The Predicament Of Culture By James Clifford Essay

760 Words Nov 27th, 2015 4 Pages
The Predicament of Culture by James Clifford demonstrates American cultural anthropology into a conversation on postmodernist state of humanities and methods that are appropriate to them. Inspired by Bakhtin and Barthes, Clifford proposes textual approaches to the field of knowledge, changes study of essence to rhetorical analysis, and manages to make this approach productive and useful.
Firstly, it is important to note the fact that there is a key difference between analytical and post- structural approach to epistemology. It can be narrowed down to the difference between semiotics of Pierce and De Saussure: while the first one analyses the relationships between signifier, mental idea and object it represents, the second one excludes the object, making his semiology to be all about the relationships between words and ideas they represent. This situation represents any text to be a structure on its own rights, and brings more attention to rhetorical and taxonomic rules of scientific publication rather than its accordance to any kind of empirical reality. In this case, the role of observer but not the narrator is importantly emphasized. This is how Clifford’s concerns about status of anthropologist are adjusted, leading him to ask his problematic epistemological questions:
“Who has the authority to speak for a group’s identity or authenticity? What are the essential elements and boundaries of a culture? How do self and other clash and converse in the encounters of…

Related Documents