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Understanding the spaces of knowledge construction : interviews with anthropologists in Canada Loewen, Gregory Victor 1997

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UNDERSTANDING THE SPACES OF KNOWLEDGE CONSTRUCTION: INTERVIEWS WITH ANTHROPOLOGISTS IN C A N A D A by GREGORY VICTOR LOEWEN B . A . , University of Victoria, 1988 M.A., University of Victoria, 1990 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) We accept this dissertation as conforming to the required standard Xbffi-UNIVERSrTY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1997 © Gregory Victor Loewen, 1997 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. DE-6 (2/88) 11 ABSTRACT This dissertation is a study of how anthropologists in Canada over the previous thirty years, have constructed anthropological knowledge. It reports, examines, and comments upon interviews with anthropologists trained inside and outside of Canada. Most occupy senior academic positions at Canadian universities. Interpretation of this material takes place within the discourses of the anthropology of knowledge and education. Anthropologists say that ways of thinking about anthropological knowledge conflict at the theoretical level but do not conflict in practice. Practice is defined as fieldwork and teaching. Here, theory is felt only indirectly. Various tensions follow from this understanding. They include those between subject and object, positivism and post-positivism, value and validity, field and archive, and cultural relativism versus scientific knowledge. The concept which mediates these tensions is that of the field. Fieldwork is seen by anthropologists as an experience with both epistemological and ethical implications. Ethically, the field supports a certain manner of living and outlook on humanity. This outlook includes respect for cultural differences. Yet, epistemologically, the field is divisive because it is cast as the promotional agent for various kinds of method, theory, and reflective analyses. These analyses include a belief in value relativism in concert with a scientific notion of validity. For example, if it were not for the fundamental tools of positivism in anthropology, anthropologists felt that anthropological knowledge might be seen as idiosyncratic. In their search for human knowledge, anthropologists are united by their methods and ethics. They are divided, however, by their theories. These divisions and unities are inherited in the culture of anthropology. Although anthropologists understand different cultures' values to be equal, they suggest that ways of knowing another culture through anthropology are not equally valid. Theoretical conflicts are also produced in institutions. These are seen as major influences on the 'look' of anthropology at various times and places. Departments, publishers, students and teachers are all influences on anthropological knowledge construction. Anthropological knowledge is also seen as being constructed at a personal level. Anthropologists feel the concept of vocation in the individual's life-narrative as an anthropologist is important to this construction. Anthropology is seen as a calling or assignation. As well, the purpose of anthropological knowledge is seen as an ethical precept. The sanctity of field experiences for these anthropologists brings them together ethically but divides them epistemologically. I l l TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Acknowledgements v Epigraphs v i Chapter One Introduction 1 Introduction to the Project 1 The Shifting Theoretical Background of the Thinking of the Natives: Some Examples 4 Marxism and Anthropology: a Brief Review 11 Linguistics and Shifting Epistemologies in Anthropology 15 Ethnosemantics, Efhnoscience, and the New Ethnography 26 The Canadian Scene 34 Methods and Profile of the Participants 46 Chapter Two Knowledge, Theory and their Cultural Space 51 Anthropology of Knowledge - Theory and Epistemology 52 Guises of Epistemology in Anthropology 53 The Field as a Leitmotif of Epistemological Identity 60 Epistemology as both a Method and a Methodology for Cross-Cultural Communication 65 Epistemology as a Social Construct: Fuller 74 An Anthropology of Epistemology: Latour 79 Chapter Three Epistemological Differences and their Tensions 88 Epistemological Shifts in Anthropology: Geertz 88 Implications of the Textualist Viewpoint for Method, Institution, and Education in Anthropology 97 The Status of Positivism in Anthropology 102 Positivism, Post-Positivism and Post-Modernism 117 Chapter Four Babel Rejoined: The Culture of Anthropological Knowledge 134 Introduction 134 Personal Influences on Knowledge Construction 136 Looking at History and the Construction of Knowledge 147 How is Anthropological Knowledge Unique? 159 Reflections on the Nature of Knowledge 188 Ethics in Anthropological Knowledge 208 iv Chapter Five Anthropology of Education - Educating Anthropology 218 Aspects of Anthropology in Educational Institutions 219 An Ethnography of the Educational Institution: Bourdieu 234 Chapter Six Institutions and Anthropological Knowledge 243 Institutional Atmospheres: Schools and Departments 244 Personalities and Knowledge Construction 252 Course Media and Curricula 263 The Changing Institution 271 The Changing Knowledge of Anthropologists: What is the Discipline coming to? 277 Chapter Seven Why Anthropology? The Ethical View 294 What Anthropologists say is Important and Why 294 Reasons for Anthropology 308 Chapter Eight Conclusion 328 A Sense of Anthropology 329 References Cited 334 Appendix 1 Formal Interview Questions 360 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many persons deserve credit for helping to bring this dissertation to fruition. A very special thanks is due the members of my committee. They are Professor Elvi Whittaker, Professor William McKellin, and Professor Andrew Irvine. As well, a thank you to Professors Martin Silverman, Regna Darnell, and Peter Stephenson, and to all of the participants in this project, who really make anthropology what it is today. Thanks to all who made CASCA XXIII a wonderful part of my research. A thank you to my parents for their support and belief. Finally, thank you to Joyce Lem for her patience and her teaching. This dissertation is dedicated to the memory of my mother. vi It is no more possible to escape the situational immediacies of ethnographical knowing, the thoughts and occasions one is