By Johannes Fabian

This publication collects released and unpublished paintings over the past dozen years via certainly one of today’s such a lot unusual and provocative anthropologists.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 significant issues in philosophy, historical past, and cultural stories. the 1st a part of the e-book addresses questions of present severe hindrance: Does it nonetheless make experience to go looking for objectivity in ethnography? What will we achieve once we invoke “context” in our interpretations? How does literacy switch the paintings of the ethnographer, and what are the limits among ethnology and background? This half ends with a plea for convalescing negativity in our puzzling over tradition. the second one half extends the paintings of critique into the previous via studying the start of contemporary ethnography within the exploration of critical Africa through the past due 19th century: the justification of a systematic perspective, the accumulating of ethnographic gadgets, the presentation of information in narration, and the function of recognition―given or denied―in encounters with Africans. a last essay examines how the Congolese have again the “imperial gaze” of Belgium via the paintings of serious reminiscence in well known historical past. the 10 chapters are framed through meditations at the relevance of concept and the irrelevance of the millennium.

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

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How, it could be asked, are we to distinguish legitimate ecstatic experiences from, say, 32 CRITICAL. C O N CERNS those flights of imagination that made Carlos Castaneda's fame and for­ rune? The answer is: We cannot (unless we have some factual information on fraud in a given case). 33 Incidentally, these recommendations for ecstasis make empathy, once a strong term in the critique of positivism, rather pale. They also help to clarify a distinction that is often difficult to make-the one between epistemology and method.

But only during later work did it become clear to me that recognizing limits in what can be covered by semiotic concepts also calls for rethinking the role of information in producing ethnographic knowl­ edge. " Only part of what members of a culture know is "informative" in the sense that it can be elicited and produced as discursive information. Much more is "perfor­ mative:" it can be done, acted out, put on (Fabian 1990b) . What is per­ formative in ethnographic communication-and I am advocating a broad sense for the term, including aspects that are play-like-needs to be given more attention if we want to keep ethnography objective.

If anything, thinking about the ethnography of reading once again brings to the fore the communicative nature of ethnographic knowledge (see chapter 3 below) . Communication, Information, and Performance. A new appreciation of literacy helps us to recognize the limits of the standard semiotic model Ethnographic Objectivity 29 in accounting for the production of ethnographic knowledge. For instance, only parts of what happens in literacy as a social and cultural practice can be described by such notions as sign, message, and code (sig­ nification, information, encoding, and decoding) .

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