Key Debates in Anthropology Edited by Tim Ingold General introduction Tim Ingold the nature of anthropological theory

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R. Sanjek, ‘The ethnographic present’, Man (N.S.) 26,1991, pp. 609-28, esp. p. 612.


E.N. Goody, ‘Learning, apprenticeship and the division of labor’, in Apprenticeship: from theory to method and back again, ed. M.W. Coy, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1989; J. Lave, ‘The culture of acquisition and the practice of understanding’, in Cultural psychology: essays on comparative human development, eds J.W. Stigler, R.A. Shweder and G. Herdt, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990; F. Sigaut,

‘Learning, teaching and apprenticeship’, New Literary History 24, 1993, pp. 105-14.


J.D.Y. Peel, ‘Making history: the past in the Ijesha present’, Man (N.S.) 19, 1984, pp. 111-32, esp.p. 112.


R.R. Marett, Psychology and folklore, London, Methuen, 1920, p. 11.


L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1953; D. Lowenthal, The past is a foreign country, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985.


B.S. Cohn, Anthropology and history in the 1980s’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 12,1981, pp. 227-52; E.R. Leach, Tribal ethnography: past, present, future’, in History and Ethnicity, eds E. Tonkin, M. McDonald and M. Chapman, London, Routledge, 1989, pp. 34-47.


L. Passerini, Fascism in popular memory: the cultural experience of the Turin working class, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987, p. 3.


M. Parris, writing in The Times, 19 October 1992, p. 14.


’A survey of Britain’, The Economist, 24 October 1992, p. 4.


G. McCracken, Culture and consumption, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1988, p. 132.


J.W.von Goethe, ‘Schreiben an Ludwig I von Bayern vom. 17. Dez. 1829’, Gesamtausgabe 24:316, quoted in R. Koselleck, Futures past: on the semantics of historical time, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1985, p. 216.


F.R. de Chateaubriand, Essai historique, politique et moral sur les revolutions anciennes et modernes, Paris, 1861, p. 249.


D. Lowenthal, The timeless past: some Anglo-American historical preconceptions’, Journal of American History 75, 1989, pp. 1263-80.


N.Z. Davis, The return of Martin Guerre, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1983, p. viii.


A. Rooley, Performance: revealing the Orpheus within, Shaftesbury, Dorset, Element Books, 1990, p. 5.


M. Baxandall, Patterns of intention: on the historical explanation of pictures,. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1985, pp. 111-15.


P. Dickinson, Death of a unicorn, New York, Pantheon, 1984, p. 25.


P. Richards, this volume p. 123.


H. Canning, Authenticity and Bach’, in Towards Bach programme, South Bank Centre, London, 13-26 August 1989.


R. Taruskin, The pastness of the present and the presence of the past’, in Authenticity and early music, ed. N. Kenyon, New York, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 144; H. Haskell, The early music revival: a history, London, Thames & Hudson, 1988; and R. Leppard, Authenticity in music, London, Faber Music, 1988, give analogous views. On pre-industrial and modern soundscapes, see R.M. Schafer, The tuning of the world, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1977.


S. Wanamaker, ‘Shakespeare’s Globe reborn’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 133, 1989, pp. 25-34.


A.C. Danto, The problem of other periods’, Journal of Philosophy 63, 1966, pp. 566-77.


A. Schlesinger, Jr., ‘The historian as participant’, Daedalus 100, 1971, pp. 339-57; W.W. Menninger, ‘Say, it isn’t so: when wishful thinking obscures historical reality’, History News 40(12), 1985, pp. 10-13; D. Lowenthal, The

past is a foreign country, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp. 234-5.


J.R. Townsend and J.P. Walsh, eds, Travellers in time: past, present, and to come, Histon, Cambridge, Green Bay Publishers, 1990.


S. Morley, There’s no business like old business’, Punch, 29 November 1972, p. 777.


L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1953, p. 9.


Commentary on Isaiah 54.1 in the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 10a.


L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1953, p. 296.


S.E. Hyman, The tangled bank: Darwin, Marx, Frazer, and Freud as imaginative writers, New York, Atheneum, 1974.


D. Lowenthal, The past is a foreign country, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 412.


J.D.Y. Peel, ‘Making history: the past in the Ijesha present’, Man (N.S.) 19, 1984, pp. 111-32, esp. p. 112.


Ibid., p. 113; A. Appadurai, The past as a scarce resource’, Man (N.S.) 16, 1981, pp. 201-19; C. Toren, ‘Making the present, revealing the past: the mutability and continuity of tradition as process’, Man (N.S.) 23, 1988, pp. 696-717.


