Download Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography by Michael Herzfeld PDF

By Michael Herzfeld

Utilizing Greek ethnography as a reflect for an ethnography of anthropology itself, this e-book finds the ways that the self-discipline of anthropology is ensnared within the related political and social symbolism as its item of research. the writer pushes the comparative targets of anthropology past the normal separation of tribal item from indifferent clinical observer, and gives the self-discipline a serious resource of reflexive perception according to empirical ethnography instead of on ideological hypothesis on my own.

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But this contrast is more apparent than real: romantic statism, which in Hegel's hands was to treat history as possible only within the political state (Hegel 1857:62-3; Cassirer 1946:263), often also credited the Greeks with universal significance. Absolute compounded absolute: the West supported the Greeks on the implicit understanding that the Greeks would reciprocally accept the role of living ancestors of European civilization - the standard, for most romantic writers, of civilization in the most general and absolute sense.

In exactly the same way, the most fulsome expressions of regard for the visitor's scholarly status protect and conceal local values from effective penetration. 12 Given the grace with which Greek villagers thus incorporate anthropologists into their moral universe, it would be all too easy to accept the rhetoric 22 Anthropology through the looking-glass of literacy at face value. Just as the participant-observer's right to ask questions is only rarely challenged, so too the rhetoric of literacy feeds the creation of a hierarchical relationship, which may subsequently be reflected in assumptions that underlie the published ethnography.

Cultural disunity produced political disarray: the Greeks' persistent fractiousness inspired the rueful proverb, "Twelve Greeks [make] thirteen captains" (see Friedl 1962:105), by which is meant that no two Greeks can ever agree on any plan of action. This reproduces the view from outside: at the time of the struggle for independence, for example, western observers saw in the Greeks' lack of organization and political unity a typically oriental character trait (see St. Clair 1972:35-8, 75-7). Then again, the absence of linguistic uniformity in spoken Greek became the butt of an aptly named nineteenth-century satire, Vavilonia ("Babylon" < Babel) (Vizandios 1840).

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