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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. In 2015 The American Anthropological Association Awarded him it Anthropology in Media Award. 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

Taking Stock of the Now: An Anthropological Persepctive

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2016 | 11:40 AM

Silly season in America is going into high gear. The webs of fiction that spinners spin at our national political conventions--both Democratic (DNC) and Republican (RNC)--will be broadcast and re-broadcast to millions of people, some watching television, others wired into the Internet. We'll hear about "The Wall" and "Law and...

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Edith Turner And The Anthropology of Collective Joy

(0) Comments | Posted June 27, 2016 | 9:35 AM

In these days of social, political, and ecological gloom, it's easy to become cynical. Everyday we are bombarded with news of racial prejudice, religious intolerance, economic inequality and xenophobia. Donald Trump, a man who is unabashedly racist, homophobic and misogynistic is about to become the Republican Party's nominee for President...

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The Power of Public Scholarship

(2) Comments | Posted June 12, 2016 | 3:54 PM

In these challenging times scholars need a makeover. Consider the state of the world. In America, Donald Trump, a racist, a misogynist, and a xenophobe who is woefully ignorant of domestic and foreign policy issues not to forget his ignorance of the fundamental principals of the US Constitution, has won...

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Media, The Myth of Trump and What Really Matters

(3) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 12:28 AM

Manchester, UK. Amid the swirl of Trump politics it is easy to lose sight of what is important in social life. There is no shortage of media coverage about Mr. Trump's rise to become the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, his penchant for lying, his authoritarian egomania, his limited knowledge of...

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Trick or Trump: Slipping into the Social Swamp

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2016 | 1:13 PM

As an anthropologist who has studied the human condition for more than 35 years, I've learned that there is a thin line that separates humor from horror, tolerance from bigotry, and order from chaos. If you don't pay careful attention to the social forces that shape your world, it is...

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Anthropology and the Banality of Presidential Politics

(17) Comments | Posted April 17, 2016 | 10:56 AM

Am I alone, or is there an exponentially expanding audience of people who have grown tired of our fight club presidential politics? In this 2016 political season, which has now reached the all-important New York primary, there have been endless exchanges during which the various candidates have unabashedly teased, cajoled...

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The Anthropology of Trump: Myth, Illusion and Celebrity Culture

(12) Comments | Posted March 2, 2016 | 9:56 AM

Yesterday, millions of American voters cast presidential primary ballots on Super Tuesday. In a political season that has confounded political pundits whose judgment has been consistently flawed, Donald Trump, as was expected, had a big night, pushing ever closer to the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Trump has steadfastly defied the...

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Anthropology at the Crossroads

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2016 | 12:52 PM

In many West African societies, the crossroads is place of danger. It is where the social and spirit worlds intersect. Among the Songhay people of the Republic of Niger, the crossroads is a fork in the road, which, in Songhay incantations, is called a point of misfortune. When you reach...

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A Path Toward Well-Being

(2) Comments | Posted February 15, 2016 | 4:58 PM

It's been 15 years since I learned that I had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a set of blood cancers, which, as they say, can be managed but not cured. When I received this devastating news, I thought that my relatively short life would soon be over. How could someone like me, a...

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Trump, Fear and the Big Man

(1) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 7:29 PM

Donald Trump is nothing more -- and nothing less -- than what anthropologists used to call a "Big Man." As I listened yesterday to his hour-long speech at Liberty University I began to understand him as a prototypical Melanesian Big Man. More than a generation ago anthropologists used the Big...

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Creed: Learning About the Life of Men in America

(2) Comments | Posted December 28, 2015 | 1:52 PM

Sometimes we can learn a great deal by going to the movies, which is why I encourage my students to see films. The recently released film, Creed, is a case in point.

Creed has received much critical praise. It is the seventh film of a series that details the...

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Terrorism: A Challenge for the Social Sciences

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 3:23 PM

We live in dangerous times. Our mean streets have become killing fields. During the past year police officers have shot and killed many unarmed African- American men. During the past year Christian terrorists have (1) killed nine innocent African Americans in a historic Charleston, South Carolina church and (2) a...

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On the Margins of Anthropology

(2) Comments | Posted December 2, 2015 | 9:58 AM

Things are usually more creative on the margins, a notion that became evident during the recently concluded meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Denver. The proposed AAA resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions, which occupied center stage, sparked a series serve and volley debates in the corridors of...

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Marco Rubio and the Shallow Pit of American Politics

(2) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 11:04 PM

There is a long tradition of anti-intellectualism in American politics and American society. More than 45 years ago George Wallace, then Governor of Alabama and a presidential candidate, liked to make fun of intellectuals. Writing in the May 14, 2011 edition of The Spectator, Mathew Paris wrote:

When Alabama governor...
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It's Not Easy To Be Old In America

(0) Comments | Posted October 29, 2015 | 7:26 AM

There is much in the news these days about widespread discrimination in America -- heartbreaking stories of police shooting unarmed black men, reports on the shameful rise of Islamophobic violence, and dispatches about hate crimes generated by bias against sexual orientation. Last month a young transgender woman was killed in...

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Ethnographic Interventions: Waking Up and Walking With Abel

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 10:13 PM

The French surrealist Antonin Artaud liked to claim that we journey through life in an open-eyed sleep that condemns us to the deadening realities of routine life. In the Artaudian world routine narrows our vision and dulls our thoughts, transforming the world into a place in which most of us...

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In Defense of Ethnography

(1) 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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