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ISBN: "9780999157008

HAU 15 November 2018

Paperback 386 pages


We have all found ourselves involuntarily addressing inanimate objects as though they were human. For a fleeting instant, we act as though our cars and computers can hear us. In situations like ritual or play, objects acquire a range of human characteristics, such as perception, thought, action, or speech. Puppets, dolls, and ritual statuettes cease to be merely addressees and begin to address us--we see life in them. How might we describe the kind of thought that gives life to the artifact, making it memorable as well as effective, in daily life, play, or ritual action? Following The Chimera Principle, in this collection of essays Carlo Severi explores the kind of shared imagination where inanimate artifacts, from non-Western masks and ritual statuettes to paintings and sculptures in our own tradition, can be perceived as living beings. This nuanced inquiry into the works of memory and shared imagination is a proposal for a new anthropology of thought. Editorial Reviews Review "[Severi's] book invites us to enter distant cultures not to get lost in them but, rather, to acquire perspectives and tools that will enable us to better understand what is happening at home. . . . As the expert, professional anthropologist that he is, Severi takes us into a multiplicity of contexts to view culturally constructed objects to which--in an equally cultural manner--are attributed a capacity for intentionality and interaction that is particularly efficacious and incisive in social life. . . . The ethnographic information that Severi brings in provides such a wealth of material and so many ramifications of conceptual implications that readers soon realize they are not wandering in marginal zones of culture and human thought. . . . In fact, entire chapters of his book are devoted to Western art, even abstract art, and the pages in which he examines problems of perspective in Renaissance art are masterful." -- Francesco Remotti ― Il Nuovo Manifesto Societ� Cooperativa Editrice "Interwoven in his analysis and discussion of particular cases, Severi makes his most remarkable breakthroughs. . . . The richness of the cases studied, the results presented, and the notions proposed will be useful to any observer who grapples with images." -- Nicolas Sarzeaud ― Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales "[A] dense work of great scholarly richness. The stated aim of the book is to elaborate an anthropology of art and, more broadly, to contribute to a general anthropology of forms of exercising thought. . . . Whether it is a matter of memorization with images rather than with writing (as in the examples of the khipus in the Andes or the basketry of the Yekwana in the Upper Orinoco) or of authority asserted through images rather than writing, all the chapters explore and underscore the expansive role played by images in thought. . . . The author also invites us to measure the weight of modern primitivism, one of the striking topics of the book. . . . Severi offers beautiful reflections [and] analyses that are especially original." -- Fran�oise Armengaud ― L'Homme: Revue fran�aise d'anthropologie "A masterpiece for its rare combination of erudition, attention to ethnographic detail, and its vast conceptual imagination. It is a unique book from a unique author who invites us to join him on a intellectual journey along a path, following the threads that guide us to new discoveries every step of the way. Using data from different parts of the world and different historical periods, Severi keeps the reader so enthralled that the title, Capturing Imagination, ends up sounding like an augur. Let yourself be captured." -- Carlos Fausto, author of Warfare and Shamanism in Amazonia "The relation between person and object is a topic that has been central to theory in anthropology and to the method of ethnography since its inception. With this excellent English translation of L'Objet-personne, Carlo Severi invites us to revisit the legacy of assumptions and resulting models that have influenced how we conduct ourselves around objects, how we approach them in research and analysis, and how we account for the difference they make to culture and society. A tour de force on the topic of person and object and its manifold offshoots, the book is a must-read for anyone acquainted with earlier classics and their unanswered questions, which are exposed and debated here in the most nuanced, sophisticated, and hugely accessible and readable manner. This book indeed is a joy to read and a gift for anyone interested in the fundamental paradox of being human." -- Susanne Kuechler, author of Malanggan: Art, Memory and Sacrifice About the Author Carlo Severi is professor at the École des hautes �tudes en sciences sociales and director of research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique.