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EITAN WILF Sociable robots, jazz music, and divination: Contingency as a cultural resource for negotiating problems of intentionality American Ethnologist 40

Article first published online: 6 NOV 2013 | DOI: 10.1111/amet.12041

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In practices that range from mechanical divination in Central Africa to gamelike interactions among jazz students and the development of a jazz-improvising humanoid robot marimba player in the United States, contextually meaningful contingency is widely used as a cultural resource for negotiating problems of intentionality. Whereas anthropologists have been concerned with the use of contingency mostly as a cultural resource for increasing predictability of intentions in conflictual situations, I highlight contexts pervaded by modern normative ideals of creativity in which predictability of intentions constitutes a problem, for which contextually meaningful contingency is used as a solution.

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