Moreover, since the late s it has come to designate a new interdisciplin- ary field of study, departing from the traditional methods of art historical inquiry to incorporate theoretical insights from literature, anthropology, sociology, cultural theory, gender studies, film, and media studies in order to examine a wider range of visual materials. Largely a disciplinary off- shoot of cultural studies, which gained prominence in England from the s onward,2 the more narrowly defined field of visual culture has not been without its problems and critics.
Claude Levi-Strauss is praised by Said, but other major anthropo- logical approaches to culture are ignored. Said assumes anthropology is on the wrong side of the colonial divide, although he holds out hope for those who are now reading the work of literary and cultural critics.
Perhaps anthropology as we have known it can only continue on one side of the imperial divide, there to remain as a partner in domination and hegemony.
My purpose, as the analysis will show, is also rhetorical — questioning how Said approaches anthropology rather than what he, as an outsider, eventually concludes about a discipline not his own.
His passing in late was a loss for all who engage critically with the ineffable notion of culture. However, in the extensive literature about Said, little attention has been given to how he reads anthropological concepts of culture.
Several questions guide my analysis. Which anthropological texts on the culture concept does Said consult?
I refer to those that are cited or conspicu- ously absent in his writings rather than the range of academic books adorning his bookshelves. Is there theory in his worldly-finessed corner of cultural critique that anthropologists find worth traveling for, let alone with? It is best to situate my own con textual attitude as an anthropologist who reads literary and cultural critics.
In Saidian terms I begin with two strikes against me: Said has no trouble listing and branding anthropologists — more on the hindsight end — but seminal anthropological texts remain unopened. I consider my response here a gentler knock, a pacifist polemic for a rhetorical quarrel that has gone on far too long.
Paraphrasing Gellner, the issue of culture is too important to be left to point-counterpoint across barbed defenses. Since that time I have received four post-doctoral grants for the study of Arabic texts, mainly on thirteenth century Yemeni agriculture and folk astronomy.
Anthropology, for Said, is thus a closed circuit — a politically charged one — in which pouvoir defines savoir.
Ironically, the essentialist view of German Kulturkreislehre, a major influence on historian von Grunebaum, was a particular target of the early American anthropolo- gist Franz Boas In this parading of Colonel Creighton, who is clearly aligned on the wrong side of the imperial divide, Said Edward Tylor, the Englishman who inaugurated the modern field in the s, was a Quaker pacifist, not a be k nighted colonial administrator.
On the American side, Lewis Henry Morgan, architect of a model of cultural evolution, was an early advo- cate of Native American rights. Not only did Boas exemplify an academic scholar unambiguously critical of essentialized scientific models, but, in the words of Marvin Harris From this grounding, his student Ashley Montagu concluded: The means by which we exorcise demons.
It is the contemporary myth.
A similar passage to this one can be found in Said Earlier European and American ethnographers studied colonized peoples who had little choice in the matter. No researcher was free of Western ethnocentrism and some individuals fully supported the political goals of colonial administration.
The occasional anthropologist in the bush was not directing the policies of colonial rule and the direct impact of published ethnographies on forming such policy, posi- tively or negatively, has arguably been minimal. Anthropologists continually cross a colonial divide they did not draw.
A case in point is Bronislaw Malinowski, who is credited within anthro- pology as initiating the central rite of academic passage known as participant observation fieldwork.
As his own field diaries — published posthumously and indiscretely by his second wife — indicate, the ideal of reaching an objective representation of the other was clouded by the baggage that the anthropologist brought with him from his own Western culture. There is no doubt that the destiny of indigenous races has been tragic in the process of contact with European invasion.
In reality, the historian of the future will have to register that Europeans in the past sometimes extermi- nated whole island peoples; that they expropriated most of the patri- mony of savage races; that they introduced slavery in a specially 10 See Malinowski These diaried sentiments express depression and loneli- ness, as well as more than a modicum of lust for naked island girls.Beaulieu and de attheheels.comMethods - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free.
Feminist Anthropology: A Reader surveys the history of feminist anthropology,a field that was inspired by the women’s movement of the late s and hassince emerged at the forefront of efforts to make anthropology more responsiveto the concerns of disempowered people around the globe.
Reading Against Culture in Edward Said Throughout her essay Abu-Lughod wavers between criticism of anthro- pologists who seem to take culture for granted and acknowledgement that some have been actively deconstructing older notions.
Writing Against the Image of the Monstrous Crack Mother Aline Gubrium University of Massachusetts-Amherst Anthropologist Lila Abu Lughod’s idea of “writing against culture” is the.
By writing against with topics previously thought to be of little import in the culture concept, she sought to work against the the study of the Arab world, namely, the anthropology tendency of social science scholars to generalize of emotions and the study of mass media and national by destabilizing the idea of cultures as ahistorical politics.
Writing for translation The dominated culture wants to be translated into English because English is by far the best language for the international dissemination of ideas.
Resistance to Western values allows translations into the dominated culture to be seen as part of a knowledge-controlling apparatus that imposes Western ideologies.