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By Johannes Fabian

This booklet collects released and unpublished paintings over the past dozen years via considered one of today’s such a lot exclusive and provocative anthropologists. Johannes Fabian is celebrated open air of his self-discipline simply because his paintings so usually overcomes conventional scholarly barriers to carry clean perception to important subject matters in philosophy, historical past, and cultural stories. the 1st a part of the publication addresses questions of present serious difficulty: Does it nonetheless make feel to go looking for objectivity in ethnography? What will we achieve after we invoke “context” in our interpretations? How does literacy swap the paintings of the ethnographer, and what are the limits among ethnology and background? This half ends with a plea for recovering negativity in our pondering tradition. the second one half extends the paintings of critique into the earlier through analyzing the start of contemporary ethnography within the exploration of crucial Africa in the course of the overdue 19th century: the justification of a systematic angle, the accumulating of ethnographic gadgets, the presentation of information in narration, and the position of recognition―given or denied―in encounters with Africans. a last essay examines how the Congolese have again the “imperial gaze” of Belgium through the paintings of serious reminiscence in well known historical past. the 10 chapters are framed via meditations at the relevance of concept and the irrelevance of the millennium.

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Extra info for Anthropology with an Attitude: Critical Essays (Cultural Memory in the Present)

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They also help to clarify a distinction that is often difficult to make-the one between epistemology and method. "34 One last observation regarding the passivity often ascribed to knowledge when visual, receptive, contemplative aspects are stressed. To the reasons already mentioned for rejecting such a view we should now add the following: Accepting passivity as an appropriate stance leads us to overlook the role of "passion"-understood as drive but also as suffer­ ing-as a condition of knowledge, and hence of objectivity.

From there it was a small step to pos­ tulating that texts were the objectifications with which ethnography should concern itself or, conversely, that whatever could be studied in a culture would have to be approached like a text. 16 C R I T I C A L C ON C E R N S To say that defending ethnographic objectivity requires a theory of objectilication does of course not mean that a theory of objectification as such confers objectivity on ethnography. Take, for instance, the schools that see objectification as occurring in signs and symbols.

The most obvious one is caused by the fact that in Swahili neither nouns nor pronouns (or pronominal infixes) are marked for gender. Grammar (in this case morphology) is no help in deciding whether the person that is reported to have joined the movement is male or female. I signal this uncertainty by enclosing references to that person in brackets. A few other passages require paraphrases or explanations (some are provided) but they are marginal to the point illustrated by this example. Ethnographic Misunderstanding and the Perils of Context 39 I transcribed this text from a recording sometime in 1975 without translating it (other, that is, than the kind of translation that is involved when one transcribes from a language he or she understands) .

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