Anthropology Through a Double Lens
Public and Personal Worlds in Human Theory
Publication Year: 2011
How can we hold both public and personal worlds in the eye of a unified theory of meaning? What ethnographic and theoretical possibilities do we create in the balance? Anthropology Through a Double Lens offers a theoretical framework encompassing both of these domains—a "double lens." Daniel Touro Linger argues that the literary turn in anthropology, which treats culture as text, has been a wrong turn. Cultural analysis of the interpretive or discursive variety, which focuses on public symbols, has difficulty seeing—much less dealing convincingly with—actual persons. While emphasizing the importance of social environments, Linger insists on equal sensitivity to the experiential immediacies of human lives. He develops a sustained critique of interpretive and discursive trends in contemporary anthropology, which have too strongly emphasized social determinism and public symbols while too readily dismissing psychological and biographical realities.
Anthropology Through a Double Lens demonstrates the power of an alternative dual perspective through a blend of critical essays and ethnographic studies drawn from the author's field research in São Luís, a northeastern Brazilian state capital, and Toyota City, a Japanese factory town. To span the gap between the public and the personal, Linger provides a set of analytical tools that include the ideas of an arena of meaning, systems of systems, bridging theory, singular lives, and reflective consciousness. The tools open theoretical and ethnographic horizons for exploring the process of meaning-making, the force of symbolism and rhetoric, the politics of representation, and the propagation and formation of identities. Linger uses these tools to focus on key issues in current theoretical and philosophical debates across a host of disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, history, and the other human sciences..
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Table of Contents
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On the way to the new millennium, anthropology, still a young field, became prematurely forgetful. Anthropos almost vanished, crowded out by culture, the discipline's celebrated contribution to social science. That contribution has been valuable, but too imperious in its claim on human lives. This book, while reserving an important place for culture, ...
Part I: Meanings
1. Has Culture Theory Lost its Minds?
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For most cultural anthropologists, the "native's point of view" remains the paramount object of ethnographic research. Nevertheless, interpretive and psychological anthropologists have come to envision the object differently. Positions on both sides of this blurry divide are varied and complex, but a sketch of ideal types is a useful point of departure.1 By ...
2. Missing Persons
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History and anthropology continue to edge closer to each other. Culture, the anthropologist's stock in trade, has become an indispensable component of historians' accounts. For their part, anthropologists increasingly emphasize cultural change. Attuned to cultural relativism, they have readily made the further leap into historical relativism. One ...
3. The Metropolis, the Globe, and Mental Life
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Big theories in social science often treat subjectivities as social realities, assigning them to a group, a social formation, or an epoch. Well-known examples of concepts designating suprapersonal subjectivities are Durkheim's conscience collective (1964 ), Marx and Engels's versions of "consciousness" and "ideology" (1972 [1845-46]), and Foucault's ...
Part II: Politics
4. The Hegemony of Discontent
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At the heart of Gramsci's notion of hegemony is his most vital insight: culture is political.1 For Gramsci (1971), hegemony springs not only from the explicit ideological, moral, and philosophical underpinnings of power but also from less fully conscious, transparent realms of thought-the experientially insistent world of common sense. This ...
5. The Semantics of Dead Bodies
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Staring from the back page of my local Brazilian newspaper are the faces of the dead-bloated, crushed, streaked with blood. The photos invite unpleasant fantasies. They spur uneasy questions. Who is this? Who did that? How did it happen? Could this ever be me? Is this something I could ever do? ...
6. Wild Power in Post-Military Brazil
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In 1985, civilians finally assumed control of the Brazilian government after more than two decades of military command. Like their counterparts elsewhere in the Southern Cone, the Brazilian generals, crusading in the name of anti-communism, had governed through arbitrary decrees and had sponsored outrageous violations of human rights ...
Part III: Identities
7. Whose Identity?
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In a hybrid world, identity has paradoxically become a pressing popular and scholarly concern. The accelerated circulation of people, goods, and messages has kindled widespread anxieties. Unease over identity feeds ambivalent attitudes toward cosmopolitanism, ethnic mixing, immigration, standardization, international investment, and ...
8. The Identity Path of Eduardo Mori
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Anthropologists tend to think of people as living "in" culture or "in" history. In this chapter I shift perspective to reveal culture and history in a person. I highlight the ways in which Eduardo Mori, a Brazilian of Japanese descent, engages and transcends social facts.1 In so doing, I seek to complicate our vision of the relation between persons and history and to suggest a fruitful approach to questions of identity. ...
9. Do Japanese Brazilians Exist?
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In this final chapter I look at the significance of self and place for Moacir Aoki and Cesar Kawada, two Brazilians of Japanese descent living in Japan. Their stories suggest that it is misleading to refer to Japanese Brazilians collectively as "a diaspora." I further question whether people such as Moacir and Cesar should be regarded as 'Japanese Brazilians" ...
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Two decades of research and thought have gone into this book. No one who publishes academic work can entertain the delusion of having more than a smidgen of originality. It is impossible to acknowledge the contributions of so many people to ideas so long in development. I am deeply grateful. ...
Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 9 illus.
Publication Year: 2011