Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination by Martin Holbraad

Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination

byMartin Holbraad

Paperback | June 1, 2012

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Embarking on an ethnographic journey to the inner barrios of Havana among practitioners of Ifá, a prestigious Afro-Cuban tradition of divination, Truth in Motion reevaluates Western ideas about truth in light of the practices and ideas of a wildly different, and highly respected, model. Acutely focusing on Ifá, Martin Holbraad takes the reader inside consultations, initiations, and lively public debates to show how Ifá practitioners see truth as something to be not so much represented, as transformed. Bringing his findings to bear on the discipline of anthropology itself, he recasts the very idea of truth as a matter not only of epistemological divergence but also of ontological difference—the question of truth, he argues, is not simply about how things may appear differently to people, but also about the different ways of imagining what those things are. By delving so deeply into Ifá practices, Truth in Motion offers cogent new ways of thinking about otherness and how anthropology can navigate it.  

About The Author

Martin Holbraad teaches social anthropology at University College London. He is coeditor of Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically and Technologies of the Imagination. 
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Title:Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban DivinationFormat:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:June 1, 2012Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226349217

ISBN - 13:9780226349213

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Preface
 The Book’s Agenda
 Rudiments of Argument and Strategy
 Recursive Structure

Introduction: The Question of Truth in the Historiography and Ethnography of Ifá Divination  
 Truth as an Ethnographic Object
 Ifá in West Africa and the Prestige of Truth
 Afro-American Religion and the Politics of Its Representation

1. Truth in Anthropology: From Nature and Culture to Recursive Analysis
 Evolutionism, “Diffusionism,” Constructivism: The Fall of Truth 
 Toward a Recursive Analysis of Truth 

2. Truth Beyond Doubt: The Alterity of Divination 
 Divination in Anthropology 
 Evans-Pritchard on Oracles 
 Boyer on Divination, Causal Indices, and Truth  
 Divination and Indubitability 
 Desiderata for an Analysis of Divinatory Truth 

3. Living Ifá: The Matter of Truth 
 True Encounters 
 Divinatory Regulation: Javier’s Initiatory Career 
 Divination and the Path of Initiation 
 The Matrix of Initiation and the Propulsion of Paths 
 Living Ifá 
 Speaking Ifá and the Economy of Learning 
 Secrets

4. Mythical Transcendence and Ritual Elicitation: The Cosmo-Praxis of Ifá Divination 
 The Problem with the Problem of Transcendence 
 Myth and Transcendence 
 Ritual and Immanence 
 The Cosmological Problem of Divination 
 The Liturgy of Ifá Divination 

5. The Ontology of Motion: Power, Powder and Vertical Transformation 
 Ontological Non Sequiturs 
 Motile Practice—A Choreography of Nuts 
 Motile Discourse—Talking of Paths 
 Motile Cosmology—Aché in Divination 
 An Interlude on the Analysis of Motility—or, the Power of Powder 
 Motile Ontology—Potential Relations and the Direction of Motion  

6. Divinatory Metamorphosis: Symbolism, Interpretation, and the Motility of Meaning 
 The Problem of Symbolism and the Motility of Meaning 
 Interrogating Orula 
 “Speaking the Signo,” “Interpreting the Paths” 
 Motile Meanings in Divination 

7. The Event of Truth: Coincidence, Revelation, Bewilderment 
 Coincidence, Paths, and the Event of Truth (or Bewilderment) 
 Motile Truth, Representation and Their Mutual Eclipse 
 Skepticism and Misunderstanding 

8. Definition and Obligation: The Truth of the Oracles 
 No Lies, No Mistakes 
 Divination and Definition 
 Divination and Obligation 
 Initiation as Ontological Transformation 
 Equivocations 

Conclusion: Anthropological Truth 
 Divination and Anthropology 
 Ontography as Antidivination 

Epilogue: On Humility 

Appendix A: The Naming and Ranking of Divinatory Configurations 
Appendix B: “Papers of Ifá”: An Example 

Notes  
Works Cited 
Index