The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art

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Mai 1988



"The Predicament of Culture" is a critical ethnography of the West in its changing relations with other societies. Analyzing cultural practices such as anthropology, travel writing, collecting, and museum displays of tribal art, Clifford shows authoritative accounts of other ways of life to be contingent fictions, now actively contested in postcolonial contexts. His critique raises questions of global significance: Who has the authority to speak for any group's identity and authenticity? What are the essential elements and boundaries of a culture? How do self and "the other" clash in the encounters of ethnography, travel, and modern interethnic relations? In discussions of ethnography, surrealism, museums, and emergent tribal arts, Clifford probes the late-twentieth century predicament of living simultaneously within, between, and after culture.


Introduction: The Pure Products Go Crazy Part One: Discourses 1. On Ethnographic Authority 2. Power and Dialogue in Ethnography: Marcel Griaule's Initiation 3. On Ethnographic Self-Fashioning: Conrad and Malinowski Part Two: Displacements 4. On Ethnographic Surrealism 5. A Poetics of Displacement: Victor Segalen 6. Tell about Your Trip: Michel Leiris 7. A Politics of Neologism: Aime Cesaire 8. The Jardin des Plantes: Postcards Part Three: Collections 9. Histories of the Tribal and the Modern 10. On Collecting Art and Culture Part Four: Histories 11. On Orientalism 12. Identity in Mashpee References Sources Index


James Clifford is Professor, Board of Studies in the History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz.


The Predicament of Culture is a work of sustained brilliance, packed with simply wonderful gifts for the reader. The several chapters on French anthropology and ethnographic surrealism are fascinating, and somehow as urgent as the ones on collecting or on the relentless intertranslating of cultural demands, or as the theme that we must rethink this entire dimension of human existence. It is also an extremely wise book. Since wisdom and brilliance rarely go together, it is plain that James Clifford is himself one of our cultural treasures. -- Arthur C. Danto New York Times Book Review Clifford's reflections are salutory. They are not self-serving, allowing Clifford entry by a backdoor into a community which often threatens the exclusivity of a private club. By breaking with narrow professional definitions of anthropology, Clifford broadens its vision. Anthropology again becomes the exploration of the grounds of humanity in its original, general, and philosophically fundamental sense. -- Bruce Kapferer Critique of Anthropology With an intellectual modesty that belies his sweeping global perspective, Clifford focuses on who has the authority to speak for any group's identity and authenticity. As he traces the development of twentieth-century anthropology, Clifford locates affinities between anthropology and avant-garde art, making this book one of the most readable introductions to contemporary cultural criticism. -- Mary Warner Marien Utne Reader
EAN: 9780674698437
ISBN: 0674698436
Untertitel: Sprache: Englisch.
Erscheinungsdatum: Mai 1988
Seitenanzahl: 398 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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