Paul Stoller is Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University, USA. In his more than 35 years of anthropological research and writing, Stoller has conducted ethnographic research Songhay religion in Niger and the life of West African street traders in New York City. Stoller’s work encompasses the study of economic exchange, religion, ethnographic film, and the human quest for well being in turbulent times. In his most recent work he investigates how indigenous wisdom can not only enhance social well-being but also help to heal a troubled world.
Stoller is known for challenging the limitations of conventional academic writing: He promotes storytelling as a way to communicate anthropological knowledge to the wider public. For the past 15 years, Stoller has facilitated “Weaving the World Ethnographic Writing Workshops” in Finland, the UK, Germany, and the US. Just before the onset of the pandemic in January 2021, Stoller did a Weaving the World workshop at the University of Ghana-Legon. During the pandemic Stoller moved his workshop online presenting it to the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe New Mexico and at the Institute of Graduate Studies at the University of Geneva. In October 2022 he traveled to Amsterdam to do an in-person Weaving the Workshop at the Free University.
Stoller has published 15 books, including ethnographies, biographies, memoirs as well as three novels. Since 2010 he has been blogging regularly on culture, politics, and higher education for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today and has become an advocate for a more public and engaged anthropology. In 2013 King Carl Gustav of Sweden awarded him the Anders Retzius Gold Medal in Anthropology. In 2015 the American Anthropological Association presented him the Anthropology in Media Award. In Spring/Summer 2023 Cornell University Press will publish his new book, Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times. Here is a synopsis of his forthcoming book.
Wisdom From the Edge describes what anthropologists can do to contribute to the social and cultural changes that shape a social future of wellbeing and viability. Paul Stoller shows how anthropologists can develop sensuously described ethnographic narratives to communicate powerfully their insights to a wide range of audiences. These insights are filled with wisdom about how respect for nature is central to the future of humankind. Stoller demonstrates how the ethnographic evocation of space and place, the honing of dialogue, and the crafting of character depict the drama of social life, and borrows techniques from film, poetry, and fiction to expand the appeal of anthropological knowledge and heighten its ability to connect the public to the idiosyncrasies of people and locale. Ultimately, Wisdom from the Edge underscores the importance of recognizing and applying indigenous wisdom to the social problems that threaten the future.
Key Publications—Paul Stoller
2023 Wisdom from the Edge of the Village: Writing Ethnography in Troubled Times. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
2018 Adventures in Blogging: Anthropology and Popular Media. Toronto: U of Toronto Press
2016 The Sorcerer’s Burden: The Ethnographic Saga of a Global Family. New York and London: Palgrave.
2015 Climbing the Mountain: Cancer, Exercise and Well Being. London and Berlin: Meyer and Meyer (co- authored with Mitchell Stoller)
2014 Yaya’s Story: The Quest for Wellbeing in the World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
2008 The Power of the Between: An Anthropological Odyssey. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
2005 Gallery Bundu: A Story of an African Past. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Stranger in the Village of the Sick: A Memoir of Cancer, Sorcery and Healing. Boston: Beacon Press.
Money Has No Smell: Ethnography of West African Traders in New York City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Winner of the American Anthropological Association’s
Textor Prize in Anticipatory Anthropology (Nominated for the J.I Staley Prize)
1999 Jaguar: A Story of Africans in America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press
1997 Sensuous Scholarship. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
1995 Embodying Colonial Memories: Spirit Possession, Power, And the Hauka in West Africa. New York: Routledge.
1992 The Cinematic Griot: The Ethnography of Jean Rouch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Finalist for the African Studies Association’s Herskovits Prize)
1989 Fusion of the Worlds: Ethnography of Possession Among the Songhay of Niger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Nominated for the J.I. Staley Prize)
The Taste of Ethnographic Things: The Senses in Anthropology. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press
1987 In Sorcery’s Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship Among The Songhay of Niger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (co‑authored with Cheryl Olkes)
1975 Black American English: Its Background and Its Usage in The Schools and in Literature. New York: Dell (Editor)
ARTICLES IN REFEREED JOURNALS
2021 El arte de la Etnografia en tiempos turbulentos. AIRB (Revista de Antropologia Iberoamericana 16(1): 17-37.
2020 Imaging Knowledge: Anthropology, Storytelling and the Quest for Well Being in a Troubledworld. Swedish Journal of Anthropology (Special Issue: 3 (1) October
2019 Entrevista com Paul Stoller. Los desafios de contar en la actualida. (Cristina Moreno Revista de Anthropologia IberLozando y Juan Antonio Fores Martos. Revista de Anthropologia Iberamericana. 14 (2) 191-205.
