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David Zeitlyn

From the outside, it seems that many of those circling round the ontological turn seem to take for granted that anthropologists can recognize an ontology when they see, taste, or smell one and that no further definition is needed. However, turning

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The Ontological Turn

Taking Different Worlds Seriously

Andrew Pickering

nonhuman world we all inhabit. There’s nothing very disturbing there after all. But in the twenty-first century, the social constructivist consensus has broken down, and both anthropology and science and technology studies (STS) have taken an ontological

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William Matthews

lines prediction are justified according to an explicit ontology—a fully established account of the fundamental kinds of things that exist—which diviners draw on to explain how their practice works. The six lines method is based on the two

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Ontological Opportunism

Reanimating the Inanimate in Physics and Science Communication at CERN

Anne Dippel

underline ontological understanding of science at its most fundamental level. The claim that science is infused with magical thought, animist concepts and has ‘never been modern’ ( Latour 1993 ) has been a long-standing given in anthropology as well as

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Elsa Giovanna Simonetti

perspective as ‘anthropologists of the ancient world’. It will analyze the conceptual structures of the divinatory theories presented by first-hand witnesses and critics in light of modern anthropological findings in the field of ontology and divination. The

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Comparative Perspectives on Divination and Ontology

William Matthews

can be known—has been a perennial concern in anthropology. Building on recent work that analyzes the relationship between divination and ontology ( Holbraad 2012 ; Matthews 2017 ; Swancutt 2012 ), this special issue asks new questions that combine

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Dividing Worlds

Tsunamis, Seawalls, and Ontological Politics in Northeast Japan

Andrew Littlejohn

regions—what I call a politics of ‘ontological dissensus’. By ‘ontological’, I mean related to what Philippe Descola (2014: 271–272) calls ‘worlding’, that is, perceiving, conceiving the nature of and relations between, and interfering with the

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Internal Others

Ethnographies of Naturalism

Matei Candea and Lys Alcayna-Stevens

'Naturalism' is invoked with increasing frequency by anthropologists as a distinctively Western ontology which posits a shared unitary nature, upon which are overlain multiple 'cultures', 'perspectives', or 'worldviews'. But where, if at all, is this ontology to be found? Anthropologists working outside Europe and America have in various ways been urging colleagues to challenge 'our' naturalism in order to be able to take seriously alternative ethnographic realities. In the meantime, anthropologists and STS scholars who study European or American settings ethnographically have increasingly been arguing that 'we' were never (quite) naturalist to begin with. This double move shores 'naturalism' up as a conceptual object, but renders it ethnographically elusive, a perpetually receding horizon invoked in accounts of something else. This introduction explores this paradox and presents the subsequent articles' various experiments with what might seem an impossible task: the ethnography of naturalism itself.

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What Is Happening to Epistemology?

Christina Toren and João de Pina-Cabral

Anthropologists debate the primacy of epistemology over ontology, and vice versa, or whether the one is bound always to implicate the other. Our collective and personal history, however, makes the lived world what it is for us, and not all explicit knowledge is constituted in the same way, with the same purposes in mind and within the same sets of binding parameters. Thus, the task of ethnography is to inquire into the different nature of the different forms and modes of constituting knowledge, even while we strive to understand what our own histories make us take for granted as self-evident. This article argues that as a profoundly radical endeavor after knowledge, ethnography goes to the very roots of inquiry into what it is to be human and thus provides for anthropology as a continuing comparative project of fundamental importance to the human sciences.

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Infrastructures of Certainty and Doubt

Matthew Carey and Morten Axel Pedersen

, characterizes certain currents of the recent ontological turn in anthropology, which can be seen, in some lights, as a radical attempt to assert the centrality of certainty to human existence. This is rarely made explicit, but is nonetheless quite obvious if we