A Regional Comparison
"No one today is purely one thing," wrote cultural critic Edward Said in Culture and Imperialism. "Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind" (Said, 1993: p. 336). If this is the state of the world today, anthropology is in flux. We can no longer categorize or isolate cultures for any extent of time before we have to rethink what we have done. It is no longer possible to produce "original" ethnographic works in the tradition of Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) or Evans-Pritchard's The Nuer (1940). Not only have such cultures been studied and written about time and again, but it seems we have finally reached a stage in the development of the profession at which culture can no longer be isolated and treated as static for any practical purpose: "While such primordial phenomena as traditions, communities, and kinship systems continue to be documented," writes Marcus, "they can no longer in and of themselves serve as the grounding tropes ... which organize ethnographic description and explanation" (1994: p. 44). In short, cultural change is virtually all that is left to study in anthropology.
With the arrival of Wallerstein's (1975) world-system theory in the mid-1970s, there emerged a collective understanding in the so