthropological thought about ritual, fetishism, cosmogonic myth, belief, caste, kingship, mourning, play, feasting, ceremony, and cultural relativism, Classic Concepts in Anthropology, will be an eye-opening, essential resource for students and researchers not only in anthropology but throughout the humanities.
Few scholars have had a more varied career than Sally Falk Moore. Once a lawyer for an elite New York law firm, her career has led her to the Nuremberg trials where she prepared cases against major industrialists, to Harvard, to the Spanish archives where she studied the Inca political system, and to the mountain of Kilimanjaro where she studied the politics of Tanzanian socialism. This book offers a compelling tour of Moore’s diverse experiences, a history of her thought as she reflects on her life and thought in the disciplines of anthropology, law, and politics.
The essays range from studies of myths of incest and sexuality to those of economic development projects, from South America to Africa. The result is an astonishing assortment of works from one of the most respected legal anthropologists in the field, one who brought together disparate places and ideas in enriching comparisons that showcase the possibilities—and impossibilities—of anthropology.
Since its publication in 1969, Émile Benveniste’s Vocabulaire—here in a new translation as the Dictionary of Indo-European Concepts and Society—has been the classic reference for tracing the institutional and conceptual genealogy of the sociocultural worlds of gifts, contracts, sacrifice, hospitality, authority, freedom, ancient economy, and kinship. A comprehensive and comparative history of words with analyses of their underlying neglected genealogies and structures of signification—and this via a masterful journey through Germanic, Romance, Indo-Iranian, Latin, and Greek languages—Benveniste’s dictionary is a must-read for anthropologists, linguists, literary theorists, classicists, and philosophers alike.
This book has famously inspired a wealth of thinkers, including Roland Barthes, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Derrida, Umberto Eco, Giorgio Agamben, François Jullien, and many others. In this new volume, Benveniste’s masterpiece on the study of language and society finds new life for a new generation of scholars. As political fictions continue to separate and reify differences between European, Middle Eastern, and South Asian societies, Benveniste reminds us just how historically deep their interconnections are and that understanding the way our institutions are evoked through the words that describe them is more necessary than ever.
Across the Western world, full membership of society is established through entitlements to space and formalized in the institutions of property and citizenship. Those without such entitlements are deemed less than fully human as they struggle to find a place where they can symbolically and physically exist. Written by an anthropologist who accidentally found herself homeless, The Ethics of Space is an unprecedented account of what happens when homeless people organize to occupy abandoned properties.
Set against the backdrop of economic crisis, austerity, and a disintegrating British state, Steph Grohmann tells the story of a flourishing squatter community in the city of Bristol and how it was eventually outlawed by the state. The first ethnography of homelessness done by a researcher who was formally homeless throughout fieldwork, this volume explores the intersection between spatial existence, subjectivity, and ethics. The result is a book that rethinks how ethical views are shaped and constructed through our own spatial existences.
Fakes, forgery, counterfeits, hoaxes, frauds, knock-offs—such terms speak, ostensibly, to the inverse of truth or the obverse of authenticity and sincerity. Do all cultures equally spend an incredible amount of energy and labor on detecting differences between the phony and the genuine? What does the modern human obsession with fabrications and frauds tell us about ourselves? And what can anthropology tell us about this obsession?
This timely book is the product of the first Annual Debate of Anthropological Keywords, a collaborative project between HAU, the American Ethnological Society, and L’Homme, held each year at the American Anthropological Association meetings. The aim of the debate is to reflect critically on keywords and terms that play a pivotal and timely role in discussions of different cultures and societies, and of the relations between them. This volume brings together leading thinkers to interrogate the concept of fake cross-culturally, including insightful contributions by Giovanni da Col, Gabriella Coleman, Veena Das, John Jackson Jr., Graham Jones, Carlo Severi, Alexei Yurchak, and Jacob Copeman.
