both are worse – so both should be destroyed.

Follow the old mole.

Immediately after the collapse of the Documents project, after being expelled by Breton from surrealism, and in the wake of 1929 fiscal crisis, and after meeting Souveraine, Bataille has joined Contre Attack and writes his first major essays for Critique Sociale.

In a first application of a kind of Psychoanalysis to the State, Bataille discusses Homogeneity and Heterogeneity, order and formlessness

A discussion of the state – in terms of authority and adaptation – reduction of difference through compromise OR a strict authority.

Force for cohesion, compromises and adaptation/assimilation

Over against

counter forces that must be controlled, subject to violence (until the latter grouping is marshalled or congeals in an affiliation where anti-homogenous forces adopt the Lumpen – they cannot represent themselves until along comes Bonepart to represent them)

The heterogeneous is impossible to assimilate. The homogenous is useful – all that belongs – democracy, the heterogeneous is useless – sacred, waste, what cannot be assimilated

Regulated exchange versus psycho-social and political excess

[though his essay displays the influence of a somewhat exoticist abstract digestion of French anthropology and its seamles unseemly seizure upon a political project of an almost theoretically openended Marxism, or at least something reducible, later, to the anarchist project against the State/taking a distanced disregard of the block that is the state]

Mana – sacred power (Mauss)

Unproductive expenditure (Marx)

Trash, vermin, violence – affect, repulsion madmen, leaders, poets, mobs – the Lumpen – incommensurate

Fascist leaders are part of heterogeneous existence for various reasons – they will not compromise, they come from the place of the Lumpen (in the sense that they had been previously banished)

But with a force analogous to hypnosis, a charisma, they initiate an affective, seductive effervescence that – through a sort of transcendence of the befouled, senile, rank world, through a sadistic, militaristic, transcendent exclusion (of what could not be assimilated – what Bataille likes, the formless) restores formlessness into a unity of diverse elements that makes much of inversion, of the identity of opposites between glory and dejection, by always being the opposed and marginalised they claim the centre and the place of the sacer – their nature as ‘other’ permits them to represent all

Power here of mana, of the king, the sovereign – yes Agamben plagiarises from this, steals the crown – a divine supremacy (the fuehrer, a prophet – able to remain pure in the midst of an orgy of violence)

So some principles must be considered – Bonapartism is like fascism – paramilitary groups, surface similarities – the soldier then each equates his leader’s glory with his own – in uniformity, and in uniform, standing erect – the formless, lower orders are taught to march in neat lines and feel their power as his power

Infamy and slaughter are transmuted into honour and duty as the glory of a divine nature from the bottom up but religious and militarist, the chief leads the impoverished proletariat – what Mussolini calls a multitude (comment a propos Negri and Hardt??)

When these classes become aware of themselves as a revolutionary proletariat, when this proletariat becomes a point of identification for every banished element, then subversive forms are latched onto by those fallen and banished elements – who can only find these lumpen allies. Of course it’s the socialists that Bataille would like to have succeed here – too many fucking Trotskyites, he is reputed to have said – but he also recognises that it’s the fascists that can triumph too. Thankfully only the ‘very nearly indifferent attitude of the proletariat that has permitted some countries to avoid fascist formations’ – not the proposed strategic anti-fascist alliance of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – such would both improve fascisms chances of taking hold just as it weakens/dilutes the proletarian struggle

Bataille does not want to save bourgeois society from fascism, but rather to see both destroyed. As if quoting Lenin.

Taussig on Kobane-Ocalan-feminism-anarchism-ISIS-Turkey-non-hierarchy-Mauss

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 12.09.10a incandescent reflective comment by Michael Taussig on his visit to Kobane, with images:

“Walking through the dust of the wind-blown ruins, I was greeted enthusiastically like the Pied Piper by well-dressed, well-fed, happy kids attached to a women in her forties in a long yellow gown who spoke effusively about resistance to the siege without once pausing for breath. It seemed like she really wanted to — had to – talk, and the kids hung on every word as well as teased us a little. One ten year old had a toy camera with which, held upside down and back to front, he would photograph us photographing Kobane.”

and on Ocalan

“The legend is all here: solitary confinement on a prison island for seventeen years since his 1998 capture in Kenya by the CIA and Turkey (with rumored Mossad support); an imprisonment that seems to have greatly boosted his charisma and power and, be it noted, given him the time to write and read widely; his quasi-religious conversion in prison from the Stalinist model of the hierarchical party to the anarchist idea of horizontal structures of democratic governance; the underlying, all-encompassing effulgence of feminism as not simply gender equality but as a cultural revolution in the meaning of maleness; plus a pronounced emphasis on care for the environment with all the heebie-jeebies of nationalism and ethnicity cast to the winds along with the hocus-pocus of the nation-state.”

