Cultural Intimacy-Afterword

Cultural Intimacy-Afterword - Afterword: Toward a militant...

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Afterword: Toward a militant middle ground? ( P. 211 – 224). The nation-states apparent fixity are the products of the very things they deny: action, agency, and use. In recognising that essentialism and agency are 2 sides of the same coin, as are the state and the people, Herzfeld has aimed for a militant middle ground between these polarities. That middle ground similarly collapses the supposed opposites of epistemology: empiricism and speculation, infinite regression and the most insensitive forms of scientism, and the rejection of language as peripheral and its excessive adulation as the defining code for all human ways of making meaning. Polarities are useful for sorting out issues but like all classificatory devices can become a substitute for thinking and get essentialised and turned into fact. The tone of such debates is rooted in the history of cultural relativism and the ambiguities that it has engendered. By the middle of the twentieth century concern with anthropological field ethics led to a respect for local culture with no political engagement. This stance entailed prescriptive remedies and strong recommendations to avoid “internal” politics due to the moral problems encountered on the field and to take a standing injunction not to interfere in the cultures of one’s hosts or in any way to criticize their normative activities. However, this stance had 2 unintended consequences: 1. its implications today strike us as condescending – expresses the power to safeguard the culture of exotic peoples because “they” are presumed to be incapable of doing so.
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2012 for the course ANTH 1312 taught by Professor Agwuele during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.

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Cultural Intimacy-Afterword - Afterword: Toward a militant...

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