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15 I Performance Performing Cultures Ethnography, Epistemology, and Ethics At last there is a species of anthropology that is processual and participatory, it has the candor to view its fieldwork as dialogue. The conversation between investigator and investigated is not a ‘means to an end’ or a ‘necessary evil,’ but the Object itself in the process of projection. Such science grows accurate through self-­ study. It belongs to a larger and unnamed area of investigation, which could be called the History of Conscious Discourse or the Archaeology of Conversation. —George Quasha With the “interpretive turn”1 in the human sciences, researchers have begun restoring and unpacking the ancient theatrum mundi topos for fresh ways of thinking and talking about social life. Victor Turner summarizes this current shift in his field: Anthropology itself is shifting from a stress on concepts such as structure, equilibrium, system, and regularity to process, indeterminacy , reflexivity, resilience . . . There is also a renewed interest in “performance,” partly stemming from sociolinguists such as Dell Hymes, partly from modern folklorists . . . , and partly from the fundamental work of Gregory Bateson and Erving Goffman. (Turner 1983, 337) With the importance of Kenneth Burke to American communication studies, the dramaturgical perspective has been influential since mid-­ twentieth century, but recently there has been rekindled interest (see Fine and Speer 1977, Gronbeck 1980, Conquergood 1983a, Pacanowsky and O’Donnell-­ Trujillo 1983). The danger with analogies and concepts that seem so apt prima facie is that they produce a satisfying sense of closure before all the comparative complexities can be opened and drawn ...


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