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Billiken Bookmarks: Summer Reading Picks From SLU Authors

Looking for that next great read? In this mini-series, some of Saint Louis University’s published authors share their recommendations for memorable summer reading with their fellow staff, faculty and students. 

In this Bookmark, SLU-Madrid's Carlos A. Segovia, Ph.D., shares a recommendation for an alternative to beach reading that will challenge the reader.

Carlos Segovia, Ph.D.

Carlos Segovia, Ph.D.


The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert (Cambridge, MA, and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013.)

About the book

Written in a reader-friendly first-person biographical style, the book elaborates on (I) the key con-cepts of Yanomami ontology and experience, (II) the negative impact of the modern project on non-modern ways of being, knowing, and doing (both “human” and “non-human,” to use our own ethnocentric categories), and (III) the cosmopolitical crisis in which, as a result, we are all trapped today. The book also includes  several helpful appendixes and a carefully-prepared critical apparatus destined to the more-scholarly reader.

Reasons to read

One of the last spokesmen of one of so many societies on the path to extinction due to modernity’s expansion – as [Claude] Lévi-Strauss put it – delivers here more than 600 pages of words of wisdom that underscore how those whom we have dominated view us, moderns – a wisdom whose words, para-doxically, may be also crucial to our own survival. In short, a must for anyone aware of leaving a disquieting end of times which disallows any illusory claim about an alleged end of history.

The living first-hand testimony it displays throughout its pages. Its richness. Its lucidity. And, therefore, its uniqueness.

The SLU Connection

This book is an invitation to rethink the present of the earth and our future on it (assuming the latter is still possible!) from an uncommon yet fascinating angle: that of the (heretofore voiceless) others or “subalterns” – to use Gayatri Spivak’s famous term – whose existence, repeatedly menaced by ours, challenges our understanding of what is real and what are humans capable of.

My teaching and research aims at establishing the conditions of possibility of this and other related types of critical rethinking, focusing as it does on the conceptualisation of hybridity and ambiguity in religious origins as a means to counter present-day ethnocentrism and xenophobia and the revision of conceptual production in the social sciences and the humanities and its potential delinking from the hegemonic power/knowledge regimes of global neoliberalism.

Author Bio

Carlos Segovia, Ph.D., is a philosopher working on the history and the anthropology of religion at the crossroads of postcolonial studies, author of more than 100 publications on these and other related matters, and associate professor of religious studies in the Humanities Division of SLU-Madrid.

His latest book (in Spanish) is a philosophy essay titled La inmanencia y lo sagrado [Immanence and the Sacred]. Among his forthcoming books and articles in English are: The Quranic Jesus: A New Interpretation, Remapping Emergent Islam: Texts, Social Contexts, and Ideological Trajectories, “The Misadventures of an Apple: Science, Religion, Economy, War, Ecology, and Ethnocentrism in Apocalyptic Times,” and “Social Theory, Conceptual Imagination, and the Study of Stateless Societies: From Lévi-Strauss to Pierre Clastres.”

'Billiken Bookmarks' is a mini-feature series that will appear with new reading recommendations from Saint Louis University authors throughout the summer and occasionally throughout the academic year. 

Are you a passionate reader, eager to share your top summer reading pick with the SLU community? Share your recommendation with Newslink by July 20 for a chance to win a prize selected with the avid bookworm in mind.