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The Magic of Mimesis: A Historically Informed Anthropology of Sympathetic Magic and Contact

 

Raquel Romberg provides an in depth review of magic and mimesis from an anthropological perspective. Drawing on her own exhaustive research into Afro-Latin rituals and Taussig’s “first and second contact”, Romberg turns her post into a reflexive project: a fourth contact that acts as an embodied retelling with its own ethnographic and spiritual ‘power’.

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Magic and the Kula

Few studies of material culture have been as thorough, have had as much influence, or have been discussed in as many anthropology classrooms as Bronislaw Malinowski’s classic treatment, Argonauts of the Western Pacific. In the book, Malinowski chronicles a complicated network of gift exchange known as the “kula ring” among inhabitants of numerous Trobriand Islands. By detailing the people involved, the journeys, the items of exchange, ritual practices, et cetera, Malinowski helped to establish the significance of reciprocity in human culture and experience.

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