Re: Postmodern Anthropology

Kathleen G Williamson (kgw@GAS.UUG.ARIZONA.EDU)
Fri, 3 Dec 1993 20:43:10 -0700

its not a "new" buzz, its the same old dualistic (classicism/romaticism
etc) human nature rearing its
ugly old head again, lest we abandon the shadows on the wall and get a
glimpse of what is going on outside the
cave. the post-mos and the positos are going to have to get along if we
are ever going to get close to the real art of vision (vision is the art
of seeing things invisible - Jonathan Swift) and truth, reality? anyway,
George Cowgill's lecture in the recent sept AAA journal mentions something
interesting regarding Bayesian statistics, wherein "one's prior knowledge
and beliefs can often be built explicitly into the equations and can thus be
made overt rather than covert. One can then formalize the interaction
between prior beliefs and new data...a great improvement over classical
staistical models for reasoning.. (ie., sweeping subjective elements under
he rug.."). I find this to be a fascinating development in the movement
away from the artificial bifurcation of subjective and objective. any

On Fri, 3 Dec 1993 seeker1@MAPLE.CIRCA.UFL.EDU wrote:

> Fellow anthropoids,
> I am just wondering, based on the buzz I've gotten from the dept. around
> here, that there's a rather hostile backlash building up toward postmodernism
> in anthropology...
> Frankly, the problem is that both sides are really kind of dogmatic.
> The pomos insist positivism is dead and the CMers and others insist that
> pomo anthropology is 'antiscientific, nihilistic, relativistic to the
> extreme, etc., etc.) As I see it, *both* approaches in anthro are useful -
> the social-scientific, quantitative, behaviorist approach, and the
> humanistic, interpretive, intersubjective approach. Heck, if there were
> people who could do *both*, it would really be useful. We could collect
> quantitative data and thick descriptions all at the same time.
> Or is that the cardinal sin of eclecticism?
> Anybody around here think that pomo is maybe, maybe, not just a fad, and
> not just a variant of Nazism, and not just a new academic power game?
> That maybe the pomos are on to something? That they might highlight
> certain problems dealing with representation, power/knowledge, and
> reflexivity? Can the pomos and CMers get along?
> Just wondering
> Seeker1