Annual theme "Real Magic"
Interdisciplinary Lecture Series (2015/16)



Magic Tricks and the Mastery of Non-Mastery

Keynote by Michael Taussig


Michael Taussig teaches theory, film, and magic, in the anthropology department at Columbia University. He has written over ten books including Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man, A study in Terror and Healing (University of Chicago Press, 1987); Mimesis and Alterity (Routledge, 1993); What Color is the Sacred? (University of Chicago Press, 2006); and forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, Palma Africana. Taussig studied medicine in Australia at the University of Sydney, and he earned a Ph.D. in anthropology at the London School of Economics in 1974. Among the universities where he has taught are the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, the University of Michigan and the New York University. In addition to his many contributions to international conferences and a number of distinguished visiting professorships, he pursued intensive and exhaustive fieldwork every year since 1969, geographically focussing mostly on Colombia and Venezuela. His research interest and writings have spanned different subject areas, such as the history of African slavery and of abolition in Western Colombia; popular manifestations of the working of commodity fetishism; the sociology of malnutrition; the impact of colonialism on "shamanism" and folk healing; the relevance of modernism and post-modernist aesthetics for the understanding of ritual; mimesis in relation to sympathetic magic; state fetishism; secrecy; beauty and violence; or the sun in our age of global warming.