trying to intrude upon, than it is to escape temporal bounds, and it is perhaps even more mischievous to pretend to do so. - Such, such are the facts. Or anyway, so I say (Geertz 1995:17). Metaphysics begins when theory criticizes itself as ontology, as the dogmatism and spontaneity of the same, and when metaphysics, in departing from itself, lets itself be put into question by the other in the movement of ethics (Derrida 1978:96 [1967b]). It was a confession of human ignorance and weakness. Man saw that he had taken for causes what were no causes, and that all his efforts to work by means of these imaginary causes had been vain. His painful toil had been wasted, his curious ingenuity had been squandered to no purpose. He had been pulling at strings to which nothing was attached; he had been marching as he thought, straight to the goal, while in reality he had been only treading a narrow circle (Frazer 1950:57 [1922]). A thing explained is a thing we have no further concern with. - What did that god mean who counselled: 'Know they self!'? Does that perhaps mean: have no further concern for yourself! become objective!' - And Socrates? - and the 'man of science'? - (Nietzsche 1973:92 [1886:sec.80]). 1 CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION The history of our science can, and should, be approached with the same systematic interpretive methods that we use in the construction of any other ethnography (Darnell 1996:8). You may set out to isolate yourself from cosmopolitan concerns and contain your interests within hermetical contexts. But the concerns follow you. The contexts explode (Geertz 1995:95). Introduction to the Project: This dissertation is a study of how anthropologists in Canada construct anthropological knowledge. It reports, describes, and examines interviews with Canadian anthropologists, both academic and other, trained in and out of Canada. Interpretation of their remarks occurs in the context of a review of anthropological literature from the fields of the anthropology of knowledge, the anthropology of education, and anthropology in Canada. The purpose of this dissertation is to attempt an understanding of the professional culture that influences anthropologists' construction of what knowledge is, and how it is to be considered anthropological. Twenty anthropologists were asked about their understandings of the production and construction of anthropological discourse. What is anthropology? What makes an anthropologist? How is anthropology different today than from the beginning of their respective careers? How do anthropologists see these differences, and why? Anthropology, at least as represented by the participants in this study, was taken as a culture to be constructed by the voices of native anthropologists. Broadly at issue is epistemology. It was something debated amongst anthropologists during the previous three decades - the period this project examines. Major epistemological changes were discussed. It is important to understand what factors of the professional culture of anthropologists were influential in these discussions and others simply because these events still resonate with us today. As professional members of an academic discipline, the anthropologists interviewed suggested two important influences. The first can be called epistemological. That is, the theory of knowledge in which one 2 was trained or undertook fieldwork was an influence on the way in which all one's anthropological knowledge was constructed. Second, the institutional framework in which one was taught and where one teaches was seen as the other major influence in this regard. Both were seen as important aspects of knowledge construction because they represent in turn what knowledge is inherited and where that inheritance occurs. Furthermore, how such an inheritance occurs was seen as personal to the individual anthropologist, and occurred in an ethical relationship. This means that it was considered a good in itself to teach and learn anthropology. Knowledge of anthropology. Knowledge of the anthropologist. The former is akin to a model of anthropology as a subject or discipline. It says, 'this is what anthropology looks like, its theories and its descriptions'. The latter is like a model for doing anthropology as a work or life. It says, 'this is how you do anthropology'. These two vectors are linked by a further concept. It was suggested that the concept of the field, and therefore the experience of fieldwork, galvanized anthropologists' sense of purpose. To a great extent, fieldwork created their understanding of what anthropology does. Although anthropology is seen as a general body of knowledge, how each individual anthropologist participates within it was different. The most important reason for this variability is the notion that anthropologists use a spectrum of theories of knowledge. Anthropological epistemologies conflict at the theoretical level, but provide consistency and congruence in practice. Although the conflict between a theory of knowledge and a way of acting is not the same as that between theory and practice per se, I think that the perceived differences between thought and action overarch both. In discussing theories of culture, for example, this group of anthropologists seemed to be in disagreement over the best way of constructing anthropological knowledge. However, in discussing practical field experiences, there was general agreement on what had to be done to find out about a culture. More importantly, the anthropologists were in broad agreement about the vocational character of their discipline. They also agreed on the ethical purpose for the attempts by anthropology to understand human culture and difference. Ethics is defined as a respect for cultural difference. Even while there is disagreement on what anthropology should look like as a discourse, 3 there is much more agreement on why the discourse should exist in the first place, and how, apart from the institutional structure of anthropological careers, to become a part of it. In sum, the culture of anthropology exists both at the levels of theories of knowledge and as a personal experience. The anthropologists included in the study suggested their culture had 1) a 'higher purpose' - the ethical relationship and communication about humanity cross-culturally, 2) a unique training - cross-cultural or other experiential fieldwork at a locale removed from the academy, and finally 3) a calling - a