Pomo Results (Reply to Tomaso)
John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Fri, 6 Oct 1995 11:24:18 +0900
In response to a request for more pomo results, Matt Tomaso
mentions Michael Taussig. Two issues come to mind: (1) Who else
is out there? (2) What are we to make of Taussig?
First, in relation to (1): We have on the table the claim that
postmodernism represents an important shift in anthropological
thinking. So far we have two anthropologists' names on the table
(Kondo and Taussig). Is this all we have to show as examples of a
Second, in relation to (2): This is a subject John Stevens and I
went over in some detail privately, about a year ago. What I say
now is based on memories of that discussion.
To me, _The Devil and Commodity Fetishism_ is an important
book, with serious things to say about how colonial exploitation
and involvement in the all-too-rough edges of global capitalism
affects the lives of exploited people and changes their views of
good and evil. Of the later books I have read only _Shamanism,
Colonialism, and the Wild Man_ and _Mimesis and Alterity_.
Both strike me as precious (As David Brinkley once described
Everett Dirksen's 1964 nominating speech for Barry Goldwater,
"One word follows another like a string of overripe cantaloupes.").
They are fun to read and occasionally provocative. They describe
some horrific things and make an occasional interesting
connection. At bottom, however, they remain pastiche. Their
parts can be cannibalized and reshuffled. As wholes they suggest
no projects on which it is possible to build. They are anthropology
as MTV, without the music and video.
I would, however, be happy to hear from those who see them