Ethnology

The laugh-out-loud true story of a harrowing and hilarious two-year odyssey in the distant South Pacific island nation of Kiribati—possibly The Worst Place on Earth.

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years—one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.
A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cultures, anthropologist Anna Tsing here develops friction in its place as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world.

She focuses on one particular "zone of awkward engagement"--the rainforests of Indonesia--where in the 1980s and the 1990s capitalist interests increasingly reshaped the landscape not so much through corporate design as through awkward chains of legal and illegal entrepreneurs that wrested the land from previous claimants, creating resources for distant markets. In response, environmental movements arose to defend the rainforests and the communities of people who live in them. Not confined to a village, a province, or a nation, the social drama of the Indonesian rainforest includes local and national environmentalists, international science, North American investors, advocates for Brazilian rubber tappers, UN funding agencies, mountaineers, village elders, and urban students, among others--all combining in unpredictable, messy misunderstandings, but misunderstandings that sometimes work out.


Providing a portfolio of methods to study global interconnections, Tsing shows how curious and creative cultural differences are in the grip of worldly encounter, and how much is overlooked in contemporary theories of the global.

One of the weaknesses of research in Africa is the little consideration that is given to questions of epistemology and methodology. What we see is the trivialization of research protocols which, consequently, are reduced to fantasy prescriptions that detach social studies from universal debates over the validity of science rather than an interrogation of research procedures induced by the complexity of social dynamics. As a result, social sciences have become an imitative discourse and a recital of exotic anecdotes without perspectives. Knowledge production therefore loses any heuristic bearing. It is on the basis of this reality that attempts to correct this tendency have been made in this book by discussing the methodological foundation of social science knowledge. This volume is a collection of papers presented during methodological workshops organized by CODESRIA. Its objective is to revitalize theory and methodology in field work in Africa while contributing to the creation of a critical space hinged upon the mastery of epistemological bases which are indispensable to any scientific imagination. Far from being a collection of technical certainties and certified methods, this book interrogates the uncertain itinerary of the process of social logics discovery. In that sense, it is a decisive step towards a critical systemization of ongoing theories and practices within the African scientific community. The reader can, therefore, identify the philosophical, historical, sociological and anthropological foundations of object construction, field data exploitation and research results delivery. This book explains the importance of the philosophical and social modalities of scientific practice, the influence of local historical contexts, the different usages of new investigative tools, including the audiovisual tools. Finally, the book, backed by classical theories, serves as an invitation toward considering scientific commitment to African field research from a reflective perspective.
Dominating world politics since 1945, the Cold War created a fragile peace while suppressing national groups in the Cold War's most dangerous theater--Europe. Today, with the collapse of Communism, the European Continent is again overshadowed by the specter of radical nationalism, as it was at the beginning of the century. Focusing on the many possible conflicts that dot the European landscape, this book is the first to address the Europeans as distinct national groups, not as nation-states and national minorities. It is an essential guide to the national groups populating the so-called Old World-groups that continue to dominate world headlines and present the world community with some of its most intractable conflicts.

While other recent reference books on Europe approach the subject of nations and nationalism from the perspective of the European Union and the nation-state, this book addresses the post-Cold War nationalist resurgence by focusing on the most basic element of any nationalism--the nation. It includes entries on nearly 150 groups, surveying these groups from the earliest period of their national histories to the dawn of the 21st century. In short essays highlighting the political, social, economic, and historical evolution of peoples claiming a distinct identity in an increasingly integrated continent, the book provides both up-to-date information and historical background on the European national groups that are currently making the news and those that will produce future headlines.

Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love--the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. At the time of its initial publication in 2008, Coming of Age in Second Life was the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe.


Tom Boellstorff conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Second Life, living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so-called real world. He conducted his research as the avatar "Tom Bukowski," and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life, including issues of gender, race, sex, money, conflict and antisocial behavior, the construction of place and time, and the interplay of self and group.


Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself. Now with a new preface in which the author places his book in light of the most recent transformations in online culture, Coming of Age in Second Life remains the classic ethnography of virtual worlds.
As European colonies in Asia and Africa became independent nations, as the United States engaged in war in Southeast Asia and in covert operations in South America, anthropologists questioned their interactions with their subjects and worried about the political consequences of government-supported research. By 1970, some spoke of anthropology as “the child of Western imperialism” and as “scientific colonialism.” Ironically, as the link between anthropology and colonialism became more widely accepted within the discipline, serious interest in examining the history of anthropology in colonial contexts diminished.

This volume is an effort to initiate a critical historical consideration of the varying “colonial situations” in which (and out of which) ethnographic knowledge essential to anthropology has been produced. The essays comment on ethnographic work from the middle of the nineteenth century to nearly the end of the twentieth, in regions from Oceania through southeast Asia, the Andaman Islands, and southern Africa to North and South America.


The “colonial situations” also cover a broad range, from first contact through the establishment of colonial power, from District Officer administrations through white settler regimes, from internal colonialism to international mandates, from early “pacification” to wars of colonial liberation, from the expropriation of land to the defense of ecology. The motivations and responses of the anthropologists discussed are equally varied: the romantic resistance of Maclay and the complicity of Kubary in early colonialism; Malinowski’s salesmanship of academic anthropology; Speck’s advocacy of Indian land rights; Schneider’s grappling with the ambiguities of rapport; and Turner’s facilitation of Kaiapo cinematic activism.



“Provides fresh insights for those who care about the history of science in general and that of anthropology in particular, and a valuable reference for professionals and graduate students.”—Choice



“Among the most distinguished publications in anthropology, as well as in the history of social sciences.”—George Marcus, Anthropologica

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