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The Ontological Turn
An Anthropological Exposition


Part of New Departures in Anthropology

  • Date Published: March 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107503946

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About the Authors
  • A new and often controversial theoretical orientation that resonates strongly with wider developments in contemporary philosophy and social theory, the so-called 'ontological turn' is receiving a great deal of attention in anthropology and cognate disciplines at present. This book provides the first anthropological exposition of this recent intellectual development. It traces the roots of the ontological turn in the history of anthropology and elucidates its emergence as a distinct theoretical orientation over the past few decades, showing how it has emerged in the work of Roy Wagner, Marilyn Strathern and Viveiros de Castro, as well a number of younger scholars. Distinguishing this trajectory of thinking from related attempts to put questions of ontology at the heart of anthropological research, the book articulates critically the key methodological and theoretical tenets of the ontological turn, its prime epistemological and political implications, and locates it in the broader intellectual landscape of contemporary social theory.

    • Offers the first overview of the ontological turn in anthropology
    • Provides an intellectual genealogy of the traffic in ideas between the three main national anthropological traditions over the last 3-4 decades
    • Engages with most important critiques made of the ontological turn, and how one might respond to them
    • Sketches the framework for future theoretical and methodological developments
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107503946
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 258 x 150 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the ontological turn in anthropology
    1. Other ontological turns
    2. Analogic anthropology: Wagner's inventions and obviations
    3. Relational ethnography: Strathern's comparisons and scales
    4. Natural relativism: Viveiros de Castro's perspectivism and multinaturalism
    5. Things as concepts
    6. After the relation

  • Authors

    Martin Holbraad, University College London
    Martin Holbraad is Professor of Social Anthropology at University College London. He is author of Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination (2012), and co-editor of Thinking Through Things: Theorizing Artefacts Ethnographically (2007). Having studied the relationship between religious and political practices in Cuba since the late 1990s, he currently holds a European Research Council Consolidator Grant for a 5-year project titled Comparative Anthropologies of Revolutionary Politics, leading a team of researchers to chart comparatively the formation of revolutionary personhood in selected countries of Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa region.

    Morten Axel Pedersen, University of Copenhagen
    Morten Axel Pedersen is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. He is author of Not Quite Shamans: Spirit Worlds and Political Lives in Northern Mongolia (2011), which received honourable mention for the Bateson Prize, and Urban Hunters: Dreaming and Dealing in Times of Transition (with L. Højer, forthcoming). From 2011 to 2016 he held a Sapere Aude Research Leader Grant from the Danish Research Council, sparking off his latest research of Lutheran Christian movements and vernacular political theory in Denmark.

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