Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 367–371 | Cite as

Fieldwork in skepticism: how an anthropologist learns to cultivate doubt and other virtues in a French neuroscience laboratory

Rees, Tobias. Plastic Reason: An Anthropology of Brain Science in Embryogenetic Terms. 352 pp. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016, £27.95.
  • Nicolas Langlitz

Tobias Rees’ first single-author book Plastic Reason, an anthropological study of a French neuroscience laboratory that played a key role in the discovery of embryogenetic neuroplasticity in the human brain, is a book of many virtues and some vices and of vices that double as virtues. Let us start with patience and impatience: after 14 years of painstaking labor, its author could not wait for his readers to engage and wrote a response to a kind and generous book review not yet written that got everything wrong about his book—“like all book reviews, always” (Rees 2016b). Rees makes clear that he does not want to be lauded for having written the most comprehensive and yet enviably animated history of how adult neurogenesis came to be established as a scientific fact, proving the brain to be forever changing rather than fixed. Even though that is what Rees did.

Or maybe he did not. At least, such a narrative would miss the native’s point of view. Just as Rees does not want to be praised...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyThe New School for Social ResearchNew YorkUSA

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