Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination

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University of Chicago Press, May 4, 2012 - Social Science - 344 pages
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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.
 

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Contents

The Question of Truth in the Historiography and Ethnography of Ifá Divination
1
From Nature and Culture to Recursive Analysis
18
The Alterity of Divination
54
The Matter of Truth
75
The Cosmo Praxis of Ifá Divination
109
Power Powder and Vertical Transformation
144
Symbolism Interpretation and the Motility of Meaning
173
Coincidence Revelation Bewilderment
196
Anthropological Truth
237
On Humility
260
The Naming and Ranking of Divinatory Configurations
266
Papers of Ifá An Example
270
Notes
273
Works Cited
289
Index
309
Copyright

The Truth of the Oracles
214

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About the author (2012)

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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