The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art

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By James Clifford

The drawback of Culture is a severe ethnography of the West in its altering kinfolk with different societies. interpreting cultural practices similar to anthropology, trip writing, amassing, and museum screens of tribal paintings, Clifford exhibits authoritative bills of different methods of existence to be contingent fictions, now actively contested in postcolonial contexts. His critique increases questions of worldwide value: Who has the authority to talk for any group's id and authenticity? What are the basic components and limits of a tradition? How do self and "the different" conflict within the encounters of ethnography, go back and forth, and smooth interethnic family? In discussions of ethnography, surrealism, museums, and emergent tribal arts, Clifford probes the late-twentieth century crisis of dwelling at the same time inside, among, and after tradition.

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Wh i l e the identify s uggests the trad ition of Du rk­ hei m , the group's renewed i nterest i n the Annee sociologique i nvo lved a considerab l e d egree of rei nvention . The i r tu rn towards sociology ( l ess sharply d i sti ngu i sh ed from eth nology than i n England or the U n i ted States) signaled a rejection of what they observed as su rrea l i sm's overidentifi­ cation with l iterat u re and artwork, its over the top s u bj ectivism and crisis with automated writi ng, i nd iv i d u a l dream ex perience, and intensity psychol ogy. The Col lege de Soc i ologie-w h i c h met for 2 years i n the d i n i ng room of a Lati n area cafe then folded due to i nternal d i ssension and the outbreak of war-was an try and rei ntegrate clinical rigor w i th individual a l event i n the examine of c u ltural methods . L i ke the a uthor of common kinds of the Re ligio us existence, the fou nders of the Col lege have been preoccu p i ed with t hose ritu a l moments whilst experi ences outdoors the norma l circulation of ex istence can fi nd col lective convey ion, moments whilst c u ltural order i s either transgressed and rej uvenated . They followed the D u rkhe i m ian notion of the sacred to c i rc u msc r i be th i s recreative do­ mai n . I f D urkhei m d i scovered the roots of soc i a l sol idarity i n d i spl aced ethnograph i c examination ples resembling the "co l l ective effervescence" of aborig­ i na l rites, Bata i l le envi saged col lective expressions of transgress ion and extra i n modern Par i s . He was once captivated with the ability of sacri­ fice and with the p l ace de I a Concorde, which he was hoping to rec l a i m as a website for ritual acts orga n i zed via the Co l lege. Ca i l lois, extra tem perate, was once engaged within the examine that wou ld res u l t in L 'homme et /e sacre ( 1 nine three nine ) . He wou l d lect u re to the Col lege on " I a fete," a tou r of the world's c u ltures, d uncooked i n g o n h i s academics Mauss, Georges Dumez i l , and Marcel G ranet, as wel l as at the eth nographers A. P. E l okay i n , Dary l l Forde, and Mau rice Lee n h a rdt. Ca i l lois' d iverse sacn§ i n c l uded ritu a l exhibit ions of primord ia l c h aos, extra, cosmogony, fert i l ity, debauchery, incest, sac­ ri l ege, and parod ies of a l l kinds . Wh i le they shared D u rkheim's i n terest within the structure of col lective order, the mem bers of the Col lege de Soc i o l ogie tended to target the regenerative strategies of d i sorder and the necessa ry i rr u ptions of the sacred i n daily l ife . F rom th is stand- 1 forty two D I S PLACEMENTS element the su bvers ive severe actions of the ava nt-garde cou l d be visible as essenti al for the l ife of soc iety; the c i rcumscribed place of "art" i n sleek c u l t u re cou l d b e transcended , a t least programmatical ly. it's difficult to genera l ize concerning the Col lege, a physique so brief- l ived and idiosyncratic in its individuals h i p . Lei ris, for instance, was once preoccu pied no longer with col lective rites yet really with these autobiograph ical moments i n whi ch the a rticu l ation of self and soci ety should be delivered to awake­ ness .

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