Not since Clifford Geertz’s “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight” has the publication of an anthropological analysis been as eagerly awaited as this book, Terence S. Turner’s The Fire of the Jaguar. His reanalysis of the famous myth from the Kayapo people of Brazil was anticipated as an exemplar of a new, dynamic, materialist, action-oriented structuralism, one very different from the kind made famous by Claude Lévi-Strauss. But the study never fully materialized. Now, with this volume, it has arrived, bringing with it powerful new insights that challenge the way we think about structuralism, its legacy, and the reasons we have moved away from it.
In these chapters, Turner carries out one of the richest and most sustained analysis of a single myth ever conducted. Turner places the “Fire of the Jaguar” myth in the full context of Kayapo society and culture and shows how it became both an origin tale and model for the work of socialization, which is the primary form of productive labor in Kayapo society. A posthumous tribute to Turner’s theoretical erudition, ethnographic rigor, and respect for Amazonian indigenous lifeworlds, this book brings this fascinating Kayapo myth alive for new generations of anthropologists. Accompanied with some of Turner’s related pieces on Kayapo cosmology, this book is at once a richly literary work and an illuminating meditation on the process of creativity itself.
Anthropology has recently seen a lively interest in the subject of ethics and comparative notions of morality and freedom. This masterclass brings together four of the most eminent anthropologists working in this field—Michael Lambek, Veena Das, Didier Fassin, and Webb Keane—to discuss, via lectures and responses, important topics facing anthropological ethics and the theoretical debates that surround it.
The authors explore the ways we understand morality across many different cultural settings, asking questions such as: How do we recognize the ethical in different ethnographic worlds? What constitutes agency and awareness in everyday life? What might an anthropology of ordinary ethics look like? And what happens when ethics approaches the political in both Western and non-Western societies. Contrasting perspectives and methods—and yet in complimentary ways—this masterclass will serve as an essential guide for how an anthropology of ethics can be formulated in the twenty-first century.
The Pitt-Rivers Omnibus brings together the definitive essays and lectures of the influential social anthropologist Julian A. Pitt-Rivers, a corpus of work that has, until now, remained scattered, untranslated, and unedited. Illuminating the themes and topics that he engaged throughout his life—including hospitality, grace, the symbolic economy of reciprocity, kinship, the paradoxes of friendship, ritual logics, the anthropology of dress, and more—this omnibus brings his reflections to new life.
Holding Pitt-Rivers’s diversity of subjects and ethnographic foci in the same gaze, this book reveals a theoretical unity that ran through his work and highlights his iconic wit and brilliance. Striking at the heart of anthropological theory, the pieces here explore the relationship between the mental and the material, between what is thought and what is done. Classic, definitive, and yet still extraordinarily relevant for contemporary anthropology, Pitt-Rivers’s lifetime contribution will provide a new generation of anthropologists with an invaluable resource for reflection on both ethnographic and theoretical issues.
Scan down a list of essential works in any introduction to anthropology course and you are likely to see Marcel Mauss’ masterpiece, The Gift. With this new translation, Mauss’ classic essay is returned to its original context, published alongside the works that framed its first publication in the 1923–24 issue of L’Année Sociologique. With a critical foreword by Bill Maurer and a new introduction by translator Jane Guyer, this expanded edition is certain to become the standard English version of the essay—a gift that keeps on giving.
Included alongside the “Essay on the Gift” are Mauss’ memorial accounts of the work of Émile Durkheim and his colleagues who were lost during World War I, as well as his scholarly reviews of influential contemporaries such as Franz Boas, J. G. Frazer, Bronislaw Malinowski, and others. Read in the context of these additional pieces, the “Essay on the Gift” is revealed as a complementary whole, a gesture of both personal and political generosity: Mauss’ honor for his fallen colleagues; his aspiration for modern society’s recuperation of the gift as a mode of repair; and his own careful, yet critical, reading of his intellectual milieu. The result sets the scene for a whole new generation of readers to study this essay alongside pieces that exhibit the erudition, political commitment, and generous collegial exchange that first nourished the essay into life.
Christopher A. Gregory’s Gifts and Commodities is one of the undisputed classics of economic anthropology. On its publication in 1982, it spurred intense, ongoing debates about gifts and gifting, value, exchange, and the place of political economy in anthropology.