You have to read the whole thing to get the context.

Also reports on the Suruc Cultural Centre bombing.

Thanks Ulker for the link

snippet of presentation advice for #dissertation

queneauon dissertation formats:

This is a stylistic question that I think depends on the overall shape/effect of the piece and what you want to achieve. It raises interesting issues in terms of overall impression you give a reader. The language, the layout, the kinds of typology, fonts, subheadings, the tone or way you may or may not echo different kinds of writing – range can be vast, from essay, chapter, article, breezy reflexive summary or policy report, government regulation documentation, legal opinion, scientific prospectus, conventions of the dissertation (several formulaic kinds including lit review chapter or not etc) and all through the varieties of literary expression or models – diary, letters, mix of all of these. It is even important in publishing – not for you just yet obviously, but maybe of interest soon – to consider the type of binding, cover endorsements, size of name/title on spine etc – all these things are factors when someone picks up a book in a shop. Then there is the whole other question of how it looks online, on kindle etc. queneau
But on this, the decision is totally yours – which option looks best to you. Usually go with gut instinct on this. I have no personal preference. Sometimes I write to numbers, sometimes as stream of consciousness… as above. Thing is to leave time to indulge such considerations, and kill all typos.

another social site, another way to download, circumventing actual time in a library (and downloading circumvents reading in the way the photocopying used to do – another triumph for the simulacra of productivity).

you need an account for this, but excluding economy of contribution eyeball tax, they are ‘free’:Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 22.01.45

Museum of Innocence on smoking

For curio’s sake – and for its [mild] critique of anthropology – there is this short chapter from Orhan Pamuk’s ‘Museum of Innocence’. You only need to know that the ‘author’ of the text has been deliriously in love with Fusan for years. What is impressive however is the way empirical evidence gets into the novel, a documentation of this obsession. It is even possible to visit the museum and see the butts lovingly displayed.

IMG_1488 IMG_1489 IMG_1490

The Slow Boat to China

john hutnyk:

Following this -giant- boat by ethnography.

Originally posted on The Disorder Of Things:

The following post is the first in a series of oceanic dispatches from Disorder member Charmaine Chua. She is currently on a 36-day journey on board a 100,000 ton Evergreen container ship starting in Los Angeles, going across the Pacific Ocean and ending in Taipei. Follow her ethnographic adventures with the tag ‘Slow Boat to China’.

“In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates.”

– Foucault, Of Other Spaces

cc_EPL2_IMG_0666 Source: Author

There is uncanny beauty in the monstrous. This, at least, is the feeling that seizes me as I stand under the colossal Ever Cthulu[1] berthed in the Port of Los Angeles. The ship’s hull alone rises eight stories into the air; even from a distance, I am unable to capture its full length or height within a single camera frame. In describing the…

View original 2,354 more words

Pre fieldwork

Was asked for advice on preparation for field research today…

It is always a good question. I think most anthropologists, in preparation for fieldwork, write a fairly critical ethical reflection on what they are about to do, but invariably the actual doing of it throws up things they could not really have anticipated. That in itself is interesting, and good. A kind of dialectic based on preparing for the unexpected. Perhaps this can be called the great philosophical angst and reflection form of the existential conundrum – boiled down to: how can you get yourself ready to be surprised?

Methods courses have always somehow been about this. The anthropologist or sociologist is someone who trains to seek out what they do not know. Most especially, or maybe ideally, to find something that they probably don’t even know they are looking for. How can this even be taught? Maybe it is a philosophical attitude, maybe it requires a certain kind of person, maybe it is always self-deception? We do tend to seek out what fits our understanding, what confirms our view of the world. Yet we also try to recognise that the only reason for doing anything is really to find out if it’s possible to see the world differently that we do now.

