James Clifford 1 (Transl. by: Olessia Kirtchik 2 ; Translation ed. by: Andrei Korbut 2)
  • 1 University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
  • 2 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

On Ethnographic Allegory

2014, vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 94–125 [issue contents]
In now classic article, James Clifford offers a novel perspective on ethnographic texts. Inspired by literary studies (e.g. Jacques Derrida’s grammatology) he uses contemporary ethnographic works to question ethnography’s claims of scientific objectivity and a clear distinction between allegorical and factual. If ethnography aims to keep its contemporary relevance, it should specifically focus on allegory as an intrinsic quality of ethnographic texts This kind of analysis may assume that any ethnographic text accounts for facts and events but at the same time it tackles the moral, ideological or even cosmological issues. According to Clifford, ethnography has been dominated by a “pastoral” allegorical register which allowed an ethnographer to occupy a privileged position to interpret other, non-writing cultures. Clifford notices that this register is loosing support in the modern world since the difference between illiterate and literate cultures is not relevant anymore. Ethnographic pastoral is now replaced with self-reflexive and dialogical forms of ethnographic writing, analyzed by Clifford by the example of Marjorie Shostak’s book  Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman.
Citation: Clifford J. (2014) Ob etnograficheskoy allegorii [On Ethnographic Allegory]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 13, no 3, pp. 94-125 (in Russian)
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