Howe, Cymene and Takaragawa, Stephanie. "Surprise." Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, July 27, 2017.


Contributed date

July 3, 2018 - 4:55pm

Critical Commentary

Abstract: In collaborative ethnographic work we get taken by another’s ideas, the circuits of their thoughts, the analytic of their outlook. Collaboration can operate as a multiplication or an exponentializing of Marilyn Strathern’s concept of wonder in the eye of the anthropological beholder who is learning to see newly. Surprise can unfold in exercises of juxtaposition, contrasting entities and recognizing both the affinities and distinctions at the core of their compositions. Being taken by surprise can become a form-making project, a node of coordination and cooperation where a vacant center begins to populate with ideas and materials, experiences and responses. Surplus starts to show, ablation happens, the pregiven loses its prefix.