Re: meme, metaphor, Wagner

Thomas Nevins (tjn5e@UVA.PCMAIL.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Fri, 18 Feb 1994 23:52:02 EST

Roy Wagner is "for real", he is a Professor at the University
of Virginia,a leading ethnographer of PNG, and a highly
respected (if highly perplexing) theorist in cultural
anthropology. He received his Ph.d from Chicago the late
sixties- which means he was weaned on a diet of symbolic
anthropology, specifically by David Schneider (who thinks a great
deal of Wagner).

Wagner's writing, especially the post-1980 stuff, is sortof
obscure and evasive, but well worth the trouble, I think.
Actually, Symbols That Stand for themselves really needs to be
read after The Invention of Culture ('75 U. of Chic. Press).
The latter is also obscure and evasive, but it gives you a
better sense of what his starting assumptions are. He is also
very influenced by the work of Carlos Casteneda, although you have
to look hard to find the Castenedan influence ( its not
disguised just well employed in his (Wagner's) own voice). He
is not a linguistic anthropologist (whatever that is) and would
get mad if someone thought he was. Oh, the other BIG influences
are Hegel and Nietzche.

Anthropologists influenced by Wagner include Marilyn Strathern,
James Weiner, Jadran Mimica, and many others.

Hope that helps (or wasn't too much)

Tom Nevins
grad student
Dept. of Anth, UVA