This book makes a notable contribution to discussions of what anthropology is and should be in the twenty-first century through a reconsideration, from diverse sub-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, of the interactions between sociality, matter, and the imagination. It explores the imagination in its social contexts, how it is put to work, and how, in its embodied and material forms, it works in practice. The chapters provide detailed case studies, including film-making in Egypt; spirit-possession/exorcism in Italy; Theosophy and the production of knowledge about UFOs; the role of mistakes or glitches in public performances; humans’ varying relationships to the environment; post-coloniality, time, and crisis in anthropology; and artistic creativity. 

chapter 1|15 pages


Social Anthropology as Scepticism, Empathy, and Holism

part I|52 pages


chapter 3|11 pages

Placing Time

Open, Wild, Drift

chapter 4|12 pages

Time and Permanence

In an Epoch of the Anachronic

chapter 5|12 pages

Crisis, Prophecy, and Ethnography

Living in the Waste Land Then and Now

part II|91 pages

Imagination and the Social

chapter 8|18 pages

‘She Talks to Angels'

Spirit Becomings, Embodied Memories, and Affective Imagination Skills in Catholic Exorcism in Contemporary Italy

chapter 10|22 pages

The Light of a Piece

An Exploration of Materiality and Creative Practice in a Maine Landscape – Notes on a Film Screening

part III|61 pages


chapter 11|15 pages

Describing the Future

Predictability, Uncertainty, and Imponderability

chapter 12|17 pages

Anthropocenic Reconfigurations

Socio-Natures and the Politics of Planetary Health

chapter 13|15 pages

Psychological Essentialism

An Anchoring for Anthropological Comparison

chapter |12 pages


Anthropology and Imagination's Techniques