The Anthropology of Becoming

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: 27 illustrations (incl. 16 pag Published: December 2017

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

This original, field-changing collection explores the plasticity and unfinishedness of human subjects and lifeworlds, advancing the conceptual terrain of an anthropology of becoming. People's becomings trouble and exceed ways of knowing and acting, producing new possibilities for research, methodology, and writing. The contributors creatively bridge ethnography and critical theory in a range of worlds on the edge, from war and its aftermath, economic transformation, racial inequality, and gun violence to religiosity, therapeutic markets, animal rights activism, and abrupt environmental change. Defying totalizing analytical schemes, these visionary essays articulate a human science of the uncertain and unknown and restore a sense of movement and possibility to ethics and political practice. Unfinished invites readers to consider the array of affects, ideas, forces, and objects that shape contemporary modes of existence and future horizons, opening new channels for critical thought and creative expression.

Contributors. Lucas Bessire, João Biehl, Naisargi N. Dave, Elizabeth A. Davis, Michael M. J. Fischer, Angela Garcia, Peter Locke, Adriana Petryna, Bridget Purcell, Laurence Ralph, Lilia M. Schwarcz


"Unfinished: The Anthropology of Becoming promises to contribute to our understanding of this current moment of political and epistemological uncertainties, and will be of great interest to scholars, researchers, and writers from across the social and natural sciences and the humanities." — Onur Günay and Heath Pearson, Somatosphere

"As complex and ambitious as it is masterfully conceived. . . . A sign of renaissance in anthropology." — Roberto Costa, The Australian Journal of Anthropology

"Bringing the theme of becoming to the center of the anthropological debate is particularly timely in a context in which institutions, as well as the public, are discussing and interpreting society in ways that rely heavily on deterministic forms of schematism and simplification. . . . Unfinished could be an intriguing choice for professionals looking for a source of inspiration for new analytical approaches to study the dynamism of social phenomena." — Michele Fontefrancesco, Anthropology in Action

"Although theoretically complex, the contributors never lose sight of the individuals at the heart of ethnography. . . . What stands out is its intricate and intimate representation of human experience, which imbues it with authority and stays with the reader for a long time." — Heather Montgomery, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"As prismatic points arrayed around questions of theory and method, these exceptional essays provide very precise contexts in which modes of thought and being and problematics of futures literally take shape. They pull into line with their subjects, moving sideways to follow them, getting out of their way, listening, noticing. Each ending up with a striking image. Making powerful interventions into basic problematics of anthropological subjects and objects, Unfinished is a major contribution to cultural theory." — Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects

"A rich, timely, and important work, Unfinished articulates the philosophical terms of an approach to anthropology that attends to becoming and generativity in life in a number of ethnographic contexts. By creatively exploring and employing the formation of Gilles Deleuze's ideas, Unfinished offers an integrative relation between philosophical theory and anthropological thought in superbly original and lasting ways." — Robert Desjarlais, author of Subject to Death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist World


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

João Biehl is Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University and the author of Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment and Will to Live: AIDS Therapies and the Politics of Survival.

Peter Locke is Assistant Professor of Instruction in Global Health Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword. Unfinished / João Biehl and Peter Locke  ix
Introduction. Ethnographic Sensorium / João Biehl and Peter Locke  1
1. The Anthropology of Becoming / João Biehl and Peter Locke  41
2. Becoming Aggrieved / Laurence Ralph  93
3. Heaven / Angela Garcia  111
4. Rebellious Matter / Bridget Purcell  133
5. Witness / Naisargi N. Dave  151
6. I Was Cannibalized by an Artist / Lilia M. Schwarcz  173
7. On Negative Becoming / Lucas Bessire  197
8. Time Machines / Elizabeth A. Davis  217
9. Horizoning / Adriana Petryna  243
10. Meantime / Peter Locke  269
11. Hereafter / João Biehl  278
Afterword. Zen Exercises: Anthropological Discipline and Ethics / Michael M. J. Fischer  293
Acknowledgments  317
Bibliography  319
Contributors  353
List of Illustrations  357
Index  359
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6945-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6930-1
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