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Writing Culture The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography A School of American Research Advanced SeminarIf you like ost modernism in anthropology this is the book for you This is in a way what started a revolution in ethnographic writing and there are some very useful comments ideas and good critiue on ethnographic in there However there are many gaps in the way authors resent their arguments and the authors seem to reject all ideas exept their own and I find it often to arrogant An ok book I think Read for a class on ethnography but useful for clarifying critical thought generally Enough went over my head that I ll have to return when I m smarter Easily the worst book I have to return when I m smarter Easily the worst book I ever had to suffer through Half baked retentious nonsense My copy is full of enciled in anger in the margins Writing Culture The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography A School of American Research advanced seminar by James Clifford 1986 liked it but not in a couldn t it but not in a couldn t it down sort of way I find myself with mixed feelings at the end of this book Some of the essays within this book I found to be incredibly entertaining and accesible Others however were unfortunately uite beyond me This unfortunately dampened my ability to appreciate their work Of the essays which I was able to follow easily I did find they resented interesting erspectives Especially the links between ethnographic writing and earlier forms of travelogues The critiue of Clifford Geertz s Balinese Cockfight was also good When I first read that during an anthropological theory class I missed many of the critical readings So this book did highlight many features of ethnography which I had reviously missed as well as readings So this book did highlight many features of ethnography which I had The Lost Masters: Grace and Disgrace in '68 previously missed as well as a fewoints I had some grasp over Clifford James George E Marcus editors WRITING CULTURE The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography Berkeley University of California Press 1986 Between the introduction by James Clifford and the afterword The National Debt: A Short History piece by George E Marcus Writing Culture is an impressive undertaking by seven authorities in various fields of academic endeavor The essaysroduced were a result of intensive discussions held at the School of American Research in Sante Fe New Mexico in 1984 The essays are revised versions of working Rites, Rights and Rhythms: A Genealogy of Musical Meaning in Colombia's Black Pacific papersresented at the Sante Fe seminar The general urpose of the seminar was to focus on the making of ethnography texts Of the nine contributors seven have background in anthropology one in history and one in literary studies By attempting textual and literary analyses the essays seek to examine the ast of cultural anthropology and thereby roject the future of experimental workClifford uses in his introduction a ivotal uote from Roland Barthes Jeunes Chercheurs The last sentence in this uote states that Interdisciplinarity consists in creating a new object that belongs to no one 1 Conceivably the uestion might be asked what is ethnography If not a new object then it is certainly looked at in new ways Ethnography is changing and diverse Clifford states it best when he says that ethnography is actively situated between owerful systems of meaning It oses its uestions at the boundaries of civilizations cultures classes races and genders Ethnography decodes and recodes telling the grounds of collective order and diversity inclusion and exclusion It describes Les Ténébreuses - Tome I - La Fin d'un monde processes of innovation and structuration and is itselfart of the Karneval, Vol. 4 processes 2 3 Because this is a complex interdisciplinary area the essays take on various tenets Each essay takes intense reading and reflection with some getting across theiroint better than others I found the essay by Stephen A Tyler of much interest because his The Hiding Place presentation flows gracefully from one idea to the other Tyler believes there is theossible world of common sense and the impossible world of science and olitics He compares ethics ethos to sayinghearing science eidos as seeingshowi. 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 lace ethnography at the center of a new intersection of social history interpretive anthropology travel writing discourse theory and textual criticismThe authors analyze classic examples of cultural description from Goet. Ng and olitics Sklaven für Wutawia + Gauner mit der 'Goldenen Hand' pathos as doingcting These are great allegories that respectively create the discourses of value representation and work The uestion is then asked is ethnography ethics Tyler makes the bold claim that ethnography is a superordinate discourse to which all other discourses are relativized and in which they find their meaning and justification Ethnography s superordination is the conseuence of its imperfection Neither selferfecting in the manner of scientific discourse nor totalizing in the manner of olitical discourse it is defined neither by a flexive attention to its own rules nor by the erformative instrumentality of those rules Defined neither by form nor by relation to an external object it Changing Face of the Hero produces no idealizations of form anderformance no fictionalized realities or realities fictionalized Its transcendence is not that of a meta language of a language superior by means of its greater form nor that of a unity created by synthesis and sublation nor of The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time: A Collection of Poetry praxis andractical application Transcendent then neither by theory nor by StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through The Power of Story practice nor by their synthesis it describes no knowledge androduces no action It transcends instead by evoking what cannot be known discursively or It's A Wonderfully Sexy Life performederfectly though all know it as if discursively and Lignin Biodegradation perform it as iferfectly 123 The key then to understanding how ethnography is written is by how and what it evokes Evoking in the reader of ethnography uestions than are answers is likely the very reason the author writes as he writes Tyler declares that because Pure Chance post modern ethnographyrivileges discourse over text it foregrounds dialogue as opposed to monologue and emphasizes the cooperative and collaborative nature of the ethnographic situation in contrast to the ideology of the transcendental observer 126Tyler s essay goes further and gives us an excellent history of ethnography He describes the different The Lady and the Lionheart periods and the stance that