P. Bourdieu, Outline of a theory of practice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1977, p. 78.


R. Hubbard, The politics of women’s biology, New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers University Press, 1990, pp. 115-16.


T. Ingold, ‘Culture and the perception of the environment’, in Bush base: forest farm. Culture, environment, and development, eds E. Croll and D. Parkin, London, Routledge, 1992.


L.R. Squire and S. Zola-Morgan, The medial temporal lobe memory system’, Science 253 [20 September], 1991, pp. 1380-6.


Ibid., pp. 1380, 1385.


Ibid., p. 1381.


For example, H. Ehrlichman and J.N. Halpern, Affect and memory: effects of pleasant and unpleasant odors on retrieval of happy and unhappy memories’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 55, 1988, pp. 769-79; F.R. Schab, ‘Odors and the remembrance of things past’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 16,1990, pp. 648-55.


A. Gell, ‘Magic, perfume, dream’, in Symbols and sentiments, ed. I. Lewis, London, Academic Press, 1977; J. Siegel, ‘Images and odors in Javanese practices surrounding death’, Indonesia 36, 1983, pp. 1-14; D. Howes, ‘Olfaction and transition: an essay on the ritual uses of smell’, Revue Canadienne de Sociologie et Anthropologie 24, 1987, pp. 398-416. The geographer D.W. Gade coined the term ‘smellscape’ to counter European and American geographers’ lack of attention to the odours of places, which he associates in part with a general cultural bias against acknowledging odours; see his ‘Redolence and land use on Nosy Be, Madagascar’, Journal of Cultural Geography 4, 1984, pp. 29-40.


Most recently, E.S. Casey, Remembering: a phenomenological study, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987, especially pp. 181-215.


E.g., W.F. Brewer, in Remembering reconsidered: ecological and traditional approaches to the study of memory, eds U. Neisser and E. Winograd, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 21-90.


K. Basso, “‘Stalking with stories”: names, places and moral narrative among the Western Apache’, in Text, play and story: the construction and reconstruction of self and society, ed. E.M. Bruner, Washington, DC, American Ethnological Society, 1984, pp. 19-55.


S. Feld, Sound and sentiment: birds, weeping, poetics, and song in Kaluli expression, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.


G. Feeley-Harnik, A green estate: restoring independence in Madagascar, Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.


J.D.Y. Peel, ‘Making history: the past in the Ijesha present’, Man (N.S.) 19, 1984, pp. 111-32, esp. p. 112.


H-G. Gadamer, Truth and method, New York, Crossroad, 1982.


A. Salmond, Theoretical landscapes: on cross-cultural conceptions of knowledge’, in Semantic anthropology, ed. D. Parkin, London, Academic Press, 1982; see G. Feeley-Harnik, A green estate, pp. 466-7.


T.R. Trautmann, The revolution in ethnological time’, Man (N.S.) 27, 1992, pp. 379-97.


W.E. Leuchtenberg, cited in K.J. Winkler, ‘How should scholars respond to assertions that the Holocaust never happened?’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 December 1991, pp. A8-A10.


S. Heller,’ Yale’s “Archive of Conscience” provides scholars with videotaped accounts from Holocaust survivors’, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 December 1991, pp. A9, All.


A. Spiegelman, Maus: a survivor’s tale, New York, Pantheon, 1986, p. 7.


Cited in L.L. Langer, Holocaust testimonies: the ruins of memory, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1991, pp. xiv, 7, 53.


H. Eilberg-Schwartz, The savage in Judaism: an anthropology of Israelite religion and ancient Judaism, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1990, Part I; J. Boyarin, Storm from paradise: the politics of Jewish memory, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1992.


M.J. Carruthers shows the interconnections between new print technologies and changing ideas and practices concerning memory, reason, and moral regeneration; see The book of memory: a study of memory in medieval culture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990.


Research on immunology and new reproductive technologies suggests radical changes in people’s experiences of their bodily boundaries. See E. Martin, Toward an anthropology of immunology: the body as nation state’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly 4, 1990, pp. 410-26; M. Strathern, Reproducing the future: essays on anthropology, kinship and the new reproductive technologies, New York, Routledge, 1992.


J. Clifford, Traveling cultures’, in Cultural studies, eds L. Grossberg, C. Nelson and P Treichler, London, Routledge, 1992.


D. Harvey, The condition of postmodernity, Oxford, Blackwell, 1989.


M. Strathern, After nature: English kinship in the late twentieth century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 43.


S.Küchler, ‘Malangan: art and memory in a Melanesian society’, Man (N.S.) 22, 1987, pp. 238-55, esp. p. 238.


Ibid., p. 241.


