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Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal: On Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge

Cris Shore
Susanna Trnka
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Up Close and Personal
    Book Description:

    Combining rich personal accounts from twelve veteran anthropologists with reflexive analyses of the state of anthropology today, this book is a treatise on theory and method offering fresh insights into the production of anthropological knowledge, from the creation of key concepts to major paradigm shifts. Particular focus is given to how 'peripheral perspectives' can help re-shape the discipline and the ways that anthropologists think about contemporary culture and society. From urban Maori communities in Aotearoa/New Zealand to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, from Arnhem Land in Australia to the villages of Yorkshire, these accounts take us to the heart of the anthropological endeavour, decentring mainstream perspectives, and revealing the intimate relationships and processes that create anthropological knowledge.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-847-6
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction. Observing Anthropologists: Professional Knowledge, Practice and Lives
    (pp. 1-33)
    Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka

    Anthropologists are experts at studying cultural ‘others’ and, in the process, elucidating hidden aspects of their own society. These twin perspectives have typically been seen as the aim of good ethnographic writing. This book reverses the analytical lens to focus on the anthropologiststhemselves: their works, lives and subjective encounters in the field and beyond. In doing so, it explores the relationship between personal experience and knowledge production, taking us behind some of the key concepts that have shaped the discipline, both its past and its present. The anthropological encounter not only changes our ideas about the world and provides...

    (pp. 37-55)
    Michael Jackson

    You are well known in New Zealand as a poet as well as an anthropologist. Let us begin by asking you to explain how you came to discover anthropology as a discipline and as a way of thinking about the world?

    That was probably when I was sixteen and living in a small Taranaki town. The country library service used to bring a selection of books to Inglewood every fortnight. A couple of those books impressed me a lot. One was Daryll Forde’sHabitat,Economy and Society(1956), which intrigued me because it was about the impact of environment on...

    (pp. 58-72)
    Anne Salmond

    Let us begin by asking you about your intellectual biography and, in particular, how you discovered social anthropology.

    Well, I’d have to go back a long way to the time when I was a little girl and I used to go down to Wellington to stay with my grandmother. I was taken off to the Dominion Museum to look at the modelpa(Maori hill fort) that was built by my great-grandfather, James McDonald. My great-grandfather was a photographer and artist around the turn of the nineteenth century. He’d been riveted by Maori life; he loved it, could speak the...

  9. Chapter 3 BUILDING BRIDGES: Maori and Pakeha Relations
    (pp. 75-91)
    Joan Metge

    One of the unresolved issues in post-colonial societies like New Zealand and Australia concerns the expropriation of land and the question of cultural property. What has been your experience of this issue?

    I began work as an anthropologist in the 1950s and – what was unusual for that time – I worked at home, in my own country, with the Maori people of New Zealand, as they moved into the city. In those days there was no formal association of anthropologists, no code of anthropological ethics. I developed my own rules of practice, guided by my professors’ teaching and my own moral...

  10. Chapter 4 ‘CULTURE’, ‘RACE’ AND ‘ME’: Living the Anthropology of Indigenous Australians
    (pp. 94-107)
    Gillian Cowlishaw

    As an anthropologist you have worked extensively in the areas of Australian race relations and state definitions of what constitutes ‘indigenous culture’. Tell us more about your interest in these areas.

    I recently wrote a paper entitled ‘Culture as Therapy’, which examines the appropriation, or deployment, of indigenous culture by schools in New South Wales. It explores how current liberal and multicultural attempts to recognize and engage with indigenous people and ‘their’ cultures have played out in conditions where those cultures are virtually lost. This means that schools are attempting to recreate and reinvigorate cultural practices with which the children...

    (pp. 110-124)
    Nicolas Peterson

    You are particularly well known for your studies of Aboriginal peoples in Arnhem Land, in northern Australia. Tell us more about your fieldwork and research in this area.

    I spent nine months living and hunting with Aboriginal people in Arnhem Land, in the late 1960s, at a time when most Aboriginal people had left the bush. I was privileged to have that experience of living in the bush with Aboriginal people: it fuelled my interest in how people relate to land. Of course, the issue of people’s relationships to land has long been an issue of major theoretical significance in...

  12. Chapter 6 ART AS ACTION: The Yolngu
    (pp. 127-139)
    Howard Morphy

    In Australia and New Zealand you are known for your work in the anthropology of art and for your work on the Yolngu people of northeastern Australia. You have recently completed a film about the Yolngu. Tell us more about this work.