2019 The Parable of the Footbridge. Anthropology Today 35 (5) October.
2018 a La philosophie ouest-africaine de Jean Rouch In R. Sherman (ed.) Dans le sillage de Jean Rouch: Temoignages et essais. Paris: Editions de la maison des sciences de l’homme, pp 565.
2018 b “Storytelling, Rouch and the Anthropological Future. Journal des Africanistes 87 (1-2): 368-83
2017 a “More on the Anthropology of Trump,” Anthropology Now 9(1)
2017 b “The Burden of Writing the Sorcerer’s Burden. Leuven Working Papers in Anthropology
2015 “The Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera.” Fieldsites – Visual and New Media Review, Cultural Anthropology Online, March 20, 2015, http://culanth.org/fieldsights/647-the-bureau-of-memories-archives-and-ephemera.
2014a Afterword: Restlessness and Well-Being. Anthropology and Humanism 39(1): 32-35
2014b Commentary: Storytelling and the Construction of Reality. Literature and Medicine 32, Number 2, Fall 2014 pp. 466-473
2013a Cancer Rites. Harvard Divinity Bulletin 41 (3-4) /Winter/Spring)
2013b Anthropological Musings on Blogging Bliss. Anthropology Now 5(3): 92-97.
2012 Immunology and the Between. Cultural Anthropology 27: 165-80.
2009 Re-Writing Culture. Etnofoor 21(1): 45-61.
2007 Ethnography/Memoir/Imagination/Story. Anthropology and Humanism 32(2): 178-91.
2004 Sensuous Knowledge, African Persuasions and Social Knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry 10 (6): 817-35
Circuits of African Art/Paths of Wood: Exploring an Anthropological Trail. Anthropological Quarterly 76(2): 204-27.
2002 Crossroads: Tracing African Paths on New York City Streets. Ethnography 3(1):35-62
2001 City Life: West African Communities in New York City. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 30(6): 651-77
1999 Back to the Ethnographic Future. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 28(6): 698-704.
1997 Globalizing Method: The Problems of Doing Ethnography in Transnational Spaces. Anthropology and Humanism 22(1): 81-95. Reprinted in
Etnografica, Lisbon, Portugal
1996 Spaces, Places and Fields: The Politics of West African Trading in New York City’s Informal Economy. American Anthropologist 98(4): 776-88
1994 Embodying Colonial Memories. American Anthropologist 96(3): 634-49 X Marks the Spot: The Ambiguities of African Trading in the Commerce of the Black Public Sphere. Public Culture 7(1): 249-75 (co-authored with Rosemary J. Coombe)
1992 Ethnographies as Texts/Ethnographers as Griots. American Ethnologist 19:353-67
Double Takes on Jay on Taussig. Visual Anthropology Review 10(1)): 155-63
Artaud, Rouch and the Cinema of Cruelty. Visual Anthropology Review 8(2): 50‑58 (Reprinted in L. Taylor (Ed) Visualizing Theory, New York: Routledge.
Embodying Cultural Memory in Songhay Possession. Archives Des Sciences Sociales des Religions 79: 53‑68.
1991 High in Fiber, Low in Content: Reflections on Postmodern Anthropology. Culture 11 (1‑2): 85‑96.
1989 Speaking in the Name of the Real. Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 113: 113‑25.
Sauce Epaisse: Remarques Sure Les Rapports Sociaux Chez Les Songhay du Niger. Anthropologie et Societes 14(3): (Co-authored with Cheryl Olkes).
Jean Rouch’s Ethnographic Path. Visual Anthropology 2: 249‑65.
