Hubert Fichte as Ethnographer

Essay Excerpt

Instead of appropriation by means of identification, Fichte exiles part of his Self to be able to enter a dialogue with the Other. (I have been trying out various substitutes for the verb "to exile": to cut off, to split off, to sacrifice, et cetera, but I am uncertain  whether the dialogue requires an active effort best described by one of these metaphors or whether it has more to do with a crack, or a doubling, or a fraying extension. The effort involved then would be the effort to tolerate and perhaps to acknowledge the crack.) Venturing outside the familia rmaybe an attempt to use the experience of close contact with the unfamiliar Other to learn more about the seemingly familiar and about oneself. Using the Other as a catalyst to provide the A-effect to have an-other look at one's Self. In the way Michel Leiris exploits the Other as documented in L'Afrique fantome (1934). (And as ridiculed by himself nearly half a century later.) This is not what Fichte does. "Sensing the Self beyond one's body," "heartbeat on the outside,"means permitting a double bind to watch and describe the interplay of Self and Other on one and the same level. Where is the ethnographic "I"'? Where is the ethnographer's eye? "I am the experimental subject best known to me," Fichte says, observing and recording his cracks. (Neumann, 266)

About the Author

Klaus Neumann is currently a Professor at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. He has held teaching and research positions in universities in Germany and Australia , and worked as an independent historian in New Zealand and Australia. He has written extensively about memories of the Nazi past in postwar Germany; settler-indigenous relations in Australia and New Zealand; colonial history and memory in Papua New Guinea; immigration, refugee and asylum seeker policies in Australia; World War II internment; and German and Australian literature. Klaus has edited or written seven books, including Not the Way It Really Was (1992), Shifting Memories (2000) and Refuge Australia: Australia's Humanitarian Record (2004), winner of the 2004 Human Rights Award (Non-Fiction). He has also written radio plays and numerous articles. He is currently working on two projects: a critical history of Australian and New Zealand responses to refugees and asylum seekers, and a comparative study of historical justice. He also has a strong interest in history as creative non-fiction.

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