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Department of Anthropology
Mulloy Lecture
University of Wyoming, April 26, 2018
Ag Auditorium 4:10 pm


Paul Stoller
West Chester University

Slow Anthropology in a Fast World

Anthropology has the particular distinction of being a slow science in a fast world.  It takes us many years to develop our insights—years spent listening to the people we encounter in the field. This slow practice has produced the ethnographic record, an invaluable body of knowledge that underscores the wisdom of “others,” a wisdom that we would be wise to extend to the social, cultural and political infelicities that constitute our contemporary culture of speed.  In this lecture I argue that it is the anthropologist’s central obligation to produce ethnographies that foreground narratives that bring to life the places and lives of the people whom we have encountered. Indeed, their stories of patience, courage, and resilience demonstrate that no matter how different we may be, we are not alone in the world.  Indeed, we have much to learn from our mentors in the field, for the story of their lives demonstrates the desirability of taking a slower approach to living in a world in which wisdom is in short supply. In this talk I hope to demonstrate how slowly developed anthropological insights can be brought into the fast-paced, media-saturated public sphere.  I conclude that a more public anthropology can powerfully bring forward a deep, slowly developed knowledge that is destined to make life a little bit sweeter for us all--the classic definition of wisdom.  Is that not a challenge worth pursuing?












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