Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography by Michael Herzfeld

By Michael Herzfeld

Utilizing Greek ethnography as a reflect for an ethnography of anthropology itself, this booklet unearths the ways that the self-discipline of anthropology is ensnared within the similar political and social symbolism as its item of research. the writer pushes the comparative pursuits of anthropology past the conventional separation of tribal item from indifferent medical observer, and gives the self-discipline a severe resource of reflexive perception in response to empirical ethnography instead of on ideological hypothesis on my own.

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While the Greeks largely acquiesced in the rhetoric, with its intimations of a fall from cultural gracefulness, their interpretation of it was not that of the tutelary Powers. On the contrary, they saw it as a powerful argument for self-redemption through the active purification of language, customs, social institutions, and the moral character of the nation itself. Etymologies of power: against legitimation Ironic echoes of the Greeks' ancestral sins of culture haunt ethnographic field work and theory.

Is a traditional civil disability, rather than an unproblematic native genius" (Struever 1983:123) ran directly counter to the ideal national identities propagated by statist ideologies: recall the shift of emphasis that I signalled at the beginning of this chapter from an unproblema- Romanticism and Hellenism: burdens of otherness 25 tical entity called "the Greeks" to the highly problematical conceptual category thus signified. The entire project of this book follows the critical trajectory thus suggested by Vico.

The Sarakatsani define sinfulness as rebellion against God but attribute its existence to the Divine Will (Campbell 1964:325-6). Yet Sarakatsani do not give up their struggle against temptation any more than they give up struggling with one another; and they certainly do not forget to vote. The predetermination of human, national, or personal affairs is a matter of course; but this does not render less contemptible those who passively surrender the right to resist it. " This rhetoric has direct political consequences.

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