Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography by Michael Herzfeld PDF

By Michael Herzfeld

ISBN-10: 0521389089

ISBN-13: 9780521389082

Utilizing Greek ethnography as a reflect for an ethnography of anthropology itself, this ebook finds the ways that the self-discipline of anthropology is ensnared within the similar political and social symbolism as its item of analysis. the writer pushes the comparative ambitions of anthropology past the normal separation of tribal item from indifferent clinical observer, and provides the self-discipline a severe resource of reflexive perception in response to empirical ethnography instead of on ideological hypothesis by myself.

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Additional info for Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography in the Margins of Europe

Example text

On the contrary, they saw it as a powerful argument for self-redemption through the active purification of language, customs, social institutions, and the moral character of the nation itself. Etymologies of power: against legitimation Ironic echoes of the Greeks' ancestral sins of culture haunt ethnographic field work and theory. Settling in a rural Greek community for the first time, an ethnographer is liable to experience this frustrating response: as a "literate" (ghrammatismenos) individual and a "scholar" (epistimon[as]n), someone who surely knows much more than the villagers about their customs and history, should the visitor not be telling them about such matters?

Vico's subsequent appropriation by the forces of statism - with all their thirst for legitimacy - may have obscured this aspect of his thought. Outwardly, too, his concentration on etymology follows a pattern in the scholarship of rhetoric that had long been developing along well established lines by the time he published the first edition of his celebrated New Science in 1724. But beneath the respectable exterior, Struever suggests, there lay a truly subversive plan that "stipulates the essential continuity between barbarism and civility, between the primitive and the rationally organized" and thus "creates uncomfortable but challenging parameters for social or ethical theory" (1983:120).

7 To write a comprehensive ethnography of anthropology, in these or other terms, is a virtually impossible task, and I would not presume to claim it as a feasible goal here. But anthropological thought lives off the tension between common humanity and cultural difference, and so inevitably produces hierarchical classifications of identity rather like those reported by many anthropologists as ethnographic case studies. As a European-originated discipline, moreover, anthropology cannot evade the Eurocentric character of its criteria of comparison.

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Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography in the Margins of Europe by Michael Herzfeld

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