Anthropology and the Will to Meaning (Anthropology, Culture and Society Series): A Postcolonial Critique

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Overview

Anthropology, the study of societies and cultures different to our own, is based on the humanist assumption that difference does not mean otherness and inferiority. In this book, Vassos Argyrou puts forward a powerful critique of both modern and postmodern anthropology that reveals the self-centered logic of anthropological humanism, offering the controversial conclusion that the anthropological project is forever doomed to failure. At the heart of the book is the idea that anthropologists are driven to produce knowledge not by a desire for power, as it is often assumed, but a by desire for meaning. Interpretation of Other societies and cultures allows them to construct an image of a symbolically unified, ethically ordered and hence meaningful world. Vassos Argyrou shows this assumption to be untenable because differentiation and distinction are in the nature of human being. He further argues that, paradoxically, by trying to uphold Sameness, anthropologists reproduce, inadvertently but inevitably, its contrary.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745318608
  • Publisher: Pluto Press
  • Publication date: 5/20/2002
  • Series: Anthropology, Culture and Society
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 7.58 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Vassos Argyrou lectures in social anthropology at the University of Hull. He has also taught at Intercollege in Nicosia and several universities in the US, including Indiana State University, Reed College, Holy Cross College and Colgate University. Research interests include social and cultural theory, postcolonialism, ritual and myth, southern Europe.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Of Scholars, Gamblers and Thieves 1
2 Has There Ever Been a Crisis in Ethnological Representation? 10
The Ethnographer as "Man" 11
The Ethnological Representation Par Excellence 19
3 The Salvation Intent 28
The Three Strategies of Redemption 28
Christian Ethnology and Victorian Anthropology 34
Twentieth-Century Paradigms 43
The Ethnological Complicity 56
4 What the Natives Don't Know 60
The Sociocultural Unconscious 60
Heterodox Consciousness 74
The "Heroisation" of the Thinking Subject 82
5 The Ethnological Will to Meaning 92
The Impossible 92
Sameness and the Beyond 105
The Will to Meaning 112
At the End of the Game 117
Notes 120
References 123
Index 127
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