Commenting on two articles that have appealed to the notion of 'recursivity' to articulate new directions for anthropological thinking, this piece seeks to clarify the scope of a recursive turn in contemporary anthropology, distinguishing it from elements of recursivity that have always been present in the discipline's epistemic procedures.
A Comment on Franklin and Napier
Tricksters in Cuban and Brazilian Spirit Mediumship Practices
Diana Espírito Santo
of the dividends of their awareness for human experience. Recursivity here is thus deeply related to self-reflexivity or self-awareness: it is because the cosmos is aware of itself as cosmos (in its constitution) that it is able to describe, produce
Overcoming the Quantity-Quality Divide in Economic Anthropology
Sandy Ross, Mario Schmidt, and Ville Koskinen
addresses that gap by exploring new dimensions of money’s quantities. Modes of Divisibility: Arithmetic and Recursive Quantities Jean Piaget’s (1965) research on how children understand conservation of quantities can help explain differences between
"The Invention of Culture" and After
At the beginning of the Winnebago trickster cycle, trickster fails as a chief by repeatedly calling a war party (which chiefs never do) each time only to be found cohabiting with a woman (which war leaders never do). Eventually leading his warriors, trickster utterly alienates them by smashing his own canoe and sacred war bundle. Finally left entirely alone, he then uses straw dummies to trick a buffalo into a quagmire, but as he carves the meat, his left and right arms fight over it; his right arm, holding the knife, butchers his left arm, leaving trickster to despair.
Quantity, Social Freedom, and Combinatory Practices in Western Kenya
, concrete, and recursive. This equivocality enables actors to use money as a sign that stands against—rather than for—itself ( Wagner 1986 ). On the one hand, money can symbolize cruel, arbitrary omnipotence (abstract money, pesa mok bi rumo , ‘money that
Experiments in Energy, Capital, and Aluminium
towards the apparent stability of industrial production. But what this fieldwork from south Iceland shows is that relations of instability and stability are not absolute, but recursive. As the Icelandic state continues to intercede in the landscape
a comprehensive gold assay, the form of the money chain facilitated its functionality as an object of exchange. In the money chain we find a piece of jewelry that exhibits the same properties as money in terms of recursive divisibility. The chain is
New Conception Models for a Recursive Anthropology?
Drawing on fieldwork in U.K. stem cell labs, where early human development is modelled in vitro using cell culture systems, and cultured cell lines are used to make new diagnostic tools, this article explores a new meaning for the phrase 'conception model'. In the London labs where the author has conducted fieldwork since the 1990s are many examples of how human reproductive cells are being used to manufacture and 'road test' new diagnostic tools. This article explores the recursion involved in modelling early development 'in man' (as opposed to mouse, axolotl or sea urchin), and develops anthropological analyses of living human cell systems grown in Petri dishes that are aimed at illuminating the causes of human pathology. It is argued that several different levels of recursive modelling occur via 'in vitro anthropos', and that these cellular models introduce a useful perspective on the debate over 'reflexive' anthropology, and the more recent turn to a 'recursive' anthropology. However, different kinds of difference are at stake in these two projects. Using cell culture modelling practices, and the 'conception model' offered by dish life as an analytic vantage point, the article offers a 'looped' view to illustrate what the 'recursive turn' might look like, or reveal, as an ethnographic project. In contrast to the 'loopy' view of much reflexive anthropology, fieldwork through the looking glass, including the explicit turn to a recursive anthropology, is argued to be both an empirically robust and a conceptually creative practice.
Renovation, Relocation, Remediation, and Repositioning Museums
This article examines the changing relationship between museums and heritage using a number of Dutch cases. It argues that if heritage was once defined as being museological in character, this order of precedence is under revision as museums themselves are recursively transformed by heritage dynamics. Such dynamics include the display of renovation work-in-progress; the enhancement of historical collections by relocation to prominent new sites and buildings; the transformation of old industrial sites into new art and public spaces; and a mutual reinforcement between the urban landscape setting and the institutions that compose it by virtual means. Postcolonial heritage practices worldwide enfold museums in a further set of transformatory dynamics: these include claims on cultural property that was removed in colonial times, but also the strategic transformation of cultural property into heritage for didactic purposes. Museums are subject to the recursive dynamics of heritage, which are turning them inside out.
Taking Amazonian Climate Science Seriously
Drawing on fieldwork with researchers and technicians involved in a scientific project in the Brazilian rainforest, this article explores specific aspects of climate science in the Amazon. It suggests that taking science seriously anthropologically requires an investigation into the relation between endo-anthropology and exo-anthropology. This is done recursively by exploring a particular way in which what is 'inside' and what is 'outside' are achieved and negotiated in the scientific practice under study. Researchers and technicians 'do' some crucial distinctions with data, and the article points to the importance of the flux of data and the boundaries and sides that emerge from the control of that flux.