Re: Time for Fabian?

Corinna A Snyder (cas20@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Thu, 31 Mar 1994 16:29:26 -0500

On Thu, 31 Mar 1994, James G. Carrier wrote:

>I found Fabian particularly tedious after the first chapter or so, where
he > made his basic point. But then, that was back in 1987 when,
doubtless, I was > younger and more innocent."

And I feel compelled to write back:
Why is it that anytime someone on this list shows any enthusiasm
for work that tries to speak to the concerns of other disciplines (dare I
say the words lit crit or continental philosophy) or god forbid, find them
to have relevance for anthropological inquiry, they are shot down with
snide comments like the above? I first read _Time and the Other_ in 1987
too, when, doubtless, I was younger and more innocent, yet I do not find
Fabian's concerns dismissable upon older and more jaded reflection. He
offers a really telling criticism of Symbolic anthropology, (Chapter 4,
summarized on p.151 in the 1983 edition). He reminds us of the importance
of situating the historicity of the categories with which we make sense of
fieldwork, which is not a bad thing to be reminded of constantly, and
offers an intriguing question; "are there criteria by which to distinguish
denial of coevalness as a condition of domination from refusal of
coevalness as an act of liberation?" (1983:154) which is a question that
is very appropriate to wonder about in the context of the other author
mentioned in the original question, Taussig, because one of the
difficulties with Taussig's work is his refusal to invoke the traditional
rubrics of domination, such as class, race and gender. His enthusiasm for
and use of collage and pastiche raises the exact question Fabian asked.
For example, is there a difference between collage used as political
critique (Germany in the 30s) and collage as the failed result of an
attempt to create a cohesive whole by those denied access to dominant
narratives? How does intent matter? This is an important question.
Enough. But responses like the one cited above make my blood