BRUCE GRANT New York University

PLAYLISTS: Cultural Anthropology

Toward a current project on idioms of authoritarianism in post-Soviet space, a few chestnuts, and a few new works . . . Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before its Triumph (Princeton, 1977) (for remembering that not all starkly cast transitions are as stark as they first appear to be) Hocart, Kings and Councillors: An Essay in the Comparative Anatomy of Human Society (Barbey, 1936) (for revisiting some of the best early work in political anthropology) Rev, Retroactive Justice: A Prehistory of Postcommunism (Stanford, 2005) (for transforming the idioms of political “necrophilia” across the formerly socialist world into storytelling with a mordant bite on contemporary forms of authoritarian rule) Wedeen, Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen (Chicago, 2008) (for timely comparative perspective)
CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY, Vol. 26, Issue 4, pp. 697–706. ISSN 0886-7356, online ISSN 1548-1360. the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2011.01122.x

2011 by

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 26:4 Zizek. I haven’t read this yet. Mo Yan is China’s greatest living novelist. Memory Practices in the Sciences. Santner. he corrodes all platitudes with his carnality and relativism.) ∗∗∗ JUDITH FARQUHAR University of Chicago Geoffrey Bowker. 2002) into the psychosocial realm. relevant to all contemporary communities. like some classic Chinese philosophers. Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out. this is a book I intend to re-read annually so I won’t forget its insights or fail to heed its warnings. The most recent of her essays I’ve read is “The Doctor and the Charlatan” and. think. 2005) (for taking some of the earlier messages of Zizek’s bright essay. Mo Yan. it lays bare fundamental ethical and epistemological issues for any scientific or medical practice. she promises to show how pragmatic philosophies – like anthropology – can grow and transform through engaging with a “free and wild” metaphysics. The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology (Chicago. and Reinhard. or know anything. His vision is darkly witty and. I like to read Mo Yan as a theorist of 698 . This large novel about a murdered landlord’s passage through a number of animal reincarnations is especially funny and suggestive about multispecies experience and encounter. Isabelle Stengers. “A Plea for Leninist Intolerance” ( Critical Inquiry. Bowker’s reporting and analysis strike at the heart of the politics of knowledge. but Stengers always rewards slow reading. By thinking with Whitehead in this newly translated magnum opus. like all her work. This is an informed and polemical investigation of the impact of modern and contemporary information technologies on our ability to perceive. Thinking with Whitehead: A free and wild creation of concepts.

PLAYLISTS contemporary Chinese experience. read it again anyway. ∗∗∗ JUDITH (JACK) HALBERSTAM University of Southern California Reading for a new book I am finishing titled Gaga Feminism filled with silliness. If you haven’t taught it lately. Michel-Rolph Trouillot. risky and helpful for “a way of grappling with those real. revolt. This theory from the ground up reminds us why so many ethnographic questions can only be answered by history. I See a Voice: Deafness. a great writer. e and unlike most philosophers a fine historian. and should be read by anyone interested in language or embodiment.” 699 . the locus classicus of the proper 20th century use of the word bourgeois. Roland Barthes. It’s well attuned to the excessiveness of meaning and very smart about how significance is made in mediated popular culture. this work settles a number of persistent worries about the powers of narrative and historiography. Jonathan R´ e. This breezy yet thorough study of the development of language teaching for deaf people has both phenomenological and political ambitions. he’s way ahead of anthropology. Mythologies. R´ e is a founder of the journal Radical Philosophy. immediate questions that emerge from a transformative project. language. Working through a series of historical case studies of Haiti and the Caribbean. moreover. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. and the senses – a Philoe sophical History. It is. Fragments of An Anarchist Anthropology —great little book. manifestos and wonder: David Graeber.

and exotic exposure of nineteenth century American culture enabled by the slaughter of the Civil War). Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin —I do read real books too. Jr. remarkable memoir that has stayed with me). The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith —You have no idea how kooky PH was.). Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives by David Eagleman (ingenious after work writing by a lively neuroscientist in Houston. . Glimpses into My Own Black Box: An Exercise in SelfDeconstruction by George W. Timoth Snyder. My Booky Wook —I am serious! Funny take on sex and celebrity. . currently having his moment(s) on the interview circuit).CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 26:4 Russell Brand. ∗∗∗ GEORGE E. Joan Schenkar. 700 . Irvine Selected Reading April–June. CURRENT PROJECT PROBES: Shelter Blues: Sanity and Selfhood among the Homeless by Robert Desjarlai (1997). much more. Stocking. Maybe you don’t want to know. The Promise of Happiness —Happiness is not all it is cracked up to be. Sara Ahmed. I do. MARCUS University of California. This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust (a completely different. The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rabul Bhattacharya (the voices of Guyana that I recognize from my first callow effort at fieldwork there in 1967). (a brave. 2011 NOURISHMENT FOR MY ANTHROPOLOGICALLY MEDIATED SOUL: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Less is much.

