Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography

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9780520057296: Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography
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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, place ethnography at the center of a new intersection of social history, interpretive anthropology, travel writing, discourse theory, and textual criticism.

The authors analyze classic examples of cultural description, from Goethe and Catlin to Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, and Le Roy Ladurie, showing the persistence of allegorial patterns and rhetorical tropes. They assess recent experimental trends and explore the functions of orality, ethnicity, and power in ethnographic composition.

Writing Culture argues that ethnography is in the midst of a political and epistemological crisis: Western writers no longer portray non-Western peoples with unchallenged authority; the process of cultural representation is now inescapably contingent, historical, and contestable. The essays in this volume help us imagine a fully dialectical ethnography acting powerfully in the postmodern world system. They challenge all writers in the humanities and social sciences to rethink the poetics and politics of cultural invention.

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Humanists and social scientists alike will profit from reflection on the efforts of the contributors to reimagine anthropology in terms, not only of methodology, but also of politics, ethics, and historical relevance. Every discipline in the human and social sciences could use such a book.” Hayden White, author of Metahistory

Review:

"The nine critical essays collected here result from an advanced seminar held in 1984 at The School for American Research in Santa Fe, N.M. . . . The questions raised by these essays examine the parameters and consequences of anthropological (and other) writing to an extent that goes beyond any previous collection. The book is highly recommended to professionals in ethnographic field work and to anyone interested in presenting 'other' cultural contexts."--"Science Books and Films

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Published by University of California Press (1986)
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