vocational commitment by anthropologists. The inheritance of these themes by younger students from elder anthropologists occurs remarkably like that of oral cultures. What is known as anthropology is not the same as what is known in anthropology. Nor are either of these the same as what is known about anthropology. This study occupies the last two sites of knowledge. There remain doubts about this knowledge as anthropological knowledge. This is so because many of the speakers are equivocal and ambiguous in their sense of what I was trying to do. To do a study of anthropologists as a sociologist of knowledge or as a philosopher gave me my 'about'. This was agreed upon. To do this study while enrolled in a cultural milieu of academic anthropology, 'inside if, as it were, would give me my 'in'. There was no assured way of getting my 'as'. Only anthropologists can do anthropology. Anthropology cannot study itself by itself and also step outside of itself. To use an older term, there are only 'emics' to be had within this project. This is so due to various native speakers of and in anthropology presenting themselves as believing (or not) in the possibility of a study such as mine. My existence as a scholar was something to be proved. However, my existence as ethnographer was not a matter of evidential argument. It just could not occur as such. I had to content myself with the depiction of a variety of lives within anthropology. My ethnographic potential was clear in only two of three possible discursive forms. One was the positivistic about. The second was the institutionalistic and therefore directly participational in. Within the portion of anthropology I encountered - or almost half of the speakers - would not let me stand unequivocally as anthropologist in their midst. 4 One may expect that this project opens a window on the disparate knowledges of anthropologists and anthropology. In order to do so, it shines the mirror on itself. My thesis is that anthropological knowledge is that tension between epistemology and ethics. Anthropology is neither a social science nor a humanity. In order to be classified as anthropological, a statement must exist as a balance between the science of a disinterested ethnographer and the humanity of a cultural being. Anthropology is demonstrative of diverse attempts at maintaining this balance. Each anthropologist is an agent of this balance. The Shifting Theoretical Background of the Thinking of the Natives: Some Examples This section will provide background to the interviews conducted by introducing some of the theoretical fluxes which the participants in this study have inherited and in which they find themselves working. Anthropologists often see these fluxes as competing schools of thought, theoretical paradigms, heuristic tools, or all three at once. Three discursive milieux can serve as examples of these differing positions. The conflict between what is thought empirically observable about human behaviour and the possible unconscious and unobserved structures which pattern that behaviour resonate in each example. Speakers also demonstrated an avowed interest in, or bias for, observed action or interpreted thought and intent. First, Marxism and anthropology was a theme which was frequently introduced by this particular group of anthropologists. Second, a brief glimpse at ethnosemantics and ethnoscience will recognize one of the contending visions of how anthropologists thought about understanding other cultures. A third example of conflicting theories of knowledge and their study was that surrounding the figure of Clifford Geertz. Underlying many of these debates are the differences between positivism and post-positivism (Alexander 1982:6; D'Andrade 1995:8-9; 248-9). I wanted to see how these reported differences were playing themselves out in anthropology because a rhetoric of discontinuity is extant in the published debate which conflicts with the rhetoric of continuity anthropologists use to create personal narratives. According to interviewed 5 sources and published accounts, certain questions coloured the debates about positivism and post-positivism. What kind of epistemology comes with fieldwork? (Whittaker 1981:446). How do the ethics involved with fieldwork relate to the theory of knowledge in anthropology?1 Alexander defines positivism as having a central postulate. This is "...that a radical break exists between empirical observations and nonempirical statements..." (1982:5), meaning that general metaphysical issues have no place in social science discussion. Hence, theoretical questions must be dealt with in reference to empirical fact (1982:7). Post-positivism, on the other hand, is defined as the theory of knowledge that began to displace positivism during the 1960s. Post-positivism has several major characteristics: a) the rejection of the observed as the only reality, b) the understanding of the written word to be a part of reality and not abstracted from it, and c) the rejection of the idea that language consists of definitions of things (Alexander 1982:30; 1990; 1990a). One major tenet of post-positivism is the idea that all scientific data are informed by theory (Whittaker 1981:447). The flux of positivist/post-positivist credos was much in evidence in the published record of anthropology during the period in which most of the participants in this study were trained (D'Andrade 1995:9; Douglas 1995:26-7; Geertz 1983:158[1982], 1984:264). It was also evident in the ethnographic material of this study. A few examples will serve to remind the reader of what were, and in some areas of anthropology perhaps still are, some of the major debates. Most of these debates included the positivist idea that reality is external from our minds. As well, many suggested that such an external reality is the ground of all experience. However, a post-positivist cultural construction of the world was also found in the debates. Following from this, such cultural constructions were seen as relative to a specific worldview. While many other debates could be examined, I think that this particular glance serves to ensconce the interview material in a wider context. Although conflicting methodologies of comprehension subsume topical interests, the important thing to note about all of the following debates 1 If "Fieldwork can be seen as an evolving dialectic in the negotiation of privacy" (Whittaker 1981:446), then shared meaning is created through the very act of interviewing, rather than that act representing a conversation about already given ideas. Epistemologically, knowledge becomes performative. Ethically, that performance must be consensual and historically conscious. 