By Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew J. Strathern

ISBN-10: 3319471260

ISBN-13: 9783319471266

ISBN-10: 3319471279

ISBN-13: 9783319471273

This publication argues that the breaking and re-making of frames of study underlie the historical past of theorizing in anthropology. Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew J. Strathern notice that this mode of study dangers fabricating over-essentialized dichotomies among viewpoints. The authors suggest a conscious, nuanced, people-centered method of all theorizing-one that avoids overall procedure techniques (-isms) and recommend that concept should still relate cogently to ethnography. conscious anthropology, as this ebook envisages it, isn't a selected thought yet a philosophical aspiration for the self-discipline as a whole.

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Example text

In Hagen, the Melpa language provides just such a tool in the concept of to, a measure or comparison, entailing some uncertainty as to the validity of the comparison being made. A to is also like a conjecture, an exploratory hypothesis. The complexities of to reveal how the Melpa have a sophisticated idea about truth and reality. In all probability, this is quite like the Baktaman view, even if the Baktaman do not have a specific expression to signal this. 32 BREAKING THE FRAMES Fredrik Barth’s work has been centrally important because of his capacity to break frames and make new ones.

Equally, it was a mistake to suppose that if it did not operate in this way, it was somehow a mirage, as John Barnes suggested (Barnes 1962). A way out of the descriptive impasse had to be found. Two ways were available. One pertained to the idea of descent itself, or to the dogma of descent, as Barnes (1962) put it. What is a dogma for? It is to maintain a certain valued ideology. In some New Guinea Highlands cases there was indeed such an ideology applying across the board of social groups, but whereas it was applied unequivocally to relations between political segments of groups and ensured their solidarity it was not applied to the actual level of recruitment to these groups.

So, for Cohen, while individuals remained very palpably real, community and society were elusive, perhaps speculative. Cohen reaches a perceptive conclusion, akin to our figure of the two sides of a coin motif. He suggests that it is proper for anthropology to study ‘society’ (American anthropologists might have written ‘culture’ here, with the same import), but that we cannot do this in a sensitive fashion unless we take full account of individuals (p. x). Such a process of accounting must further depend, we may note, on what folk theories of self and person influence the ways in which people see themselves as individuals and what meanings they give to the term: for example, whether it implies autonomy of action or not.

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Breaking the Frames: Anthropological Conundrums by Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew J. Strathern


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