My first novel, now completely Open Access

Sometimes One runs across forgotten things in the nether regions of One’s hard drive.  Today I can across this piece, an “abbreviated adventure novel” I wrote over fifteen years ago. Reading it again now, as I try to put the final touches on my ethnographic monograph, I’m struck by the continued sense of (w)rote formalism and disjointed narrative that constitute my attempts at describing contemporary life.  Anyway here it is in its entirety: my first–still untitled–novel.


He didn’t know, one way or the other, any way of getting there.  Of course there was the usual way, but for that he didn’t have the stomach today.

“Charles, what’s the matter honey?  Don’t you have to go?”  Of course he did.  That was known.  If anything, knowing that was not the problem.

“What time is it?” he stalled.

“Time to go, or you’ll be late.”

Suddenly, something totally unexpected happened.



Only later did it make any sense.

“You see, Turkmenistan had always had rather vague borders, let alone after the recent business with the Shah.  How else could One be expected to respond?” he said in the most surprisingly perfect English you’ve ever heard.  And after that, everyone could see the reason for his actions.

A jolly good laugh was had by all.



Meanwhile, back on the homefront, Gina had been waiting seventeen years for the #52 bus to come down Balmora Avenue and was beginning to wonder if it ever would.  However, being recently informed of the exploits of Col. Major Thomas Waterpaint IV in the hitherto unexplored regions of the Belgian Congo and the peripheral Asiatic Caucasus, she took it upon herself to summon the intestinal wherewithal to initiate a maneuver of her own accord, on par with anything the above-mentioned hero had yet seen fit to dare.

“Miss Linda,” she called out.  “I don’t think I’m ‘bout to set here and wait for the #52 Balmora Avenue Bus today,” as she ventured her foot, attached to its stout ankle away from her place on the curb.

“But Miss Gina!” Linda called out in the wrong direction, facing not the target towards whom her warning was aimed but down the row, her eyes reflecting the terror of what was appearing over the horizon.


And so forth.


“However, there is still one thing I do not understand, my dear Col. Major,” he said as he pored exactingly equal portions of an unspecified mixture of liqueurs into an unspecified number of vessels, “and that is how you could have possibly known what the Turk had been planning in the first place.”

“Quite simple, Mr. Harberry” he said venturing a sample from the proffered drinking vessel.  “Once I had heard of the unfortunate occurrences on Balmora Avenue, I knew there was only one possible course of action.”

“Indeed!” slurped Mr. Harberry.

“Yes, indeed” smirked the Countess, her haired pulled back tightly.




The historical event that merges the secularism & ontology debates

I’ve found the historical tidbit that finally merges the ca. 2000s secularism debates and the ca. 2010s ontology/human-animal debates in anthropology. It’s from Eric Hazan’s A History of the Barricade (Verso Books):

Henri III, who had previously been king of Poland, came to the throne of France in 1574 on the death of his brother Charles IX (the king of the St Bartholomew massacre). He was not popular, particularly in Paris, which at that time was very Catholic and traditional. His entourage was lampooned, the famous ‘mignons’ who passed their time in duels and debauchery of various kinds. He was attacked for his fantasies, his cross-dressing, his taste for lapdogs and exotic animals. Pierre de L’Estoile, gentleman usher to the chancellery and quite royalist in his sympathies, related in his diary that on 14 July 1576: 

The king and queen arrived in Paris on return from the land of Normandy, from where they brought a large quantity of monkeys, parrots, and small dogs purchased in Dieppe. Some of these parrots, the majority trained by the Huguenots, gave out all kinds of nonsense and railing against the mass, the pope, and the ceremonies of the Roman church; when some people who had been offended said this to the king, he replied that you don’t interfere with the conscience of parrots.

You heard it here, folks: you don’t interfere with the conscience of a parrot. Fowl mouth and all.

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 12: Kevin G. Karpiak on the critical potential of an anthropology of police — Anthropoliteia

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to present the latest entry in on ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed. In this entry, Kevin G. Karpiak discusses the critical, […]

via The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 12: Kevin G. Karpiak on the critical potential of an anthropology of police — Anthropoliteia

So wait, are there racial disparities in US policing or not? (Answer: YES!)


If you’re like me, you may have had two academic articles with seemingly conflicting arguments run through your Facebook feed lately.  The first, an article by Cody T. Ross published via PLOS ONE uses a multi-level Bayesian analysis to conclude that there exists

evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being {black, unarmed, and shot by police} is about 3.49 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police} on average

The other, written by economist Roland G. Fryer and covered extensively in the New York Times Upshot column, concludes that in the case of “the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.”

How can such diametrically opposed claims be made simultaneously in reputable…

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Far Afield

This book was published in French under the title L’Adieu au voyage. This phrase is an allusion to the last page of Tristes Tropiques, in which Claude Lévi-Strauss invites us to seize the essence of humankind not through geographical or anthropological explorations of the planet (“fond farewell to savages and explorations!”), but through the ephemeral contemplation of the works of nature: a crystal, a perfume, or, famously, the eye of a cat. In my mind, this phrase did not refer to such a project, and even less to some historical moment: the farewell to journeying does not designate some historical realization through which, after explorations and empires, the West would observe with bitterness the end of exoticism or the vanishing of differences (these topoi date back at least to the eighteenth century). It designates rather a moment within ethnography, through which the anthropologist relinquishes any idealized conception of difference. It is thus not only a farewell to some idealized Other, but also a farewell to oneself, in other words the redefinition of the relationship between subject and object. Like in Lévi-Strauss’s original phrasing, the farewell to the journey does not point to any conclusion, or disenchantment, but to the reconfiguration of a relationship, a twofold process of objectivation and subjectivation.

— From the Preface to the English Edition of Vincent Debeane’s Far Afield: French Anthropology Between Science & Literature

Ian Hacking, “The Looping Effects of Human Kinds” in Downes & Machery (eds.) Arguing About Human Nature

I have no doubt that nature has kinds which we distinguish.  Some seem fairly cosmic: quarks, probably genes, possibly cystic fibrosis.  Others are mundane: mud, the common cold, headlands, sunsets.  The common cold is as real as cystic fibrosis, and sunsets are as real as quarks.  More law-like regularities are known about mud than quarks–known to youths who play football, parents who do family laundry, and to mud engineers on oil rig sites.  The regularities of mud do not have profound consequences for theoreticians.  That does not make mud any the less a natural kind of stuff.”

CFP for a Special Issue: Thinking through police, producing theory: the new anthropology of police as mode of critical thought

CFP for a Special Issue: Thinking through police, producing theory: the new anthropology of police as mode of critical thought


Abstracts are currently being solicited for a special issue of the journal Theoretical Criminology on the theme “the new anthropology of police as a mode of critical thought” (see full description below). Send abstracts for consideration by August 1st 2015 to Full drafts should be ready to submit for peer review by September 15th, 2015.

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My article “Of Heroes and Polemics” currently open-access via Anthrosource

My article in PoLAR, Of Heroes and Polemics: “The Policeman” in Urban Ethnography, has been recognized as one of the “most-discussed” in the Anthrosource catalog, and is currently open-access


See more via Open Access Articles from the American Anthropological Association.

a blog about post-social policing, anthropology, science studies and more

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