My advice is always to stay prepared for what you cannot be prepared for, even if it means disregarding advice… An old book, Kurt Wolff ‘Surrender and Catch’ might be worth a look in this regard.

and yet

On the other hand, my position has usually been that anthropologists and sociologists should not be inflicted upon the world. Keep them home – a moratorium on fieldwork for 20 years…

Iceland bible note

seeking out various links, not really knowing where they will lead. Reading the newspaper Friend of India from 1819, published in Serampore, this report on the distribution of bibles in Iceland caught my eye. Serampore Mission publishing house was the first translator of the bible into Bengali. This however treats of Iceland and poetry, though the flourish of words in the prose preamble is itself worth of study.
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 06.56.21
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 06.57.13
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 06.57.38
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 06.58.44
Later, the same newspaper reports a story from a meeting of an anti-slavery group [Wilberforce in attendance] with mention of an ‘industrious girl’ spinning cotton. Recall that the export of spun cotton to India destroyed local weavers’ livelihoods… and left their bones bleaching on the plains (Marx in the NYDT 1853 quoting Gov-General William Bentinck).
Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 07.01.38
All this is from Friend of India Annual, Vol 2 1819 Serampore: Mission Press
Moral of the story: do not give money to these god-botherin’ people.

Anthropology and the War Machine, winning.

It seems very wrong to classify this ‘’ post under ‘social care’:

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.

You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.

You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.

It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.

You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.

You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.

An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.

Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.

To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.

Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).

Closing date: 18 July 2014.

Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices (Berlin)

A 900 euro summer course in Berlin on theatre and Performance ritual with formed CCS prof Klaus Peter Koepping. Might be of interest to people.

Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices

wie versprochen: hier der Link zu Ihrem Kurs: More here. [this is the winter schedule, but the course is to be repeated in summer]

Deadline for application is June 16 2013

Write to: klaus.peter.koepping[at]

Course schedule
Unit 1 Introduction: Overview of course content, grading, attendance, paper presentation, museum visit and final exam.

Frames: Theatre, Ritual and Everyday Action

Key Question: How do rituals frame our lives?

1. What is an “altar”, what a “stage”? The framing of space and time, the personnel, actor-audience relationships; performance in every-day interaction and as aesthetic events (feast, play, theatre, ritual), with excerpts from Pina Bausch’s “Kontakthof”, older and young amateurs rehearsing “the meeting of gender”.
2. a) Can rituals exist without society/or society without rituals? (excerpts from the film “Dogtooth” by Rachel Tsarangi; see also 4.3). 2.b) Can rituals be abolished by decree? (Point of reference will be the recent German court ruling against infant circumcision).
3. Do new Global Festive Events (Socker Cup, Love Parades and Carneval of Cultures) lead to new regional, national or global identities and community feelings? Example: When Tourist Routes replace Pilgrimages (excerpts from documentary by Dennis O’Rourke, “Cannibal Tours”; see also 6.3).

Unit 2 Social Components: The Creation of Collective Identity

Key Question: Which functions can ritual play for communal life and how are cultural “rules “ (or conventions) imprinted” in bodies?

1.The social functions of ritual as process and performance. Showing of an ethnological documentary (“Waiting for Harry” from Aboriginal Australia), incorporating everyday life into a ritual frame.
2.The three stages of the “ritual process”, including the notion of “liminality” as necessary component. The discussion will turn to the power of ritual to renew communal life and foster solidarity (excerpts from Japanese Butoh Performances expressing the state of humans as intertwining the natural and the cultural).
3. Comparison of initiations into groups of gender or social class (new educational methods of using rituals for crime prevention among youth or to strengthen gender-identities; film clips from “Wilderness School” in the US and the TV docu-play “The strictest parents of the world”. The notion of painful bodily inscriptions of “rules” (excerpts from performances by Orlan and Yoko Ono).

Unit 3 Rituals of History, Memory and Trauma

Key Question: How do we negotiate collective (and personal) identity in performing the past?

1. The creation of historical memory through new ritual forms (Foundation Days, Independence Day Parades, Memory Parks or Architecture). Photo section on various ritual venues: Christian Church Architecture and Shinto Shrines.
2. Bodily inscribing collective identity as well as memories and traumata (excerpts of a performance by Marina Abramovic).

3.Visit to Berlin Holocaust Memorial with observation of ritual space and visitors (see Unit 5 date for hand-in of paper on this as midterm-exam).

