Ann Stoler

The New School for Social Research

For decades, [Jean and John] Comaroff created generous and open intellectual and pedagogical environments in anthropology, in African studies, and across the academy more broadly, galvanizing energy wherever they go, and teaching us that there is no anthropology that is not already historical to the core, on the premise that we and those we study, are equally and differently, shaped by our historical practices, and intimate and capacious historical machinations.

They have an uncanny ability to take a seemingly local and banal subject, to convey truths about the times in which we live. Something they have done with witchcraft, crime, zombies, and the law. Unraveling both the fictions and force, the meanings and materialities, on which power is based. When the New York Times last week talked about the disenchantment with democracy across the globe, Jean and John were ahead of that story by miles. Not because they were in the throws of New York City politics, but because their antennas have long been glued to the frequencies where history unfolds, where the political is recast and to what emerges from new spaces from which the future is being made.”