Echoes of a Yolmo Buddhist's Life, in Death

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Essay Excerpt

What interests me most here are less the specifics of the man's biography than what he understood was going on when I came to talk to him and his words took form on paper—what, in effect, the act of inscribing his life on paper meant for him. The likes of such an inquiry are seldom to be found in life history research in anthropology. While detailed narrations of non-Western lives are commonly generated, as are reflective essays that examine in sophisticated ways how ethnographers came to regard those lives or engaged dialogically with their informants, rarely have anthropologists seriously examined how life history informants themselves make sense of the act of setting their lives to paper. Nor have they considered the potential consequences of such an act or, significantly, the personal sensibilities or cultural metaphysics that shape the act and its consequences as perceived by those involved (pp. 262-263).

From: Desjarlais, Robert. "Echoes of a Yolmo Buddhist's Life, in Death." Cultural Anthropology 15(2000): 260–293.

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