Unit 4 Rituals of Sacrifice and their Performative Re-creation

Key Question: What means authenticity in ritual and theatre?

1. The exemplary character of sacrificial rites as gift-exchange between humanity and the non-human realm.
2.The three sacrificial orders in ancient Greek mythic narrative, in ritual events and staged tragedies: the citizen’s rituals, the Dionysian rituals and the Pythagorean forms (excerpts from Schechner’s “Dionysos 69”). Sacrifice as compulsory excess and wasteful consumption like a “potlatch”.
3. Excerpts from “Sacre du Printemps” (“Rites of Spring” by Stravinsky) in the original Russian version and the version of Pina Bausch (see also 1.2 and 2.1).

Unit 5 As Midterm Exam: Hand-in of a short paper on the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Rituals and Public Displays of Power

Key Question: How does power use multi –sensorial means to achieve an a-(e-)ffective impact on the public?

1. Power and aesthetics at the court of Louis XIV; comparison to Balinese court-theatre (film excerpts on the ritual of the French court). The affective side of performative acts with emphasis on the sensual experience of music .
2.Discussion on the conjunction of ritual and theatre: the power of performance in modern political rituals (the creation of global icons such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Che Guevara, among others).
3. Question: Can rituals ever fail? (Excerpts from a film on the public suicide by the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima).

Unit 6 Rituals of Subversion of Power: Ritual and Theatrical Figures of the Comic and the Marginal

Key Question: Can ritual or theatrical performances bring about concrete social change?
1. Discussion on braking taboos in “sacred” ritual and in modern theatrical productions (excerpts from musicals like “Hair” or “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
2. The subversion of normal reality and of status positions of power through ritual clowns(“tricksters”)/fools/jesters and other figures of “comedy”. Examples from North American Myths, African rituals, Classical Greek comedies, Italian cinema and Japanese folk rituals as forms of “ritual rebellion”.
3. The performance by Coco Fusco (“Couple in the Cage”) as paradigm for performing encounters with “Otherness”(see also 1.3).

Unit 7 Full-day excursion to Berlin “sites of ritual”
Unit 8 Final Exam

Advices for response.

I am honoured you’ve asked me to comment, but really, it is up to you to work out your own style for public engagement – polemic, polote, polite but sly, ruthless criticism of everything that exists, and any other number of performative routines.

Whatever the case, late night advice may need a spoonful of salt if you really want it to be taken seriously…

Anyway, I reckon that maybe there are several different ways to tackle this.
Probably good is to say something like:
What I found most interesting about x’s presentation is the way they have reworked concepts of xx to show that x = b.
this gives you a chance to reorder what they have done so as to talk about what you want to talk about, but while still seeming to summarize their key points.
Then say something like:
Of course some people might disagree for the following reasons – a, b and c…list them, in detail…  which basically allows you to smash their case, without seeming to have taken sides (good skill to develop I suppose, but sometimes a bit mealy-mouthed when outright hostility is more honest – ah well). Actually, no, that is mean. What you should endeavor to do is to pick apart the argument and material, then stick it back together and return it to the speaker as a reinvigorated project. Saying something like, the implications here are x, y an z – and this was alwyas implicit in x’s presentation.
Then you should leave the audience in no doubt how the something not discussed, or implications not drawn, or assumptions made are, in fact, they key issue at stake – ie, what you are interested in, not what was ostensibly the topic, and it is this which should be the focus of the subsequent discussion.
Then you should come back to the speaker and compliment them for raising such pressing issues, and hope that the discussion of these, as you have set them out, is fruitful.
Or you could just talk generally on what you found interesting. That can meander, but so long as you have a planned start and a distinct end – rather than wittering on more speckled hen warbling than decisive conclusion – and make sure you end. Don’t end with an empty phrase. Just say, …and I think I’ll stop there.
If there are no questions, you then pull out your most popular assertion and ask that as first question,
Sometimes people are too smashed to talk much and it will feel like a damp squib. But when it works, and people feel able to raise questions and join in, well then, viva criticism self-criticism.
good luck

Alpa Shah talk at LSE 17.5.2012

The Malinowski Memorial Lecture this year is by Goldsmiths own Alpa Shah.

