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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami


Talk/performance with Michael Taussig: “Killing in America: A Genealogy of Corpse Magic”

Art + Research
Thu, Aug 4, 2022

ICA Miami welcomes anthropologist Michael Taussig to the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center for a talk/performance. This event is free and open to the public with advance RSVP and is presented in conjunction with the ICA Miami’s Summer Intensive 2022 semester.

In this talk/performance, anthropologist Michael Taussig explores the presence of the slayer in the slain in ongoing instances of contemporary societal violence. ‘Killing of humans or animals creates a bond between killer and killed which in some instances amounts to the victim inhabiting the body and being of the slayer. What to think, then, of the killing by US police of three people per day (disproportionately Native American and black), let alone school shootings, gang shootings and other massacres in that fair land, especially the past decade as cell phone images of actual killing break through the taboos against the representation of killing?’

About Michael Taussig

Michael Taussig (b. 1940) is an anthropologist known for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style as an academic. He was born in Australia in 1940 and later studied medicine at the University of Sydney. He earned a PhD in anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is currently a professor of anthropology at Columbia University in New York and at The European Graduate School / EGS in Switzerland. In spite of his numerous publications in his field, especially in medical anthropology, he is most acclaimed for his commentaries on Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism. Strongly influenced by both the Frankfurt School of critical theory and French post-structuralism, Taussig was a part of the shift during the 1980s within the field of anthropology. His work contributed to an increasing mistrust of cultural analyses from the perspective of the dominant culture, i.e. Western capitalist culture. It was his early experiences as a doctor in Colombia in the late 1960s that influenced a fundamental change in his conception of the role of stories and narratives—over and against objective scholarship—in cultural formation. Ethnography became a conscious positive force in culture, as no account was intrinsically innocent or objective any longer. This led Michael Taussig to begin intermixing fact and fiction in his ethnographic studies, thus his status as a controversial figure in the field of anthropology.