Michael Taussig

Siemens Fellow - Class of Spring 2007

Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

American Academy Project: What is the Color of the Sacred?
Current Location: New York


Columbia University Professor Michael Taussig is one of the most innovative, distinguished, and socially engaged voices in cultural anthropology. An interdisciplinary thinker and engaging writer, Taussig's work combines aspects of ethnography, story-telling, and social theory. His publications include two Spanish-language books on the history of slavery and its aftermath, and eight English-language books on issues of slavery, hunger, commercialization of agriculture, Marxist economic theory, popular culture, folk healing, colonialisms, theories of ritual, cultural productions of terror, the state and public secrecy, museums and memory, and poor communities in Colombia. In the title essay of his most recent book, the collection Walter Benjamin's Grave (University of Chicago Press, 2006), Taussig reflects upon his own visit to Benjamin's gravesite in Port Bou on the French-Spanish border, relays accounts of Benjamin's travels as he fled the Nazis, and describes the circumstances of Benjamin's 1940 suicide. Taussig has lectured at universities, conferences, and cultural institutions around the world and has received numerous honors, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. His project during his Berlin residency concerns historical understandings of color. Bringing together texts from literature, anthropology, history, and philosophy, Taussig will theorize the confluence of color in Benjamin's theory, Marcel Proust's and William Borroughs's fiction, and artificial color manufacture in nineteenth-century Germany.

American Academy Project

What is the Color of the Sacred?

Selected Works

The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America University of North Carolina Press 1980 Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man : A Study in Terror and Healing University of Chicago Press 1987 The Nervous System Routledge,an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd: London 1992 Mimesis and Alterity; A Particular History of the Senses Routledge,an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd: London 1993 The Magic of the State Routledge,an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd: London 1997 Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative Stanford University Press 1999 Law in a Lawless Land : Diary of a Limpieza in Colombia The New Press 2003 My Cocaine Museum University of Chicago Press 2004 Walter Benjamin's Grave University of Chicago Press 2006