An extraordinary early work that I had missed somehow—an exploration of the affordances of phenomenological inquiry in ethnographic research. Irvine. I came across a sophisticated. June 8. The price of admission is high given Faubion ‘s erudition and distinctive voice—but fully worth the effort. alongside the course of current projects of fieldwork. UC.S. on Wednesday. Legislative Theater (1998). but deeply essentializing attempt by Henry Kissinger to use the game of Go to characterize Chinese strategic thinking. Theater of the Oppressed (1985). the notion of the staging of para-sites.PLAYLISTS Selected by my colleague Keith Murphy for our first ‘ethnocharrette’ at the Center for Ethnography. but have benefited greatly reading Shelter Blues in anticipation of our studio treatment of it). but Boal’s experiments are proving inspirational. An Anthropology of Ethics by James D. and Games for Actors and Non-Actors (1992). relation to China has evolved. for better or worse. On China by Henry Kissinger (2011) and The Protracted Game: a Wei-Chi’I Interpretation of Maoist Revolutionary Strategy by Scott Boorman (1971). Faubion (2011). all by Augusto Boal. I want to trace the “career’ of this representation as the U. I have proffered. (I write before the charrette event. and I became interested in the analytic and extended use of this trope in the history of Cold War (and post Cold War) American diplomacy. to develop interventions that alternatively animate the scenes of contemporary research. which made the rounds at Harvard when I was a graduate student. 2011—an effort with students to use studio design methods to make something of an ethnographic work. Reading these now are in aid of my effort to collect a range of efforts in a number of fields. Anthropological 701 . There are a number of precedents. It sent me back immediately to a rereading of Scott Boorman’s interesting book of 1971. with a kinship to the evolved tradition of ethnographic fieldwork currently practiced in anthropology.

New York: Farrar. If I Were Another: Poems translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. Memoryscapes evoked range from situated sufferings mapped to Palestinian terrain and its diasporic routes to indigenous insurgencies in the Americas engendered by colonial conquest and its aftermaths. and writing in the ethnographic paradigm. At times necropoetical and vitally vigilant of life’s fragility. Often lyrical and braiding Sufi styles through Darwish’s distinctive voice. and dispossession. displacement. his moody musings explore mortality. Spanning poetry penned between 1990 and 2005. and the entrustment of the impossible. Berkeley Darwish. including an excerpt from If I Were Another. and what is on offer is a way to actually construct or think through ethical positions in research rather than to follow or assert them in a rule-based manner. these selections explore exile’s existential entailments and exclusions. (2009.CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 26:4 writing today is saturated with ethical concern–but what is ethics as an anthropological problem? The route is through Foucault in the most informed way. fieldwork. injustice. a primer on how to “do ethics” in the pursuit of theory. 1983. Thus. Promises of the Storm. ∗∗∗ DONALD MOORE University of California. Darwish’s posthumous collection enunciates ethico-political positions traversing landscapes of belonging. Mahmoud. see his performance (as himself) in Jean-Luc Godard’s 2004 film Notre Musique. 702 . Or listen to Lebanese oud player Marcel Khalif´’s musical rendering of Darwish’s e verse from earlier eras such as Rita w’al-Bunduqiya (Rita and the Rifle. Paredon Records). Straus & Giroux). For Darwish’s enactment of poetic vision.

Fusco’s 2008 Field Guide shifts from Guatinau to Guantanimo while linking legacies of Algeria to Abu Ghraib. and culture. a stolen Pepsi Cola truck pursued by police and travelling at 100 m. and debates regarding torture? Fusco has long scrutinized ethnographic gazes of distinctively othered exotics in her performance art and essays. she and Guillermo G´mez-Pe˜a ino n carcerated themselves in a cage minded by “zoo guards.” a fictitious island in the Gulf of Mexico. when the accident occurred.h. Mani is a generatively game-changing anti-imperial and feminist scholar of colonial discourse. Illustrations by Srividya Natarajan. At once mimicking military counterinsurgency manuals and countering their strategic aims.PLAYLISTS Fusco. in Madrid’s Columbus Plaza as part of that city’s quincentennial celebration of its imperial heritage. (2008. and hegemonic representations of both a Bush League and an Obamarama-infused “War on Terror. place. many spectators missed the satire. struck her car. and the U. by a young nephew’s request to his aunt-the-author for a compelling tale. Coco. representations. New York: Seven Stories Press). Mani’s 703 .p. scrutinizing and swerving anthropological perspectives. Lata. Chenna. in part. her contra-contra perspective troubles torture. war machine’s techniques and technologies of violence. In 1993. The Tamarind Tree. India: Tulika Publishers). believing the performers to represent an actual people. In 1992.S. A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008. extraordinary rendition. How are contending anthropological genealogies implicated in contemporary practices. causing a brain injury and severe impairment. This succulent story melds caringly crafted text and evocative illustrations inspired. whose academic career was violently impaled in 1993. gender.” Passersby in public space witnessed the scantily clad couple performing as authentic exotics from “Guatinau.” Mani. While driving from her home to teach at UC Davis.

