Out of Anthropology: The Anthropologist as an Object of Dramatic Representation

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

My aim here is not to review the play or to assess the significance of this particular performance in relation to the intellectual history of the West over the past 40 years, however much I would like to. My point of departure is the fact that I am the woman anthropologist portrayed in Talabot.

This article is a personal account of the process implied in my theatrical experience from my first encounter with Odin Teatret's director Eugenio Barba, through the various meetings and writings, and on to the rehearsals and the final performance. My narrative is personal and informed by my peculiar presence in the play, but my aim lies beyond a simple narration of the process of transformation from autobiography to performance. I intend to analyze the general implications of the anthropologist becoming an object of study and representation. Through the personal account of how my autobiography was turned into a life history that was then contextualized by somebody else, we may learn something more general about being anthropologists in this world. (Hastrup, 327-328)

About the Author

Dr. Kirsten Hastrup is a Professor of Anthopology at the University of Coppenhagen.

Kirsten Hastrup has done substantial research on Icelandic history and society; on human rights and legal language; on theatre and social action; and on the beginnings of Danish anthropology in early polar expedition. In addition to these more specialised fields, she has published critical explorations of the philosophical and epistemological foundations of anthropology, text-books in anthropology, and general introductions to the history of the human sciences and their contributions to society.The Icelandic work spans the entire history of the island society and traces the intricate links between environmental changes - notably the warm middle ages and the later 'little ice age' - and historical and social developments.Waterworld project:In recent years, Kirsten Hastrup's research interest has centred on the environmental and social changes in the Arctic, notably in Greenland, where she has started a series of fieldworks in a small hunting community with the aim of studying local perceptions of threats and opportunities over a five-year period.

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