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By Ton Otto, Nils Bubandt

Experiments in Holism: idea and perform in modern Anthropologypresents a chain of essays from best anthropologists that severely reexamine the relevance of holism as a foundational guideline of anthropology, and its theoretical and methodological power in modern world.Represents the 1st quantity to contemplate the fashionable function of holism as a imperative anthropological hindrance throughout quite a lot of anthropological traditionsCritically examines the previous and current main issue of holism and its power for the renewal of destiny practiceFeatures contributions from top anthropologists which debate how anthropology can be re-designed within the context of a altering worldChallenges a lot of modern anthropology's crucial tools, thought, and features

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Sociocultural anthropology may have rejected a scientistic variant of positivism, but it retains, even augments, a more immediate form, one that purports that all empirical phenomena are amenable to observation and description. What else, after all, is the demand to eschew false generalizations in the interest of more accurate representations of complexity? (Bunzl 2008: 55) Bunzl goes on to quote from a story by Jorge Luis Borges – a parable about the ambition of exact representation: On Exactitude in Science “In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a city, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province.

In the latter work, Marcus and Fischer discussed how the classical aim of the ethnographic monograph – “to provide a full picture of a closely observed way of life” (1986: 22) – had to be critically revised in a world that was now understood as being globally connected and where new forms of cooperation were emerging. Their solution to this problem was to foreground a function that anthropology in their view had always had – at least as a potential – namely, to formulate a critique of the anthropologists’ own cultural background on the basis of and in contrast to the analysis of the cultural ideas and practices they studied.

The study of globalization is associated with the temporality of emergence or the contemporary as the study of change in a dynamic present that exists at the intersection of the recent past and the near future (see Rabinow 2008). Thus, the holism that enframes ethnographic research into particulars is only partly known, contingent, an open system, at best. Ethnographic research produces arguments that are speculative in the most responsible sense, are experimental in the ethos of science,7 and thrive as both complicating and clarifying supplements or challenges to other knowledges studied in fieldwork and/or as part of the interdisciplinary ecology in which they are produced (this discursive space as object and reception of ethnography is potentially radicalized by the potentials of Internet communication, and is where the problem of holism in anthropology shifts – a preview of the Epilogue).

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