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Paul Stoller
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

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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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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