Pigeon Trouble chronicles a foreign-born, birdphobic
anthropologist's venture into the occult craft of pigeon shooting
in the depths of Pennsylvania's anthracite coal country. Though
initially drawn by a widely publicized antipigeon shoot protest by
animal rights activists, the author quickly finds himself
traversing into a territory much stranger than clashing
worldviews-an uncanny world saturated with pigeon matters, both
figuratively and literally.
What transpires is a sustained meditation on self-reflexivity as
the author teeters at the limit of his investigation-his own fear
of birds. The result is an intimate portrayal of the miners' world
of conspiracy theory, anti-Semitism, and whiteness, all inscribed
one way or another by pigeon matters, and seen through the
anguished eyes of a birdphobe. This bestiary experiment through a
phobic gaze concludes with a critique on the visual trope in
anthropology's self-reflexive turn.
An ethnographer with a taste for philosophy, Song writes in a
distinctive descriptive and analytical style, obsessed with his
locale and its inhabitants, constantly monitoring his own reactions
and his impact on others, but always teasing out larger
implications to his subject.
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