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The Corn Wolf by Michael TaussigCollecting a decade of work from iconic anthropologist and writer Michael Taussig, The Corn Wolf pinpoints a moment of intellectual development for the master stylist, exemplifying the "nervous system" approach to writing and truth that has characterized his trajectory. Pressured by the permanent state of emergency that imbues our times, this approach marries storytelling with theory, thickening spiraling analysis with ethnography and putting the study of so-called primitive societies back on the anthropological agenda as a way of better understanding the sacred in everyday life. The leading figure of these projects is the corn wolf, whom Wittgenstein used in his fierce polemic on Frazer's Golden Bough. For just as the corn wolf slips through the magic of language in fields of danger and disaster, so we are emboldened to take on the widespread culture of academic--or what he deems "agribusiness"--writing, which strips ethnography from its capacity to surprise and connect with other worlds, whether peasant farmers in Colombia, Palestinians in Israel, protestors in Zuccotti Park, or eccentric yet fundamental aspects of our condition such as animism, humming, or the acceleration of time. A glance at the chapter titles--such as "The Stories Things Tell" or "Iconoclasm Dictionary"--along with his zany drawings, testifies to the resonant sensibility of these works, which lope like the corn wolf through the boundaries of writing and understanding.
Diagnosing Folklore by Trevor J. Blank (Editor); Andrea Kitta (Editor)Diagnosing Folklore provides an inclusive forum for an expansive conversation on the sensitive, raw, and powerful processes that shape and imbue meaning in the lives of individuals and communities beleaguered by medical stigmatization, conflicting public perceptions, and contextual constraints. This volume aims to showcase current ideas and debates, as well as promote the larger study of disability, health, and trauma within folkloristics, helping bridge the gaps between the folklore discipline and disability studies. This book consists of three sections, each dedicated to key issues in disability, health, and trauma. It explores the confluence of disability, ethnography, and the stigmatized vernacular through communicative competence, esoteric and exoteric groups in the Special Olympics, and the role of family in stigmatized communities. Then, it considers knowledge, belief, and treatment in regional and ethnic communities with case studies from the Latino/a community in Los Angeles, Javanese Indonesia, and Middle America. Lastly, the volume looks to the performance of mental illness, stigma, and trauma through contemporary legends about mental illness, vlogs on bipolar disorder, medical fetishism, and veterans' stories.
Politicized Ethnicity by Anke Weber; Wesley Hiers; Anaid FleskenThis book offers a rigorous comparative historical analysis of Kenya, Tanzania, Bolivia, Peru, and the United States to demonstrate how colonial administrative rule, access to resources, nation building and language policies, as well as political entrepreneurs contribute to the politicization of ethnicity.
Transatlantic Parallaxes by Anne Raulin (Editor); Susan Carol Rogers (Editor)Anthropological inquiry developed around the study of the exotic. Now that we live in a world that seems increasingly familiar, putatively marked by a spreading sameness, anthropology must re-envision itself. The emergence of diverse national traditions in the discipline offers one intriguing path. This volume, the product of a novel encounter of American anthropologists of France and French anthropologists of the United States, explores the possibilities of that path through an experiment in the reciprocal production of knowledge. Simultaneously native subjects, foreign experts, and colleagues, these scholars offer novel insights into each other's societies, juxtaposing glimpses of ourselves and a familiar "others" to productively unsettle and enrich our understanding of both.
Regimes of Legality by Devika Bordia (Editor); Daniela Berti (Editor)An anthropological study on judicial practices in South Asia, this volume takes criminal cases as frameworks to examine power dynamics within a legal setting. Case studies in this book analyse a set of state and non-state institutions and the practices of people associated with them. Theessays delve into the underlying tension in institutional contexts between legal practitioners such as police officers, lawyers, and judges who orient their claims towards neutralism, objectivity, and equality and a set of everyday interactions and decisions where cultural, social, and politicalfactors play a major role.This volume is based on the premise that the study of judiciary cases, in all their multifaceted complexity, provides a pertinent and original angle from which to access some issues of South Asia. The contributors examine the discourses and relationships around criminal cases that shape how ideascirculate in the public sphere and how mediation and negotiation between different actors characterize police and court practices.
