Russian Sociological Review 13 (3):94-125 (2014)

In now classic article, James Clifford offers a novel perspective on ethnographic texts. Inspired by literary studies he uses contemporary ethnographic works to question ethnography’s claims of scientific objectivity and a clear distinction between allegorical and factual. If ethnography aims to keep its contemporary relevance, it should specifically focus on allegory as an intrinsic quality of ethnographic texts This kind of analysis may assume that any ethnographic text accounts for facts and events but at the same time it tackles the moral, ideological or even cosmological issues. According to Clifford, ethnography has been dominated by a “pastoral” allegorical register which allowed an ethnographer to occupy a privileged position to interpret other, non-writing cultures. Clifford notices that this register is loosing support in the modern world since the difference between illiterate and literate cultures is not relevant anymore. Ethnographic pastoral is now replaced with self-reflexive and dialogical forms of ethnographic writing, analyzed by Clifford by the example of Marjorie Shostak’s book Nisa: The Life and Words of a!Kung Woman
Keywords ethnography   textualization   allegory   pastoral   writing   interpretation of cultures
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References found in this work BETA

Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word.Walter J. Ong - 1983 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 16 (4):270-271.
Patterns of Culture.Ruth Benedict - 1946 - Philosophical Review 55:497.

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Shelf-Life Zero: A Classic Postmodernist Paper.Andrew Travers - 1989 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 19 (3):291-320.

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