Synopses & Reviews
In these new essays, a group of experienced ethnographers, a literary critic, and a historian of anthropology, all known for advanced analytic work on ethnographic writing, place ethnography at the center of a new intersection of social history, interpretive anthropology, travel writing, discourse theory, and textual criticism.
The authors analyze classic examples of cultural description, from Goethe and Catlin to Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, and Le Roy Ladurie, showing the persistence of allegorial patterns and rhetorical tropes. They assess recent experimental trends and explore the functions of orality, ethnicity, and power in ethnographic composition.
Writing Culture argues that ethnography is in the midst of a political and epistemological crisis: Western writers no longer portray non-Western peoples with unchallenged authority; the process of cultural representation is now inescapably contingent, historical, and contestable. The essays in this volume help us imagine a fully dialectical ethnography acting powerfully in the postmodern world system. They challenge all writers in the humanities and social sciences to rethink the poetics and politics of cultural invention.
Humanists and social scientists alike will profit from reflection on the efforts of the contributors to reimagine anthropology in terms, not only of methodology, but also of politics, ethics, and historical relevance. Every discipline in the human and social sciences could use such a book.”Hayden White, author of Metahistory
The poetics and politics of ethnography.
These essays are the product of intensive discussions held at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during April 1984. Following the School's format for 'advanced seminars, ' conversations continued over a week, and the number of participants was strictly limited to ten.
Table of Contents
1. Partial Truths, by James Clifford
2. Fieldwork in Common Places, by Mary Louise Pratt
3. Hermes' Dilemma: The Masking of Subversion in Ethnographic Description, by Vincent Crapanzano
4. From the Door of His Tent: The Fieldworker and the Inquisitor, by Renato Rosaldo
5. On Ethnographic Allegory, by James Clifford
6. Post-Modern Ethnography: From Document of the Occult to Occult Document, by Stephen A. Tyler
7. The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology, by Talal Asad
8. Contemporary Problems of Ethnography in the Modern World System, by George E. Marcus
9. Ethnicity an the Post-Modern Arts of Memory, by Michael M. J. Fischer
10. Representations Are Social Facts: Modernity and Post-Modernity in Anthropology, by Paul Rabinow
Afterword: Ethnographic Writing and Anthropological Careers, by George E. Marcus
Notes on Contributors