HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory

As every experienced fieldworker knows, the most difficult task in social anthropological fieldwork is to determine the meaning of a few key words, upon an understanding of which the success of the whole investigation depends. – E. E. Evans-Pritchard

HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, is an international peer-reviewed, open-access journal which aims to situate ethnography as the prime heuristic of anthropology, and return it to the forefront of conceptual developments in the discipline.

The journal is motivated by the need to reinstate ethnographic theorization in contemporary anthropology as a potent alternative to its 'explanation' or 'contextualization' by philosophical arguments, moves which have resulted in a loss of the discipline’s distinctive theoretical nerve. By drawing out its potential to critically engage and challenge Western cosmological assumptions and conceptual determinations, HAU aims to provide an exciting new arena for evaluating ethnography as a daring enterprise for 'worlding' alien terms and forms of life, by exploiting their potential for rethinking humanity and alterity.

HAU takes its name from Mauss’ Spirit of the Gift, an anthropological concept that derives its theoretical potential precisely from the translational inadequations and equivocations involved in comparing the incomparable. Through their reversibility, such inferential misunderstandings invite us to explore how encounters with alterity occasion the resurgence and revisitation of indigenous knowledge practices. As an online journal, HAU stresses immediacy of publication, allowing for the timely publication and distribution of untimely ideas. Aiming to attract the most daring thinkers in the discipline, regardless of position or background, HAU also places no restriction on further publication of material published by the journal.

HAU welcomes submissions that strengthen ethnographic engagement with received knowledges, and revive the vibrant themes of anthropology through debate and engagement with other disciplines and explore domains held until recently to be the province of economics, philosophy and the natural sciences. Topics addressed by the journal include indigenous ontologies and systems of knowledge, forms of human engagement and relationality, cosmology and myth, magic, witchcraft and sorcery, truth and falsehood, indigenous theories of kinship and relatedness with humans and non-humans, hierarchy, materiality, perception, environment and space, time and temporality, personhood and subjectivity, alternative metaphysics of morality.



Social Media Intern Program - Call for Applications


The Editors of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory have decided to establish a Social Media Intern Program through which graduate students (with priority given to graduate students from HAU-N.E.T., Network of Ethnographic Theory partner-institutions) can be involved in the journal’s efforts to bring high-quality open-access anthropology to a wide readership.

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Vol 3, No 3 (2013)

Cover Page

Table of Contents


Father Christmas rejuvenated PDF
Giovanni da Col, Sean M. Dowdy, Stéphane Gros i–iv


Transforming translations (part I): "The owner of these bones" PDF
Amiria J. M. Salmond 1–32
The anthropology of an equation. Sieves, spam filters, agentive algorithms, and ontologies of transformation PDF
Paul Kockelman 33–61
Transacting ontologies: Kockelman’s sieves and a Bayesian anthropology PDF
Bill Maurer 63–75
The filter trap: Swarms, anomalies, and the quasi-topology of Ikpeng shamanism PDF
David Rodgers 77–105
Animating interaction PDF
Paul Manning, Ilana Gershon 107–37
Jinnealogy: Everyday life and Islamic theology in post-Partition Delhi PDF
Anand Vivek Taneja 139–65
Kenyatta’s lament: Oaths and the transformation of ritual ideologies in colonial Kenya PDF
Robert W. Blunt 167–93
Lost and found: Contesting isolation and cultivating contact in Amazonian Ecuador PDF
Casey High 195–221
Wilder powers: Morality and animality in tales of war and terror PDF
Jean M. Langford 223–44
Don Quixote’s choice: A manifesto for a romanticist anthropology PDF
Maïté Maskens, Ruy Llera Blanes 245–81


“The quickening of the unknown”: Epistemologies of surprise in anthropology (The Munro Lecture, 2013) PDF
Jane I. Guyer 283–307
Two forms of the outside: Castaneda, Blanchot, ontology PDF
Casper Bruun Jensen 309–35

Book Symposium - What kinship is—and is not (Marshall Sahlins)

Dear colleagues—and other colleagues. [Response to Book Symposium in Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2013] PDF
Marshall Sahlins 337–47

Book Symposium - When God talks back (Tanya Luhrmann)

Why “belief” is hard work: Implications of Tanya Luhrmann’s When God talks back PDF
Pascal Boyer 349–57
Two or three things that I know about talking to the invisible PDF
Aparecida Vilaça 359–63
Cultivating the inner senses PDF
Paul Stoller 365–68
“Religious experience” and the contribution of theology in Tanya Luhrmann’s When God talks back PDF
Timothy Jenkins 369–73
What kind of God? PDF
Annelin Eriksen, Ruy Blanes 375–80
When God talks back about When God talks back PDF
Maya Mayblin 381–87
Talking back about When God talks back PDF
Tanya Marie Luhrmann 389–98

Book Symposium - Government of paper: The materiality of bureaucracy in urban Pakistan (Matthew Hull)

Materiality, materialization PDF
Constantine V. Nakassis 399–406
Matthew Hull and ethnographies of the state PDF
Katherine Verdery 407–10
The question of the political: Thinking with Matthew Hull PDF
Naveeda Khan 411–15
Travels among the records: Some thoughts provoked by Government of paper PDF
Justin Richland 417–20
Paper as a serious method of concern PDF
Stephen M. Lyon, David Henig 421–25
Reflections on dysfunctional functioning in the political economy of paper PDF
Michael Gilsenan 427–30
On signatures and traces PDF
Béatrice Fraenkel 431–34
Messy bureaucracies PDF
Akhil Gupta 435–40
The materiality of indeterminacy . . . on paper, at least PDF
Matthew S. Hull 441–47

Unedited Scholarship

Honor and honors in Great Britain and India PDF
Bernard S. Cohn, John D. Kelly, Martha Kaplan, Sean M. Dowdy 449–67


The relative native. Translated by Julia Sauma and Martin Holbraad PDF
Eduardo Viveiros de Castro 469–502


The galactic polity in Southeast Asia PDF
Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah 503–34