6 is that they serve to represent much of the epistemological spectrum in anthropology. Such a spectrum might be seen as having positivist and post-positivist poles. Near the pole of positivism for example, might be cultural items such as observable behaviours, material culture and technology, and subsistence patterns. Clustering near the pole of post-positivism one might find ideology and religion. Where to place kinship was indeed a profound problem for many anthropologists for a long time. As well, the positivist pole might attract base, materialism, etics, and structure. The post-positivist end of the spectrum might feature superstructure, ideology, emics, and sentiment. Without getting deeply into all the debates, one can get a flavour of their vitality and epistemological relevance from the debate between Levi-Strauss versus Geertz (in Geertz (1973:355-8 [1967]), where Levi-Strauss is accused of making actual "men" expendable to "man", and of creating "an infernal culture machine".2 Rather, Geertz argues that it is the actions of 'men' as public performances that constitute culture. 'Man' can be seen as a non-positivist concept because it is not observable nor subject to particular action. 'Men' and their particular observable actions inform a more positivistic notion. This may be ironic, as Geertz is often seen as non-positivist or anti-positivist. As well, Schneider versus L6vi-Strauss was another debate. The social order may be seen as positivist as it can be constructed from observables, whereas the symbolic order remained in an unobservable or ideal realm. Schneider (1965) asks if Levi-Strauss' separation of mind into intellect and emotions is necessary: "It is conceivable that if Levi-Strauss is concerned with the social order as a symbolic order, with the organization and configuration of that symbolic order, with the relationships between sub-systems of symbols, that the enormous weight, the almost indisputable weight, of 2 This debate echoes the one between Levi-Strauss and Ricoeur, where the former states: "the ultimate goal of the human sciences to be not to constitute but to dissolve man... [by] the reintegration of culture in nature and finally of life within the whole of its physico-chemical conditions [ ] As the mind too is a thing, the functioning of this thing teaches us something about the nature of things: even pure reflection is in the last analysis an internalization of the cosmos" (Levi-Strauss 1966:247-8 [1962]). Ricoeur replied that 'The consciousness of a validity of a method... is inseparable from the consciousness of its limits. These limits appear to me to be of two kinds: on the one hand it seems to me that the passage to the savage mind is made by favour of an example that is already too favourable, one which is perhaps an exception rather than an example. On the other hand, the passage from a structural science to a structuralist philosophy, seems to me to be not very satisfying and not even very coherent" (Ricoeur 1974:44-5 [1969]). 7 Freud's work on symbolism would serve him well... It is odd, too, that the non-logical and irrational character of the logic of the unconscious as Freud describes it should fail to appeal to Levi-Strauss" (1965:39). Schneider versus Needham was yet another theoretical debate. Schneider suggested that final cause or outcome cannot account for a cultural system. Instead, an efficient cause of emotion or sentiment directed certain patterns of kinship, notably the famous anthropological idiom of cross-cousin marriage. On the other hand, Needham replied that such sentimental or psychological reasons could not be applied to what was after all a sociological problem. Hence, in fact, an alliance theory was what promoted solidarity in societies with segmentary lineage systems, as well as dealing in that most valuable of 'commodities', women (Honigmann 1976:316ff, 280ff). Yet another example of the professional debate about method and knowledge in anthropology might be Leach's critiques: "Somehow [Malinowski] has so assimilated himself into the Trobriand situation that he is able to make the Trobriands a microcosm of the whole primitive world. And the same is true for his successors; for Firth, Primitive Man is a Tikopian, for Fortes he is a citizen of Ghana" (Leach 1961:1). Finally Harris was often cast as seemingly 'against the world': I should like to take this opportunity to apologize for what may appear at times as unnecessarily severe criticism of venerated colleagues, in both present and past generations. Although I have sought to avoid ad hominem discussions, it has seemed to me at this particular moment in the development of anthropological theory that critical judgements deserve priority over polite ones. It has certainly not been my intention to be disrespectful of the men and women who have devoted themselves, frequently with great personal courage and sacrifice, to the ideal of furthering the understanding of the ways of mankind. My interest throughout the writing of this book has been to advance the theoretical standing of anthropology among the social sciences (Harris 1968:7). At least one anthropologist remained unconvinced: "In the end, cultural materialism in Harris's hands amounts to mechanical determinism. The dynamic and variable interaction of the parts of culture are downplayed, and one is left with a neat but monotonous formula in which ideology and social organization are the puppets of technology" (Barrett 1984:50). 