Gifts and Commodities is, at once, a critique of neoclassical economics and development theory, a critical history of colonial Papua New Guinea, and a comparative ethnography of exchange in Melanesian societies. This new edition includes a foreword by anthropologist Marilyn Strathern and a new preface by the author that discusses the ongoing response to the book and the debates it has engendered, debates that have become more salient in our evermore neoliberal and globalized era.
Writing has been invented four times in human history, by the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, and the Mayans. Each of these peoples developed a restricted set of symbols capable of recording any possible discourse in their spoken language. Much later, between 1700 and 1900, prophets and shamans of the Native American tribes developed “bounded” writing methods, designed to ensure the transmission of ceremonial rituals whose notational principles differed profoundly from more familiar forms of writing. Pierre Déléage draws on a deep and comparative study of historical and ethnographic evidence to propose the groundbreaking thesis that all writing systems were initially bounded methods, reversing the accepted historical perspective and making it possible to revise our conception of the origin of the other great writing systems. The Invention of Writing offers new conceptual tools for answering a simple question: Why have humans repeatedly expended the immense intellectual effort required to invent writing?
In this long-awaited sequel to The Invention of Culture, Roy Wagner tackles the logic and motives that underlie cultural invention. Could there be a single, logical factor that makes the invention of the distinction between self and other possible, much as specific human genes allow for language?
Wagner explores what he calls “the reciprocity of perspectives” through a journey between Euro-American bodies of knowledge and his in-depth knowledge of Melanesian modes of thought. This logic grounds variants of the subject/object transformation, as Wagner works through examples such as the figure-ground reversal in Gestalt psychology, Lacan’s theory of the mirror-stage formation of the Ego, and even the self-recursive structure of the aphorism and the joke. Juxtaposing Wittgenstein’s and Leibniz’s philosophy with Melanesian social logic, Wagner explores the cosmological dimensions of the ways in which different societies develop models of self and the subject/object distinction. The result is a philosophical tour de force by one of anthropology’s greatest mavericks.
“The Mafia? What is the Mafia? Something you eat? Something you drink? I don’t know the Mafia. I have never seen it.” So said Mommo Piromalli, a ‘Ndrangheta crime boss, to a journalist in the seventies. In Mafiacraft, Deborah Puccio-Den explores the Mafia’s reliance on the force of silence, and undertakes a new form of ethnographic inquiry that focuses on the questions, rather than the answers.
For Puccio-Den, the Mafia is not a stable social fact, but a cognitive event shaped by actions of silence. Rather than inquiring about what has previously been written or said, she explores the imaginative power of silence and how it gives consistency to special kinds of social ties that draw their strength from a state of indetermination. What methods might anthropologists use to investigate silence and to understand the life of the denied, the unspeakable, and the unspoken? How do they resist, fight, or capitulate to the strength of words, or to the force of law? In Mafiacraft, Puccio-Den’s addresses these questions with a fascinating anthropology of silence that opens up new ground for the study of the world’s most famous criminal organization.
Though his work was little known outside Italian intellectual circles for most of the twentieth century, anthropologist and historian of religions Ernesto de Martino is now recognized as one of the most original thinkers in the field. This book is testament to de Martino’s innovation and engagement with Hegelian historicism and phenomenology—a work of ethnographic theory way ahead of its time.
This new translation of Sud e Magia, his 1959 study of ceremonial magic and witchcraft in southern Italy, shows how De Martino is not interested in the question of whether magic is rational or irrational but rather in why it came to be perceived as a problem of knowledge in the first place. Setting his exploration within his wider, pathbreaking theorization of ritual, as well as in the context of his politically sensitive analysis of the global south’s historical encounters with Western science, he presents the development of magic and ritual in Enlightenment Naples as a paradigmatic example of the complex dynamics between dominant and subaltern cultures. Far ahead of its time, Magic is still relevant as anthropologists continue to wrestle with modernity’s relationship with magical thinking.
A generation of aspiring business managers has been taught to see a world of difference as a world of opportunity. In Making Global MBAs, Andrew Orta provocatively examines the culture of contemporary business education, and the ways MBA programs participate in the production of the worldview of global capitalism through the production of the business subjects who will be managing it.