Life Phases Mobility and Consumption by Helene Brembeck; Niklas Hansson; Michelle Lalanne; Jean-Sebastien VayreThe very routines of our daily life are to a great extent the expression of our vulnerability and dependence on incredibly wide and complex networks and socio-technical systems. Following people's routes in the city, makes visible the differentially distributed capacities and potentials for mobility. In today's consumer society, shopping is the kind of mundane and routine mobility that we all engage in. Yet having a first child or growing old radically changes people's logistical habits as consumers, what the authors of this book call consumer logistics; moving from home to the store and back home again with recent purchases. Depending on the ages and number of children in the family and the condition of one's body (physical health and strength), going shopping requires quite different settings and gear. Exploring consumer mobility through the lens of life phase and age will deepen the understanding of hitherto under-researched aspects of the ageing process, and of mobility, knowledge that is of vital importance for societies striving for sustainable mobility and sustainable cities.
The Genesis of Creativity and the Origin of the Human Mind by Barbora Putová (Editor); Václav Soukup (Editor)What is it about human beings that makes us creative, able to imagine and enact new possibilities for life and new solutions to problems in a way that no other animal can? The authors included in The Genesis of Creativity and the Origin of the Human Mind explore this question, in essays and studies from a range of specializations and backgrounds. Experts on culture, art, and evolution come together to describe, analyse, and interpret the origins of artistic creativity and the anatomical and neurological structures that contribute to it. Essays focus on the origins of art in the Upper Palaeolithic as well as on manifestations of artistic creativity in pre-literary societies and tribal cultures that have been preserved to the present day. The interdisciplinary approach to the topic accentuates the wide array of possible methodologies and interpretations of artistic manifestations under particular historic and cultural contexts.
The Maya by Michael D. Coe; Stephen D. HoustonThe Maya has long been established as the best, most readable introduction to the New World’s greatest ancient civilization. Coe and Houston update this classic by distilling the latest scholarship for the general reader and student. This new edition incorporates the most recent archaeological and epigraphic research, which continues to proceed at a fast pace. Among the finest new discoveries are spectacular stucco sculptures at El Zotz and Holmul, which reveal surprising aspects of Maya royalty and the founding of dynasties. Dramatic refinements in our understanding of the pace of developments of the Maya civilization have led scholars to perceive a pattern of rapid bursts of building and political formation. Other finds include the discovery of the earliest known occupant of the region, the Hoyo Negro girl, recovered from an underwater cavern in the Yucatan peninsula, along with new evidence for the first architecture at Ceibal.
The Myth of Quetzalcoatl by Alfredo López Austin; Davíd Carrasco (Foreword by); Russ Davidson (Translator); Guilhem Olivier (Contribution by)The Myth of Quetzalcoatl is a translation of Alfredo López Austin's 1973 book Hombre-Dios: Religión y politica en el mundo náhuatl. Despite its pervasive and lasting influence on the study of Mesoamerican history, religion in general, and the Quetzalcoatl myth in particular, this work has not been available in English until now. The importance of Hombre-Dios and its status as a classic arise from its interdisciplinary approach, creative use of a wide range of source material, and unsurpassed treatment of its subject--the nature and content of religious beliefs and rituals among the native populations of Mesoamerica and the manner in which they fused with and helped sanctify political authority and rulership in both the pre- and post-conquest periods. Working from a wide variety of previously neglected documentary sources, incorporating myth, archaeology, and the ethnography of contemporary Native Americans including non-Nahua peoples, López Austin traces the figure of Quetzalcoatl as a "Man-God" from pre-conquest times, while Russ Davidson's translator's note, Davíd Carrasco's foreword, and López Austin's introduction place the work within the context of modern scholarship. López Austin's original work on Quetzalcoatl is a pivotal work in the field of anthropology, and this long-overdue English translation will be of significance to historians, anthropologists, linguists, and serious readers interested in Mesoamerica.
New Books - January
The Pearl of Dari by Zuzanna OlszewskaThe Pearl of Dari takes us into the heart of Afghan refugee life in the Islamic Republic of Iran through a rich ethnographic portrait of the circle of poets and intellectuals who make up the "Pearl of Dari" cultural organization. Dari is the name by which the Persian language is known in Afghanistan. Afghan immigrants in Iran, refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan, are marginalized and restricted to menial jobs and lower-income neighborhoods. Ambitious and creative refugee youth have taken to writing poetry to tell their story as a group and to improve their prospects for a better life. At the same time, they are altering the ancient tradition of Persian love poetry by promoting greater individualism in realms such as gender and marriage. Zuzanna Olszewska offers compelling insights into the social life of poetry in an urban, Middle Eastern setting largely unknown in the West.
