HAU

Ethnographic X-files and Holbraad's double-bind: Reflections on an ontological turn of events

Andrew Apter

Abstract


The ontological turn asks difficult questions and pushes conceptual boundaries both forward and against the grain, challenging our standard epistemological orientations. That it replaces epistemological with ontological concerns is a position I oppose in the following reflections, inspired by Martin Holbraad’s “double-bind,” one which frames a predicament that not only resonates with my own ethnographic experience but also represents something of an occupational hazard (our X-files) for many of us working on spirit-worlds. In an alternative solution to Holbraad’s double-bind, based on Moore’s paradox and my own exposure to Shango’s wrath in Nigeria, I propose a radical decoupling of Knowledge and Belief to obviate the ontological proliferation of worlds.


Keywords


mystical agency, ontography, possible worlds, Moore’s paradox

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau7.1.021