Title: ‘The Muck of the Past’: Revolution, Social Transformation and the Maoists in India

Date: Thursday 17 May 2012, 6.00-7.00pm

Venue: Old Theatre, LSE

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Dr Alpa Shah teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of ‘In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India’ and co-editor of ‘Windows into a Revolution: Ethnographies of Maoism in India and Nepal.’

For more information please see:

Avatar Trinkets

For those of you who like your anthropologists in cryo, in an incubator (online ethnography anyone), or fighting off the mining industry – as already oft-mentioned on this blog (more links below), this little cherub should set you off with oohs and ahhs. As soon as you look closely at the picture though, it will be ahhhg and owwww. Very strange (thanks Rachel).

The description, by Sean O’neal, is stunningly good: not only is Avatar sex fucked up – ‘having magical ponytail-sex’ – but now the baby is too, as he points out its head-turning facility that will accompany you through those forlorn sleepless incubator nights.

I’d add that I guess the avatar technology could be adopted here too as it solves the problem of birth defects – just keep the kid in an incubator for life, and play with the avatar. In a rainforest enhanced with fairy lights, since no rainforest was rainforest enough.. etc etc..

There is still much to be said on that movie, but I dunno if saying nothing isn’t better.

No mention of Krisna’s baby blue either.
We should pay tribute to the film’s consultant anthropologist Nancy Lutkehaus for her expertise. Deserved and oscar, even as a ‘curator’. This from her own pen:

Cameron is like a collector of fine art who sees himself as a connoisseur, and my function was less that of a dealer who brings rare objects to the collector, but rather that of a curator whose expertise provides the imprimatur of authenticity.

The lush primal world of Pandora and the exotic culture of the Na’vi revealed in the film include many of the basic elements of what used to be called “primitive” societies — animism, a coming-of-age ceremony and test of manhood, a religion based on a supreme (maternal) tree spirit. It is truly a 21st-century elegy to a lost world — as well as Cameron’s warning to our own.

Nancy Lutkehaus is professor of anthropology, gender studies and political science, and chair-elect for the Department of Anthropology at USC College.

Bougainville material:

Michael Taussig 27.1.2012

Excelente Zona Social

Anthropologist Michael Taussig talks about the relationship between writing, culture and time.


“I began began doing fieldwork in 1969. I have returned every year” says Mick Taussig. His writing has spanned a wide range of issues ranging from the commercialization of peasant agriculture to a study of exciting substance loaded with seduction and evil, gold and cocaine, in a montage-ethnography of the Pacific Coast of Colombia. His most recent book ‘I Swear I Saw This’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011) records reflections on the fieldwork notebooks he kept through forty years of travels in Colombia. Taussig considers the fieldwork notebook as a type of modernist literature and the place where writers and other creators first work out the imaginative logic of discovery.

Event Information

Location: LG02, New Academic Building
Cost: Free – all are welcome, no booking required
Website: Part of the Real Time Research project
Department: Sociology
Time: 27 January 2012, 18:00 – 19:30

White Charity

Critique of photogenic poverty catching on – check out this film from Germany:

White Charity

Blackness & whiteness on charity ad posters

Billboards of charitable organisations such as ‘Brot für die Welt’, ‘Welthungerhilfe’, ‘Kindernothilfe’ or ‘Care’ are omnipresent in streets, on squares, in train and metro stations in Germany.

They have a large impact on how Black and whiteidentities in Germany are constructed. The documentary analyses the charity aid posters from a postcolonial perspective.

‘white charity’ presents different perspectives: based on the charity ad posters, representatives of charities and scientists discuss about development cooperation, colonial fantasies, racism and power structures.

‘white charity’ is an exemplary analysis of racism in images which has relevance far beyond the horizon of development. It supports a sharper analysis of images in commercials, print and TV.

A film by Carolin Philipp and Timo Kiesel


PD Dr. Aram Ziai, political scientist, Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung, Bonn
Danuta Sacher, former head of the department of politics and campaigns, Brot für die Welt
Dr. Grada Kilomba, psychoanalysist and author, Humboldt Universität, Berlin
Prof. em. Dr. Klaus-Peter Köpping, anthropologist, Universität Heidelberg
Peggy Piesche, literary scholar and cultural scientist, Hamilton College New York
Philipp Khabo Köpsell, poet and spoken word artist, Berlin
Sascha Decker, press spokesman, Kindernothilfe

Technical details:

duration: 48 minutes

picture: 16:9


Anthropologies of Tourism

Issue 2

Anthropologies of Tourism
April 2011
Tourists at Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 2008 – Photo by Ryan Anderson

Methods and Ethnography

OK, asked for references twice in two days on the same thing, so started thinking what I might reread if I was going to think about methods and ethnography now:

Mitchell Duneier, “Sidewalk” – a thoughtful study of magazine vendors in New York. A bit too worthy and street, but some good stuff on doubt.

