By Michael Herzfeld
Utilizing Greek ethnography as a reflect for an ethnography of anthropology itself, this booklet finds the ways that the self-discipline of anthropology is ensnared within the comparable political and social symbolism as its item of analysis. the writer pushes the comparative pursuits of anthropology past the conventional separation of tribal item from indifferent clinical observer, and gives the self-discipline a severe resource of reflexive perception in response to empirical ethnography instead of on ideological hypothesis by myself.
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Additional resources for Anthropology through the Looking-Glass: Critical Ethnography in the Margins of Europe
Europe, the secular Eden, brought humanity within sight of perfection. In Greece, a country that owed its independence in large measure to the romantic desire to resuscitate antiquity, national self-images of all kinds acquired meaning only in direct relation to this hegemonic standard. 2 The complementary opposite of this standard was a monolithic image of oriental barbarism, for which the Turks were the most potent living symbol. The secularization of the medieval conflict between Islam and the crusading West brought a narrowed focus of western contempt on the Turks in particular.
Harris (1980) for linguistics and J. Goody (1977a, 1977b) for anthropology have both robustly denounced the sweeping reduction of alien cultural forms to the diagrammatic habits of a single literate canon. The literate standard is thus an ethnocentric and anachronistic basis of comparison. Worse, it forces indigenous ideas to compete according to extrinsic standards in an unfamiliar arena. 11 As social dogma, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: as a "fatalist," the victim can be treated as an inferior.
The romantic preoccupation with human perfectibility is both a secular recasting of the fall and a significant part of the heritage of anthropology. Indeed, anthropologia itself is a category of theological discourse. Gregory of Nazianzus's "anthropology," for example (Ellverson 1981:22), treats the soul as divine in origin; its goal was thus the return to origin that he called theosis ("divinization"). Theosis represents the achievement of perfection; like both nationalist history and abstract theory, it entails the repression of time and contingency, the recapturing of an original state of being.