1988 Son of Rouch: A Portrait of a Young Anthropologist by The Other. Anthropology Quarterly 60: 114‑24.
1986 Bad Sauce, Good Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 2: 352‑82 (co‑authored with Cheryl Olkes).
1984 Religion in the Postmodern World: A Review Article. Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly 11: 41‑42.
Horrific comedy: Cultural Resistance and the Hauka Movement in the Republic of Niger. Ethos 12(2): 165‑85.
Sound in Songhay Cultural Experience. American Ethnologist 11(3): 560‑71.
Eye, Mind and Word in Anthropology. L’Homme 24 (3‑4): Translated in German in Trickster 20
1982 Signs in the Social Order: Riding a Songhay Bush Taxi. American Ethnologist 9(4): 750‑62.
Beatitudes, Beasts and Anthropological Burdens: A Depth Interpretation of three Studies of Shamanism, Trance, And Possession. Medical Anthropology Newsletter 13 (4):
Relativity and the Anthropologist’s Gaze. Anthropology And Humanism Quarterly 7 (4): 1‑10.
1981 Social Interaction and the Management of Songhay Sociopolitical Change. Africa 52 (3): 765‑80.
1980 The Epistemology of Sorkotarey: Language, Metaphor, and Healing Among the Songhay. Ethos 8(2): 117‑32.
The Negotiation of Songhay Space: Phenomenology in the Heart of Darkness. American Ethnologist 7(3): 419‑32.
1979 The Word and the Cosmos: “Zarma Ideology” Revisited. Bulletin d’Institut Fondemental d’Afrique Noire 40(B):
1976 Ritual and Personal Insults in Songrai Sonni. Anthropology 2(1): 31‑37
1975 The Language Planning Activities of the U.S. Bilingual Educational Office. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 11: 45‑64.
ARTICLES IN ANTHOLOGIES OR ENCYCLOPEDIAS
Jabes Among Songhay Sorcerers. In N Burbant and T. Schwarz Wentzer (eds). Philosophy on Fieldwork: Case Studies in Anthropological Analysis. New York: Routledge, pp. 178—93.
The World According to Rouch. In P Vannini (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Visual Anthropology. New York: Routledge, pp. 357-46.
2015 Looking for the Right Path in Angelika Bammer and Ruth-Ellen Joeres (Eds) The Future of Scholarly Writing: Critical Interventions. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 101-11.
2014 Re-Imagining Ethnography In M. Harris and N Rapport (eds). Reflections on Imagination.
2013 Religion and the Truth of Being. In M Lambek and J Boddy, eds.) A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. London: Blackwell, pp154-69.
2009 Jean Rouch and the Power of the Between in W. Rothman (ed.) Jean Rouch: A Celebration of Life and Film: 25-38: Paris: Presses Universitaires de France
2007 Embodying Knowledge: Finding a Path in the Village of the Sick, in M. Harris (ed.)Ways of Knowing: London: Bergdahl:
2001 West Africans: Trading Places in New York: In N. Foner (ed.) New Immigrants in New York (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
1998 Rationality. In M.C. Taylor (ed.) Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 239-56.
1995 Artaud, Rouch et le cinema de la crualte. In C.W. Thompson (ed.) L’Autre et le Sacre: Surrealisme, Cinema, Ethnologie. Paris: Harmattan: 315-33.
1994 Consciousness Ain’t `Conscious’ In N. Sermetakis (Ed.) The Senses Still. Boulder, CO: Westview Press: 109-23
1992 Possession Chez Rouch, in Jean Rouch: Une Retrospective. Turin: Centre Culturel Francais.
1991 Son et Transe Chez Les Songhay du Niger in D. Bougnoux (Ed.) La Suggestion: Hypnose, Influence, Transe. Colloque du Cerisy. Paris: Delagrande, 143‑63.
1989 Stressing Social Change and Songhay Possession, in C. Ward (ed.) Altered States of Consciousness and Mental Health: A Cross‑cultural Perspective. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 352‑72.
L’Experience Religieuse en Afrique Noire. Le Grant Atlas Universalis des Religions. Paris: Encyclopedia Universalis, 346‑47.
1986 The Reconstruction of Ethnography, in P. Chock and J. Wyman (Eds.) Discourse and the Social Life of Meaning. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 52‑