208. Gellnerovský seminář – William Mazzarella

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What if one were to take seriously the proposition that advertising isn’t like magic, rather it is magic? And further, what if advertising isn’t just a matter of manipulation, but also, for the magician themselves, a question of entering a volatile relation with ambiguous powers? My talk explores this theme via the story of the rise and fall of Kersy Katrak – charismatic Bombay adman, published poet, and practicing occultist. The talk is at the same time, in a minor key, a meditation on the long tail of ethnographic enchantment.


William Mazzarella is the Neukom Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India (2003), of Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity (2013), and of The Mana of Mass Society (2017). He is the co-author, with Eric Santner and Aaron Schuster, of Sovereignty Inc: Three Inquiries in Politics and Enjoyment (2020), and the co-editor, with Raminder Kaur, of Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction (2009). He is also the editor of K D Katrak: Collected Poems (2016).