Anthropology as Cultural Critique: Inserts for the 1990s Cultural Studies of Science, Visual-Virtual Realities, and Post-Trauma Polities

Essay Excerpt

It has been half a decade since the publishing of Anthropology As Cultural Critique (Marcus and Fischer 1986); time perhaps to take stock again.  In the mid-1980s when we took a reading of what we thought were the trends in cultural anthropology, it seemed clear that we - the field and also the cultural and social environment in which anthropology operates - were undergoing generational, if not massive, demographic and sociocultural change and reorientation.  We undertook an optimistic reading of the field and its challenges, suggesting that anthropology, in increasingly sophisticated ways, could and would repatriate its techniques and skills as it always had promised to do (from the study of other societies to the study of our own societies; from small face-to-face communities to large complex societies; from localized homogeneous cultures to globally organized heterogeneous ones; from traditionally authorized moral and symbolic systems to emergent, technologically or economically driven, and rationally/culturally justified/contested ones), while continuing its role as the only social science or humanity (except parts of comparative literature and comparative social history) that takes seriously the challenge of both (a) to test cross-culturally and cross-situationally the assumptions on which social, cultural, and psychological theory is constructed, and (b) to help translate among cultural strata that are increasingly coming into intensified, and often conflictual, interaction transnationally, globally, and in novel ways in local settings. (525)

Fischer, Michael M. J.. "Anthropology as Cultural Critique: Inserts for the 1990s Cultural Studies of Science, Visual-Virtual Realities, and Post-Trauma Polities." Cultural Anthropology 6, no. 4 (1991): 525-537

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