209. Gellnerovský seminář – Paul Stoller

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In this lecture, which is adapted from my most recent book, Wisdom from the Edge, I attempt to show how anthropological insights about the human condition are important elements in any future blueprint for social and cultural change. It is no exaggeration to state that the world is in trouble. Our routine social, cultural, and political and ecological expectations have been undermined. As David Vine recently wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic, the global economic crisis, the unprecedented uprisings for justice have demonstrated the urgency of dedicating our skills, anthropological or otherwise, to healing the world.” In this presentation, I suggest that anthropologists can produce rigorously researched narrative works that are attuned to an age of crises. Those works, in turn, can convey to the world profoundly important anthropological insights that embody much-needed indigenous knowledge—in my case West African knowledge—to a world in dire need of indigenous wisdom. In the end, a more intense focus on writing-as-art can ensure that our slowly developed insights can become fundamental elements in the public sphere, elements that contribute directly to healing a world confronting a set of life-threatening social, cultural, ecological, and political crises.


Paul Stoller is Permanent Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies at Friedrich Alexander University/Erlangen.