Landmark anthropological works on fame have shown that gift-giving is often the vehicle for producing relations of 'positive value' and recognition. When viewing fame against the related notion of fortune, however, the focal point of study shifts to how people produce reputations that are 'beyond value' or 'priceless'. This article proposes that the Nuosu of Southwest China enter into an ongoing 'economy of ordeals' in order to accumulate priceless 'tokens of value' that increase their 'fate-fortune' and fame. It shows that ambitious Nuosu accept new ordeals to achieve fame, while comfortably viewing their accomplishments as akin to those of a predatory spider. Tellingly, though, these efforts are vulnerable to the counter-extractive maneuvers of other people and ghosts, which present the Nuosu with new ordeals that could deplete their resources.
Subjects of Luck—Contingency, Morality, and the Anticipation of Everyday Life
Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey
This introduction illustrates the modalities in which different societies imagine the tension between the impersonal and individual- ized aspects of fortune and fate. After briefly discussing the role of contingency, fortune, and gambling in the formation of subjectivities, we outline how different societies confront the moral conundrums arising from fortune's unequal distribution in the world. We highlight how luck orientations presentify the future by the deployment of what we name 'technologies of anticipation'. Luck and fortune can be seen as conceptual techniques for short-circuiting temporal subjectivities by creating a crack in time-a space of 'compossibility'-where events deemed to be fatal and inevitable become negotiable. We conclude with a reflection on dice, randomness, and acts of gambling in which not merely subjectivities but the fate or fortune of larger social aggrega- tions-including the cosmos-is deemed at stake.
Giovanni da Col and Caroline Humphrey
As with the preceding companion issue (Social Analysis 56, no. 1), this special issue is concerned with the ways in which fortune, luck, and chance are conceived in a range of different societies and how these concepts are employed to negotiate the contingencies and uncertainties of everyday life. Taken together, the articles gathered in this second collection deal with human attempts to project their desire for mastering uncertainties about the future while solving the moral predicaments of fortune’s proportions and their management in everyday life. Ranging from Melanesian and Greek gamblers to online gamers and Siberian hunters, from lay Chinese mathematicians of fate to young Mongolians, the ethnographies in this special issue reveal the creative potentials of practical matrixes for calculating luck and mobilizing diverse ‘technologies of anticipation’ of the future. A few of the articles present rites to invoke fortune, gambling, or games as practices to master contingency and as generative fields of agentive creativity and subjectivity.
Sarah Townsend, Anna J. Willow, Emily Stokes-Rees, Katherine Hayes, Peter C. Little, Timothy Murtha, Kristen Krumhardt, Thomas Hendricks, Stephanie Friede, Peter Benson and Gregorio Ortiz
ANDERSON, E. N., Caring for Place: Ecology, Ideology, and Emotion in Traditional Landscape Management
ÁRNASON, Arnar, Nicolas ELLISON, Jo VERHUNST, and Andrew WHITEHOUSE, eds., Landscapes Beyond Land: Routes, Aesthetics, Narratives
BARNARD, Timothy P., ed., Nature Contained: Environmental Histories of Singapore
BARTHEL-BOUCHIER, Diane, Cultural Heritage and the Challenge of Sustainability
FOOTE, Stephanie and Elizabeth MAZZOLINI, eds., Histories of the Dustheap: Waste, Material Cultures, Social Justice
HAKANSSON, Thomas N. and Mats WIDGREN, eds., Landesque Capital: The Historical Ecology of Enduring Landscape Modifications
PERLMUTTER, David and Robert ROTHSTEIN, The Challenge of Climate Change: Which Way Now?
RUPP, Stephanie, Forests of Belonging: Identities, Ethnicities, and Stereotypes in the Congo River Basin
SODIKOFF, Genese Marie, ed., The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death
SWANSON, Drew A., A Golden Weed: Tobacco and Environment in the Piedmont South
WILBER, Tom, Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale