The University of Pennsylvania Press is having a book sale; unfortunately, the prices are not slashed so dramatically that they fall into the can’t-resist category (at least in my current state of incomelessness), but they have such a rich catalog that I linger wistfully over any number of the titles—Listening for the Text: On the Uses of the Past, by Brian Stock, for instance (“The essays in this volume are about a segment of the past that runs roughly from the end of antiquity to the thirteenth century. More generally, they are about recollecting the past by putting words into writings. They are equally about the past that is written about and the writing that brings it to life. In other words, they deal with the creation of the past as text.”), or much of the Anthropology, Folklore, Linguistics section, for example Jewish Russians: Upheavals in a Moscow Synagogue, by Sascha L. Goluboff (“Sascha Goluboff focuses on a Moscow synagogue, now comprising individuals from radically different cultures and backgrounds, as a nexus from which to explore issues of identity creation and negotiation. Following the rapid rise of this transnational congregation–headed by a Western rabbi and consisting of Jews from Georgia and the mountains of Azerbaijan and Dagestan, along with Bukharan Jews from Central Asia–she evaluates the process that created this diverse gathering and offers an intimate sense of individual interactions in the context of the synagogue’s congregation”) and Marshall G. S. Hodgson’s classic The Secret Order of Assassins: The Struggle of the Early Nizari Ismailis Against the Islamic World (Hodgson, who died at 46 in 1968, produced what is still one of the best places to start learning about the history of the Islamic world in his three-volume magnum opus The Venture of Islam).

I learned about the sale via the new anthropology group blog Savage Minds, which bids fair to be the Language Log of anthropology, entertaining and informative. Drop by and check it out.


  1. Thanks for the Savage Minds plug!

  2. I see Savage Minds has moved:

    This will be the last post on the domain savageminds.org, but the site will live on. It will live on both at this address (savageminds.org) where there will be a permanent archive of our twelve years of blogging and discussion. It will also gain new life as all your favorite Savage Minds bloggers move over to the new domain: anthrodendum.org.

  3. And now anthro{dendum} is calling it quits. Annoyingly, the post is full of nostalgic blather (“we found comfort and connection together”) but has not a word about why they’re ending it. And apparently there’s no successor. Sick transit.

  4. David Marjanović says

    but has not a word about why they’re ending it

    I always find that an insult to everyone’s intelligence, the authors’ included.

  5. “hope is a discipline”

    Good grief! Would anybody even remotely Anthropology-adjacent not immediately fwow up?

    Best it’s gone, then.

    (If you scan back over recent posts, clearly contributors knew it was closing and were rushing in with last thoughts. Some pointed to their own sites that would be continuing. Maybe there’s an explanation if you hunt around. I couldn’t even …)

  6. John Cowan says

    If I had to guess (from a position of utter ignorance), I would suppose either force majeure or legal advice.

  7. It was a somewhat longish good-bye. Here is a bit more explanatory post. Seems that they lost interest and moved on.

  8. John Cowan says

    Okay, so I was wrong: it was despair.

  9. Executive summary (from the linked post by Ryan Anderson):

    This site, like many others, was a casualty of the mass exodus to Twitter, the decline of blogging, people moving on to other things in their careers, others getting slammed with kids and careers (that was me), and the global pandemic…among other things. So, we’re closing things down.

    I guess I can’t argue with that.

  10. J.W. Brewer says

    Multi-member blogs are also prone to certain instabilities at least unless one or two dominant personalities emerge and just run the thing with the other contributors being functionally guest posters. Here we seem to have officially had a nine-member “collective” whose members formally decry “hierarchy,” which seems a good premise for dysfunction, as anyone familiar with the history of utopian communities since the Sixties (or indeed previously) would understand.

    ARTHUR: What?

    DENNIS: I told you. We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.

    ARTHUR: Yes.

    DENNIS: But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.

    ARTHUR: Yes, I see.

    DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs–

    ARTHUR: Be quiet!

    DENNIS: –but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more–

    ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

  11. casualty of the mass exodus to Twitter,

    _Is_ that a suitable forum for that sort of material? I find it unusable. (And if the Hattery were there, I’d probably give up.) Quite apart from being owned by the second-most arrogant arsehole in America.

  12. Twitter certainly eviscerated a lot of lower-traffic blogs. I have always disliked it. I initially wanted nothing to do with Twitter, since the 140-character texting limit meant that it trafficked almost entirely in sound bites and meaningless pablum. I hated it even more when it drove people away from much more interesting Internet modalities like blogs. I hadn’t expected that to happen, but, as usual, I overestimated how much people actually want to be informed.

  13. David Marjanović says

    the 140-character texting limit meant that it trafficked almost entirely in sound bites and meaningless pablum

    I’ve read a bunch of very, very long and very, very informative threads there. (Very cumbersome; these people should have blogged.)

    Then Phony Stark decided he was being too nice to people and hid all replies from people who aren’t logged in. I’ve never had an account, so I’m not even shown if there are any replies to any tweet anymore.

  14. The idea behind Twitter was originally so that people with only a cell phone, in developing countries, could post on the internet — 140 charactes was the limit for SMS. Many years (maybe a decade?) later, it took a life of its own. It was originally a service for posting on the web from your cell phone by SMS.

  15. DM: nitter is your friend. Find yourself an instance, adjust the url, and read away.

  16. David Marjanović says

    I had read of it, but didn’t know it could do that. I’ll have to try next time I feel like I have a few hours left over… so perhaps not this year… 🙂

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