Re: Declaration/Per/prof....

Danny Yee (danny@STAFF.CS.SU.OZ.AU)
Sat, 4 Mar 1995 19:11:53 +1000

Thomas McCormack writes:
> Once again, it is not Mr. Johnson's position that is so interesting but
> the academy's (as represented by this list) reaction to him. If an
> anthropologist was present in that marketplace when Mr. Johnson appeared and
> commenced his activities, I imagine that anthropologist would be scrambling
> for his recording device in great haste to make note of the events. I
> further imagine that thereafter, there would be an attempt at analysis and
> interpretation.

If Mr. Johnson is the person jumping up and down screaming
imprecations in the marketplace, and the rest of us are the natives,
I guess you must be the anthropologist. If you're willing to accept
that identification, then I would quite seriously encourage you to
attempt analysis and interpretation of what is happening. (I have
a long-standing interest in the study of virtual communities.)
Just remember that what you would then be studying is flame-wars in
anthro-l, and that your task has nothing whatsoever to do with the
rights of indigenous peoples (unless you are prepared to accept that
if I go to a random village and start jumping up and down screaming
about abstract linear algebra, then it is the task of an anthropologist
studying that village to debate higher mathematics with me.)

> When informants were queried about their reactions, it occurs to me that
> their accounts of the occurence would not reveal as much about Mr. Johnson as
> they would about those being queried.

> My question is really this. As these threads continue, do the responses
> to Mr. Johnson reveal more about Mr. Johnson or more about the person making
> the response?

Is this a trick question, or am I missing something? Responses to
*anything* reveal information about the people making them.

> And in the same vein, when you finish a text such as Outline
> of a Theory of Practice, does it reveal more about certain indigenous marital
> practices or about the current state of the Western episteme and the
> anthropological academy?

Such a text would be *subject* material for a study of Western episteme
and the anthropological academy (carried out in an unknown framework).
It would be a study *of* "indigenous marital practices" (from within
a Western anthropological perspective). There is a difference.

Danny Yee.