toward-a-multid-self-mageo

toward-a-multid-self-mageo - TOWARD A MULTIDIMENSIONAL...

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TOWARD A MULTIDIMENSIONAL MODEL OF THE SELF Jeannette Marie Mageo Department of Anthropology, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-4910 This article presents a multidimensional model of the selfthat recognizes cultural variety while providing a comparative framework-giving translatability to difference. In this model, cultures of selfcan be mapped on an array of continua that represent modes of variation in a multidimensional jield. These continua enahle us tofigure thepo.~ition of one culture relative to others, while allowing,for the possibility that dimensions of selfdo not co-vary among cultures. Continua also make it possible to plot variance in styles of selfhood within a single culture that could occur between contexts, through historical time, or among subgroups of class, caste, gender, or ethnicity. In the process of delineating this model, I interrogate theories, both venerable and contemporary, concerning experience and embodiment, ranking and gender, morality, emotion and cognition. attachment and need, asking how these elements ofselfa~ficulate with one another and in what sense their cultural divergence is meaningfrrl. IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY, "self' or the kindred terms "person" and "identity" appear in title after title, and yet our portrayals of self remain largely context-bound and impressionistic. What obstructs adequately theorizing self, I believe; is a binary version of cultural relativism-the infamous division of cultures into egocentric and sociocentric. Even enthusiastic proponents of cultural relativism have embraced a binary way of thinking about the self,,portraying two forms of self along with two putatively correlative styles of cognition in innumerable ethnographic locales.' Beginning with The Savage Mind (LCvi- Strauss 1966), this dichotomizing perspective on human cognition continues through decades of anthropological thought down to Shweder and Bourne's (1984) still canonical statement of cultural relativism, "Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-Culturally?" In reaction, many anthropologists reject the very attempt to propose cross-cultural theory about the self. Building on my own prior work, along with that of many other psychological anthropologists, I offer a model that can map multidimensional variation-avoiding the Charybdis of noncomparable notions of cultural difference but also the Scylla of reductive binarism. Cultures can be mapped via an array of continua that represent dimensions of variation in a multidimensional field of self. I use "self' as a domain term for all dimensions of being a person. Continua posit binary contrasts, but these are not Journnl of Anthropological Research. vol. 58, 2002 Copyright O by The University of New Mexico
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340 JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH essentialized. Rather, they plot lines of variation that can enable us to figure the position of one culture relative to others, while allowing for the possibility that dimensions of self do not co-vary, disrupting binarism. Continua also make it
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toward-a-multid-self-mageo - TOWARD A MULTIDIMENSIONAL...

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