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Shamanism and postsocialism in Northern Mongolia
Morten Axel Pedersen

This chapter explores the relationship between shamanism and postsocialism in Northern Mongolia. It explores the imbrication between the invisible paths of the shamanic spirits and the equally opaque political-economic forces of postsocialist transition. In Northern Mongolia, shamanism was postsocialism: the fluid and inherently transitional and transformation manner in which the world orchestrated itself in the chaotic 1990s. In Northern Mongolia, occult phenomena like shamanism, magic, and witchcraft were an irreducible part of transition, as the chaotic state of total perpetual change through which social life was perceived to be unfolding in the 1990s. In Northern Mongolia, therefore, the invisible powers of the spirits and the opaque forces of the market are imbued with similarly labile shapes. Recognising this basic homology between the 'local' forms of shamanic cosmology and the 'global' forms of political economy is the key to understand the nature of social life in Northern Mongolia after socialism.

in Framing cosmologies
An ethnography in/of computational social science
Mette My Madsen, Anders Blok, and Morten Axel Pedersen

This chapter chronicles and reflects on the experiences of working ethnographically within, alongside and in collaboration with a large-scale interdisciplinary experiment in computational social science. It does so by recounting, from the ethnographer’s point of view, a number of ‘collaborative moments’ at the awkward intersection of computational data science and ethnographic fieldwork, as partners in the same research project. Here, the anthropologist finds herself in a position at right angles to both the population under study and the other scientists studying them; a chronic condition of oscillating between practising ethnography in a (partly) computational social science framework and doing an ethnography of the very scientific data practices and infrastructures involved. We consider this in/of oscillation not as a point of disciplinary comparison but rather as involving ‘transversal’ collaborations that instantiate forms of non-coherent, intermittent and yet productively mutual co-shaping among partially connected knowledge practices and practitioners. Such a rethinking is crucial, we argue, for understanding new social data ‘complementarities’ and their epistemological, ethical and political ramifications.

in Ethnography for a data-saturated world