Re: CFP: Postmod ling anth

Gerold Firl (
30 Jan 1995 13:28:32 -0800

In article <3g840a$> (Gordon Fitch) writes:

>Are you saying that there's no politics in an ethnographic

No. I'm saying that it is of secondary or tertiary importance. By the time
an anthropologist knows a language and culture well enough to consider
writing about it, the political aspects of the ethnographic encounter
should be transparent. The political overtones of an interview will merely
provide further insight. If an anthropologist doesn't comprehend the
politics of the encounter, and consequently forms a skewed perception of
the culture under study, then that anthropologist is way too ignorant to be
forming any conclusions. Until the anthropologist has gained enough local
sophistication to know the political angles under which the encounter can
happen, fieldwork should be considered to be in the initial learning/
exploratory phase.

Of course, if you want to jet in, "learn" the culture in a couple of
months, and then write your thesis/book, then a course on the politics of
the ethnographic encounter could be useful. Particularly if you don't have
time to do much in the way of mingling with the locals. If you base your
thesis on a single interview, then you damn well better know the political
angle of your informant. But I call this anthropology-on-the-cheap.
Certain kinds of insight can be obtained this way, but I prefer a little
more depth. It seems a little strange, to me, that a conference would be
organised around such a theme.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf