By Mark Hobart
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Extra info for After Culture: Anthropology as Radical Metaphysical Critique
Having neatly shown the kind of grave abuses to which culture lends itself – and having steered up to the frightening appreciation that anthropology, cultural studies and others, and the New Order share a common vision of culture – Pemberton refuses to develop his insight and to reflect critically on what the overlap says about anthropology. His conclusion is less that a madhouse is a good site to study madness, but that you have to be mad to study madness. 37 Some (non)senses of culture What forms do recourse to culture on Balinese television in the 1990s take?
The beauty of culture is that you do no have to speak the language, ever meet, speak to, engage, or even be remotely contemporaneous, with your subjects in order to understand them. We start to see what it is that culture negates: it is the very real possibility that other people act in and think about the world in ways which are uncomfortable or threatening to middle class European and American academics. Contemporary conceptions of culture are semiotic we are repeatedly told. And cultural analysis depends crucially upon both a theory of symbols and a theory of interpretation.
In so doing, they are learning to recognize themselves as distinct kinds of subjects, quite different from other kinds of subjects. 48 Insofar as we subsume our subjects under articulatory notions like culture, we commit the kind of vicious circularity I noted earlier. Insofar as they stand apart from, and may be critical of, the knowing scholars’ reflections on themselves, they refuse this subsumption. No wonder those untamed native intellectuals need herding into the corrals of culture, by being befriended and overinterpreted by anthropologists.