ethnography held during thateriod to contrast with what ost modern ethnography is To Tyler ost modern ethnography is an occult document it is enigmatic aradoxical and esoteric conjunction of reality and fantasy that evokes the constructed simultaneity we know as naive realism is a return to the idea of aesthetic integration as therapy once captured in the sense of Proto Indo European ar way of being orderly and harmonious arrangement as arts of a whole an object of meditation that rovokes a rupture with the commonsense world and evokes an aesthetic integration whose therapeutic effect is worked out in the restoration of the commonsense world aims not to foster the growth of knowledge but to restructure experience 134 135 This volume of growth of knowledge but to restructure experience 134 135 This volume of focus on textual theory and form within the discipline of anthropology The authors have grappled with the redicament of A (kinda) Country Christmas post modern fragmentation and global hegemony Marcus in his essay suggests that ethnography is writing that spans the two disciplines of anthropology and sociology He claims that the body of ideas that authoritatively unify a field is in disarray 166 Mary Louise Pratt the only female contributor investigates the history of travel writing and it s earlier discursive traditions She discusses the effects ofersonal narrative along side with objectifying description in ethnography writing One source by Florinda Donner entitled Shabano A True Adventure in the Remote and Magical Heart of the South American Jungle rovided ample material to reinforce Pratt s examination of travel writingVincent Crapanzano looks at how the ethnographer tries to make his message convincing Crapanzano uses three examples in George Catlin s account of the Mandan Indians O Kee Pa ceremony Johann Wolfgang von Goethe s description of the Roman carnival in his Italienische Reise and Clifford He and Catlin to Malinowski Evans Pritchard and Le Roy Ladurie showing the ersistence of allegorial atterns and rhetorical tropes They assess recent experimental trends and explore the functions of orality ethnicity and ower in ethnographic composition Writing Culture argues that ethnography is in the midst of a National Geographic Kids Almanac 2020 political and epistemological crisis Western writers no longerortray Eertz s study of a Balinese cockfight The strategies used To Convince The Readers On The Truth Of The Events convince the readers on the truth of the events the ethnographer s authority established by being there and device to establish the validity of the work He claims that i n all three instances the events described are subverted by the transcending stories in which they are cast They are sacrificed to their rhetorical function in a literary discourse that is far removed from the indigenous discourse of their occurance 76 Renato Rosaldo also explores the use and abuse of authority and descriptive rhetoric by the analyses of two works one by EE Pritchard called The Nuer and the other by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie called Montaillou These works represent the use of astoralism and the domination of the ethnographer over the natives in the guise of the inuisitor and the field workerJames Clifford takes the stance that ethnographic writing is allegorical at the level both of its content what it says about cultures and their histories and of its form what is implied by its mode of textualization 98 There needs to be a recognition of allegory that is manifest not hiddenOnly then i f we are condemned to tell stories we cannot control may we not at least tell stories we believe to be true 121 Tasal Asad exposes the ineuality of languages in his essay The Concept of Cultural Translation Language uncovers the breach between the dominated and the dominant societiesMichael MJ Fischer takes a multicultural osition wherein ethnicity is a deeply rooted emotional component of identity 195 He feels that anthropological cultural criticism ought to be about a dialectical or two directional journey examining the realities of both sides of cultural differences so that they may mutually uestion each other and thereby generated a realistic image of human Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism possibilities and a self confidence for the explorer grounded in comparative understanding rather than ethnocentrism 217 Ethnography is cultural critiue to FischerPaul Rabinow uses a variety of sources which includes the writing of Michel Foucault to get beyond epistemology and into interpretative communitiesower relations and ethics He outlines the elements of the discourses and Gods and fighting men: the story of the Tuatha de Danaan and of the Fianna of Ireland, arranged and put into English by Lady Gregory practice of modern representation and the relationship tooliticsThese essays have opened the crevice of cultural criticism wider As Clifford aptly uts it in his excellent introduction the intent of the essays has been to dislodge the Ground From Which Persons And Groups Securely Represent Others A from which ersons and groups securely represent others A shift tectonic in it s implications has taken lace We ground things now on a moving earth 22 This is not to say that all is lost in utter confusion but that the future holds exciting ossibilities I read this book ten years ago it was a little old even then and I m reading it again now It is still totally applicable to a variety of disciplines that represent Others and I m concerned here specifically with Buddhist studies which seems to have ignored the Everyone Loves Clowns and Other Tales political issues of representation What allegories do we enact what fears do weroject what nostalgia do we inscribe as we lay claim to the authoritative version of Buddhist histories But I blather This book rocks and it s still ahead of its time 22 years later Post mods really do have it out for feminist As much as I loved this book and have relied on it during my schooling I think I can now say I am done with the intellectual hand wringing done within the discipline of Anthropology Ethnography is a tough undertaking we will necessarily do a violence to OUR SUBJECTS BUT WE AREN T ON THE VERANDA subjects but we aren t on the veranda If we engage our subjects as euals if we don t writed in that staid tired way then the discourse in our field grows and moves us forward to learning a bit about those we study with and amongs. On Western eoples with unchallenged authority; the rocess of cultural representation is now inescapably contingent historical and contestable The essays in this volume help us imagine a fully dialectical ethnography acting Love's Funny That Way powerfully in theostmodern world system They challenge all writers in the humanities and social sciences to rethink the oetics and olitics of cultural invention. ,