Michael Taussig: "The Wasp and the Orchid: Tales of Metamorphic Sublimity"

Departmental Seminar Series features Michael Taussig, Professor in the Department of Anthropology, NY Columbia University.

The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!

Brief description (abstract)

Trying to figure out the mastery of non-mastery, I pause on Proust’s alignment of the mimesis between wasp and orchid, with that of the sexual encounter between a baron and a tailor—prelude to my thoughts on shamanism and paramilitary massacres as copies chasing copies.

Research profile

Professor Michael Taussig is one of the most innovative, distinguished, and socially engaged voices in cultural anthropology. An interdisciplinary thinker and engaging writer, Taussig’s work combines aspects of ethnography, story-telling, and social theory.

Strongly influenced by both the Frankfurt School of critical theory and French post-structuralism, Taussig was a part of the shift during the 1980s within the field of anthropology. His work contributed to an increasing mistrust of cultural analyses from the perspective of the dominant culture, i.e. Western capitalist culture. It was his early experiences as a doctor in Colombia in the late 1960s that influenced a fundamental change in his conception of the role of stories and narratives—over and against objective scholarship—in cultural formation. Ethnography became a conscious positive force in culture, as no account was intrinsically innocent or objective any longer. This led Michael Taussig to begin intermixing fact and fiction in his ethnographic studies, thus his status as a controversial figure in the field of anthropology.

Michael Taussig is the author of the following books: Palma Africana (2018), The Corn Wolf (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2012), What Color is the Sacred? (2009), Walter Benjamin’s Grave (2006), My Cocaine Museum (2004), Law in a Lawless Land: Diary of a Limpieza in a Colombian Town (2003), Defacement (1999), Magic of the State (1997), Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (1993), The Nervous System (1992), Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (1987), and The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1980).

Published Dec. 18, 2018 1:05 PM - Last modified May 14, 2019 1:25 PM