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The anthropology of worlds

This book reflects the full diversity of the spirit of cosmological experimentation as an analytical impulse on the part of the anthropologist and as an ethnographic observation about the people anthropologists study. The first part of the book addresses the ways in which fresh anthropological interest in cosmology problematises traditional conceptions of holism understood as a 'totalising' discourse. The second part shows that cosmology can be seen as a functionally differentiated and distinct part of the total social order to be studied alongside other parts, including kinship, economy or politics. It shines light on the varied imbrications of cosmological concerns with political and economic practices in particular. The third part focuses on the ways in which social phenomena that a classically inclined anthropology would designate as 'modern' areas cosmologically embedded (indeed saturated) as any 'pre-modern' society ever was. It shows how the cosmological constitution of political economies is particularly bound up with the breakdown of classical dichotomies between modern science and pre-modern cosmologies. The book also reveals the abiding role that different technological forms play in sustaining cosmological concerns at the heart of contemporary life in the West. It broaches the strong affinity between cinema and cosmology in an analysis of two films concerned with the origin of humanity.

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The cosmological frame in anthropology
Allen Abramson and Martin Holbraad

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book offers a critical reflection on the relationship between cosmology, ontology, and alterity in recent anthropological writings. It discusses abandoning ideas about wholes that are naturally pre-given and of cosmos being the medium of their structural and psychic integration. The book explains critiques of the notion that cosmology can be seen as a functionally differentiated and distinct part of the total social order to be studied alongside other parts, including kinship, economy or politics. It then illuminates the cosmological conditions and possibilities of Hindi divinity, now in the guise of Paidatali, a goddess-cosmos from Andhra Pradesh, as well as Siva. Finally, the book reveals the abiding role that different technological forms play in sustaining cosmological concerns at the heart of contemporary life in the West.

in Framing cosmologies