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Word Shell

I have never lost my childhood habit of beachcombing for special rocks and shells, and I think of ethnography as involving a similar process of collecting bits of evidence. Mostly what I collect are words (interviews, quotations, or notes) that I then use to make various kinds of word compositions (descriptions, analyses, arguments, and articles). But words do also have …

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Things Which Have Once Been Conjoined: Science Fiction, Contagion, and Magic in the Age of Social Media

This article is part of the following series:

There are many interesting formations that might be called networked phenomena. Homophily and the tendency towards triad closure. Scott Feld’s Rule (I’m more likely to make friends with someone who has more friends than me). Small world phenomena (those 6 degrees of separation). “The Strength of Weak Ties” (reportedly the most cited sociology paper in history). In all, a series …

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“Notes on a Balinese Cockfight” and Donald Trump

This article is part of the following series:

Shortly after the election, I taught “Notes on a Balinese Cockfight” to my Anthropological Theory class, as I always do, at that point in the semester. By then we had covered “old ideas” – anthropologists who saw societies as bodies that successfully regulated themselves into homeostasis, cultures as cauldrons that take all that is natural and transform it into all …

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A Reply

THANK YOU to Richard Baxstrom, Nancy Rose Hunt, Tanya Luhrmann, and Pamela Reynolds, for taking the trouble to read and to comment on The Anti-Witch. I felt great pleasure in the idea that Matthew Carey had managed to recreate for you not only my work, but also life in the Bocage, with its tragedies, its flavor, and sometimes its …

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Eating a burning ice cream in Zimbabwe

IT IS A BONUS to have another book, The Anti-Witch, from Jeanne Favret-Saada on witchcraft in the Bocage. She brings, once more, her courage, insight and dramatic descriptive abilities to the ethnographic task. In this confined space I can only pick up two lines in her writing:  her description of the methods she used in coming to understand witchcraft …

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On Opacity, through Sallies

The tone is charming. So are the tarot cards. A chapter with historical comparisons illuminates, as do the many perceptive gender and household readings. Mischievous is the endeavor as a whole. After all, it seeks to remake anthropologies of witchcraft and popular religion almost as much as ethnographies of mental health and therapeutic process. Favret-Saada goes far toward defining a …

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