Based upon extensive field research at a set of leading US business schools, this groundbreaking ethnography shows how the culture of MBA training provides a window onto contemporary understandings of capitalism in the context of globalization. Orta details the rituals of MBA life and the ways MBA curricula cultivate at once habits of fast-paced technical competence and “softer” qualities and talents thought to be essential to unlocking the value of international cultural difference, while managing its risks. Making Global MBAs is an essential guide for prospective managers, for practitioners working internationally, and for students of globalization and of the contemporary business and politics of cultural differences.
When Emily Martin delivered the annual Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures at the University of Rochester in 1986, she took as her subject the meaning of money in China and the United States. Though the topic is of perennial interest—and never more so than in our era, when economic forecasts of China’s growing economy generate shallow news stories and public fear—the lectures were never edited for publication, so their rich analysis has been unavailable to anthropologists ever since.
With this book—the first volume in a collaboration between Hau Books and the University of Rochester—Martin’s lectures are brought back, fully edited and richly illustrated. A new introduction by Martin herself brings her analysis wholly up to date, while an afterword by Jane I. Guyer and Sidney Mintz discusses Martin’s work, influence, and legacy. The Meaning of Money in China and the United States will instantly assume its rightful place as a classic in the field, with Martin’s insights as germane and productive as they were nearly thirty years ago.
Individual sovereignty is a central value among Amazonian groups, in keeping with a cosmology premised on the production of people rather than material property. The Jivaroan Indians of Western Amazonia exemplify these ideals to an unusual degree. Jivaroean have long been notorious for a reputed addiction to warfare, their custom of shrinking enemies’ heads, and their fierce resistance to colonial and post-colonial attempts to convert them to Christianity and to deprive them of their land, identity, and lifeways. Becoming and remaining an accomplished Jivaroan person is a taxing and risk-fraught achievement: it requires living and imagining in the heroic mode and mastering the art of making one’s self memorable.
In Memorable Singularity, anthropologist Anne-Christine Taylor describes how Jivaroans strive for uniqueness of being and destiny, unconstrained by the claims of any institutionalized form authority beyond the individual. Taylor covers a wide range of subjects: feuding and intertribal warfare, Jivaroan notions of personhood, corporeality, reflexive consciousness, thought and affect, memory, and visual culture. An essential collection of one of the foremost Amazonian specialists, Memorable Singularity is at once a richly literary work and an illuminating meditation on the process of crafting and imagining the human self.
Trust occupies a unique place in contemporary discourse. Seen as both necessary and virtuous, it is variously depicted as enhancing the social fabric, lowering crime rates, increasing happiness, and generating prosperity. It allows for complex political systems, permits human communication, underpins financial instruments and economic institutions, and generally holds society together. Against these overwhelmingly laudable qualities, mistrust often goes unnoticed as a positive social phenomenon, treated as little more than a corrosive absence, a mere negative of trust itself. With this book, Matthew Carey proposes an ethnographic and conceptual exploration of mistrust that raises it up as legitimate stance in its own right.
While mistrust can quickly ruin relationships and even dissolve extensive social ties, Carey shows that it might have other values. Drawing on fieldwork in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains as well as comparative material from regions stretching from Eastern Europe to Melanesia, he examines the impact of mistrust on practices of conversation and communication, friendship and society, and politics and cooperation. In doing so, he demonstrates that trust is not the only basis for organizing human society and cooperating with others. The result is a provocative but enlightening work that makes us rethink social issues such as suspicion, doubt, and uncertainty.
In 1931 Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote his famous Remarks on Frazer’s “Golden Bough,” published posthumously in 1967. At that time, anthropology and philosophy were in close contact—continental thinkers drew heavily on anthropology’s theoretical terms, like mana, taboo, and potlatch, in order to help them explore the limits of human belief and imagination. Now the book receives its first translation by an anthropologist, in the hope that it can kick-start a new era of interdisciplinary fertilization.