The Great Paleolithic War by David J. MeltzerFollowing the discovery in Europe in the late 1850s that humanity had roots predating known history and reaching deep into the Pleistocene era, scientists wondered whether North American prehistory might be just as ancient. And why not? The geological strata seemed exactly analogous between America and Europe, which would lead one to believe that North American humanity ought to be as old as the European variety. This idea set off an eager race for evidence of the people who might have occupied North America during the Ice Age--a long, and, as it turned out, bitter and controversial search. In The Great Paleolithic War, David J. Meltzer tells the story of a scientific quest that set off one of the longest-running feuds in the history of American anthropology, one so vicious at times that anthropologists were deliberately frightened away from investigating potential sites. Through his book, we come to understand how and why this controversy developed and stubbornly persisted for as long as it did; and how, in the process, it revolutionized American archaeology.
Flint Daggers in Prehistoric Europe by Catherine Frieman (Editor); Berit Valentin Eriksen (Editor)For more than a century flint daggers have been among the most closely studied and most heavily published later prehistoric lithic tools. It is well established that they are found across Europe and beyond, and that many were widely circulated over many generations. Yet, few researchers have attempted to discuss the entirety of the flint dagger phenomenon. The present volume brings together papers that address questions of the regional variability and socio-technical complexity of flint daggers and their production. It focuses on the typology, chronology, technology, functionality and meaning of flint and other lithic daggers produced primarily in Europe, but also in the Eastern Mediterranean and East Asia, in prehistory. The 14 papers by leading researchers provide a comprehensive overview of the state of knowledge concerning various flint dagger corpora as well as potential avenues for the development of a research agenda across national, regional and disciplinary boundaries. The volume originates from a session held at the 2011 meeting of the European Association of Archaeology but includes additional commissioned contributions.
Religion by H. SidkyReligion: An Anthropological Perspective provides a critical view of religion focusing upon important but overlooked topics such as religion, cognition, and prehistory; science, rationality, and religion; altered states of consciousness, entheogens and religious experience; religion and the paranormal; magic and divination; religion and ecology; fundamentalism; and religion and violence. In addition, this book offers a unique and concise coverage of traditional topics of the anthropology of religion such as shamanism and witchcraft (past and present), ritual, myth, religious symbols, and revitalization movements. A vast range of findings from ethnography, ethnology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, prehistory, history, and cognitive science are brought to bear on the subject. Written in clear jargon-free prose, this book provides an accessible and comprehensive yet critical view of the anthropology of religion both for graduate and undergraduate students and general audiences. Its scope and critical scientific orientation sets Religion: An Anthropological Perspective apart from all other treatments of the subject.
Pole Raising and Speech Making by Jennifer Eastman AtteberyIn Pole Raising and Speech Making, author Jennifer Eastman Attebery focuses on the beginnings of the traditional Scandinavian Midsummer celebration and the surrounding spring-to-summer seasonal festivities in the Rocky Mountain West during the height of Swedish immigration to the area--1880-1917. Combining research in folkloristics and history, Attebery explores various ways that immigrants blended traditional Swedish Midsummer-related celebrations with local civic celebrations of American Independence Day on July 4 and the Mormons' Pioneer Day on July 24. Functioning as multimodal observances with multiple meanings, these holidays represent and reconsider ethnicity and panethnicity, sacred and secular relationships, and the rural and the urban, demonstrating how flexible and complex traditional celebrations can be. Providing a wealth of detail and information surrounding little-studied celebrations and valuable archival and published primary sources--diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper reports, and images--Pole Raising and Speech Making is proof that non-English immigrant culture must be included when discussing "American" culture. It will be of interest to scholars and graduate students in ethnic studies, folklore, ritual and festival studies, and Scandinavian American cultural history.
