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Book Forum — Nayanika Mookherjee’s The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971

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Andrew Brandel has organized an extraordinary and diverse set of commentaries on Nayanika Mookherjee’s The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971 (Duke University Press, 2015). Each intervention is a path that moves outward from Mookherjee’s remarkable study, finding ways through the brambles of memory and history. We hope you enjoy. — Todd Meyers, …

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Book Forum –– Nancy Rose Hunt’s A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo

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When Nancy Rose Hunt suggests that her book “joins the ferment” of colonial aggressions and uncertainties “while taking up harm and pleasure in a shrunken colonial milieu and in postcolonial historiography too” (4), an uninitiated reader might mistake Hunt’s appraisal of her project as attempting the impossible labor of largeness of scope and precision of subject. After spending time …

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Book Forum––Science, Reason, Modernity: Readings for an Anthropology of the Contemporary

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Science, Reason, Modernity: Readings for an Anthropology of the Contemporary is many things — a carefully curated selection of classic texts ranging from Immanuel Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” and Max Weber’s “Science as a Vocation,” to Georges Canguilhem’s “The Question of Normality in the History of Biological Thought” and Paul Rabinow’s “Anthropos Today: Reflections …

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Book Forum––Harris Solomon’s Metabolic Living: Food, Fat and The Absorption of Illness in India

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Harris Solomon’s Metabolic Living traces patterns of consumption, calories, and chronic disease to tell a story about the enfolding––the absorption and regulation––of food in and about the body in Mumbai. Solomon’s book is a powerful ethnographic reflection on how factors held as exterior (local and global cuisine, evolving and competing norms regarding eating and body image) are wholly interiorized. …

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

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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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Book Forum––Sabine Arnaud’s On Hysteria

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Sabine Arnaud’s On Hysteria: The Invention of a Medical Category Between 1670 and 1820 focuses on the socio-medical category before its better-known (and more heavily studied) late nineteenth century instantiations, not to trace the prehistory of hysteria from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries, but in order to demonstrate how hysteria takes unexpected form during these earlier epochs. The …