By Martin Holbraad
Embarking on an ethnographic trip to the internal barrios of Havana between practitioners of Ifá, a prestigious Afro-Cuban culture of divination, fact in movement reevaluates Western principles approximately fact in gentle of the practices and ideas of a wildly varied, and hugely revered, version. Acutely concentrating on Ifá, Martin Holbraad takes the reader inside of consultations, initiations, and full of life public debates to teach how Ifá practitioners see fact as anything to be now not quite a bit represented, as remodeled. Bringing his findings to undergo at the self-discipline of anthropology itself, he recasts the very notion of fact as an issue not just of epistemological divergence but in addition of ontological difference—the query of fact, he argues, isn't easily approximately how issues might seem another way to humans, but in addition concerning the alternative ways of imagining what these issues are. via delving so deeply into Ifá practices, fact in movement deals cogent new methods of wondering otherness and the way anthropology can navigate it.
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Additional resources for Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination
Crucially, these methodological debates about scientific credentials were not about whether sociocultural anthropology could continue to be deemed a science, but about how. The diffusionist move did not shake anthropologists’ confidence in their ability to offer true representations of the world, nor did it dent their assumption that in this respect they were better than the people they studied. Taking their claim to truth as given, what was at issue methodologically for anthropologists as they moved into the twentieth century was how best to articulate the particular character of truth-claims about sociocultural phenomena and how to provide epistemological justifications for them that would be as robust as those of natural science.
Yet it is not self-evident that the most politically responsive way to think about those whom colonial (imperial, Western, rationalist) imaginaries have denigrated as savage is to accord them their rightful share of agency in world history. , see Strathern 1988; Mahmood 2004; Kirsch 2006; and Kelly 2011 for alternatives). True: conferring agency to erstwhile “savages” in our scholarly narratives of what matters is politically desirable in our own terms. But how far it is in theirs, and if so in what ways, are open ethnographic questions.
So, insofar as babalawo’s divinatory expertise draws its authority from Orunmila’s mythical role as impartial arbitrator, their position vis-à-vis the cults of other orisa is similarly encompassing. One might say, then, that what distinguishes babalawo’s appeals to the mythical precedents of cosmogony is a peculiar coincidence of form and content. In form the babalawo’s cosmological argument matches analogous claims by the devotees of other deities. , for their cowry-oracle) by appeal to the power of the orisa himself as virile god of thunder, or a royal pretender may affirm his political clout by tracing his lineage back to the founder-god Oduduwa.
Truth in Motion: The Recursive Anthropology of Cuban Divination by Martin Holbraad