Gradhiva n°22



September 2015

How should the cosmos be grasped, this enormity that includes the terrestrial universe and celestial objects? How should it be visualized? Held in the hand?

Depicting systems of relationships that organize a whole, cosmologies have for long been the preferred subjects of study in Anthropology. They are commonly found in the form of all-encompassing representations (such as a mandala or a globe), or else in the form of objects containing the cosmos (such as a cauldron). To use other terminologies, they can be defined as “cosmograms”, which deal with the cosmos as an independent and autonomous entity, or as “cosmic objects”, which contain the cosmos. Or, to formulate it differently again, these cosmologies reveal “panoptic” views which make it possible to “easily take it in at a glance”, or “oligoptic” views, offering partial, mobile, connected views of the totality that they seek to express. Anthropology and also the history of modern knowledge and the anthropology of science and technology, are also familiar with objects and systems that make it possible to hold the cosmos in the hand or to have it before the eyes, making it possible to contemplate it, to control it and to experiment with it. Nevertheless, what are the small-scale operators needed for such maneuvers?

In proposing to approach cosmologies in a different way from representations of the cosmos, the authors of this new issue of Gradhiva invite readers to follow the slow, patient, often laborious, sometimes confused, descriptions of the cosmos, exploring its ingredients or components, as well as their modes of linkage. How is the cosmos picked up – rather than captured? What are its identifiers? What is locally capable of serving as an indicator of changes that are beyond our control (such as atmospheric changes)?

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Special issue: cosmos

Coordinated by Sophie and Christine Jungen Houdart

  • « Cosmos Connections », by Sophie Houdart and Christine Jungen 
  • Choses cosmiques et cosmogrammes de la technique, by John Tresch 
  • Astromorphing. Des planètes, des visages et des ondes de longue portée en astrologie, [planets, faces and long-range waves in astrology] by  Emmanuel Grimaud
  • Les signatures des dieux. Graphismes et action rituelle dans les religions afro-cubaines, by Julien Bonhomme and Katerina Kerestetzi
  • Petits récits destinés à joindre
les deux bouts des particules au cosmos – en passant par la Suisse, by Sophie Houdart
  • La lune de Saturne
 et le « nous » œcuménique, [The Moon of Saturn and the Ecumenical ’We’:]
 Entre astrobiologie et anthropologie, by Istvan Praet

Studies and essays

  • À la marge des sciences coloniales ? [At the limits of the colonial sciences?] La mission Dekeyser-Holas
dans l’Est libérien (1948), [The Dekyser-Holas expedition in Eastern Liberia (1948)] by Julien Bondaz 
  • Montrer l’autre pour dire le soi, montrer le soi pour dire l’autre. [Showing the other to say the self, showing the self to say the other:] La « farce des Nègres » du bas-Tapajós (Amazonie brésilienne), [The "Negroes’ Farce" in the Lower Tapajós river basin (Brazilian Amazon)] by Émilie Stoll

Scientific column

  • Reports


  • 248 pages
  • 71 illustrations
  • ISBN 978-2-35744-092-0
  • Price : €20