P. Gow, Of mixed blood: kinship and history in Peruvian Amazonia, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.


M. Strathern, ‘The decomposition of an event’, Cultural Anthropology 7, 1992, pp. 244-55.


P. Mason, Deconstructing America: representations of the other, London, Routledge, 1990.


E. Wolf, Europe and the people without history, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1982, p. 4.


M. Taussig, The nervous system, London, Routledge, 1992.


P. Gose, ‘Sacrifice and the commodity form in the Andes’, Man (N.S.) 21, 1986, pp. 296-310.


J. Fabian, Time and the other, New York, Columbia University Press, 1983.


O. Harris, ‘Time and difference in anthropological writing’, in Constructing knowledge: authority and critique in social science, eds L. Nencel and P. Pels, London, Sage, 1991, p. 147.


O. Sacks, The man who mistook his wife for a hat, London, Duckworth, 1985.


I. Rosenfield, The strange, the familiar and the forgotten: an anatomy of consciousness, New York, Knopf, 1992.


B. Bridgeman, ‘Intention itself will disappear when its mechanisms are known’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13, 1990, pp. 598-9.


S.Küchler and W. Melion, Images of memory: on remembering and representation, Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, p. 10.


P. Connerton, How societies remember, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989; E. Casey, Remembering, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987; M. Johnson, The body in the mind, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1987.


F. Yates, The art of memory, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1966.


See, for example, M. Baxandall, Painting and experience in fifteenth century Italy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987; W. Melion, Shaping the Netherlandish canon, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1992.


I. Rosenfield, The strange, the familiar and the forgotten, New York, Knopf, 1992, p. 3.


M. Proust, Remembrance of things past, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1983 [original 1913-27].


G. Bachelard, The poetics of space, Boston, Beacon Press, 1964.


R. McDonald, The burial places of memory: epic underworlds in Virgil, Dante and Milton, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.


M.J. Carruthers, The book of memory: a study of memory in medieval culture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990.


J. Kuipers, ‘Place, names, and authority in Weyéwa ritual speech’, Language and Society 13, 1984, pp. 455-66.


P. Gow, Of mixed blood: kinship and history in Peruvian Amazonia, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1991.


S.Küchler, ‘Malangan: art and memory in a Melanesian society’, Man (N.S.) 22, 1987, pp. 238-55.


A. Gell, The anthropology of time: cultural constructions of temporal maps and images, Oxford, Berg, 1992, pp. 149-55.


S.W. Hawking, A brief history of time: from the big bang to black holes, London, Bantam Press, 1988; I. Prigogine, From being to becoming: time and

complexity in the physical sciences, San Francisco, W.H. Freeman, 1980; I. Prigogine and E. Stengers, Order out of chaos: man’s new dialogue with nature, London, Heinemann, 1984.


Lucian of Samosata, ‘The way to write history’, in his Works, eds H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1905, pp. 109-36.


H-G. Gadamer, Truth and method, New York, Crossroad, 1982.


D.L. Good, ‘Sacred bundles: history wrapped up in culture’, History News 45(4), 1990, pp. 13-14, 27.


G. Hawthorn, ‘Three ironies in trust’, in Trust: making and breaking co-operative relations, ed. D. Gambetta, Oxford, Blackwell, 1988.


D. Lowenthal, ‘Memory and oblivion’, Museum Management and Curatorship 12, 1993, pp. 171-82.

1993 debate
Aesthetics is a cross-cultural category

James F. Weiner

At one point in his initial argument for the motion ‘aesthetics is a cross-cultural category’, Jeremy Coote remarks on the spate of anthropological monographs that have appeared in the past few years with the word ‘aesthetics’ in their titles, and he wonders why this word so rarely appeared in such titles before, say, 1970. Undeniably, social science and anthropology have recently been seized by a concern with aesthetics (and also poetics). The reasons for this have to do, I think, with current theorizing about modernity and modernism, and the place of anthropology and of social theorizing in general, within late twentieth-century Western culture and society.

Broadly speaking, we can identify three connected phenomena of the late twentieth century. First, we have witnessed the emergence of mass, globalized media, particularly in their visual forms of television, video and film. Second, because instantaneous global communications are obliterating the temporal intervals between events and their communication and witnessing, we experience a suppression of time, a phenomenon made more pronounced by the ease with which artefacts, practices, languages and events from varying historical and temporal frames are now juxtaposed in our everyday life. Finally, as a consequence of this, we now commonly experience a suppression of space too, a virtualization of spatial perceptions and relationships, so that relations of proximity and remoteness have to be simulated through global media rather than appealed to in terms of absolute geographic distance.

