Coyote Anthropology shatters anthropology’s vaunted theories of practice and offers a radical and comprehensive alternative for the new century. Building on his seminal contributions to symbolic analysis, Roy Wagner repositions anthropology at the heart of the creation of meaning—in terms of what anthropology perceives, how it goes about representing its subjects, and how it understands and legitimizes itself. Of particular concern is that meaning is comprehended and created through a complex and continually unfolding process predicated on what is not there—the unspoken, the unheard, the unknown—as much as on what is there. Such powerful absences, described by Wagner as “anti-twins,” are crucial for the invention of cultures and any discipline that proposes to study them.
As revealed through conversations between Wagner and Coyote, Wagner's anti-twin, a coyote anthropology should be as much concerned with absence as with presence if it is to depict accurately the dynamic and creative worlds of others. Furthermore, Wagner suggests that anthropologists not only be aware of what informs and conditions their discipline but also understand the range of necessary exclusions that permit anthropology to do what it does. Sly and enticing, probing and startling, Coyote Anthropology beckons anthropologists to draw closer to the center of all things, known and unknown.
Roy Wagner is a professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia. He is the author of numerous books, including An Anthropology of the Subject: Holographic Worldview in New Guinea and Its Meaning and Significance for the World of Anthropology and Symbols that Stand for Themselves.
"A thought-provoking book."—Michael A. Lange, Journal of Folklore Research