They Lie, We Lie: Getting on with Anthropology

By Peter Metcalf

They Lie, We Lie is an test via an skilled fieldworker to have interaction fresh evaluations in ethnography, that's the writing of tradition, made either from inside anthropology and from such disciplines as cultural reports and post-colonial concept. this can be worthwhile simply because there was a polarization inside of anthropology among those that react dismissively to what Marshall Sahlins calls 'afterology' and people who locate the opinions so crippling as to make it not easy to get on with anthropology in any respect. Metcalf bridges this divide through interpreting the contradictions of fieldwork in reference to a specific 'informant', an impressive outdated girl who attempted for two decades to manage what he could and wouldn't examine. At every one degree, the writer attracts out the final implications of his challenge by means of making comparisions to the main recognized of all fieldwork relationships, that among Victor Turner and Muchona.
The result's an account that's obtainable to these surprising with the present evaluations of ethnography, and beneficial to those that are just too commonly used to them. His dialogue exhibits, now not the right way to dodge the opinions, yet how in truth anthropologists have coped with the existential dilemmas of fieldwork.

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There's a sure eclecticism within the indigenous religions of principal northern Borneo, if in basic terms simply because such orthodoxies as exist follow in simple terms to unmarried longhouse groups. In relocating from one to a different, an in-marrying individual quite simply adopts the varieties of his or her wife, blending them freely with these from domestic. In prayer, well-traveled males confirmed off their skill to weave jointly phrases and words from different languages. furthermore, the hot info which could at any time be received from shamans implies that spirit worlds are constantly open-ended. regardless of those similarities of setting, even though, the non-public sorts of Uma Adang and Kasi couldn't were extra assorted. by way of comparability with the former's prodigal invention, Kasi's narratives appear absolutely spare, and in contrast to Uma Adang, she made no noticeable try to draw realization to herself. specifically she could have scorned the function of innovator; she observed herself strictly as conservator. If, even if, Kasi was once no longer to blame of exhibitionism, she is still liable to the cost of snobbery. Her model of 88 Ethnicity Lelakness gave her a social status from which she didn't hesitate to pro®t. In bankruptcy 2, we observed her interfering in different people's affairs, and taking it upon herself to ban a ritual during which she had no longer even been invited to play an element. This was once now not in any way the single social gathering whilst Kasi could have been defined as high-handed, and the truth that she obtained away with it indicates the ability of what was once, at lengthy Teru, a hegemonic discourse. in addition, i'd good be accused of subjecting myself to an analogous hegemony, not just whereas I lived there and will now not steer clear of it, yet in what I write now. i wouldn't be the ®rst author approximately relevant northern Borneo to be seduced by means of a romance of the Aristocracy. Charles Hose, an early District Of®cer in Baram who wrote greatly approximately his adventures, used to be susceptible to ®nd indigenous aristocrats within the very unlikely areas. for example, in his Fifty Years of Romance and examine, or, The Diary of a Jungle Wallah, he describes the noisy Aban Jau, who, within the overdue 19th century, styled himself Rajah of Tinjar, as ``this ®ne outdated Chief'' (Hose 1927: 48). His Melawan fans, in contrast, take into accout Aban Jau as anything of a ruf®an, and scoff at his presumption (Metcalf 1992). to return, then, to the nub of the problem: what should still a good ethnographer file approximately Lelak ethnicity? by means of re-presenting Kasi's account of Lelakness, I develop into her mouthpiece, and make truth out of pretension. yet how might I describe Lelakness within the mid1970s with out Kasi? even so, if I easily describe lengthy Teru as a Melawan group, and omit the issues of its Lelak roots, I essentialize the class ``Melawan'' through tidying it up, and giving it neat edges the place none exist. Whichever method I flip, it appears i'm stuck in deceptions. word additionally that linguistics offers no effortless approach out. it's decades given that Dell Hymes (1968) warned opposed to any uncomplicated identi®cation among language and ethnicity.

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