What texts are we bashing here?

Stephanie Nelson (NELSON@USCVM.BITNET)
Thu, 9 Dec 1993 16:47:35 PST

I couldn't agree more with Bill Rodham's comments that the recent thread on
postmodernism in anthropology has been full of strong language uncomfortably
coupled to vague allegations. I was disappointed that Seeker1 (can't we use
names here like we do in other aspects of our scholarly activity?) attempted
to change the subject rather than respond to his very good questions. Let
me repeat them: What texts are we talking about and just how numerous and
influential are they in our field? Who among our field would we name as
"postmodern," and would they accept that hailing (to use Althusser)? I am
trying to make sense of the accusation that postmodernists don't go into the
field but do armchair anthropology; I find that idea full of flaws. Does
that mean that commentary on anthropological texts and activites is thus
postmodern? Is Geertz's Works and Lives a postmodern text? What about C&M's
Writing Culture? I too would like to see this argument moved in a more
productive direction. Just who is this pomo "Other" and what are its
products? If we want to do some Taussig bashing, for instance, I might even
be persuaded to join in, but let's name names and take on specific texts with
clear arguments, troops.

Stephanie Nelson