Quincy Amoah Assistant Professor Cultural Anthropology/Africana Studies
Quincy Amoah is obsessed with cattle, Nilotic “apparently irrational beliefs,” and the meaning of “good” when one and their community are dedicated to brigandage. Apparently irrational beliefs are sincerely held beliefs and descriptions of the world—not ontological assertions about the existence of God, spirits, souls etc.—that appear to be nonsense from a rational perspective yet seem difficult to dismiss because they possess imponderable qualities. An example of such Nilotic beliefs is the claim that human “twins are birds,” which was made famous by E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s Nuer Religion. Quincy suspects the matter is due to problems of language and confusion of categories of sign on the part of scholars. Therefore, he is using semiotic phenomenology, grounded in ethnographic participant observation, to attempt to resolve these Nilotic puzzles. His current hypothesis suggests that some Nilotic propositions appear perennially incoherent because utterances have two simultaneous denotations: an ordinary sense-for-sense signification and a categorical signification. The categorical meanings are emergent of obscured "phono(semantic)-categories" and propositions are reasoned and framed with iconicity.