    My film is entitledIn Gentle Hands(Morphy and Deveson 2008), and it focuses on a Yolngu circumcision ceremony, at Yilpara, on Blue Mud Bay. I filmed the ceremony myself and edited the footage with Pip Deveson, who has had long experience working with Yolngu and editing films with Ian Dunlop. The film centres on the participants’ experience...

    (pp. 142-157)
    David Trigger

    Your work has focused on examining concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘nativeness’ in Australia, but you have recently expanded this to explore other contexts. Tell us about your current research interests and why they are important.

    Along with some other colleagues, I have a history of working with Australian Aboriginal issues in which drawing comparisons to countries like New Zealand and Canada in particular have been important. But in the past decade, my interest in understandings of indigeneity both in society and nature has led me to become interested in countries that have a different history from first-world, white, post-settler societies....

  14. Chapter 8 MORE THAN LOCAL, LESS THAN GLOBAL: Anthropology in the Contemporary World
    (pp. 160-175)
    Christopher Pinney

    Your recent work has focused, among other things, on contestations over Hinduism and academic authority in the West. Can you tell us more about this issue and its significance?

    I addressed this theme in a recent article entitled ‘Epistemo-patrimony: Speaking and Owning in the Indian Diaspora’ (Pinney 2011a). As you can see, I’m a great admirer of neologisms (Wittgenstein said that a new word is ‘like a seed on the ground’) and usually feel that I’ve failed if I haven’t come up with a good one. What I’m looking at in the paper are contests over ‘enunciative authority’ in North...

  15. Chapter 9 BEYOND SELLING OUT: Art, Tourism and Indigenous Self-representation
    (pp. 178-194)
    Nelson Graburn

    You are particularly known for your work on the Canadian Inuit and for your pioneering contribution to the anthropology of tourism. Could you tell us more about these areas?

    I’ve been studying among the Canadian Inuit for fifty years, and although I haven’t focused narrowly on tourism there, lately these issues have gained importance as part of a growing sub-field of anthropology, which is looking at indigenous-run tourism’s and the problems of making money versus commercializing culture. A key issue here is that in many tourism situations international companies or large outside vendors or neo-colonial government institutions try to control...

    (pp. 197-212)
    Nigel Rapport

    Among the areas of anthropology that you are particularly well known for are discourses of violence, the anthropology of Britain, and the anthropology of the self. Tell us a bit more about your recent work in these areas.

    I recently presented a paper on the ‘ethics of apology’ and apology as a kind of claim to knowledge and responsibility. My argument was that an apology is an ambiguous instrument: when you ‘apologize’ to someone you claim to know something about which you’re sorry (and about which they should be sorry). You also claim a kind of responsibility for something that...

    (pp. 215-230)
    Susan Wright

    Can we go way back to the beginning of your interest in anthropology? What was it that led you to taking up anthropology as a profession?

    As with a lot of people, I think it was by sheer accident. As an undergraduate at Durham University, I had done a history degree for my BA, but I was getting more and more upset with history – especially the way it was taught in Durham – because it was very much the Whig version of history, in which everything marches inevitably forward in a progressive sequence of events towards the present. Not only was history depicted as making the present inevitable, but it was also construed as something all about the great and the good. However there was an undercurrent...

    (pp. 233-246)
    Marilyn Strathern

    The concept of ‘property’ has been an enduring theme running throughout your work, both in the context of intellectual property and gender in Papua New Guinea and reproductive technologies in Euro-American societies. In a recent essay you argue that anthropologists should not simply shift away from the dominant concept of property to focus on ownership and ‘appropriation’. Rather, we should look instead at the work that these concepts perform in relation to each other (Strathern 2011; see also Strang and Busse 2011). Can you expand on these ideas?

    I’m probably one of the few people around who’s always had an...

  19. Conclusion. Looking Ahead: Past Connections and Future Directions
    (pp. 247-256)
    Cris Shore and Susanna Trnka

    The questions we posed at the outset of this book were what ‘what is the nature of anthropological knowledge production’ and what contribution can anthropology in the ‘peripheries’ make to the discipline at large? June Nash (2001), in her seminal essay, has highlighted how ‘peripheral vision’ plays a key role in opening up new ways of identifying and analyzing patterns and processes at work in the core, including post-colonial labour relations, migration, commodity production and forms of anti-capitalist resistance. More important, she shows how core and periphery are interconnected through these processes and how ‘peripheral vision’ sheds light on phenomena...

  20. INDEX
    (pp. 257-271)