Ethnography #9

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: 9 illustrations Published: November 2019

Author: Alan Klima

Anthropology, Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, Sociology > Social Theory

As Alan Klima writes in Ethnography #9, “there are other possible starting places than the earnest realism of anthropological discourse as a method of critical thought.” In this experimental ethnography of capitalism, ghosts, and numbers in mid- and late-twentieth-century Thailand, Klima uses this provocation to deconstruct naive faith in the “real” and in the material in academic discourse that does not recognize that it is, itself, writing. Klima also twists the common narrative that increasing financial abstractions in economic culture are a kind of real horror story, entangling it with other modes of abstraction commonly seen as less “real,” such as spirit consultations, ghost stories, and haunted gambling. His unconventional, distinctive, and literary form of storytelling uses multiple voices, from ethnographic modes to a first-person narrative in which he channels Northern Thai ghostly tales and the story of a young Thai spirit. This genre alchemy creates strange yet compelling new relations between being and not being, presence and absence, fiction and nonfiction, fantasy and reality. In embracing the speculative as a writing form, Klima summons unorthodox possibilities for truth in contemporary anthropology.


“Alan Klima's ethnographic writing releases a middle zone, an in-between that haunts the kind of thought accreted by Euro-enlightenment. And it is beautifully done, unfolding, cascading, easing a shift in realism that starts by troubling a conventionally recognized real, material world and ends up dominated by the voice of a double, a possession. Ethnography #9 is an amazing and wonderful book by a masterful and compelling writer.” — Kathleen Stewart, coauthor of The Hundreds

“In Ethnography #9, ghosts dance with social theorists, and the spirit-possessed author juggles global financial tips along with winning lottery numbers. In Thailand after the financial crash, loan godmothers, gambling, and unhinging ghosts share the stage with World Bank prescriptions and market-hogging mega-marts. Alan Klima and his spirit familiar stage a wild experiment in telling the real by moving out of common sense.” — Anna Tsing, coeditor of Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene


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Price: $24.95

Open Access

Fall 2019 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Alan Klima is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and author of The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre, and Exchange with the Dead in Thailand.

Table of Contents Back to Top
1. The Ghost Manifesto
2. World Gothic
3. Betting on the Real
4. Prove It
5. Regendered Debt
6. Men and Our Money
7. The Godfathers
8. It Has All Happened Before
9. The Return of the Dead
10. Reversing the Mount
11. Deterritory
12. Everywhere and Nowhere
13. The End of the World
14. Fossil
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0621-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0544-5
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