Blitzkrieg Bop

Robert Desjarlais

in Counterplay

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267398
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948204 | DOI:
Blitzkrieg Bop

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This chapter suggests that considering chess through an anthropological lens makes good sense. Anthropology has been a holistic discipline from its inception in the nineteenth-century, with anthropologists attending to the diverse and interrelated dimensions of humanity, from the biophysical and linguistic to the material and sociocultural. In studying the chess-playing world, adopting such a holistic focus helped to tease out the interconnecting forces—social, psychological, technological—woven into contemporary chess practice. A popular conception of chess is that it is purely a mental activity, conducted in a bodiless, wordless domain by solitary thinkers who grapple with each other in a space of pure thought. However, the game has always been a product of social, cultural, political, biological, and technological arrangements. Chess is an ever-shifting tangle of neural networks, bodies, social relations, perception, memory, time, spectators, history, narratives, computers, and databases.

Keywords: chess; anthropology; holistic discipline; humanity; neural networks; social relations; perception; memory; time

Chapter.  11390 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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