8 I will now summarize a few of the major themes of recent anthropological debate. Although only three of these will be explored in detail, all of the following themes must be regarded as important to the flux of theories of knowledge. Each of the anthropologists in this study was surrounded by a shifting cloud of interpretive paradigms. This flux is more noticeable at the level of theory as, by the 1970s, the post-positivist discourse was beginning to be accessed by anthropologists in North America. In practice, it is less noticeable. Perhaps this flux occupies a spectrum at opposing ends of which lie doctrinaire positivism and post-positivism. This shifting zone of anthropological debate is reflected in the relationship between ethnography and epistemology (Sperber 1982:32). The epidemiology of ideas' in anthropology permits many diagnoses, and which should be rethought during each prescription (Sperber 1982:30). Just one example is found in the work of Paul Rabinow (1977;1991). His work is related to the explication of discourse in Foucault (1970[1966],1979[1975]) and is ultimately important for anthropological epistemology. This is so because the positivist notion of physical reality is undermined. The way in which we know the world is seen as historical, and not value-free. Prior theories are seen to construct present ethnographies, rather than vice-versa. In more recent anthropology, a shifting milieu of epistemologies is given voice by the critique of functionalism and of structural-functionalism by Jarvie (1964). The fallacy of affirming the consequent is suggested as a logical error of functionalist ethnography, in that the social system, created by the disparate variables of culture, was seen as itself their creator (1964:44-7). Later criticism attacked interpretive ethnography (Clifford and Marcus 1986; Fabian 1983; McGrane 1989; Tyler 1987). As well, the critiques evoked by feminist theory (Moore 1988; Rosaldo 1986; Strathern 1972) are instrumental. The varying clouds of shifting anthropological debate include structuralism and its major representative, L6vi-Strauss (1969[1949], 1966[1962], 1966[1964]). Structuralism's relationship to the linguistics of de Saussure (1991[1916]) and Jakobson (1962) is well known. Structuralism can be defined as the strategy of explaining parts of discourse by looking, not at the terms which make up discourse, but at the relations between these terms. This amounted to a rejection of positivist inclinations. Although one can observe only terms, it was not their observability that was important but the 9 structural relation between them. Le>i-Strauss' thought has many guises within anthropology. It can be found in studies of language, kinship, myth, social structure, and is encountered in debates with functionalism, hermeneutics, Marxism, and positivism. In general, the notion of structure is non-positivistic. However, the structure which structuralism suggested as being a foundation for reality can also be seen as positivist in that a reality based framework also houses many of the latter's aspirations. Marxism in anthropology is seen to be 'structuralist Marxism' in Godelier (1975[1973],1975), and 'classical Marxism' in Bloch (1975). Here, the positivist understanding of the technological modes of production and the observable lifestyles of actors in capitalism were reconstructed. They were taken to be manifestations of the deeper realities of relations to production and consumption. One finds in Marxism a rejection of some of the positivist conceptions of work, labour, value, production and reproduction. For positivism, these concepts were functions of the reality of the capitalist marketplace. They were also subject to humanly motivated market forces. However, with Marxism, a different understanding altered these conceptions by assuming an entirely different context. In a word, conflict replaced co-operation as a leitmotif of analysis. Feminist anthropology and its dynamic relationship with all other theoretical forms is yet another example of a shifting cloud of debate within which contemporary anthropologists must speak and work. Moore (1988) gives a general history of this work, and texts such as Rosaldo (1986) and Tuana (1989) relate feminist work to theories of social science and science respectively. In Fox (1980), one finds an examination and critique of development planning and its relegation of women to stereotyped roles, some of which are also examined in Sanday and Goodenough (1990). Along with the sociology of knowledge and Marxism, feminist work holds that no knowledge is ideologically free (Cole and Phillips 1995). Past ways of knowing are inextricably bound up in a male-centred epistemological regime. Knowledge is produced for and by a certain audience. This often excludes women. Instead, post-positivist feminism inserts a female viewpoint. It remakes epistemological awareness so that there is a fundamentally recognized female existence in human knowledge. 10 Another area of concern is within the various anthropologies of language. Examples include the ethnography of speaking in Pike (1967[1954]), Hymes (1964; 1974) and Gumperz (1971; 1974). As well, the cognitive linguistics in D'Andrade (1981) are important. Stephen Tyler and his serial relationships with the cognitive (1969), the hermeneutic (1978), and deconstructive (1987), respectively are also of interest to changing theories. The positivistic conception that there was an underlying structure to language in general was partially rejected. Once again there is a movement from observables to deep structure. However, this theme moved beyond the structuralist relations to a post-positivist context. Interpretation, or the art of understanding as opposed to describing, has also been a major theme in anthropology.3 This movement towards post-positivism included the idea that one no longer simply applied a set of prejudged tenets to observed data. This procedure had explained human actions by motives mechanically derived from predefined categories of social systems. Events, however, have a history, and are also in some sense created by the anthropologist (Evans-Pritchard 1951:19; 88). Instead, human interaction and the context of social events were "local". Hence, knowledge and experience of them must also be local. One needed to interpret cultural events using local meaning or the "native's point of view". One had to transfer allegiance from positivist epistemological assumptions to allegiance to the locals' theory of knowledge. This shift is generally associated with Clifford Geertz (1973;1983,T987). In his work one finds a relationship to 1) local knowledge as the "stock of knowledge at hand" and "multiple realities" from Schutz (1967:3-47[1953] and 1967:207-256[1945]) and 2) hermeneutics in Ricoeur (1965[1955], 1971[1991], 1981;1993[1992]). Also, there is an influence due to the 3 Interpretation theory may be found in Gadamer (1988[1960],1986[1977]) and Ricoeur (1981;1993[1992]). The discourse analysis of power relations in the academy and the sciences are explored by Bourdieu and Passeron (1992[1970]), Bourdieu (1988[1984j) and Latour (1986). The difference between hermeneutic thinkers and semiotic ones and their analyses can be summed up by Alexander: "For Dilthey, 'within' means returning to the patterns of subjective experience. For Saussure, it means seeking out the internal relationships of words" (1990:9). As well, Alexander (1990:10) suggests that "Marxist, semiotic, and functionalist cultural theories all have their viable contemporary versions. Hermeneutics, by contrast, is a general sensibility that affects most contemporary practice". It is language which forms a basis for the comparison and contrasting of interview themes. Seidman agrees: "The routines of daily life are maintained only by achieving mutual understanding. Interpretation is not only a specialized method of social science but a practical accomplishment that makes social life possible" (1990:217). 