Framing cosmologies

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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