Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology

Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: April 2015

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Using the influential and field-changing Writing Culture as a point of departure, the thirteen essays in Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology address anthropology's past, present, and future.  The contributors, all leading figures in anthropology today, reflect back on the "writing culture" movement of the 1980s, consider its influences on ethnographic research and writing, and debate what counts as ethnography in a post-Writing Culture era. They address questions of ethnographic method, new forms the presentation of research might take, and the anthropologist's role. Exploring themes such as late industrialism, precarity, violence, science and technology, globalization, and the non-human world, this book is essential reading for those looking to understand the current state of anthropology and its possibilities going forward.

Contributors. Anne Allison, James Clifford, Michael M.J. Fischer, Kim Fortun, Richard Handler, John L. Jackson, Jr., George E. Marcus, Charles Piot, Hugh Raffles, Danilyn Rutherford, Orin Starn, Kathleen Stewart, Michael Taussig, Kamala Visweswaran


"...this volume will interest those curious about what anthropology—or at least a strong current within it—means in the 21st century. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." — F. W. Gleach, Choice

"Orin Starn [et. al.] have produced a rich and thought-provoking collection of essays addressing the current and future state of anthropology..." — Petra Rethmann, American Anthropologist

"This exceptional collection is indeed about the lives of anthropology in the post-Writing Culture era.  Beyond a uniquely enlightening discussion of the multiple faces of the field at present, it envisages the rich paths the discipline might take in the era of radical climate change and planet-wide social and cultural dislocations. It shows how, in the interstices of recalcitrant notions such as fieldwork, ethnography, and culture novel approaches to context, history, life, and connection are yielding an amazing range of practices that portend powerful anthropological futures.  To the question posed twenty-five years ago of 'Why write, and how,' some of the essays now pointedly add 'Why act, and how do we act?' It still behooves us, all of those doing intellectual work, to grapple with these question that have haunted the academy for decades." — Arturo Escobar, author of Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes

"This volume's contributors offer lively and provocative readings and show the legacy of Writing Culture in their reflexive first-person accounts of fieldwork and teaching. The authors experiment not only with writing but also with new kinds of topics that are reframing the field. All write with wit, creativity, and a passion to secure anthropology’s contemporary and future relevance." — Faye Ginsberg, coeditor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Orin Starn is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of The Passion of Tiger Woods: An Anthropologist Reports on Golf, Race, and Celebrity Scandal and Nightwatch: The Politics of Protest in the Andes, and the coeditor of The Peru Reader, all also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Orin Starn 1

1. Feeling Historical / James Clifford 25

2. The Legacies of Writing Culture and the Near Future of the Ethnographic Form: A Sketch / George E. Marcus 35

3. Between History and Coincidence: Writing Culture in the Annual Review of Anthropology, ca. 1982 / Richard Handler 52

4. Time, Camera, and the (Digital) Pen: Writing Culture Operating Systems 1.0-3.0 / Michael M. J. Fischer 72

5. Kinky Empiricism / Danilyn Rutherford 105

6. Ethnography in Late Industrialism / Kim Fortun 119

7. Excelente Zona Social / Michael Taussig 137

8. Ethnography Is, Ethnography Ain't / John L. Jackson Jr. 152

9. From Village to Precarious Anthropology / Anne Allison 170

10. Kinship by Other Means / Charles Piot 189

11. Dying Worlds / Kamala Visweswaran 204

12. Precarity's Forms / Kathleen Stewart 221

13. Writing Culture (or Something Like That) / Hugh Raffles 228

Bibliography 237

Contributors 261

Index  265
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5873-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5862-6
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