Library material
The magic of the state

The magic of the state

on subject
Michael Taussig
Routledge, 1997


Anthropologist Michael Taussig portrays the postmodern state in terms of spirit possession. This unusual book of ficto-criticism begins with a conversation with the spirit queen as to the nourishment of the state by the dead--notably the spirits of those whose blood was spilled during the European conquest and the anti-colonial Wars of Independence. Taussig describes how through theaters of ecstasy, composed of fragments of the great story that the State, for the perpetuation of its spiritual authority, needs to tell about itself, these spirits are provided a reservoir of magical powers. Developing concepts of the sacred from Bataille, the post-Surreal College of Sociology, Canetti, Marx, Hobbes, and Walter Benjamin, Taussig creates his own whirlwind theater of spirit-possession, utilizing popular shrines, official monuments and slogans, money, the police, the freeway system, automobiles, taxis, the stealing of the sword of the state and, last but not least, through fetishization of Europe's (dead)Others--Native Americans and people of African descent.

See also