Three Lessons from Tanimbar, a Prologue and an Epilogue

At the Ubud Writers and Readers festival tonight, I’ll be giving a talk on my book Stealing With the Eyes at the lovely Casa Luna restaurant. I’m really looking forward to it. The subtitle of the talk is “Three Lessons from Tanimbar, a Prologue and an Epilogue”. As a taster, here is the outline. I’m looking forward to it. Prologue: On Babies made from Shit “From her shit she made a ball, and out of this she fashioned a baby” …

Everywhere is Exotic, Everywhere is Mundane

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about travel-writing and anthropology, and about the obsession with exoticism that runs through both, in different but equally uneasy ways. Travel-writing often seeks to heighten the exotic: the excitable travel writer revels in it, talking up their experiences and carefully framing photographs to make sure that the Coca-Cola signs are not included. Meanwhile, anthropology tends to downplay it: the sober anthropologist refuses to get involved, sets out to demonstrate that this apparent exoticism is …

To Steal With the Eyes

Just over a quarter of a century ago, whilst I was a student of Fine Arts, I fell in love with the strange charms of anthropology. After starting my degree, it turned out that I wasn’t a particularly good artist, so I took refuge in the university library instead. I used to walk the library waiting for books to leap out at me and surprise me. And in this way, in my second year at university I stumbled across the …