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Between Magic and Rationality

On the Limits of Reason in the Modern World

In Between Magic and Rationality, Vibeke Steffen, Steffen Jöhncke, and Kirsten Marie Raahauge bring together a diverse range of ethnographies that examine and explore the forms of reflection, action, and interaction that govern the ways different contemporary societies create and challenge the limits of reason.
The essays here visit an impressive array of settings, including international scientific laboratories, British spiritualist meetings, Chinese villages, Danish rehabilitation centers, and Uzbeki homes, where we encounter a diverse assortment of people whose beliefs and concerns exhibit an unusual but central contemporary dichotomy: scientific reason vis-à-vis spiritual/paranormal belief. Exploring the paradoxical way these modes of thought push against reason’s boundaries, they offer a deep look at the complex ways they coexist, contest each other, and are ultimately intertwined. 

380 pages | 20 halftones | 6 x 9

Critical Anthropology

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Ethnographies on the Limits of Reason
Steffen Jöhncke and Vibeke Steffen
Part One: On the Limits of Institutional Rationalities
The Social Life of Evidence: Reationalising Professional Practice in the Welfare State
Morton Hulvej Rod and Steffen Jöhncke
The Wedding Horseshoe Enacted as the Devil, as the Trivial and as Blessing Machine
Cecilie Rubow and Anita Engdahl-Hansen
Managing Uncertanties, Gaining Control: The Magic of Foods and Words
Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen and Helle Ploug Hansen
Part Two: On the Limits of Science and Materiality
The Magic of MAGICC: Climate Modelling at the Edge of Reason
Martin Skrydstrup
The Magic of the Gestalt: Forms and Fetishes in the Realms of Rationality
Inger Sjørslev
Incense and the Magic of Disappearances
Mikkel Bunkenborg
Part Three: On the Limits of Self and Person
Psychologising the Afterlife: Ghosts and Regimes of the Self in Indonesia and in Global Media
Nils Bubandt
Spiritual Socialities: The Emotional Economy of External Demands and Inner Truths
Vibeke Steffen
Hearing Voices: Perceptual Realities and Rational Choices
Sidsel Busch
Part Four: On the Limits of Ontology and Epistemology
The Art of Dealing with Things You Do Not Believe In: Dream Omens and Their Meanings in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan
Maria Louw
The Ghost in the Machine: Haunted Houses, Intense Sensations and Residual Rationalities
Kirsten Marie Raahauge
Messages from ’Head Office’: An Awkward Encounter
Richard Jenkins
Notes on Contributors

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