Wittgenstein’s remarks on ritual, magic, religion, belief, ceremony, and Frazer’s own logical presuppositions are as lucid and thought-provoking now as they were in Wittgenstein’s day. Anthropologists find themselves asking many of the same questions as Wittgenstein—and in a reflection of that, this volume is fleshed out with a series of engagements with Wittgenstein’s ideas by some of the world’s leading anthropologists, including Veena Das, David Graeber, Wendy James, Heonik Kwon, Michael Lambek, Michael Puett, and Carlo Severi.
Nullius is an anthropological account of the troubled place of ownership and its consequences for social relations in India. The book provides a detailed study of three doctrinal paradigms where proprietary relations have been erased, denied, or misappropriated by the Indian state. It examines three instantiations of negation, where the Indian state de facto adopted the doctrines of terra nullius (in the erasure of indigenous title), res nullius (in acquiring museum objects), and, controversially, corpus nullius (in denying ownership of one’s personhood in citizens’ data collected through biometric identification).
Nullius contends that even though property rights and ownership are a cornerstone of modern law, they are a spectral presence in the Indian case. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of the anthropology of the state, law, data, museums, legal history, intellectual property, cultural property, heritage, historical anthropology, and South Asia. It will also be of interest to non-academics working in the fields of data, data ethics, cultural property, intellectual property, and museum collections.
For the Yagwoia-Anga people of Papua New Guinea, “womba” is a malignant power with the potential to afflict any soul with cravings for pig meat and human flesh. Drawing on long-term research among the Yagwoia and informed by existential phenomenology and psychoanalysis, Jadran Mimica explores the womba complex in its local cultural-existential determinations and regional permutations. He attends to the lived experience of this complex in relation to the wider context of mortuary practices, historical cannibalism, and sorcery. This wider womba complex, including its regional permutations, illuminates the moral meanings of Yagwoia selfhood and its sense of agency and subjectivity. Mimica concludes by reflecting on the recent escalation of concerns with witchcraft and sorcery in Papua New Guinea, specifically in relation to the new wave of Christian evangelism occurring in partnership with the state. A short monograph grounded in ethnographic description, this book is perfect for both graduate and advanced undergraduate teaching.
David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins HAU, 2017
In anthropology as much as in popular imagination, kings are figures of fascination and intrigue, heroes or tyrants in ways presidents and prime ministers can never be. This collection of essays by two of the world’s most distinguished anthropologists—David Graeber and Marshall Sahlins—explores what kingship actually is, historically and anthropologically. As they show, kings are symbols for more than just sovereignty: indeed, the study of kingship offers a unique window into fundamental dilemmas concerning the very nature of power, meaning, and the human condition.
Reflecting on issues such as temporality, alterity, and utopia—not to mention the divine, the strange, the numinous, and the bestial—Graeber and Sahlins explore the role of kings as they have existed around the world, from the BaKongo to the Aztec to the Shilluk and beyond. Richly delivered with the wit and sharp analysis characteristic of Graeber and Sahlins, this book opens up new avenues for the anthropological study of this fascinating and ubiquitous political figure.
The Owners of Kinship investigates how kinship in Indigenous Amazonia is derived from the asymmetrical relation between an “owner” and his or her dependents. Through a comprehensive ethnography of the Kanamari, Luiz Costa shows how this relationship is centered around the bond created between the feeder and the fed.
Building on anthropological studies of the acquisition, distribution, and consumption of food and its role in establishing relations of asymmetrical mutuality and kinship, this book breaks theoretical ground for studies in Amazonia and beyond. By investigating how the feeding relation traverses Kanamari society—from the relation between women and the pets they raise, shaman and familiar spirit, mother and child, chiefs and followers, to those between the Brazilian state and the Kanamari—The Owners of Kinship reveals how the mutuality of kinship is determined by the asymmetry of ownership.
