Re: Pomo Update

James G. Carrier (jgc5p@UVA.PCMAIL.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Tue, 14 Dec 1993 19:14:47 EST

On Dec 14, 10:01am, "douglass st.christian....." wrote (among other things):
> why does critical thinking which takes the anthropological project itself
> as an object of scrutiny so disturbing to some anthropologists?
I offer an answer to this question, in two parts:

1. The taking anthropology itself as an object of scrutiny raises people's
hackles most when it asserts that anthropology is false, self-deceptive, and
the like; in extremis, when it says anthropology is neither possible nor

2. Extreme positions of this sort deny what many anthropologists think that
they do, conscientiously and with difficulty.

Or, if someone told me that my craft and my product were little more than a
pile of horseshit, I would get a bit cheesed off too.
Whether any particular critic of anthropology says this is a different
One further reflection. Much of my own work consists of taking
anthropology and `its project' (itself largely a construction by the critics;
most anthropologists I know do not think in terms of that project) as an
object of (critical) analysis, and it does not seem to generate the anger
that pomos generate (though perhaps those who would be critical simply have
not bothered to tell me to go soak my head). It may be that my criticism
presumes that there is some merit in what anthropologists try to do, and
seeks to find ways in which they can do it better. But then maybe I flatter


James G. Carrier

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(804) 971-2983 /