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An Anthropology of Things

Ikuya Tokoro (author) Kaori Kawai (author)

ISBN: 9781920901738

Publication Date: Jun 2021

Format: Paperback

Highlights the important roles that things play in our everyday lives by examining how things and humans interact. Based on ethnographical data from Asia, Africa, and Oceania, the included essays challenge the instrumentalist idea that humans alone are subjects with agency (freedom to act) while things are merely objects at their disposal.
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Highlights the important roles that things play in our everyday lives by examining how things and humans interact. Based on ethnographical data from Asia, Africa, and Oceania, the included essays challenge the instrumentalist idea that humans alone are subjects with agency (freedom to act) while things are merely objects at their disposal. Anthropologists have, typically, viewed things through anthropocentric lenses; reducing things to social function or cultural meaning.

The book's approach is to shift the question from "what do things mean?" to "what do they do (cause)?" - a shift from meaning to agency. Using an interdisciplinary approach, including researchers from archaeology, ecological anthropology and primatology, as well as cultural anthropologists, and taking the broadest understanding of things, this book probes the permeable boundaries between subject and object, mind and body, and between humans and things to demonstrate that cultures and things are mutually constitutive.

This book was published as a joint publication with Kyoto University Press.
Pages 420
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Jun 2021
Publisher Trans Pacific Press
Subject/s Social & cultural anthropology  
  • Figures
  • Tables
  • Photographs
  • Contributors
  • Prologue: Let Things Tell Us 1
  • Introduction: Why the Anthropology of Mono (Things)?
  • Part I: The Genesis, Extinction and Continuation of Mono
  • 1 Between Form, Word and Materiality: Shanbei Paper-Cuts
  • 2 Mono that lurk, retreat, or manifest: Mono and the body
  • Part II: The Nexus Between Mono and the Environment
  • 3 Mono beyond control: A New Perspective on Cultured Pearls
  • 4 An Ecological Analysis of Pottery Culture: From Clay to "Mono"
  • Part III: The Dynamic Between Mono and the Body
  • 5 Learning Pottery Making: Transmission of Body Techniques
  • 6 Nature and the Body in Male Sex Stimulants
  • Part IV: The Agency of Mono
  • 7 Masks as Performers: Topeng, a Balinese Masked Dance Drama
  • 8 "Living" Musical Instruments: On Changing Sounds of Suling
  • 9 Mono that Show and Tempt: Contingency by Fortune-Tellers
  • Part V: Toward a New Mono Theory
  • 10 The Origin of Tool-using Behavior and Human Evolution
  • 11 "Things" and Their Emergent Sociality in the Primates' World
  • 12 Livestock as Interface: The Case of the Samburu in Kenya
  • 13 The Cicadas Drizzle of the Chamus
  • Epilogue: Stonehood: Agency as Inagency
  • Essay I: The Appearance of "Mono"
  • I-1 Where a Name Acquires a Form: Motifs of Javanese Batik
  • I-2 Kashta Drives People: The "Mono" Power of Uzbek Embroidery
  • I-3 "Play" Between Mono and Humans: Interdependence with bananas?
  • Essay II: Mysterious "Mono"
  • II-1 Fetishism on Pagodas and Buddha Images
  • II-2 "Mono" Sucked Out of the Body: Shamanic Rituals of Ladakh
  • Essay III: Fluctuating "Mono"
  • III-1 Globalization of Aboriginal Paintings, Localization of "Art"
  • III-2 The Bodies and Art Forms of Pacific Islander Artists
  • III-3 Staying Authentic: Between bingata and Ryukyu Bingata
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Ikuya Tokoro is a Japanese cultural anthropologist specializing in Southeast Asian anthropology who currently holds the position of Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian and African Languages ??and Cultures, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. After graduating from the Faculty of Literature, Keio University, in 1989, he completed an MA at the University of Tokyo in 1991. He was Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo before taking up his current position.

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