In his 1978 Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures, unpublished until now, Gilbert Lewis takes on essential problems for medical anthropology. Has there been progress in medicine? Consider what it was like to be ill in a Gnau village in the West Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea in 1968 and compare it with the experience of illness fifteen years later, after they gained independence. The changes involved some loss of self-reliance. Or consider Bregbo, a community in the Ivory Coast whose prophet offers healing through confession and, in some cases, long-term care in a therapeutic setting. What does this offer that psychiatric approaches to healing do not? Drawing on these and other cases, Lewis conveys the importance of the ethnographic comparison of medical beliefs in dynamic spaces of knowledge to do with illness, health, and healing, especially as these change over time and intersect with others. Capturing debates during a key moment in the development of medical anthropology, these lectures also inspire us to look with new eyes at contemporary problems in the field.
This collection highlights a key metaphor in contemporary discourse about economy and society. The contributors explore how references to reality and the real economy are linked both to the utopias of collective well-being, supported by real monies and good economies, and the dystopias of financial bubbles and busts, in which people’s own lives “crash” along with the reality of their economies.
An ambitious anthropology of economy, this volume questions how assemblages of vernacular and scientific realizations and enactments of the economy are linked to ideas of truth and moral value; how these multiple and shifting realities become present and entangle with historically and socially situated lives; and how the formal realizations of the concept of the “real” in the governance of economies engage with the experiential lives of ordinary people. Featuring essays from some of the world’s most prominent economic anthropologists, The Real Economy is a milestone collection in economic anthropology that crosses disciplinary boundaries and adds new life to social studies of the economy.
John V. Murra’s Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures, originally given in 1969, are the only major study of the Andean “avenue towards civilization.” Collected and published for the first time here, they offer a powerful and insistent perspective on the Andean region as one of the few places in which a so-called “pristine civilization” developed. Murra sheds light not only on the way civilization was achieved here—which followed a fundamentally different process than that of Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica—he uses that study to shed new light on the general problems of achieving civilization in any world region.
Murra intermixes a study of Andean ecology with an exploration of the ideal of economic self-sufficiency, stressing two foundational socioeconomic forces: reciprocity and redistribution. He shows how both enabled Andean communities to realize direct control of a maximum number of vertically ordered ecological floors and the resources they offered. He famously called this arrangement a “vertical archipelago,” a revolutionary model that is still examined and debated almost fifty years after it was first presented in these lecture. Written in a crisp and elegant style and inspired by decades of ethnographic fieldwork, this set of lectures is nothing less than a lost classic, and it will be sure to inspire new generations of anthropologists and historians working in South America and beyond.
This volume is the first to collect the most influential essays and lectures of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Published in a wide variety of venues, and often difficult to find, the pieces are brought together here for the first time in a one major volume, which includes his momentous 1998 Cambridge University Lectures, “Cosmological Perspectivism in Amazonia and Elsewhere.”
Rounded out with new English translations of a number of previously unpublished works, the resulting book is a wide-ranging portrait of one of the towering figures of contemporary thought—philosopher, anthropologist, ethnographer, ethnologist, and more. With a new afterword by Roy Wagner elucidating Viveiros de Castro’s work, influence, and legacy, The Relative Native will be required reading, further cementing Viveiros de Castro’s position at the center of contemporary anthropological inquiry.
This collection brings together leading social anthropologists, historians, philosophers of science and mathematics, and researchers in artificial intelligence to discuss the ontological presuppositions used in indigenous, Eastern, and Western societies, both ancient and contemporary, about the subjects of reality they investigate. The authors analyze prevailing assumptions about societies distant in time or space and propose more faithful, sensitive analyses of their ontologies as a step toward mutual understanding and translatability across cultures and disciplines.
Science in the Forest, Science in the Past is a pioneering interdisciplinary exploration of science and mathematics that will change the way researchers, educators, policy makers, and students think about our deeply held notions of what constitutes reality and how we apprehend and investigate it.
While working in Africa, anthropologist Julien Bonhomme encountered an astonishing phenomenon: people being accused of stealing or shrinking the genitals of strangers on the simple occasion of a handshake on the street. As he soon discovered, these accusations can have dramatic outcomes: the “sex thieves” are often targeted by large crowds and publicly lynched. Moreover, such rumors are an extremely widespread practice, having affected almost half of the African continent since the 1970s. In this book, Bonhomme examines the story of the “penis snatcher,” asking larger questions about how to account for such a phenomenon—unique in its spatial and temporal scale—without falling prey to the cliché of Africa as an exotic other.