11 positivism of Nagel (1949[1944],1961), as well as the Verstehen of Weber (1963[1904], and Abel 1953[1948]). Texts began to take on realities of their own. The positivist tenet that observable events and actions in nature and culture were the essence of reality was rejected (Sahlins 1976:196-7). Instead, the post-positivist understands texts to be reality. During the interviews, few speakers failed to mention Geertz as a major factor at least once in our conversations.4 Geertz (1973;1983) presents cultural meaning of social events in a new way. He puts an important assumption to work in the interpretive realm. Meaning is shared and is public in nature, not just individual. It is the relationship between the socially meant and the individually intended that gives culture its shared meaning. If we are to see things from the native's point of view, we must use what actors say about any particular event in tandem with what they actually do. Alexander remarks, "Geertz insists that it is the actors and the event that create this structure, not the structure that creates the event" (1990:15). We have to deal with various arenas of meaning. These include the ethnographer's individual understanding and anthropology's understanding. Obviously, the cultural actor's understanding must be included in any analysis. In sum, much of Geertz's influence in anthropology is due to the gradual introduction of interpretive themes to a scientific or 'reality-based' framework. Some of the recent changes from description to interpretation in anthropological theory are in large part a reflection of this discussion and tension. Marxism and Anthropology: a Brief Review A renaissance in Marxist interpretations applying to anthropological theory and ethnographic works was realized by the early 1970s (Bloch 1975; Godelier 1973). Engel's statement "According to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the final instance, the production and reproduction of the immediate essentials of life" (1946:5[1884]) sums up this work. This meant each culture must find a way to supply its material needs. The idea that "...within this structure of society based on kinship groups the 4 I discuss Geertz's influences in detail below. 12 productivity of labour increasingly develops, and with it, private property and exchange, differences of wealth, the possibility of utilizing the labour power of others and hence the basis of class antagonisms..." (1946:6[1884]), is interpreted as being counterproductive to the positive image of a new science. Interest in variants of Marxist theory was regenerated in anthropology in the 1950s. Questioning the ways of knowing in anthropology was a focus of this development: In adopting Marx's materialism as the epistemological horizon of critical work in the social sciences, we must discover and examine, by ways yet to be found, the invisible network of causes linking together forms, functions, modes of articulation and the hierarchy, appearance, and disappearance of [ ] social structures (Godelier 1977:2[1973]). Godelier anticipated no return to Marx. However, any analysis that presumed Marx's texts must be prepared to show how social structures, no matter in what form or society, produced and reproduced forms of inequality. As well, it must show how these social structures were always in conflict with one another (1977:4-5[1973]). It is in conflict and manifestations of such conflict that the investigator can glimpse the deeper structure of human relations: "Thus, in continuities and ruptures such as these, the unintentional inner properties of social structures are always manifest, and the very contradictions which arise in these structures have their basis in these properties" (1977:5[1973]). The parallel to Levi-Strauss, in his analysis of the deeper relations hidden and yet revealed by the forms of myth, should be clear: ...for Levi-Strauss, as well as for Marx, structures are not directly visible or observable realities, but levels of reality which exist beyond man's visible relations and whose functioning constitutes the deeper logic of a social system - the underlying order by which the apparent order must be explained (Godelier 1977:45[1973]). The idea is that we have yet to discover that the manner in which the human universe works is common to structuralism and to Marxism in their nascent stages. As both progress, they are endowed with the same confident tendencies we have seen in positivist science - that the natural world will eventually be explained (Railton 1991:763[1984]). In fact, positivist terms like 'explanation', 'cause' and 'effect', and 'answer', 'correctness' and others are 13 often found in the introductions to methodology sections of various Marxist pieces. For instance, commenting on the famous statement to the the effect that "all history is a history of class struggle" (Marx and Engels 1965:1 [1844]), Terray suggests that it is an epistemological a priori. Thus "If all history may be regarded as the history of class confrontation, it is because class is, as it were, the place where the various dimensions of social life... intersect" (1975:86). Kahn continues the trend: "Crisis is then the result of rising rice prices. It is interesting to speculate on the possible causes of this" (1975:150). Friedman (1975:172) tells us that "The supernature [sic] projection of the lineage structure is not... a simple reflection of a more concrete social reality. It is an integral part of that reality." Such examples tend to undermine the differences the Marxist anthropologists are attempting to put forward in the face of positivist hegemony. By using that very language, they posit a hidden reality to be exposed by analysis. These examples seem unfaithful to Marx himself in that