Ethnography Through Thick and Thin Paperback – 13 Dec 1998
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From the Back Cover
"This is an exceptionally significant contribution both to the field of anthropology and to broader discussions among scholars in a range of culture-focused fields. It is a very thoughtful, quirky, empirically compelling, and provocative work by one of the intellectual leaders in our field."--Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz
About the Author
George E. Marcus is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University. Currently, he is producing an innovative series of annuals on contemporary change, Late Editions: Cultural Studies for the End of the Century. He is the coauthor of Anthropology as Cultural Critique (with Michael Fischer) and of Lives in Trust: The Fortunes of Dynastic Families in Late Twentieth-Century America (with Peter Hall). He coedited Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography with James Clifford. He was also the founding editor of the journal Cultural Anthropology.
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The force of this argument stems apparently from the fact that, well, it IS a small world after all. From the sands of the Sahel to the forests of the ..., no one is sheltered from outside cultural, political and economic influences anymore. The inescapable phenomenon known as globalization, says Marcus, necessitates no less than anthropology's reinvention of itself, so as to become capable of analysis that's more "holistic" (this being one of the author's favorite adjectives). One must view peoples and cultures today in "juxtaposition" (his favorite noun) if one is to understand the nature of the connections between them. And the tool Marcus proposes to achieve such holistic juxtapositions is the Multi-Sited Ethnography.
I am with the good doctor 100 percent, that is, when I can understand just what it is he is trying to say. Marcus is the kind of writer who actually prefers words like "exegesis" over more readily accessible ones like "interpretation." His numerous references to thinkers outside anthropology ("Wittgensteinian" is one of his more erudite adjectives) only serve to thicken the fog. Come on, George! You are a tenured professor, a made man, and you needn't go on trying to impress the girls with the size of your vocabulary.
Still, "ETHNOGRAPHY THROUGH THICK AND THIN" makes a valuable contribution to the field of anthropology, and I hope Marcus's message is heard and taken to heart by his colleagues. But next time, Professor, try to cut out the fat and streamline your writing a wee bit, for the benefit of the unwashed non-eggheads like me.
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