Bonhomme argues that the public belief in sex thieves cannot be considered a superstition or form of mass hysteria. Rather, he brings to light multiple factors that explain the rumor’s success and shows how the cultural dynamic can operate on a vast scale. Analyzing the rumor on both transnational and local levels, he demonstrates how it arises from the ambiguities and dangers of anonymity, and thus that it reveals an occult flipside to everyday social interaction. Altogether, this book provides both richly ethnographic and theoretical understandings of urban sociality and the dynamics of human communication in contemporary Africa and beyond.
Through a rich narrative ethnography of domestic life, this book explores the philosophy of social relations among the Guna (Cuna), an Amerindian people of Panama. This intimate study brings us into the heart of the family economy, describing its nuanced interactions among coresidents through two dimensions: an aesthetic of production resting on the gendered division of labor and an ethic of affects informing the language and enactment of kinship. By exploring local techniques of nurture—child-rearing, singing, feeding, and care practices—the book shows how the Guna create kinship and inhabit gender. The acceptance the Guna show for same-sex relationships and cross-gender roles—which they accorded to the author himself—allows kinship to be both subverted and affirmed at the same time. Subverting kinship does not undermine the structure or dynamics of residential interrelations; on the contrary, it dramatically foregrounds kinship as a lived experience of reciprocal nurture, thus enabling gender to be modulated, and inhabited in multiple ways.
Set against the backdrop of anthropology’s recent focus on various “turns” (whether ontological, ethical, or otherwise), this pathbreaking volume returns to the question of knowledge and the role of translation as a theoretical and ethnographic guide for twenty-first century anthropology, gathering together contributions from leading thinkers in the field.
Since Ferdinand de Saussure and Franz Boas, languages have been seen as systems whose differences make precise translation nearly impossible. And still others have viewed translation between languages as principally indeterminate. The contributors here argue that the challenge posed by the constant confrontation between incommensurable worlds and systems may be the most fertile ground for state-of-the-art ethnographic theory and practice. Ranging from tourism in New Guinea to shamanism in the Amazon to the globally ubiquitous restaurant menu, the contributors mix philosophy and ethnography to redefine translation not only as a key technique for understanding ethnography but as a larger principle in epistemology.
Highly innovative and theoretically incisive, Two Lenins is the first book-length anthropological examination of how social reality can be organized around different yet concurrent ideas of time.
Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov grounds his theoretical exploration in fascinating ethnographic and historical material on two Lenins: the first is the famed Soviet leader of the early twentieth century, and the second is a Siberian Evenki hunter—nicknamed “Lenin”—who experienced the collapse of the USSR during the 1990s. Through their intertwined stories, Ssorin-Chaikov unveils new dimensions of ethnographic reality by multiplying our notions of time.
Ssorin-Chaikov examines Vladimir Lenin at the height of his reign in 1920s Soviet Russia, focusing especially on his relationship with American businessperson Armand Hammer. He casts this scene against the second Lenin—the hunter on the far end of the country, in Siberia, at the far end of the century, the 1990s, who is tasked with improvising postsocialism in the economic and political uncertainties of post-Soviet transition. Moving from Moscow to Siberia to New York, and traveling form the 1920s to the 1960s to the 1990’s, Ssorin-Chaikov takes readers beyond a simple global history or cross-temporal comparison, instead using these two figures to enact an ethnographic study of the very category of time that we use to bridge different historical contexts.
Unexpected Subjects is an ethnography of the encounter between women's words and the demands of the law in the context of adjudications on intimate partner violence. A study of institutional devices, it focuses on women’s practices of resistance and the elicitation of intelligible subjectivities. Using Italy as an illustrative case, Alessandra Gribaldo explores the problematic encounter between the need to speak, the entanglement of violence and intimacy, and the way the law approaches domestic violence. On this basis it advances theoretical reflections on questions of evidence, persuasion, and testimony, and their implications for ethnographic theory. Gribaldo analyzes the dynamics that produce the subjectivity of the victim, shedding light on how the Italian legal system reproduces broader conditions of violence against women. Perfect for graduate and advanced undergraduate teaching, this book will appeal to anthropologists and scholars of law, society, and gender.
