The Culture of Invention in the Americas takes the theoretical contribution of one of anthropology's most radical thinkers, Roy Wagner, as a basis for conceptual improvisation. It uses Wagner's most synthetic and complex insights - developed in Melanesia and captured in the title of his most famous book, The Invention of Culture - as a springboard for an exploration of other anthropological and societal imaginaries. What do the inherent reflexivity, recursiveness and limits of all and any peoples' anthropologies render for us to write and think about, and live within? Who is doing anthropology about whom? Which are the best ways to convey our partial grasp of these conundrums: theory, poetry, jokes? No claim is made to resolve what should not be seen as a problem. Instead, inspired by Roy Wagner's study and use of metaphor, this book explores analogical variations of these riddles.
The chapters bring together ethnographic regions rarely investigated together: indigenous peoples of Mexico and Lowland South America; and Afro-American peoples of Brazil and Cuba. The `partial connections' highlighted by the authors' analytic conjunctions - Ifa divination practices and Yanomami shamanism, Ki~sedje (Amazonia) and Huichol (Mexico) anthropology of Whites, and Meso-American and Afro-American practices of sacrifice - show the inspirational potential of such rapprochements.
As the first book to acknowledge the full range of Wagner's anthropological contributions, and an initial joint exploration of Native American and Afro-American ethnographies, this experimental work honours Wagner's vision of a multiplicity of peoples' anthropologies through and of each other. It concludes with a remarkable dialogue created by Roy Wagner's responses to each author's work.
We don't have to imagine what Wagner might have made of this inspired collection: his concluding commentary on each of these extraordinary chapters is in effect a collection in itself. The sparks they together ignite make this an editorial and publishing triumph.
Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge
If Roy Wagner famously `invented' culture, the contributors to this volume `counter-invent' Wagner, at once engaging comprehensively and didactically with his thought, and exteriorizing it onto novel conceptual and geographical territories. A book from `tomorrow's yesterday' (Wagner), The Culture of Invention in the Americas anticipates for us the anthropology to come - playful, experimental, and deeply ethnographic.
Alberto Corsin Jimenez, Spanish National Research Council
Publisher: Sean Kingston Publishing
Number of pages: 286
Weight: 579 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 18 mm