Tangent Thoughts

A page for all of the cross-references and recommendations that come up in class


1/11/13, Medical Anthropology additional class notes:

Micah recounted the story of Franz Boas and Quesalid, the shaman. You can find the story in The Sorcerer and His Magic (Lévi-Strauss, Claude, Le Sorcier et sa magie, 1949, in “Anthropologie structurale”, Paris, 1958. Chap. IX: Le Sorcier et sa Magie.).

Also mentioned:
– Conversations with Ogotemmeli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas by Marcel Griaule.
– “Misunderstanding” from Ethnographic Sorcery by Harry West (the concept that lions are sorcerers)
– “The Way Things are Said” from Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage by Jeanne Favret-Saada (the idea that there is no way to talk about witchcraft without becoming part of the system)


One thought on “Tangent Thoughts

  1. 9/19 References from theory class

    1. For pointing out that ethnographic accounts have many literary predecessors, including adventure novels:

    Pratt, M. L. (1986). Fieldwork in Common Places. Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. J. Clifford and G. Marcus. Berkeley, University of California Press: 27-50.

    2. For being one of the few anthropologists to actually talk about how messy, lonely and difficult fieldwork is:

    Rabinow, P. (1972). Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco. Berkeley, University of California Press.

    3. For developing a really interesting framework for thinking of nations as collective constructions. This is a really influential book- on the aforementioned Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

    Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, Verso.

    4. For pointing out ways that our metaphors influence the way we think- a really smart book that has led to lots of further study.

    Lakoff, G. and M. Johnson (1980). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

    5. A structuralist and feminist analysis of gender- very appropriate to read before we look at Levi-Strauss, which was the direct influence on this famous essay.

    Ortner, S. B. (1974). Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture? Woman, Culture and Society. M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere. Stanford, Stanford University Press.

    10/4 References from theory class

    1. One of the most important figures in the school of Russian formalism, Vladimir Propp was a big influence on Levi-Strauss, Mikhail Bakhtin, and the next guy on this list, Roland Barthes.

    Propp, V. (2009). Morphology of the Folktale. Austin, University of Texas Press.

    2. I mentioned this essay in reference to the commedia dell’arte, another system (like professional wrestling in the US) in which the characters are reassuringly constant in personality. But Roland Barthes is very relevant to Levi-Strauss and his work, and like Levi-Strauss is an extremely creative thinker. A major figure in the study of signs (semiotics), Barthes’ essays in Mythologies are both structuralist and Marxist, revealing the way that the values of French bourgeois society inhere in a broad array of social phenomena.

    Barthes, R. (1972). The World of Wrestling. Mythologies. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 15-25.

    3. On the difference between living through the (eternal) repetition of archetype, or living in the existential period of historical time, when one’s actions are merely one’s own.

    Eliade, M. (1971). The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

    4. The birth of the modern novel- Flaubert famously said, “An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.” We will soon see that this is a very Foucauldian idea.

    Flaubert, G. (1982). Madame Bovary. New York, Bantam Classics.

    5. A story about a man who remembers everything- and is therefore incapable of abstraction or higher levels of thought. (Labyrinths is my favorite short story collection anywhere- every essay is spectacularly thought-provoking).

    Borges, J. L. (1962). Funes the Memorious. Labyrinths: selected stories & other writings. New York, New Directions: 59-66.

    6. Levi-Strauss’ very famous memoir, beautifully written and deeply philosophical. A good book to bring with you when you go and do fieldwork.

    Lévi-Strauss, C. (2012). Tristes Tropiques. New York, Penguin Classics.

    7. The best of several books that have cast serious doubt on the accuracy of Geertz’s interpretation of the Balinese cockfight.

    Wikan, U. (1990). Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

    8. Many of the essays in this book take on the central tenets of anthropology in much the same way that Crapanzano did. The essay on Imperialist Nostalgia takes on the useless and disingenuous hand-wringing that has become formulaic in essays since Writing Culture, and exposes it as the disavowal mechanism it really is. You may not be surprised to learn that Rosaldo is married to the aforementioned Mary Louise Pratt.

    Rosaldo, R. (1993). Culture & truth: the remaking of social analysis. Boston, Beacon Press.

    10/10 References from theory class

    I mentioned that along with Ong’s work there are a growing number of ethnographies that present physical and mental illnesses that seem to emerge from the condition of capitalist oppression and the exploitative nature of globalized flows. A few major works from this set:

    Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff (1993). Modernity and its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.

    Nash, J. (1993). We Eat the Mines and the Mines Eat Us. New York, Columbia University Press.

    Taussig, M. (1980). The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press.

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