After Ethnos

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: 3 illustrations Published: November 2018

Author: Tobias Rees

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Sociology > Social Theory

For most of the twentieth century, anthropologists understood themselves as ethnographers. The art of anthropology was the fieldwork-based description of faraway others—of how social structures secretly organized the living-together of a given society, of how a people had endowed the world surrounding them with cultural meaning. While the poetics and politics of anthropology have changed dramatically over the course of a century, the basic equation of anthropology with ethnography—as well as the definition of the human as a social and cultural being—has remained so evident that the possibility of questioning it occurred to hardly anyone. In After Ethnos Tobias Rees endeavors to decouple anthropology from ethnography—and the human from society and culture—and explores the manifold possibilities of practicing a question-based rather than an answer-based anthropology that emanates from this decoupling. What emerges from Rees's provocations is a new understanding of anthropology as a philosophically and poetically inclined, fieldwork-based investigation of what it could mean to be human when the established concepts of the human on which anthropology has been built increasingly fail us.


"After Ethnos is a provocative, even necessary book. The questions it poses will not be answered any time soon, but they will stimulate new ways of thinking about the world and the field, and Rees’s work will be a necessary reference to imagine—and, I hope, build—these new approaches." — Rodrigo Moulinie, E3W Review of Books

"After Ethnos is admirable in that it reveals the fallacy of a positivist mode of anthropology that deals with fieldwork data as 'facts' and which posits different moral values or ontologies as the basis for research." — Shaheed Tayob, Allegra Lab

After Ethnos is full of frame-shifting insights about the relation of anthropology to its methods, of revelatory rhetorical gambits about how we might think about the field in ways different from our received histories, of gentle but powerful exposés of anthropology’s dearest disciplinary clichés, and of provocative pointers to possible intellectual and political futures for sociocultural inquiry. A book with which to agree and disagree in unexpected and always stimulating ways.” — Stefan Helmreich, author of Sounding the Limits of Life: Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond

“Fascinating, deliberately provocative, and brilliant, After Ethnos is a field changer: it is one of those rare books that can grasp and shift a discipline." — Miriam Ticktin, author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France


Availability: In stock
Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tobias Rees is Reid Hoffman Professor at the New School of Social Research, a director of the Los Angeles-based Berggruen Institute, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is the coauthor of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, also published by Duke University Press, and author of Plastic Reason: An Anthropology of Brain Science in Embryogenetic Terms.

Table of Contents Back to Top
what if . . .  ix
acknowledgments  xi
introduction. all of it  1
1. on anthropology (free from ethnos)  7
anthropology and philosophy (differently)  17
philosophy/Philosophy  25
thought/abstract, thought/concrete (the problem with modernism)  28
escaping (the already thought and known)  32
2. "of" the human (after "the human")  34
cataloguing  45
antihumanism  49
a disregard for theory  52
no ontology  55
3. on fieldwork (itself)  70
assemblages (or how to study difference in time?)  84
not history  93
epochal (no more)  95
4. on the actual (rather than the emergent)  97
the new/different (of movement/in terms of movement)  108
why and to what end ends (philosophy, politics, poetry)  110
5. coda (a dictionary of anthropological common places)  113
one last question  118
notes  121
bibliography  151
index  169
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0080-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0061-7
Publicity material