In the essay “The Corn Wolf,” Michael Taussig took issue with “agribusiness writing” as standard social science procedure. Taussig contrasted that with the erratic (“nervous system”) ways of the Corn Wolf as filtered through Wittgenstein’s critique of Frazer, a critique which emphasizes the magic in our language and academic discourse despite our lack of awareness thereof. For this Theorizing the Present lecture, Taussig will explore various apotropaisms—or magic against magic—including the fetishes that spring organically from one’s own research and writing as a matter of writerly survival.
Michael Taussig is an anthropologist known for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style as an academic. He is currently a professor of anthropology at both Columbia University and the European Graduate School (EGS) in Switzerland. In spite of his numerous publications in his field, especially in medical anthropology, Taussig is most acclaimed for his commentaries on Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism. Michael Taussig is the author of the following books: 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).
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