Anthropologist Alan Klima Wins 2020 Bateson Prize

Book cover with collage of images of Thai temples and lottery posters
"Ethnography #9," by UC Davis anthropologist Alan Klima, won a 2020 Gregory Bateson Book Prize from the Society for Cultural Anthropology.

A book by UC Davis anthropology professor Alan Klima on Thai spiritual and financial practices is the winner of a 2020 Gregory Bateson Book Prize from the Society for Cultural Anthropology.

Photo of UC Davis anthropologist in Thailand
Alan Klima

Ethnography #9 (Duke University Press, November 2019) is one of three recipients of this year’s Bateson Prize, given for works deemed “interdisciplinary, experimental and innovative.”

Written in a literary style of storytelling, Ethnography #9 examines moneylending, gambling, funeral casinos and the consultation of spirits and mediums to predict winning lottery numbers.

Klima uses multiple voices — from ethnographic modes to a first-person narrative in which he channels Northern Thai ghostly tales and the story of a young Thai spirit — to challenge the “earnest realism of anthropological discourse as a method of critical thought.”

In addition to being sold in paperback, Ethnography #9 is also available free in an open access PDF edition, thanks to an initiative of library and university press associations called TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem), and the support of UC Davis.

The Society for Cultural Anthropology is the largest section of the American Anthropological Association. The Bateson Prize is awarded at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association and comes with an honorarium of $500.