A Polyphonic Nine Canto Singspiel after 25 Years of Writing Culture and Anthropology as Cultural Critique

By Fischer, Michael M. J. | Anthropologica, July 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Polyphonic Nine Canto Singspiel after 25 Years of Writing Culture and Anthropology as Cultural Critique


Fischer, Michael M. J., Anthropologica


Introduction: Historical Horizons, Emergent Futures

1. Rhizomes

From a Rice University perspective, Anthropology as Cultural Critique (1986, henceforth ACC), Writing Culture (1986, henceforth WC), the inauguration of the journal Cultural Anthropology (1986) under George Marcus' editorship, along with the Center for Cultural Studies (CCS) (which I directed 1987-93 and which grew out of the Rice Circle), and the eight volumes in the 1990s of the Late Editions series were organic, rhizomatic, parts of one another. ACC in particular was a reading of our generation's effort to produce ethnographies that marked out somewhat new terrains and approaches, such as, for instance, attention to dream analysis and small group dynamics in Amazonian bands (Kracke 1978), or the sonic phenomenological and cosmological-moral critical apparatuses of New Guinea (Feld 1982). Both of these required readers to engage in the cultural and strategic richness of local knowledges as they would with their own, including changing sensibilities about location in larger than local worlds. Above all, we insisted that anthropology get past the silly polemics about materialist versus symbolic or interpretive approaches, since both are required, particularly in a changing world where both are contested and reworked. While ACC was a call for renewal of anthropology's goals of providing frameworks for comparative humanities, social reform, social theory, translations or confrontations across epistemes and positionalities in the global economy, as well as renewed methodological critique, WC proved to be a hinge of conversation across the humanities, involving the new interdisciplines of media studies, feminist studies, comparative literature, postcolonial studies, cultural studies and new historicism. Oddly, the reception of WC often reduced attention to single texts in a manner quite contrary to anthropology's (and ACCs) larger goals and to the experiences of the "sixties generation" of which we were a part.

2. Ethnographic Authority

If one assumes and acknowledges that ethnographers always step into prior streams of representations, re-presentations, evocations, montages, performatives and genres, many of the apparent difficulties of "ethnographic authority" are shifted so that the focus becomes the circuits, modalities, and discursive apparatuses in their social and historical contexts and their postings back and forth between prior and subsequent generations.

3. Contexts and Collaborations

ACC and WC happened between a series of overlapping major historical horizons: (a) socio-politically between the Iranian revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union, both of which transformed the theatres of global politics; (b) in terms of generational sensibility, between the 1960s (the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Corps) and the 1990s (the World Wide Web, Gen X and Y entering the labour force as captured by Douglas Coupland (1991), MTV, the first Gulf War, the dot.com and biotech bubbles); (c) between anthropology done in teams of researchers of large projects over several decades, and anthropology done by individuals;1 (d) between the simultaneous entry onto the American academic stage of structuralism and poststructuralism at The Johns Hopkins University's 1966 conference, "The Structuralist Controversy: The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man" (Macksey and Donato 1972)2 and the introduction in the 1990s of the World Wide Web, the digital and genomics revolutions, and the shift of focus from interdisciplinary conversations between anthropology and the humanities in the 1980s to ones in the 1990s with the sciences, science studies, new biologies, comparative media studies, and studies of the global political economy ("globalization").

4. Corpus

In my own trajectories, ACC became the first of a trilogy of volumes on anthropology as cultural critique, ethnographic methods, and the mutations and evolution of social theory articulating the historical and ethnographic contexts from which they arose. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Polyphonic Nine Canto Singspiel after 25 Years of Writing Culture and Anthropology as Cultural Critique
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.