Re: Anthropology ?

John Cook (
Thu, 26 Jan 1995 03:18:53 GMT

In article <3g4q1l$io5@status>, (Daniel Rosenblatt) wrote:

> John--I've been kicking around the Idea of responding to your post for a
> couple of days. Of course you are correct. Actually, it seems to vary
> from time to time--lately has been particularly bad, but still, there is
> never any discussion of research people are doing on this group, or of
> current theoretical issues. I don't
> know what to say as to cause--I don't think compuyter scientists are
> entirely to blame--anthropology has always been somewhat counter to
> "common sense" (At least in the US--I'm thinking of Boas' attacke on
> racism, and Mead & Benedict's promotion of pop cultural relativism).
> I hesistated for a while to respond largely because I don't have any good
> ideas on what to do about it.
> But: as a try, what do you do? I work on the role of urban *marae* in
> the movement to revive Maori culture in contemporary Auckland. I'm
> interested generally in "culture movements" in the Pacific (and
> elsewhere). It seems to me that some of the models (e.g. Hobsbawm &
> Ranger's _Invention of Tradition_, and some of Handler & Linnekin's work)
> oversimplify the relation between politicized cultural revival movements,
> and earlier cultural structures.
> I'd be happy to discuss the issues involved in my work, or other
> interesting anthropological issues. Imagine we have here a discussion on
> anthropology in which textual strategies in ethnographic writing hasn't
> come up (at least in the last few months)!
> Anyway, I *would be interested to hear about anyone's anthropological work.
> Daniel Rosenblatt <>
> Department of Anthropology
> University of Chicago

THANK YOU Daniel, this is more like it.

Your work sounds interesting. I'm actually working on something that might
have have some connection with your own work. I'm looking at "culture" as
nationalism in the Carnival of Trinidad. Much of what I've been loking
could be considered under the idea of "culture movements" and I've also
used the Hobsbawm and Ranger. I agree with you about the simplicity of
their construal of the invention of tradition. I think this is probably
due to their ultimately materialist convictions whereby they consider
self-conscious notions of culture as a form of false consciousness, as
simply the operation of ideological forms. Culture is ultimately a mere
imaginative gloss that covers the "real" operation of the society. The
invention of tradition is more, it seems to me, than a hegemonic function
but is a real attempt on the part of a society to bridge the gap between
hegemonic forms and embodied notions of tradition or culture. These
attempts at bridging never however, have their intended affect and
frequently instead become utilised as articulations of entirely different
cultural and political agendas. It is this this process of imagination and
transformation that is, for me, interesting.

Have you seen the film "Once Were Warriors", I'm going to try and catch it
in the next couple of days. It's been recieving rave reviews here, but I
must say I'm a little suspicious. The construal of all problems of
colonial history as solvable by a retreat into an imagined "tradition" is
still somewhat problematic for me. It is for instance, one of the
principal maners in which indigenous Austrlians are once more rendered as
ahistorical essence, to be included within the states multicultural canon.
Interested to know what you think.


John Cook