How people conceive of happiness reveals much about who they are and the values they hold dear. Drawing on ethnographic insights from diverse field sites around the world, this book offers a unique window onto the ways in which people grapple with fundamental questions about how to live and what it means to be human. Developing a distinctly anthropological approach concerned less with gauging how happy people are than with how happiness figures as an idea, mood, and motive in everyday life, the book explores how people strive to live well within challenging or even hostile circumstances.
The contributors explore how happiness intersects with dominant social values as well as an array of aims and aspirations that are potentially conflicting, demonstrating that not every kind of happiness is seen as a worthwhile aim or evaluated in positive moral terms. In tracing this link between different conceptions of happiness and their evaluations, the book engages some of the most fundamental questions concerning human happiness: What is it and how is it achieved? Is happiness everywhere a paramount value or aim in life? How does it relate to other ideas of the good? What role does happiness play in orienting peoples’ desires and life choices? Taking these questions seriously, the book draws together considerations of meaning, values, and affect, while recognizing the diversity of human ends.
Bronislaw Malinowski’s path-breaking research in the Trobriand Islands shaped much of modern anthropology’s disciplinary paradigm. Yet many conundrums remain. For example, Malinowski asserted that baloma spirits of the dead were responsible for procreation but had limited influence on their living descendants in magic and other matters, claims largely unchallenged by subsequent field investigators, until now. Based on extended fieldwork at Omarakana village—home of the Tabalu “Paramount Chief”—Mark S. Mosko argues instead that these and virtually all contexts of indigenous sociality are conceived as sacrificial reciprocities between the mirror worlds that baloma and humans inhabit.
Informed by a synthesis of Strathern’s model of “dividual personhood” and Lévy-Bruhl’s theory of “participation,” Mosko upends a century of discussion and debate extending from Malinowski to anthropology’s other leading thinkers. His account of the intimate interdependencies of humans and spirits in the cosmic generation and coordination of “life” (momova) and “death” (kaliga) strikes at the nexus of anthropology’s received wisdom, and Ways of Baloma will inevitably lead practitioners and students to reflect anew on the discipline’s multifold theories of personhood, ritual agency, and sociality.
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.
From 1971 to 1972, William E. Mitchell undertook fieldwork on suffering and healing among the Lujere of Papua New Guinea's Upper Sepik River Basin. At a time when it was not yet common to make colonial agencies a subject of anthropological study, Mitchell carefully located his research on Lujere practices in the framework of a history of colonization that surrounded the Lujere with a shifting array of Western institutions, dramatically changing their society forever. This work has been well known among anthropologists of Oceania ever since, but the bulk of it has remained unpublished until now.
In this major new work, Mitchell revisits his earlier research with a three-part study on: the history of colonial rule in the region; the social organization of Lujere life at the time; and the particular forms of affliction, witchcraft, and curing that preoccupied some of the people among whom he lived. This is a magisterial contribution to the ethnography of Papua New Guinea and it is sure to be an invaluable source for scholars of Oceania, of medical anthropology, and of the anthropology of kinship, myth, and ritual.
What do we mean when we refer to world? How does the world relate to the human person? Are the two interdependent and, if so, in what way? What does world mean for an ethnographer or an anthropologist? Much has been said of worlds and worldviews, but do we really know what we mean by these words? Asking these questions and many more, this book explores the conditions of possibility of the ethnographic gesture, and how these shed light on the relationship between humans and the world in the midst of which they find themselves.
As Pina-Cabral shows, recent decades have seen important shifts in the way we relate human thought to human embodiment—the relation between how we think and what we are. The book proposes a novel approach to the human condition: an anthropological outlook that is centered around the notions of personhood and sociality. Through a rich confrontation with ethnographic and historical material, this work contributes to the ongoing task of overcoming the theoretical constraints that have hindered anthropological thinking over the past century.