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New Science of the Enchanted Universe

An Anthropology of Most of Humanity

«A characteristically feisty final statement from one of the greatest anthropologists of the past century."---Jonathan Spencer, Science»

One of the world’s preeminent cultural anthropologists leaves a last work that fundamentally reconfigures how we study most other cultures

From the perspective of Western modernity, humanity inhabits a disenchanted cosmos. Gods, spirits, and ancestors have left us for a transcendent beyond, no longer living in our midst and being involved in all matters of everyday life from the trivial to the dire. Yet the vast majority of cultures throughout human history treat spirits as very real persons, members of a cosmic society who interact with humans and control their fate. In most cultures, even today, people are but a small part of an enchanted universe misconstrued by the transcendent categories of “religion” and the “supernatural.” The New Science of the Enchanted Universe shows how anthropologists and other social scientists must rethink these cultures of immanence and study them by their own lights.

In this, his last, revelatory book, Marshall Sahlins announces a new method and sets an exciting agenda for the field. He takes readers around the world, from Inuit of the Arctic Circle to pastoral Dinka of East Africa, from Araweté swidden gardeners of Amazonia to Trobriand Island horticulturalists. In the process, Sahlins sheds new light on classical and contemporary ethnographies that describe these cultures of immanence and reveals how even the apparently mundane, all-too-human spheres of “economics” and “politics” emerge as people negotiate with, and ultimately usurp, the powers of the gods.

The New Science of the Enchanted Universe offers a road map for a new practice of anthropology that takes seriously the enchanted universe and its transformations from ancient Mesopotamia to contemporary America.

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One of the world’s preeminent cultural anthropologists leaves a last work that fundamentally reconfigures how we study most other cultures

From the perspective of Western modernity, humanity inhabits a disenchanted cosmos. Gods, spirits, and ancestors have left us for a transcendent beyond, no longer living in our midst and being involved in all matters of everyday life from the trivial to the dire. Yet the vast majority of cultures throughout human history treat spirits as very real persons, members of a cosmic society who interact with humans and control their fate. In most cultures, even today, people are but a small part of an enchanted universe misconstrued by the transcendent categories of “religion” and the “supernatural.” The New Science of the Enchanted Universe shows how anthropologists and other social scientists must rethink these cultures of immanence and study them by their own lights.

In this, his last, revelatory book, Marshall Sahlins announces a new method and sets an exciting agenda for the field. He takes readers around the world, from Inuit of the Arctic Circle to pastoral Dinka of East Africa, from Araweté swidden gardeners of Amazonia to Trobriand Island horticulturalists. In the process, Sahlins sheds new light on classical and contemporary ethnographies that describe these cultures of immanence and reveals how even the apparently mundane, all-too-human spheres of “economics” and “politics” emerge as people negotiate with, and ultimately usurp, the powers of the gods.

The New Science of the Enchanted Universe offers a road map for a new practice of anthropology that takes seriously the enchanted universe and its transformations from ancient Mesopotamia to contemporary America.

Detaljer

Forlag
Princeton University Press
Innbinding
Paperback
Språk
Engelsk
Sider
208
ISBN
9780691215938
Utgivelsesår
2023
Format
24 x 16 cm

Om forfatteren

Marshall Sahlins (1930–2021) was the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and the author of many books, including Stone Age Economics and Culture and Practical Reason. Frederick B. Henry Jr. is an independent scholar and translator.

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«A characteristically feisty final statement from one of the greatest anthropologists of the past century."---Jonathan Spencer, Science»

«Sahlins is perhaps one of the last great anthropological time travelers, unashamed of his vocation, and openly committed to immersing himself in ways of being that were not originally his own, or at least trying his hardest to do so. We may not see his like again."---Vincent P. Pecora, European Legacy»

«Sahlins makes his case forcefully, eloquently, and with passion. Right, wrong, partial, or not, The New Science of the Enchanted Universe is a feisty anthropological contribution that will be good to teach with within the academy and good to think with way beyond the narrow confines of anthropology."---David N. Gellner, Society»

«[The New Science of the Enchanted Universe] is electrified by ideas—of human finitude and eternity, the interlacing of the political, the enchanted, and the divine"---Anna Della Subin, The Nation»

«[A]n engaging, vivid book that consistently argues for anthropologists to accept the realities of a world of spirits."---Tok Thompson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion»

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