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Paul Stoller
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Paul Stoller has been conducting anthropological research for 30 years. His early work concerned the religion of the Songhay people who live in the Republics of Niger and Mali in West Africa. In that work, he focused primarily on magic, sorcery and spirit possession practices. Since 1992, Stoller has pursued studies of West African immigrants in New York City. Those studies have concerned such topics as the cultural dynamics of informal market economies and the politics of immigration. The results of this ongoing research has led Stoller to the study of the anthropology of religion, visual anthropology, the anthropology of senses and economic anthropology. Stoller's work has resulted in the publication of 11 books, including ethnographies, biographies, memoirs as well as two novels. His work is widely read and recognized. In 1994 he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2002, the American Anthropological Association named him the recipient of the Robert B Textor Award for Excellence in Anthropology. The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography named him the 2013 recipient of the Anders Retzius Medal in Gold for his scientific contributions to anthropology. He lectures frequently both in the United States and Europe and has appeared on various NPR programs as well as on the National Geographic Television Network.

Entries by Paul Stoller

Ebola Emissions

(4) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 4:05 PM

On August 6, CNN projected a map of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, in which the Republic of Niger, a sparsely populated impoverished nation where there are few, if any, Ebola cases, was labeled Nigeria, which, compared to Niger, has a very large population, a robust economy, and a...

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Summer's Culture of Ignorance

(0) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 1:10 PM

Things often get crazy during an American summer. It was during the summer months, after all, that the Tea Party emerged. Maybe summer gives people more time to discuss the latest conspiracy theory. Maybe it's the combination of sun and storm that makes for the overheated political antics of summer....

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Noisy Neighbors

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 4:55 PM

The messages that films evoke say a great deal about the current state of our society. In recent years summer films have highlighted fantasy and riveting special effects that enable audiences to escape--for two hours or so--the routine humdrum of daily life during the "school free" months. Although summer blockbuster...

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We're Number One

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 9:52 AM

Every year business-oriented publications like Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and Kiplinger's rate college majors. What are the best and worst courses of study for getting a good, well-paying job after graduation? It's hardly surprising that disciplines in the social sciences and humanities rank much lower than engineering and information...

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Barack Obama and the Slow Burn of Disappointment

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 4:47 PM

In anthropology there is adage that is well worth following: Listen carefully to what a person says, but pay very careful attention to what a person does. Is there consistency between a person's rhetoric and his or her behavior? For some time now I've been applying this test to the...

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Magical Mentors

(0) Comments | Posted May 12, 2014 | 9:24 AM

It's once again graduation time on our nation's college and university campuses. Streams of notables, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have or will soon be trickling over ceremonial spaces to speak to the graduates -- about boundless opportunity.

Commencement speeches are, after all, about fresh beginnings....

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I'm Tired

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 7:52 PM

As spring slowly unfolds into summer, I wonder if most Americans feel frustrations similar to mine. Like most people I know, I'm weary of "things as they are." To borrow from the title of Joe Louis Walker's blues song, "I'm Tide." In that tune he sings about the frustrations of...

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The Brave New World of Campus Life

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 4:07 PM

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently released a report that compares faculty and administrator compensation. It comes as no surprise that the salaries of administrators and coaches, according to the AAUP report, have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, faculty salaries, which inched forward for the first time in five years, continue...

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In Defense of Public Higher Education

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 3:16 PM

In recent months waves of ignorant criticism have flooded the airwaves with a great deal of blather about the nature of higher education at public universities and colleges. Consider the case of Ohio State Representative Andrew Brenner (R) who recently suggested that public education is socialism. Other such critics have...

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Kafka on Campus

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 12:24 PM

College campuses are fast becoming strange places where nothing makes much sense, where everything creates a haze of confusion and dislocation, where, to quote an idiom from the Songhay people of Niger and Mali, "you don't know your frontside from your backside." Such a state makes me feel much like...

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The Scholar's Obligations

(0) Comments | Posted February 25, 2014 | 10:31 AM

When the fallout from Nicholas Kristof's recent New York Times column "Professors, We Need You" hit the proverbial fan, I told myself to steer clear of rapid reaction. To paraphrase the great French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss at the beginning of his most widely read book, Tristes Tropiques, I hate shallow...

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Respecting the Future in the Life and Cinematic Work of Jean Rouch

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 10:03 PM

Most Americans are probably not familiar with the life and cinematic work of Jean Rouch. Known in Europe and Africa for his highly creative work in documentary film, Rouch's work helped to spark The New Wave of French filmmaking, inspiring filmmakers like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. He was also...

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Remission Rites

(0) Comments | Posted February 6, 2014 | 3:58 PM

More than 12 years ago, my oncologist gave me the great news that the Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) that had been afflicting my body was in remission. After a grueling nine-month program of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, there was, he told me, no discernible trace of NHL in my body. The news...

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Davos Disconnects

(1) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 8:50 AM

Since its inception the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland has attracted an ever-increasing amount of media attention. This year was no exception. Four thousand high-powered business executives, global leaders (presidents and ministers) not to forget celebrities like Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn converged on the exclusive Swiss resort...

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A 2014 Challenge for the Social Sciences

(0) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 5:14 PM

The beginning of a new year always compels professional reflection. As I head back into the classroom to face a new set of students -- some eager, some not so eager -- one gripping realization colonizes my thoughts: social scientists are living in increasingly challenging times. It is now commonplace...

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Looks Like 1984 in Kansas

(55) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 8:56 AM

As 2013 twists and turns to an uncertain end, it looks like we are moving dangerously backwards toward an Orwellian 1984. This pattern has become increasingly evident in one of the reddest of red states, Kansas. In Kansas social conservatives have a lock hold on power. Indeed Kansas Governor Sam...

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No Respect

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 2:07 PM

The late Rodney Dangerfield was one of our greatest standup comics. His classic line, of course, was: "That's the story of my life, don't get no respect."

He had hundreds of very funny jokes that underscored the "no respect" theme. Here's one culled from a performance on the Tonight Show...

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Narrative and the Future of the Social Sciences

(4) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 1:52 PM

As we approach the end of another academic semester, the news from our college campuses has been filled with stories about the decline of the social sciences and humanities. Grant money is drying up. The dwindling numbers of students who want to major in something like philosophy or anthropology prompt...

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The Real News About Obamacare

(6) Comments | Posted November 6, 2013 | 11:26 AM

The news noise about the rocky roll out of Obamacare has been so deafening that it has diverted our attention from the central importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Amid the brouhaha about ACA website malfunctions, private insurance policy cancellations, and Obama Administration mismanagement, our collective attention has been...

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A Time of Exponential Ignorance

(4) Comments | Posted October 14, 2013 | 3:03 PM

The silly political season of August has given way to an October of exponential ignorance. We can thank the colossally embarrassing dysfunction of the U.S. Congress -- especially the extremist beholden Republican led House of Representatives for this sobering turn of events. It is not an exaggeration to say that...

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