By James Clifford
The problem of Culture is a serious ethnography of the West in its altering family with different societies. studying cultural practices corresponding to anthropology, commute writing, accumulating, and museum screens of tribal artwork, Clifford indicates authoritative debts of alternative methods of lifestyles to be contingent fictions, now actively contested in postcolonial contexts. His critique increases questions of world importance: Who has the authority to talk for any group's id and authenticity? What are the fundamental components and limits of a tradition? How do self and "the different" conflict within the encounters of ethnography, go back and forth, and smooth interethnic family? In discussions of ethnography, surrealism, museums, and emergent tribal arts, Clifford probes the late-twentieth century quandary of residing concurrently inside, among, and after tradition.
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Additional resources for The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art
Researc h occasions a n d encounters turn into fie l d notes . stories develop into narratives, mea n i n gfu l occ urrences, o r examination ples. Th i s tra n s l ation of the learn adventure i nto a textual corpus sepa cost from its d i sc u rs i ve occas ions of prod uction has i m portant con seq uences for eth n ogra p h i c authority. the knowledge hence reform u l ated desire not be u nderstood because the com m u n ication of spec ific folks. An i nformant's exp l anati o n or desc r i ption of customized don't need to be forged in a sort that i n c l udes the message "so and so stated th i s . " A textual ized ritu a l o r occasion i s no lon ger c lose l y l i n ked t o t h e prod uction o f t h a t occasion by means of spec ific actors. I n stead those texts develop into evidences of an englob i n g context, a "cu l tu ra l " rea l ity. in addition, as particular authors a n d actors a re severed from thei r prod uctions, a genera l ized "author" has to be i n vented to accou nt for the realm or context with i n w h i c h the texts are fictiona l l y 40 D I S C O UR S E S re l ocated . Th i s genera l i zed writer is going u nder quite a few names : the local po i n t of v i ew, "the Trobria nders," "the N uer," "the Dogan," as those and s i m i l a r ph rases appea r in eth nographies. "The B a l i nese" fu nc tion as writer of Geertz's textu al ized coc kfight. The eth nographer hence enjoys a s pec i a l re l ationsh i p with a cu ltural origi n or "a bso l ute su bject" (Michel-Jones 1 nine 7 eight : 1 four) . It i s tempting to check the eth nographer with the l iterary i n terpreter (and this compar i son is i nc reas i ngly com mon p l ace)-but extra spec i fica l l y with the tra d i tional critic, who sees the duty to hand as l ocating the u n r u l y mea n i ngs of a textual content in a s i ngle coherent i ntenti o n . through rep resenting the N uer, the Trobria nders, or the B a l i nese as complete topics, sou rces of a mea n i ngfu l i ntention, the eth nographer tran sforms the learn situation's ambigu i ties a n d d i versities of mea n i ng i nto an i ntegrated portra it. It i s i m porta nt, notwithstanding, to note what has d ropped out of sight. The examine procedure i s separated from the texts it generates a n d from t h e fictive global they're made to ca l l u p . The actua l i ty of d i sc u rsive occasions and that i nd iv i d u a l i nterl ocutors i s fi l tered out. B u t i nformants-along with box notes-are cruc i a l i n termed i a ries, typ ica l l y exc l uded from authoritative ethnogra phies. The d i a logica l , situational as pects of ethnograph ic i nterpretation are usually ban i shed from the ultimate representati ve textual content. now not enti re l y ban i shed , of cou rse; there ex i st authorized topoi for the portraya l of the re sea rc h technique . We a re i ncreas i ng l y fa m i l i a r with the sepa cost fie ldwork account (a su bgen re that sti l l has a tendency to be c l assi fied as subjective, "soft," or u nscien tific), yet regardless of i n c l assic ethnograph ies, more-or-less stereotypic "fables of ra pport" narrate the atta i n ment of fu l l partic i pant-observer sta tu s .