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By Johannes Fabian

This e-book collects released and unpublished paintings over the past dozen years through certainly one of today’s such a lot special and provocative anthropologists. Johannes Fabian is celebrated outdoors of his self-discipline simply because his paintings so usually overcomes conventional scholarly limitations to carry clean perception to crucial subject matters in philosophy, historical past, and cultural reviews. the 1st a part of the ebook addresses questions of present severe problem: Does it nonetheless make experience to go looking for objectivity in ethnography? What can we achieve once we invoke “context” in our interpretations? How does literacy swap the paintings of the ethnographer, and what are the bounds among ethnology and background? This half ends with a plea for recovering negativity in our brooding about tradition. the second one half extends the paintings of critique into the earlier via studying the start of recent ethnography within the exploration of significant Africa through the past due 19th century: the justification of a systematic angle, the gathering of ethnographic items, the presentation of data in narration, and the function of recognition―given or denied―in encounters with Africans. a last essay examines how the Congolese have back the “imperial gaze” of Belgium via the paintings of serious reminiscence in renowned heritage. the 10 chapters are framed by way of 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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The point I want to make with this case of misunderstanding is not that we should mistrust our expectations and improve our competence as translators. We should, of course; but we must, as I have said, make deci­ sions and settle for a version we can live with , otherwise we will end up with unreaclable texts like the one quoted, full of gaps and cautionary paraphrases. So the useful lesson to be learned from this case must be elsewhere. I would argue that the example demonstrates that, even on the level of interpreting grammatical and lexical meaning, translating 40 C RI T I CA L e 0 N e ERN S requires historical background knowledge.

First an observation of fact, then some thoughts on reasons why this should be so. A search of major journals in anthropology since 1980 yielded disappointing results. 1o The one paper that looked as if it might address the issue (Feleppa 1986) approached it in terms of the emies versus eties debate and was (as some of the commentators noted) unable to sal­ vage a truly epistemological question from the confusion that has charac­ terized that debate from its very beginning. Feleppa defined the problem of ethnographic objectivity, so far as he defined it at all, as one of over­ coming ethnocentrism, or of gaining an insider's perspective on a culture.

The role of literacy in ethnography can no longer be considered only as writing. Therefore, critical standards cannot be limited to those of writ­ ing. As part of a social praxis texts are read; not only does this open up a new field for ethnographic inquiry, but reading-what makes it possible and what it accomplishes-must now be examined as having a bearing on ethnographic objectivity. If anything, thinking about the ethnography of reading once again brings to the fore the communicative nature of ethnographic knowledge (see chapter 3 below) .

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