he argues: The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, supplant the criticism of weapons; material force must be overthrown by material force. But theory, too, will become material force as soon as it seizes the masses. Theory is capable of seizing the masses as soon as its proofs are ad hominem and its proofs are ad hominem as soon as it is radical. To be radical is to grasp the matter by the root. But for man the root is man himself (Marx 1977:69[1842]). Yet the means for a movement from positivism to post-positivist is clearly within the Marxist anthropological texts. Alexander (1982:69) mentions that within all the texts of Marx there is a synthesis of both materialism and praxis. For example, Kahn suggests that the critique of idealism might be overblown. However, Marx and Engels (1973[1845]) demonstrate that a radical shift in ways of knowing the world is part of historical materialism. This shift emphasizes "...the poverty inherent in empiricism when faced with history" (Kahn 1975:155). As well, Godelier (1975:14) criticises the positivists when they assume that the visible and the invisible are one and the same. For example, hierarchies in institutions are different from how hierarchies order social relations. The former is what we can observe. The latter is what we must subject to analysis. Such an analysis means we must go beyond what Marx accomplished: 14 Therefore to discover the deep logic of the history of societies it is necessary to go beyond the structural analysis of 'forms' of social relations or of thought, and to try to detect the effects of the various 'structures' on each other, and their hierarchical arrangement and articulation resting on the base of their particular modes of production (Godelier 1975:15). In fact, the ontological premise which Marx outlines is too radical for some analyses to uncover. Since existence is socially constructed (Firth 1975:32[1972]), it calls for a reflexive Marxism. Firth suggests that Marx's "...notion of the material world around us is a materialization of man's praxis, man's productive activity in history, is not just an assertion that nature is man made; it also implies that man's understanding of the material world is a reflection of his own social world" (1975:32[1972]). If we are not reflexive, we might commit the same errors as the positivists. Through reflexivity we can understand Marxist anthropology. During this period, Marxist anthropologists stress Marx's liberating force. Many problems once seen as intractable by some students, or accepted as givens by others, are worked out: "The Marxist approach must transcend the false dichotomy between synchrony and diachrony by making the object of analysis the system of social reproduction, a system whose properties can only be defined with respect to time" (Friedman 1975:162). Yet controversy remains within Marxist anthropology. One example is particularly telling. Godelier suggests that anthropologists have no theory of modes of production. One must be developed from ethnographic material (Godelier 1975[1973]:3).5 Such schemes are supposed to account for cross-cultural modes of production. These schemes constitute Marxism's major theoretical contributions and ethnographic interpretations. The mode of production as culturally constructed was seen as a "revolution in the concept of Nature" in that nature herself became cultural (Engels 1946:32[1894]). This idea underlines the post-positivist aspect of Marxism. In exposing dogmatism, Marxism and anthropology may be seen as having their closest ethical ties. Marxism does this by analysing the inequalities in social relations. Anthropology does it by relativizing the values of different cultures. 5 Other writers on Marxism, however, do not agree. Hindess and Hirst argue there cannot be such a construction as a general theory (1975:320). 15 Dogmatism has its roots in ideology. The manner in which individuals relate their existence to their material conditions may be defined as ideology (Feuchtwang 1975:70). For Marxists, all ideology has explicit reference to a social hierarchy. It is this which must be investigated cross-culturally. However, because "They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented" (quoted in Terray 1975:92), non-Europeans might be seen as being incapable of self-representation (Wolf 1982). Linguistics and Shifting Epistemologies in Anthropology: Another aspect of anthropology which participated in the flux of positivist/ post-positivist epistemologies is anthropological linguistics. Along with many defenses of positivist notions, this flux witnesses several different and often conflicting rejections of positivism. They are: a) the rejection of a deeper and foundational level of reality, b) the rejection of the notion that text and language were not real, and c) the rejection of the idea that the role of language was to clarify the definitions of words (see Tyler's (1978:465ff) rejection of nomenclature in this regard). The positivist arena in linguistics and anthropology is well defined by Pike's work (1967[1954]). Linguistic analyses of culture could be made more objective through applying linguistic methodology in doing ethnography. Pike uses apple pie analogies and traditional examples from the American social scene in the 1950s, (a pseudo-evangelical church, a college football game). Pike takes the reader from the surface to the depths and from what we see to what it means to see it within a particular cultural context, he attempts to demonstrate the ways in which culture and language structure our experience. His method has two aspects: the descriptive or 'etic', using analytical distinctions not part of any particular culture or language, and 'emic', or distinctions that are particular to a language or culture. Emic sameness thus can be etic difference. Anthropologically speaking, the native's notions can be labelled 'emic', and the researcher's are called 'etic', suffixes borrowed from the linguistic notions of phonemic and phonetic. As well, sociolinguistics to be seen in Hymes (1964; 1974) and Gumperz (1971) are foreshadowed in Pike (see Gumperz and Hymes 1966; Hammel 1965).6 Hymes (1974) suggests that it is 16 the way ideas are communicated that is the key to understanding them. The social context of communication remains paramount. Perhaps the meanings appropriate to each social situation could be studied ethnographically (1974:76). In studying language this way, the bases of linguistics will also be challenged and changed (Hymes 1974:vii-x). Hymes, along with Gumperz, used an ethnographic focus in renewing anthropological interest in the study of language as used. Performance and linguistic competence could be directly linked through the positivistic observation of the former and the interpolation of the latter (Gumperz and Hymes 1966). Hymes' (1964) large edited volume, pieces are culled from across anthropology. Tyler's (1969) edited volume concentrates on the cognitive aspect from Hymes' work. It was the Chomskian 'revolution' that in part gave impetus to linguistic anthropology during this time, by opposing transformational grammar and deep structure to the text based analyses of Pike. Linguistics was in a period of radical change during this period. 