James Agee and Walker Evans; “Let us now praise famous men” – if you have not read it, get this first. Simply great. (Try to get the Violette edition, hard back, not the penguin classics ed – though that has an essay by Goldsmiths own Blake Morrison).

Michel Serres; “The Troubadour of Knowledge” – Serres is unique, thinks through parables, does not refernce, says he does not repeat. Makes stuff up, each line a gem. Dunno what its like in French!

Claude Levi-Strauss; “Tristes Tropiques” – speaking of the French – died at 101 last year. This is the classic. Then read part 2 of Derrida’s “Of Grammatology”.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; “Death of A Discipline” – between the lines of a lament for the cold war area experts who have become extinct, a plea for deep language learning that is more than just grammar.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; ‘Righting Wrongs’ from “Other Asias”.

Avital Ronell; “The Test Drive” – Ronell is perhaps the only living American currently possessed by genius, besides Gore Vidal, and she wears great hats.

Michel Foucault; “The Archeology of Knowledge” and “The Order of Things” – never to be forgotten.

Mao Zedong; ‘Report from Hunan’ in “Selected Writings Volume One”. Mao does fieldwork!

Michael Taussig; “My Cocaine Museum” – a latter day arcades for the war torn, drug crazed, exploited and exploiting realm that is now.

Klaus Peter Koepping; “Shattering Frames” – his collected essays on anthropology, a great teacher.

Rao/Hutnyk eds; “Celebrating Transgression” – essays in honour of Klaus Peter Koepping, with my mad musings on William Burroughs included.

Wolff, Kurt; “Surrender and Catch” – not well enough known but worth a look – was Prof at Brandies from 1959 – 1992.

More to come.

Avatar and Bougainville??

Avatar and Bougainville: A Parallel History? « Tubuans.

requiem for ethnography

In the past I have called for a moratorium, but today wanted to list the things I thought were still useful, interesting or important in anthropology and ethnography now, even if contradictory:

– a refusal to simply sit alone and panic at the complexity of the world – often trinketising, but can be more (contextualisation, attention to commodification, critique)

– an anti-racist sentiment that has morphed at last into a recognition that rhetoric and reflexive angst is not enough (and the question of what would it would mean to win is on the agenda)

– a more or less well-intentioned tendency towards political and social intervention, or at least an ethic of this (often wrong, but in any case at least not dead)

– recognition of the co-constitution of self and other, near and far, metropole and colonial, empire and transition. Multi-site ethnography (transnational flows, North South, South South, Centre-Borders, In betweens.)

– project of going to have a look for yourself, to get involved as a means of understanding, constituent power of the knowledge industry may have its problems but not resigned to withdrawal and mere speculation (spectacle)

– critique of institutionalised context of knowledge production, of disciplinary formations, of the commercialization of knowledge, of the teaching factory

– ideology critique, suspicion of appearances, recognition that appearances are also all we have to go on. Representation issues not just in the claim for visibility mode, but a politics of making visible, mainstraeaming, as step one of something that goes further, demands more.

– collaborative work – ahh, collaboration has its tainted history, but nevertheless, some degree of co-production

– attention to all possible aspects of human life, and a growing awareness that this quite possibly facilitates real subsumption

– widest possible interest, Open principle, even when habits of thought and contextual (political, historical, personal) constraints block this.

Of course there are limits and more failings than successes. The scandals of anthropology are legion. But the project for trying to think through our circumstances and find ways to name what is going on around us is still a worthwhile pursuit – a reason to be alive and productive, even in the most desperate of conditions (global chaos – it can be explained, and is – as Mao said, an opportunity – ‘Everything under heaven is chaos: the situation is excellent’).

Of course there is also no reason to take yourself too seriously all the time. Theory is hard, but not without fun. Gawd, save us from the dire and dull philosophers