Building China by Sarah Christine SwiderRoughly 260 million workers in China have participated in a mass migration of peasants moving into the cities, and construction workers account for almost half of them. In Building China, Sarah Swider draws on her research in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai between 2004 and 2012, including living in an enclave, working on construction jobsites, and interviews with eighty-three migrants, managers, and labor contractors. This ethnography focuses on the lives, work, family, and social relations of construction workers. It adds to our understanding of China's new working class, the deepening rural-urban divide, and the growing number of undocumented migrants working outside the protection of labor laws and regulation. Swider shows how these migrants members of the global "precariat," an emergent social force based on vulnerability, insecurity, and uncertainty are changing China's class structure and what this means for the prospects for an independent labor movement. The workers who build and serve Chinese cities, along with those who produce goods for the world to consume, are mostly migrant workers. They, or their parents, grew up in the countryside; they are farmers who left the fields and migrated to the cities to find work. Informal workers who represent a large segment of the emerging workforce do not fit the traditional model of industrial wage workers. Although they have not been incorporated into the new legal framework that helps define and legitimize China's decentralized legal authoritarian regime, they have emerged as a central component of China s economic success and an important source of labor resistance."
Reframing Visual Social Science by Luc PauwelsThe burgeoning field of 'visual social science' is rooted in the idea that valid scientific insight into culture and society can be acquired by observing, analyzing and theorizing its visual manifestations: visible behavior of people and material products of culture. Reframing Visual Social Science provides a well-balanced, critical-constructive and systematic overview of existing and emerging modes of visual social and cultural research. The book includes integrated models and conceptual frameworks, analytical approaches to scrutinizing existing imagery and multimodal phenomena, a systematic presentation of more active ways and formats of visual scholarly production and communication, and a number of case studies which exemplify the broad fields of application. Finally, visual social research is situated within a wider perspective by addressing the issue of ethics; by presenting a generic approach to producing, selecting and using visual representations; and through discussing the specific challenges and opportunities of a 'more visual' social science.
Silence Speaks by Francisco CapeloSilence Speaks: Masks, Shadows and Puppets from Asia is a travel through the many rituals and performances traditions in twelve regions and countries of Asia: Himalayas, (Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal), India, Sir Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia (Java, Bali), Vietnam and Japan.Masks, Shadows and Puppets are essential for the enactment of rituals and performances. These surprising, fragile objects of great beauty are not viewed or used as a disguising or as simple forms of entertainment. Often they signal the wearer's willingness to be possessed and receive a spiritual visitation. Their performance is often a welcoming and pleasing ceremony for unseen audiences of unearthly spirits.These traditions are framed by ancient and sacred narratives that have been received since the first Millennium C.E., via land and sea from distant lands. Together with the dance movements and gestures they use, these ancient narratives were gradually adapted by the ancestors of the populations now living in the countries that this book visits. Silence Speaks: Masks, Shadows and Puppets from Asia illustrates 270 objects from the Francisco Capelo Collection, assembled in the past twenty years and now part of the permanent collection of the Museu da Marioneta in Lisbon.
New Books - January
The Real Planet of the Apes by David R. BegunWas Darwin wrong when he traced our origins to Africa? The Real Planet of the Apes makes the explosive claim that it was in Europe, not Africa, where apes evolved the most important hallmarks of our human lineage--such as dexterous hands and larger brains. In this compelling and accessible book, David Begun, one of the world's leading paleoanthropologists, transports readers to an epoch in the remote past when the Earth was home to many migratory populations of ape species. Drawing on the latest astonishing discoveries in the fossil record as well as his own experiences conducting field expeditions across Europe and Asia, Begun provides a sweeping evolutionary history of great apes and humans. He tells the story of how one of the earliest members of our evolutionary group--a new kind of primate called Proconsul--evolved from lemur-like monkeys in the primeval forests of Africa. Begun vividly describes how, over the next 10 million years, these hominoids expanded into Europe and Asia and evolved climbing and hanging adaptations, longer maturation times, and larger brains, setting the stage for the emergence of humans. As the climate deteriorated in Europe around 10 million years ago, these apes either died out or migrated south, reinvading the African continent and giving rise to the lineages of the gorilla, chimpanzee, and, ultimately, the human. Presenting startling new insights about our fossil ape ancestors, The Real Planet of the Apes is a book that fundamentally alters our understanding of human origins.
Male Circumcision in Japan by Genaro Castro-VázquezMale Circumcision in Japan offers an analysis of the surgical procedure based on extensive ethnographic investigation, and is framed within historical and current global debates to highlight the significance of the Japanese case.
