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Truth in motion: The recursive anthropology of Cuban divination, Martin Holbraad, U Chicago Press, 2012

Cultural production, new book, Religion No Comments »

Joining a growing collection of anthropological work on Cuban religious practice, Martin Holbraad’s Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination, U Chicago Press 2012, has just been released.  More than simply presenting ethnographic data, Holbraad sets out to use his ethnographic insights to rethink disciplinary presumptions of anthropology as well.

From the web:

Embarking on an ethnographic journey to the inner barrios of Havana among practitioners of Ifá, a prestigious Afro-Cuban tradition of divination, Truth in Motion reevaluates Western ideas about truth in light of the practices and ideas of a wildly different, and highly respected, model. Acutely focusing on Ifá, Martin Holbraad takes the reader inside consultations, initiations, and lively public debates to show how Ifá practitioners see truth as something to be not so much represented, as transformed. Bringing his findings to bear on the discipline of anthropology itself, he recasts the very idea of truth as a matter not only of epistemological divergence but also of ontological difference—the question of truth, he argues, is not simply about how things may appear differently to people, but also about the different ways of imagining what those things are. By delving so deeply into Ifá practices, Truth in Motion offers cogent new ways of thinking about otherness and how anthropology can navigate it.

 

Review comments:

Andrew Apter
Truth in Motion is very much an intellectual journey, a rigorous engagement with Cuban divination and theories of meaning. It is extremely original, innovative—indeed daring and radical—in its invitation to replace our entire bedrock of representational semantics (and its associated distinctions between words and objects, signifiers and signifieds, judgments and facts, substances and attributes, etcetera) with a more generative ontology of ‘inventive definitions.’”–Andrew Apter, University of California, Los Angeles

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Brotherton, Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba, Duke 2012

Cultural production, daily life, Health, new book No Comments »

Congratulations to Sean Brotherton for his just-released book, Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba!  The volume is certain to set a new standard for theoretically sophisticated and ethnographically sustained  research on Cuban health systems and practices, about which there has until now been relatively little published beyond Whiteford & Branch and Hirshfeld’s work.  Meanwhile, here is the publisher’s description:

Revolutionary Medicine is a richly textured examination of the ways that Cuba’s public health care system has changed during the past two decades and of the meaning of those changes for ordinary Cubans. Until the Soviet bloc collapsed in 1989, socialist Cuba encouraged citizens to view access to health care as a human right and the state’s responsibility to provide it as a moral imperative. Since the loss of Soviet subsidies and the tightening of the U.S. economic embargo, Cuba’s government has found it hard to provide the high-quality universal medical care that was so central to the revolutionary socialist project. In Revolutionary Medicine, P. Sean Brotherton deftly integrates theory and history with ethnographic research in Havana, including interviews with family physicians, public health officials, research scientists, and citizens seeking medical care. He describes how the deterioration of health and social welfare programs has led Cubans to seek health care through informal arrangements, as well as state-sponsored programs. Their creative, resourceful pursuit of health and well-being provides insight into how they navigate, adapt to, and pragmatically cope with the rapid social, economic, and political changes in post-Soviet Cuba.

 

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