The combination of this universalization of televised representations of the world with our dominant global political motif, nationalism, has powerfully enhanced the aestheticization of politics which has been such a key component of twentieth-century modernism in Europe and North America. Nationalism inevitably depends heavily on imagery—on myth, on visual icons and display, on state theatre and ceremonial, all of which make it intrinsically interesting to anthropology. Nationalism and culture are of course intimately connected, and appeals made in the interests of national identity often resemble the arguments with which anthropologists justify their identification of culture. In anthropology, the aestheticization of politics becomes the aestheticization of culture and indeed of the social itself.

Considered in terms of its practical effects on the conduct of our everyday lives, our dependence upon global media encourages us to make everything into an issue of representation and self-representation, and of image manipulation, management and achieved consensus. This transformation in our representational practices has also affected our anthropology, and has led many to consider culture and social life likewise in terms of representation and self-representation. And although this aestheticization does not, except perhaps tangentially in Alfred Gell’s comments, enter into the present debate, it is well to set the debate in the context of these broad developments, for they are indicated all along the way.

Howard Morphy, proposing the motion, and Joanna Overing, opposing it, begin by almost perfectly characterizing Kant’s two treatments of the concept of aesthetic in his First and Third Critiques respectively. Morphy maintains that aesthetics is about how the human sensory capacity construes and gives form to stimuli. Overing speaks of aesthetics as the judgement of beauty and of taste, of the ‘pure’ aesthetic as such, and regards it as a phenomenon of European modernism not automatically applicable to non-Western societies.

The two seconders maintain this contrast between the transcendental and the pure Kantian aesthetic, but in a way that reverses the respective positions of the proposers. For now we find Jeremy Coote, seconding the motion, arguing that if the Dinka and Yoruba people themselves appeal, in their own vocabulary (as do Overing’s Piaroa), to ideas of beauty and grace, then this fact alone should convince us that aesthetic categories have cross-cultural applicability. This point was further emphasized during the discussion by Marcus Banks. He observes that all of the participants in the debate have carried out their ethnographic work in ‘non-state societies’ and that, had any of them worked in the complex societies of Asia (for example in India and China) where aesthetic discourse and theory are well developed and have a long history unaffected by anything modernist or European, then the motion would have appeared literally uncontestable.

However, Peter Gow, seconding the opposition to the motion, responds to Banks and in so doing draws the two Kantian notions of aesthetic into a closer relation by appealing, after Bourdieu, to the idea of distinction or discrimination. While, on the one hand, the categories of intuition and cognition combine to give human beings the capacity to make distinctions between objects, on the other hand, the history and theory of art and aesthetics provide people in the West with the practices and vocabulary by which to make the judgements that underlie and instaurate their social and class distinctions. This is what is distinctive about our aesthetic discourse. Gow concludes from this that our aesthetic practice is always to make such distinctions, to make judgements. To the extent that anthropology’s whole rationale is to avoid making such judgements—the most salient in this context being the judging of a culture in terms of its capacity to produce beautiful things—then it must be anathema to anthropology.

I would like to depart here from the precedent of editorial impartiality, and take a stand myself. I think that in hindsight, Gow’s was probably the argument that clinched victory for the opposers of the motion. For it drew attention away from what I believe was a snag in Overing’s initial argument. This snag concerned an issue that seemed to weave its way through the entire debate: that of contextualization. Overing objects to the modernist aesthetic because it aspires to remove the art object from its situatedness in the world. Among the Piaroa, she observes, considerations of the beauty of objects are inseparable from questions about their utility and their everyday productive potency. But she maintains that the anthropology of art, still seeped in the modernist sensibility of the transcendence of the art object, finds ‘the idea of the everyday utility of objects of art…odious’.

During the debate, however, Sonia Greger made the important point that in the Third Critique, Kant was not talking about the autonomy of the aesthetic object in terms of those contemporary notions of judgement to which Bourdieu and Gow appeal. Kant believed that the art object had ‘purposiveness without purpose’. He wanted to know precisely why the art object could not be an object of judgement in the normal sense. That is, he was addressing the issue of transcendence without which, as Gell’s recent article on Trobriand art makes clear, 1 the work of art allows us no perspective at all on the everyday. And to return to my initial observations, it is only because, quite unlike the essentially nineteenth-century modernist aesthetic that Overing invokes as her straw man, our current late twentieth-century life has been so thoroughly aestheticized, that our sensitivity to what Baudrillard calls ‘critical transcendence’—which he could only mean in this original Kantian sense—has disappeared. Art is dead…because reality itself, entirely impregnated by an aesthetic which is inseparable from its own structure, has been confused with its own image.’ 2 Overing’s plea for contextualization would appear to have much the same image in mind. But in the pursuit of this, we lose any possibility of characterizing the power of art as transcendence, something which still needs to be debated within anthropology.

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