as well as French epistemological occlusions and political exclusions. Scotland: Payback Press). Gil. these essays also echo west across the Atlantic. Mbembe. Achille. Paris: La D´couverte. the book’s appearance in print 5 years later is testament to her own exceptional agency. racisms. conjuring spirits haunting Frederick Douglass’ “dark night of slavery” that transformed humans into brutes. While grounded principally in reflections upon Africa’s wretched of the earth. and subjectivation—here draws inspiration from Martinicans Frantz Fanon and Aim´ C´saire e e to explore critical questions animating governmentalities. especially in relation to the “long winter” of imperial France’s African entanglements. Edinburgh. militarism. The Tamarind Tree offers a hopeful harvest. violence. and her life partner. Scott-Heron. Sortir de la grande nuit illuminates competing practices of sovereignty. humanity. a tale of childhood adventure bearing witness to an inspiring trajectory in the wake of personal tragedy and embodied incapacities that soulfully strides away from academic genres of representation. power. e e e Mbembe—a brilliant analyst of postcolonial political technologies. Ruth Frankenberg’s ethics of care. and dispossession routed through Africa while awakening readers to alternative visions of alterity. 704 . Sortir de la grande nuit: Essai sur l’Afrique d´colonis´e. Mbembe’s analysis of Afropolitanisme refracts the shimmering sun of C´saire’s Caribbean—a creolizing cartography where poe etic justice and political enlightenment struggle to shine through historical clouds of blood. Now and Then: The Poems of Gil ScottHeron (2000. and legacies of colonial violence. and conviviality infused with African diasporic sensibilities.CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 26:4 germinal book Contentious Traditions was 2 weeks away from going to press. Mani’s 2001 Interleaves recounts her spiritual journey in the wake of a devastating disability. and colonial genocide.

I found myself again returning to his Spoken Word pieces. finance. cassettes. accounting.S. While he humbly rejected hagiographies that dubbed him the “Godfather of Rap. Leading me to 705 . Mayan and other zeroes. I guess. in the mid-1980s. policies that racialized space and spatialized race. about number. rhythmic relationship to music remain powerfully resonant today. And. and printed pages from the late 1960s through the mid 1980s. his influences on subsequent styles of politicizing verse and Spoken Words’ sonic. hopes for the good life.S. injustice. soulfully-bluesy musings from previous eras read and sound spot-on as critiques of current practices of racism. and the (for most of us) elusive promise of accumulation. a member of the collective venture Artists United Against Apartheid that funneled funds to the ANC’s Oliver Tambo. about the banality of the evil of neoliberalism and its crises. GSH’s sage. Homeland Security and its Bantustan buttresses. Arista Records) and became. CDs. ∗∗∗ DIANE M. set in Guatemala. NELSON Duke University I’m writing a book. gems gathered from 1970 to 1994 in this collection. Much as Fanon’s writings speak presciently to our contemporary moment of danger. GSH’s tragic addiction to crack cocaine—nurtured by the socio-economic and racialized inequalities he compellingly critiqued—made his life’s later chapters a Karmic comedown from his prime years when ensouled infusions of radical hope crackled off live microphones. vinyl.PLAYLISTS As GSH segued from my Spring 2011 syllabus to May’s obituary pages. speaking to current discourses of U. he teamed up with Brian Jackson to release From South Africa to South Carolina (1976. and political hypocrisy. His scorching critiques skewered South African and U.” or the premier African-American griot of the ghetto.

not Papua New Guinea. about unseen but deeply felt worlds coexisting in London. 706 . of underlying logics and the struggles for human meaning-making. China Mieville’s “weird fictions:” The City and the City (Ballantine 2010). —Explaining the genealogy of Western everything Brian Rotman’s Signifying Nothing: The Semiotics of Zero (Stanford 1987). —Most fun. deeply invested in their difference. the conditions of possibility for derivatives.CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 26:4 ponder old questions of the seen and unseen. and Randy Martin Financialization of Daily Life (Temple 2002). Erratum to Cultural Anthropology 26. existing in the same geographic space though at different moments of capitalism. and imaginary money. of Washington 2008). neoliberal imaginaries and embodi/meant. Caitlin Zaloom Out of the Pits (Chicago 2006). In this vein I’ve been reading the following: —Melinda Cooper’s Life as Surplus (Univ. . apocalypse. relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. about two different cities.3:462 (August 2011) The island of Sumba is in Indonesia. biotech. —Like many people trying to understand the 2008 crash I’m perusing Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia (Spiegel and Grau 2010) (you had me at “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. and (continuing a theme!) squid cults. about zero making possible King Lear. a really mistressful and productive working through of bionecropolitical-economy fiercely linking finance. the vanishing point in painting. .”) and the slightly less flamboyant Michael Lewis’s The Big Short (Norton 2011) (with the film Inside Job as visual aid). —Great ethnographic takes on the same carnage: Karen Ho Liquidated (Duke 2009). and the enormous efforts involved in learning not to see (even for the police) and Kraken (Ballantin 2010).

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