Monster Anthropology Ethnographic Explorations of Transforming Social Worlds Through Monsters
Monsters are culturally meaningful across the world. Starting from this key premise, this book tackles monsters in the context of social change. Writing in a time of violent upheaval, when technological innovation brings forth new monsters while others perish as part of the widespread extinctions that signify the Anthropocene, contributors argue that putting monsters at the center of social analysis opens up new perspectives on change and social transformation. Through a series of ethnographically grounded analyses they capture monsters that herald, drive, experience, enjoy, and suffer the transformations of the worlds they beleaguer. Topics examined include the evil skulking new roads in Ancient Greece, terror in post-socialist Laos’s territorial cults, a horrific flying head that augurs catastrophe in the rain forest of Borneo, benign spirits that accompany people through the mist in Iceland, flesh-eating giants marching through neo-colonial central Australia, and ghosts lingering in Pacific villages in the aftermath of environmental disasters. By taking the proposition that monsters and the humans they haunt are intricately and intimately entangled seriously, this book offers unique, cross-cultural perspectives on how people perceive the world and their place within it. It also shows how these experiences of belonging are mediated by our relationships with the other-than-human.