Against Ethnography

Essay Excerpt

This essay is concerned with anthropology's enduring exoticism, and how processes such as borrowing, creolization, and the reifications of local culture through colonial contact are to be reckoned with. Can anthropology simply extend itself to talk about transposition, syncretism, nationalism, and oppositional fabrications of custom, as it may have been extended to cover history and gender, or is there a sense in which the discipline's underlying concepts need to be mutilated or distorted, before we can deal satisfactorily with these areas that were once excluded? (Thomas, 306)

About the Author

Thomas is a Professor of Historical Anthropology and Director of the Museum of Archaeology andAnthropology, University of Cambridge, Thomas' research on history and art in the Pacific has ranged from early contacts between Islanders and Europeans through colonial encounters to contemporary art. His books include Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and colonialism in the Pacific (1991), Oceania: Visions, Artifacts, Histories (1997) and Discoveries: the voyages of Captain Cook (2003). Nicholas Thomas is Co-Director of the Artefacts of Encounter project, and will be looking at collections made during voyages that visited the Marquesas, together with Russian voyage expert Dr Elena Govor.

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