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Beyond <i>Writing Culture</i>: Current Intersections of Epistemologies and Representational Practices

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Beyond Writing Culture

Current Intersections of Epistemologies and Representational Practices

Edited by Olaf Zenker and Karsten Kumoll

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256 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-675-7 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Published (May 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-333-8 25% OFF! $34.95/£24.00 $26.21/£18.00 Pb Published (October 2013)

eISBN 978-1-84545-817-1 eBook

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“…an excellent recent example [of less ideologically driven analyses of Writing Culture]… this volume is the only one … that presents a serious, sustained analysis of the intersections between epistemology and representational practice…More so than the edited volumes on this topic that preceded it, Beyond Writing Culture attempts to strike a balance between acknowledging the contribution of Writing Culture and trying to learn from its mistakes.”  ·  Collaborative Anthropologies

“This volume represents the collection of a number of arguments presently raging in the halls of academia regarding the future of ethnography. By returning to Writing Culture over two decades after its first appearance, Zenker and Kumoll attest to the persistence of the landmark book’s ideas. While not an introduction to Writing Culture, this book is highly recommended to scholars interested in the current state of anthropology and the future potential of ethnographic work to move ‘beyond’ Writing Culture without abandoning its important contribution altogether.”  ·  Anthropology and Education Quarterly

“This is a book that will attract a great deal of attention among anthropologists and social scientists in general. It is a great advance on earlier critiques of Writing Culture (1986) that have emerged at intervals, a large number of them cited by the contributors. Its strength lies particularly in its transdisciplinary perspectives and the clarity of both critique and new representations. The prologue is a tour de force.”  ·  Joan Vincent, Professor Emerita, Barnard College/Columbia University


Two decades after the publication of Clifford and Marcus’ volume Writing Culture, this collection provides a fresh and diverse reassessment of the debates that this pioneering volume unleashed. At the same time, Beyond Writing Culture moves the debate on by embracing the more fundamental challenge as to how to conceptualise the intricate relationship between epistemology and representational practices rather than maintaining the original narrow focus on textual analysis. It thus offers a thought-provoking tapestry of new ideas relevant for scholars not only concerned with ‘the ethnographic Other’, but with representation in general.

Olaf Zenker is Junior Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. He received his PhD from the Martin Luther University and the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany, and obtained his habilitation from the University of Bern, Switzerland. His publications include the co-edited volume Irish/ness Is All Around Us: Language Revivalism and the Culture of Ethnic Identity in Northern Ireland (Berghahn Books, 2013).

Karsten Kumoll is Programme Manager at the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat), advising the Federal and State (Länder) governments on the system of higher education and research. He obtained his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Freiburg. Its subject was Marshall Sahlins’ complete works and it was subsequently published as: Kultur, Geschichte und die Indigenisierung der Moderne: Eine Analyse des Gesamtwerks von Marshall Sahlins (Bielefeld, 2007).

Subject: Theory & Methodology in Anthropology



Chapter 1. Prologue: Opening Doors Beyond Writing Culture
Olaf Zenker and Karsten Kumoll

Chapter 2. Textualization, Mystification and the Power of the Frame
Vincent Crapanzano

Chapter 3. Reading James Clifford: On Ethnographic Allegory
Steffen Strohmenger

Chapter 4. Indigenous Research and the Politics of Representation: Notes on the Cultural Theory of Marshall Sahlins
Karsten Kumoll

Chapter 5. From the Spirit’s Point of View: Ethnography, Total Truth and Speakership
Thomas G. Kirsch

Chapter 6. Interlogue: ‘Writing Cultures’ and the Quest for Knowledge
Rozita Dimova

Chapter 7. Language Matters: Reflexive Notes on Representing the Irish Language Revival in Catholic West Belfast
Olaf Zenker

Chapter 8. Ethnographic Cognition and Writing Culture
Christophe Heintz

Chapter 9. Hard Truths: Addressing a Crisis in Ethnography
Stephen P. Reyna

Chapter 10. The Migration of the ‘Culture’ Concept from Anthropology to Sociology at the Fin de siècle
John H. Zammito

Chapter 11. Epilogue: How Do Paradigm Shifts Work in Anthropology? On the Relationship of Theory and Experience
Günther Schlee

Notes on Contributors

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