Breaking the Frames: Anthropological Conundrums by Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew J. Strathern

By Pamela J. Stewart, Andrew J. Strathern

This booklet argues that the breaking and re-making of frames of research underlie the historical past of theorizing in anthropology. Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew J. Strathern observe that this mode of study hazards fabricating over-essentialized dichotomies among viewpoints. The authors suggest a aware, nuanced, people-centered method of all theorizing-one that avoids overall process techniques (-isms) and recommend that idea may still relate cogently to ethnography. aware anthropology, as this publication envisages it, isn't a particular conception yet a philosophical aspiration for the self-discipline as a whole.

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Extra info for Breaking the Frames: Anthropological Conundrums

Sample text

As he himself discovered, this further implies that meanings cannot be left out; they are a part of processes themselves. Any opposition between meaning and process, therefore, is unproductive. To say this is just a beginning, as there are many different approaches to the question of meaning. One issue is whether the concept of metaphor is a semantic universal and so can be used across the board to identify processes of amplification of meanings in ritual contexts such as Barth encountered among the Baktaman.

A semantic transposition occurred. How did this shift of perspective occur? We have to ask now, how does academic knowledge or what passes for it, get produced and reproduced? The suggestion about dividuals was an act of breaking frames, and the suggestion itself was progressively simplified by eliminating all forms of complexity and replacing these with an essentialized dichotomy. In one of his insightful and reflective essays, Fredrik Barth explored an anthropology of knowledge, in which he distinguished between semantics (or substantive assertions), communication, and the production of knowledge via social relations (Barth 2002:3).

At every point, then, when we inspect the categories of binary opposites such as custom versus change we find that the closer our look is fixed on processes as they actually occur the supposed dichotomy disappears. Ultimately, we will find that this observation applies to a series of such dichotomies, specifically custom/change, stability/innovation, individual/social, and nature/culture. In so far as these dichotomies have formed implicit or explicit frames for analysis, transcending them becomes important as a part of our ‘breaking the frames’ theme.

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