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Lectures

What Does Toilet Paper Teach Us about Our Defecation Habits?

This article is part of the following series:

Illustration by Bicram Rijal

An Australian photographer embarks on a jungle expedition in search of a “critically endangered species.” With a Canon camera on his shoulder and a pair of khaki shorts, he walks through a forest, occasionally stepping in puddles and crossing creeks. “It is harder to find than I thought,” he says, looking straight into the camera. “There …

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Lectures

Fragments of a Transient Affliction: “Mass Hysteria” and the Question of Subjectivity

A study of “mass hysteria” is a study of fragments of a phenomenon in its absence. Absent because of its transient nature; the affliction appears suddenly, without warning, spreading and transferring from one person to another, and then suddenly it dissipates and is gone. People cautiously return to their lives, unsure when another outbreak might occur. How to study a …

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Books Features

Book Forum––Robert Desjarlais’ Subject to Death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist World

This article is part of the following series:

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Robert Desjarlais’s Subject to Death is like stepping onto a train already in motion. Its momentum isn’t fierce but there’s no time to ease in––from its first pages, as readers we find ourselves in the midst of death and life and loss as they take and are given form. At the risk of overusing the term, there is great care
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Books Features

Living with Dying

I saw my grandfather in Madurai, India, for the last time in January 2014. He was already gone somehow; I could tell when I got there. Where was the “him” in him, I found myself asking. We’d written a book together about his life, published it in two languages. But his smiles now were distant and vacant, and what he …

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Books Features

You are here.

Take up the ethnography as you might a conversation. Read a sentence. Read it again. Finish the paragraph, or the chapter, then go back to a phrase that snagged your attention. It will have changed. Take up that transformation. Know that you are reading with a community of others.

Consider the way the chapters are pulsed with gentle, recipe-like directives. …

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Books Features

Insider’s Note

Probably the most simplistic statement on death, needing no elaboration, would be that “each and every being has to die” sooner or later. For a common Hyolmo individual, these words extend themselves from being a mere statement to something carrying a deeper message. This message serves as a reason for, or rather a reminder of, the importance of becoming a

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