An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Anthropology: Perspectives (2/2)

This is the second post (of two) on psychoanalytic anthropology. The previous post, which discussed background details, is located here. There is significant diversity in how anthropologists have engaged or adopted psychoanalytic methods and theory in their ethnographic research and writing.  To summarize these perspectives, I grouped these approaches into four categories.  While presented as …

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An Introduction to Psychoanalytic Anthropology: The Background (1/2)

There has always been a kinship between anthropology and psychoanalysis, however uneven, from Freud’s interest in anthropological data and his attempts to link the psyche with social forms, to more contemporary shared theorizations of the self and subjectivity in culturally diverse contexts.  Psychoanalyst and anthropologist Elizabeth Bott-Spillius believed that while the content and expressions between …

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What is Cultural Psychodynamics?

I frequently refer to parts of my research and writing as grounded in or working from a "cultural psychodynamic" perspective. What is this? In short, it is a theory and methodology that brings together perspectives from cultural phenomenology and psychoanalysis. It emphasizes the complexity of cultural subjects and examines the ways in which culture and …

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Reflections on the 2016 Boyer Award

This was originally posted on the Society for Psychological Anthropology blog. In it, I summarize my award winning article.  While most scholarly accounts of divination focus on its social functions, in A Psychodynamic Phenomenology of Nankani Interpretive Divination and the Formation of Meaning, I emphasize Nankani divination’s meaning-making features and explain how divination shapes people’s subjectivity …

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Finding Empathy Through Troubling Stories

This reflection was originally posted on the University of Wisconsin Press website to mark the publication of my book, "Spirit Children: Illness and Poverty in Ghana." As I began writing about infanticide and the “spirit child” phenomenon in Northern Ghana, I became interested in how narratives of vulnerability and difficult human experiences can evoke powerful …

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