Doing Anthropology in Turbulent Times

Doing Anthropology in Turbulent Times

28. 05. 2024

Gellner Seminar with Paul Stoller on Thursday, 6 June 2024.

The Department of Mobility and Migration and the Czech Association for Social Anthropology are pleased to invite you to the 209th Gellner Seminar Series Lecture. The lecture titled ‘Doing Anthropology in Turbulent Times’ will be given by Paul Stoller.

Date: 6 June 2024

Time: 16.00 – 18.00

Place: Institute of Ethnology CAS, Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1 (5th floor)

Synopsis: In this lecture, which is adapted from my most recent book, Wisdom from the Edge, I attempt to show how anthropological insights about the human condition are important elements in any future blueprint for social and cultural change. It is no exaggeration to state that the world is in trouble. Our routine social, cultural, and political and ecological expectations have been undermined. As David Vine recently wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic, the global economic crisis, the unprecedented uprisings for justice have demonstrated the urgency of dedicating our skills, anthropological or otherwise, to healing the world.” In this presentation, I suggest that anthropologists can produce rigorously researched narrative works that are attuned to an age of crises. Those works, in turn, can convey to the world profoundly important anthropological insights that embody much-needed indigenous knowledge--in my case West African knowledge-- to a world in dire need of indigenous wisdom. In the end, a more intense focus on writing-as-art can ensure that our slowly developed insights can become fundamental elements in the public sphere, elements that contribute directly to healing a world confronting a set of life-threatening social, cultural, ecological, and political crises.

Biographical Sketch of Paul Stoller: Paul Stoller is a Permanent Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study at Friedrich Alexander University/ Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has been conducting anthropological research for more than 30 years. In his early work he wrote about the religion of the Songhay people who live in the Republics of Niger and Mali in West Africa. In those studies, he focused primarily on magic, sorcery, and spirit possession. Since 1992, Stoller has conducted ethnographic research among West African immigrants in New York City. These experiences have resulted in the publication of numerous essays and 16 books, including scholarly monographs and biographies as well as three memoirs and three novels. In 2002 the American Anthropological Association (AAA) the Textor Prize for Excellence in Anthropology. In 2013 King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden awarded him the Retzius Gold Medal recognition of his scientific contributions to anthropology. In 2015 AAA awarded him The Anthropology in Media Awarded (AIME) in recognition of his ongoing anthropology blogs for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today His most recent book is Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times (2023).

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