Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea

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“Reverse Anthropology is an uncommonly sophisticated work of engaged ethnography, and a book that provides an impressive and uncompromising model of equal accountability to scholarly research and indigenous advocacy. With patience, insight, and brilliant attention to Yonggom subjectivity, Stuart Kirsch reveals what it means to turn anthropology inside out. This is a standout book in the new anthropology of modern Melanesia.”—Steven Feld, University of New Mexico
“This is an important story that will draw many audiences. It weaves personal experience, politics, and activism in and out of a scholarly analysis made possible by the way Kirsch draws on the analytical skills of his subjects. In this it is nothing short of a brilliant and sympathetic enterprise.”—Dame Marilyn Strathern FBA, William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kirsch deserves recognition for this refreshing and intellectually stimulating monograph . . . That this work combines such an emancipatory potential for anthropology with descriptive, theoretically compelling, and well-written ethnography is a testament to Kirsch's scholarship and activism."—Anthropos
"Kirsch's ethnography is compelling on several levels. It is an excellent example of using indigenous frames of reference for understanding contemporary issues of globalization, colonialism and modernization. It is also a groundbreaking approach to the study of indigenous movements that yields alternative interpretations of political relationships and historical events going back to the first contact between European explorers and Melanesian indigenous groups. Finally, for students of anthropology, it is a highly personal account of the multiple roles of the anthropologist as analyst, participant and advocate for an indigenous group in a precedent-setting legal case against a powerful multinational mining corporation."—Canadian Review of Sociology

"What is masterful about this . . . book is that the author, all the while telling the stories of these contemporary environmental and political struggles, contextualizes them in deeply indigenous ways of knowing and understanding history and the natural and social world."—Journal of Anthropological Research

"Kirsch's ethnographic passages sing with the immediacy of deep and vibrant experience . . . Because of its rich detail and moral clarity, Reverse Anthropology is a productive contribution to anthropological understandings of indigenous social analysis and it deserves a wide readership."—Expedition

"Kirsch documents and explains how Yonggom people construct social worlds and relationships through exchange and what happens when these patterns are disrupted or unreciprocated. The ethnographic descriptions of everyday life, conversations, complex rituals, myths, magic, and sorcery are rich in detail—reflecting his long association with people there and his empathic identification with the sorrow and loss they have experienced."—Current Anthropology

"In a sensitive and nuanced discussion of Yonggom emotions and morality, he effectively illustrates that Yonggom identify sorcerers by examining human emotions and intentionality."—American Anthropologist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804753425
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/3/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 473,115
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Kirsch is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan.
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Table of Contents

1 Historical encounters 27
2 The enchantment of place 57
3 Unrequited reciprocity 79
4 Sorcery and the mine 107
5 Mythical encounters 132
6 Divining violence 158
7 Loss and the future imagined 189
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