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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

In Defense of Ethnography

(0) Comments | Posted August 23, 2015 | 5:34 PM

As students and faculty head back to college campuses to begin a new academic year, there has been a steady stream of uninformed criticism of the practice of ethnography, a method of inquiry and representation that has become an important aspect of social science research. The most trenchant criticism has...

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Trumping Fears of the Other: Media and the Politics of Contagion

(2) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 11:00 AM

We live in fearful times. Many people seem to be afraid of almost everything--sharks, contaminated foods, polluted water, heat waves, droughts, floods, tsunamis, rising ocean levels, financial collapse, the police, radical Muslims, young African American men. These fears are reinforced exponentially in our media, including, of course, social media. There...

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Alice Goffman and the Future of Ethnography

(1) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 10:12 AM

When scholars attract widespread public attention the news coverage about them and their works, which is often incomplete and filled with misconceptions, is not usually good. So it is with the public controversy about Alice Goffman's much-discussed book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Consider Marc Parry's...

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In Search of Soul and Soulful Social Science

(0) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 4:42 PM

It's graduation season again, and after more than 35 years as a university professor, I am particularly concerned about the kind of world this year's college graduates are about to enter. We live in times of increasing emptiness. World and national events have promoted widespread cynicism. Consider the dysfunction of...

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Remiss About Remission

(0) Comments | Posted April 12, 2015 | 10:31 PM

Last week millions of television viewers watched the Ken Burns production of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. It is a magnificent documentary film that is based largely upon Siddhartha Mukherjee's Pulitzer Prize-winning book. In the book and the six-hour documentary that emerged from it, we are exposed to the...

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Message from Mali: There is No Life Without Music

(0) Comments | Posted March 27, 2015 | 9:06 PM

"There is no life without music," says Khaira Arby in the recent documentary, They'll Have to Kill Us First. Seeking refuge from Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists who in 2012 sacked Timbuktu's libraries, razed its shrines and banned its music, Arby, the diva of the fabled city, fled to Bamako, Mali's capital, which...

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Big Man Bibi

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 9:32 AM

The prospect of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress has generated a great deal of political heat. People in the Obama administration have been outraged that a foreign leader is coming to America two weeks before his own hotly contested bid...

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Well-Being in the World

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 8:49 AM

On these dark and dreary February days the news has been hard to stomach. The brutality of videotaped ISIS executions has been gut-wrenching. In the Ukraine there's no end in sight for a desolate war. In the U.S. the ongoing distrust of medicine (the vaccination controversies), and climate science (human-instigated...

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State of the Union/States of Fear

(1) Comments | Posted January 22, 2015 | 8:43 AM

The State of the Union (SOTU) address is a striking example of dramatic political theater that features mythic rhetoric in a lofty setting. It is certainly compelling to see someone like President Obama, who is a skilled wordsmith and author, speak before a joint session of Congress. True to form,...

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Keystoning the Culture of Extraction

(2) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 7:09 AM

Beyond the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, the politics of the Keystone XL pipeline are likely to be in news this week in America. The Republican controlled U.S. Congress is poised to pass legislation to jump start construction, and President Obama, according to his Press Secretary, is ready to exercise...

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Racing Away From Ferguson and the Challenge of Education

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2014 | 3:33 PM

As the holidays approach, we are racing toward a point of social upheaval in America. The killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City has brought into bright relief the utter ugliness of police behavior toward young African American men in our cities and...

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Welcome to the Anthropocene: Anthropology and the Political Moment

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2014 | 10:55 AM

We live in very troubled times -- welcome to the Anthropocene, a new epoch during which human activity (industrial production and consumption) has provided us unparalleled wealth but also an unmistakable path toward potential ecological devastation. As Naomi Klein powerfully demonstrates in her new book, This Changes Everything, the structures...

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Thinking About the Future From the Edge of Darkness

(0) Comments | Posted November 1, 2014 | 3:41 PM

Elections often highlight shifts in society. In America, the upcoming midterm election is no exception. The half-truths that today constitute our political discourse are likely to produce a set of results that will bring us to the edge of darkness. In the here and now of American politics, fear has...

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Global Politics, Global Health and the Anthropological Moment

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 4:31 PM

The world is a mess. In the Middle East the rapid and powerful rise of ISIS has been a terrifying surprise. It certainly surprised officials in the United States whose intelligence professionals "underestimated" the power, cunning and resoluteness of the Islamic State. In West Africa the inexorable spread of the...

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A Letter From the Underground of The Castle

(1) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 1:46 PM

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

As another academic year begins The Castle's shadow is bringing more and more Kafkaesque darkness to university campuses. That shadow continues to transform our places of higher learning into corporate enclaves in which mindless civility eclipses uncomfortable debate, in which bureaucratic process becomes more important than...

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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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