1st Edition

Mimesis and Alterity A Particular History of the Senses

By Michael Taussig Copyright 2018
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this ambitious and accomplished work, Taussig explores the complex and interwoven concepts of mimesis, the practice of imitation, and alterity, the opposition of Self and Other. The book moves from the nineteenth-century invention of mimetically capacious machines, such as the camera, to the fable of colonial ‘first contact’ and the alleged mimetic power of ‘primitives’. Twenty years after the original publication, Taussig revisits the work in a new preface which contextualises the impact of Mimesis and Alterity. Drawing on the ideas of Benjamin, Adorno and Horckheimer and ethnographic accounts of the Cuna, Taussig demonstrates how the history of mimesis is deeply tied to colonialism and the idea of alterity has become increasingly unstable. Vigorous and unorthodox, this cross-cultural discussion continues to deepen our understanding of the relationship between ethnography, racism and society.

    1. In Some Way or Another One Can Protect Oneself From Evil Spirits by Portraying Them

    2. Physiognomic Aspects of Visual Worlds

    3. Spacing Out

    4. The Golden Bough: The Magic of Mimesis

    5. The Golden Army: The Organization of Mimesis

    6. With the Wind of World History in Our Sails

    7. Spirit of the Mime, Spirit of the Gift

    8. Mimetic Worlds: Invisible Counterparts

    9. The Origin of the World

    10. Alterity

    11. The Color of Alterity

    12. The Search for the White Indian

    13. America as Woman: The Magic of Western Gear

    14. The Talking Machine

    15. His Master’s Voice

    16. Reflection

    17. Sympathetic Magic in a Post-Colonial Age


    Michael Taussig is 1933 Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, USA, and is affiliated with the European Graduate School in Switzerland.