Features

Life/NonLife Revived

Earthquakes. Taxidermy. Ghosts. Climate Change. These phenomena, some exceptional and some quotidian, all challenge the stability and salience of ‘life’ as an ethnographic category.  Lacking empirical traction and heuristic power, the distinction between life and nonlife is one that anthropology needs to discard.

This was the motion for a debate that closed the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of …

Features

The Point of Death II

My father was ill when this forum took place in Exeter. He died shortly afterwards, nominally of spreading cancer, but more probably of some combination of starvation, dehydration and organ failure encouraged by the generous administration of morphine and calming drugs. I visited the undertakers a week later. The chief was in his 90s and had a shock of outstanding …

Features

Reaching Out, Looking In: On Research, Refusal, and Responsibility

This article is part of the series:

The papers in this series, “Critical Histories, Activist Futures,” have captured some of the exciting conversations that took place during a conference titled “Critical Histories, Activist Futures: Science, Medicine, and Racial Violence,” which was held at Yale University in February 2017. As my colleague Sarah M. Pickman has explained, the conference was intended to create a space for …

Books

How to deal with the politics of body plasticity?

Plastic bodies is a required read for researchers interested in anthropological approaches to issues such as the body, health, gender, technoscience, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals. Emilia Sanabria’s ethnography of different substance flows such as sex hormones and menstrual blood in Bahia, Brazil, explores the idea of “body plasticity”, a concept inspired by Catherine Malabou.

It is not by chance that the …

Features

Things Which Have Once Been Conjoined: Science Fiction, Contagion, and Magic in the Age of Social Media

This article is part of the series:

There are many interesting formations that might be called networked phenomena. Homophily and the tendency towards triad closure. Scott Feld’s Rule (I’m more likely to make friends with someone who has more friends than me). Small world phenomena (those 6 degrees of separation). “The Strength of Weak Ties” (reportedly the most cited sociology paper in history). In all, a series …