Replacement Parts by Arthur L. Caplan (Editor); James J. McCartney (Editor); Daniel P. Reid (Editor)In Replacement Parts, internationally recognized bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan and coeditors James J. McCartney and Daniel P. Reid assemble seminal writings from medicine, philosophy, economics, and religion that address the ethical challenges raised by organ transplantation. Caplan's new lead essay explains the shortfalls of present policies. From there, book sections take an interdisciplinary approach to fundamental issues like the determination of death and the dead donor rule; the divisive case of using anencephalic infants as organ donors; the sale of cadaveric or live organs; possible strategies for increasing the number of available organs, including market solutions and the idea of presumed consent; and questions surrounding transplant tourism and "gaming the system" by using the media to gain access to organs. Timely and balanced, Replacement Parts is a first-of-its-kind collection aimed at surgeons, physicians, nurses, and other professionals involved in this essential lifesaving activity that is often fraught with ethical controversy.
Street Life under a Roof by Emily MargarettenPoint Place stands near the city center of Durban, South Africa. Condemned and off the grid, the five-story apartment building is nonetheless home to a hundred-plus teenagers and young adults marginalized by poverty and chronic unemployment. In Street Life under a Roof , Emily Margaretten draws on ten years of up-close fieldwork to explore the distinct cultural universe of the Point Place community. Margaretten's sensitive investigations reveal how young men and women draw on customary notions of respect and support to forge an ethos of connection and care that allows them to live far richer lives than ordinarily assumed. Her discussion of gender dynamics highlights terms like nakana --to care about or take notice of another--that young women and men use to construct "outside" and "inside" boyfriends and girlfriends and to communicate notions of trust. Margaretten exposes the structures of inequality at a local, regional, and global level that contribute to socioeconomic and political dislocation. But she also challenges the idea that Point Place's marginalized residents need "rehabilitation." As she argues, these young men and women want love, secure homes, and the means to provide for their dependents--in short, the same hopes and aspirations mirrored across South African society.
Maize for the Gods by Michael BlakeMaize is the world’s most productive food and industrial crop, grown in more than 160 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. If by some catastrophe maize were to disappear from our food supply chain, vast numbers of people would starve and global economies would rapidly collapse. How did we come to be so dependent on this one plant? Maize for the Gods brings together new research by archaeologists, archaeobotanists, plant geneticists, and a host of other specialists to explore the complex ways that this single plant and the peoples who domesticated it came to be inextricably entangled with one another over the past nine millennia. Tracing maize from its first appearance and domestication in ancient campsites and settlements in Mexico to its intercontinental journey through most of North and South America, this history also tells the story of the artistic creativity, technological prowess, and social, political, and economic resilience of America’s first peoples.
Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet by Minh-Ha T. PhamIn the first ever book devoted to a critical investigation of the personal style blogosphere, Minh-Ha T. Pham examines the phenomenal rise of elite Asian bloggers who have made a career of posting photographs of themselves wearing clothes on the Internet. Pham understands their online activities as "taste work" practices that generate myriad forms of capital for superbloggers and the brands they feature. A multifaceted and detailed analysis, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet addresses questions concerning the status and meaning of "Asian taste" in the early twenty-first century, the kinds of cultural and economic work Asian tastes do, and the fashion public and industry's appetite for certain kinds of racialized eliteness. Situating blogging within the historical context of gendered and racialized fashion work while being attentive to the broader cultural, technological, and economic shifts in global consumer capitalism, Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet has profound implications for understanding the changing and enduring dynamics of race, gender, and class in shaping some of the most popular work practices and spaces of the digital fashion media economy.
The Secret of Our Success by Joseph HenrichHumans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains--on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations. Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species' genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory. Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species' immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.
Re-Orienting Cuisine by Kwang-Ok KimFoods are changed not only by those who produce and supply them, but also by those who consume them. Analyzing food without considering changes over time and across space is less meaningful than analyzing it in a global context where tastes, lifestyles, and imaginations cross boundaries and blend with each other, challenging the idea of authenticity. A dish that originated in Beijing and is recreated in New York is not necessarily the same, because although authenticity is often claimed, the form, ingredients, or taste may have changed. The contributors of this volume have expanded the discussion of food to include its social and cultural meanings and functions, thereby using it as a way to explain a culture and its changes.