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This website is no longer being updated. It will remain live as an archive for Somatosphere content dating from July 2008 to May 2023. The new Somatosphere website can be found at https://somatosphere.net.…

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Book forum: Todd Meyers’s All That Was Not Her

This article is part of the following series:

This book forum brings together seven scholars and artists to discuss Todd Meyers’s All That Was Not Her (Duke 2022). A profoundly introspective and original book, All That Was Not Her traces a relationship between an anthropologist and his interlocutor that equally verges on friendship and antagonism. Eschewing well-trodden anthropological approaches which focus on identity or suffering, Meyers delves into …

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What Others See: A Reply

I don’t know if I’ve ever written anything I felt less sure about.  I know there’s nothing new about drawing attention to the uncertainty that accompanies the act of committing thoughts and encounters to the page in the form of ethnography.  I’m sure vanity plays no small part in this.  But for me, the question of reception feels unavoidable in …

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The Return of Contact

There isn’t an easy way to synthesize this book. Sure, one can say that it’s a literary ethnography about relations—their volatile and fraught nature. One can also say that this is a book about the return—about why previous worlds return to us, or why “we” return to sift through their broken shards. Or about how seemingly impersonal forces impel us …

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There Is Nothing Heroic About This Text

I read All That Was Not Her through the night on a non-stop flight from Chicago to Abu Dhabi, riveted under the beam of my single light in the darkened airplane cabin. I was on my way back to Kathmandu for the first time in three years, absorbed in a book about anthropological imperfection.

It is refreshing to read a …

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Books

Notes on All That Was Not Her

“The point is that here the issue of death is not one among many occasions to turn to anthropology but, with few exceptions, the only one.”[1] 

Todd and Beverly, co-subjects, somersault through text, careening toward undoing. To an extent, All That Was Not Her is a slow motion, smoldering reiteration of the (anti) human condition across abstracted chapters and …

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