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There are many highly respectable motives which may lead men to prosecute research, but three which are much more important than the rest. The first (without which the rest must come to nothing) is intellectual curiosity, desire to know the truth. Then, professional pride, anxiety to be satisfied with one's performance, the shame that overcomes any self-respecting craftsman when his work is unworthy of his talent. Finally, ambition, desire for reputation, and the position, even the power or the money, which it brings. It may be fine to feel, when you have done your work, that you have added to the happiness or alleviated the suffering of others, but that will not be why you did it. So if a mathematician, or a chemist, or even a physiologist, were to tell me that the driving force in his work had been the desire to benefit humanity, then I should not believe him (nor should I think the better of him if I did). His dominant motives have been those which I have stated, and in which, surely, there is nothing of which any decent man need be ashamed.

G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology, CUP, 1940

Selected papers available for download

NB: Unless the paper is already freely available on the internet, the links presented here are to author's proofs which may not be identical to the published version. To cite correctly, and where necessary, please refer to the published version of the paper in question

2014: Revolución o muerte: the political ontology of Cuban revolution. Ethnos 79(3): 365-387
2014: How Things Can Unsettle. Pp. 228-237 in Casella E, Harvey P, Evans G, Knox H, McLean C, Silva E, Thoburn N, Woodward, K. (eds), Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion. London: Routledge

2014: The Politics of Ontology: Anthropological Positions (with M.A. Pedersen & E Viveiros de Castro). Cultural Anthropology blogspot on Theorizing the Contemporary

2013: Introduction: Times of security (with Morten A. Pedersen). Pp. 1-27 in M. Holbraad & M.A. Pedersen (eds.) Times of Security: Ethnographies of Fear, Protest and the Future. New York: Routledge.

2013: Scoping recursivity: A comment on Franklin and Napier. Cambridge Anthropology 31(2): 123-127

2013: Moralidad y obligación en los sistemas de adivinación del Ifá cubano. Caminos: Revista Cubana de Penamiento Socioteológico 68/69: 48-53

2013: Things as concepts: Anthropology and pragmatology. Pp 17-30 in G. Pereira (ed.), Savage Objects. Guimaraes: INCM

2012: Revolutionary securitization: an anthropological extension of securitization theory. International Theory 4(2): 165-197

2012: Truth beyond doubt: Ifá oracles in Havana. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2(1): 81-110

2012: “Worlds otherwise:” archaeology, anthropology and ontological difference. ‘CA Forum in Anthropological Theory’ with B. Alberti, S. Fowles, Y. Marshall, C Witmore. Current Anthropology 52(6): 896-912

2012: Contemporary cosmologies, critical re-imaginings (with A. Abramson). Religion and Society (Advances in Research) 3: 35-50

2011: Can the thing speak? OAP Press, Working Paper Series #7

2010: Ontology is just another word for culture: against the motion. Debate & Discussion (from GDAT 2008, S. Venkatesan (ed.)). Critique of Anthropology 30(2): 179-185, 185-200 passim

2011: Dinheiro e necessidades no “period Especial’ de Havana [Portuguese version of ‘Money and need in “Special Period” Havana’]. Pp. 367-394 in Olívia Maria Gomez da Cunha (ed.) Outras Ilhas: Espaços, Temporalidades e Transformações em Cuba, Rio de Janeiro: Aeroplano Editora Link to version in English

2010: The whole beyond holism: gambling, divination and ethnography in Cuba. Pp. 67-86 in N. Bubandt & T. Otto (eds.) Experiments in Holism: Theory and Practice in  Contemporary Anthropology, Malden & Oxford: Riley-Blackwell

2010: Of ises and oughts: an endnote on divinatory obligation. Pp 265-274 in P. Curry (ed.) Divination: Perspectives for a New Millennium, Farnham: Ashgate 

2009: Technologies of the imagination: An introduction (with D. Sneath and M.A. Pedersen). Special Issue on Technologies of the Imagination, M. Holbraad & M.A. Pedersen (eds.), Ethnos 74(1): 5-30

2009: (with M.A. Pedersen) Planet M: the intense abstraction of Marilyn Strathern. Anthropological Theory 9(4): 371-94

2009: Ontology, ethnography, archaeology: an afterword on the ontography of things. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19(3): 431-441

2008: Definitive evidence, from Cuban gods. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (Special Issue /Objects of Evidence/, M. Engelke (ed.)), S93-S109//

2008: Relationships in motion:* *oracular recruitment and ontological definition in Cuban Ifá cults. Cahiers Systèmes de Pensée en Afrique Noire 18: 219-264 

2007: Introduction: Thinking through things (with A. Henare and S. Wastell).  Pp 1-31 in A. Henare, M. Holbraad & S. Wastell (eds.) Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically, London: Routledge.

2007: (with R. Willerslev) Transcendental perspectivism: anonymous viewpoints from Inner Asia. (Afterword to Special Issue on Inner Asian Perspectivisms’), Inner Asia 9(2): 329-345

2007: The power of powder: multiplicity and motion in the divinatory cosmology of Cuban Ifá (or /mana/ again). Pp189-225 in A. Henare, M. Holbraad & S. Wastell (eds.) Thinking Through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically, London: Routledge. LINK TO ABRIDGED VERSION, published in /Bedeutung/ 3: 42-56

2005: Expending multiplicity: money in Cuban Ifá cults. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 11(2): 231-54

2004: Religious “speculation”: the rise of Ifá cults and consumption in post-Soviet Havana. Journal of Latin American Studies 36(4): 1-21

2003: Estimando a necessidade: os oráculos de ifá e a verdade em Havana. Mana 9(2): 39-77

Further items available for download

Translation (from Portuguese to English, with J. Sauma) of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s The relative native. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3 (3): 469–71

Book blurb for Portuguese translation of Roy Wagner’s The Invention of Culture. A Invençâo da Cultura, Sao Paulo: Cosacnaify

Raising the anti-, or relativism squared (Response to Barbara Herrnstein-Smith). Common Knowledge 17(1): 31-36

Response to Webb Keane’s review of Thinking Through Things

Response to Danny Miller’s review of Thinking Through Things

Response to Bruno Latour’s ‘Thou shall not Freeze-Frame’



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