7 It was Chomsky who announced a revolution in epistemology in linguistics. Language was seen as a unique and inherently human capacity, but one which was also universally available to us. This capacity had a structure which manifested itself in oral performance. With Chomsky, grammar thus becomes rules for generating correct sentences, not their particular performance. As well, a type of linguistics became a study of this universal grammar's logic. ^ It is Pike (1967[1954]), and later Hymes (1974), who continue Sapir's vast legacy in linguistic anthropology. It is interesting to note that both referenced monographs are dedicated to Sapir. 7 There was also a taking stock occurring. Many histories of linguistics were appearing. For example, Robins suggests that the study of language follows directly from a growing human self-awareness (1967:2). There were also attempts to create a total history of linguistics as an evolution from the Greeks onward, ending with Chomsky. In Europe, transformational linguistics with its scientific aspirations was more recognizable than in North America (Robins 1967:229-231). Reviews of contemporary linguistics were also extant. For example, Postman and Weingartner (1966) cover documents for teaching in composition and linguistics, speeches, lectures, and exercises, as well as local histories of aspects of the discipline. Of special interest are their epistemological comments. These often have implications beyond linguistics. For example, some reviewers suggest many of science's most curious innovations are the result of changes in semantics (Postman and Weingartner 1966:133). Tyler takes up this theme to critique formal hegemonies in the sciences (Tyler 1978). As well, works on the acquisition of language and psychological and philosophical theories of linguistics were also current (Vygotsky 1962[1934]; Merleau-Ponty 1973[1964]). 17 Chomsky suggested that in spite of the immense diversity of human languages as documented by ethnographic work, there were still deeper structures common to all. Surface structure indeed existed in the multiplicity of tongues. This Babel, however, was not echoed in the forms which underlay different languages, and which allowed humans use of language in general: It is commonly held that modern linguistic and anthropological investigations have conclusively refuted the doctrines of classical universal grammar, but this claim seems to me very much exaggerated. Modern work has, indeed, shown a great diversity in the surface structures of languages. However, since the study of deep structure has not been its concern, it has not attempted to show a corresponding diversity of underlying structures, and, in fact, the evidence that has been accumulated in modern study of language does not appear to suggest anything of this sort. The fact that languages differ from one another quite significantly in surface structure would hardly have come as a surprise to the scholars who developed traditional universal grammar (Chomsky 1965:118). The void of research concerning deep structure is evident to Chomsky as not merely the result of a deficiency in attention paid to the subject. Instead, he suggests that inherent in the epistemology of empiricism there is a lack of ability to understand that which is to be found beneath the surface. Chomsky's structuralism is kindred with seventeenth-century philosophical rationalism.8 It is opposed to empiricism in the sense that rationalism holds that there is a template innate to the human mind which serves as the basis 8 This sentiment is repeated throughout one of Chomsky's most seminal texts, Aspects of a Theory of Syntax (1965): 'To say that formal properties of the base will provide the framework for the characterization of universal categories is to assume that much of the structure of the base is common to all languages. This is a way of stating the traditional view, whose origins can be traced back at least to the Grammaire generate et raisonee [1660]" (Chomsky 1965:117). As well: "Real progress in linguistics consists in the discovery that certain features of given languages can be reduced to universal properties of language, and explained in terms of these deeper aspects of linguistic form" (1965:35). Once again: "A general linguistic theory of the sort roughly described earlier, and elaborated in more detail in the following chapters and in other studies of transformational grammar, must therefore be regarded as a specific hypothesis, of an essentially rationalist cast, as to the the nature of mental structures and processes" (1965:53). Further, such a theory aims at displacing what Chomsky may feel is an empirical hegemony over the study of language: "...the empiricist effort to show how the assumptions about a language- acquisition device can be reduced to a conceptual minimum is quite misplaced. The real problem is that of developing a hypothesis about initial structure that is sufficiently rich to account for acquisition of language, yet not so rich to be inconsistent with the known diversity of language" (1965:58). Chomsky states that if such an hypothesis disagrees with "...centuries of empiricist doctrine..." this is a matter of mere historical interest (1965:58). 18 allowing language acquisition can occur, and upon which the performance of language is staged (1965:51). Empiricism in linguistics suggests, however, that "...language is essentially an adventitious construct, taught... relatively independent in its structure of any innate mental faculties" (1965:51). The debate is stark if one, on the one hand, sees rationalism as holding to a structure which is fixed in advance and imposes rigid limits on what humans can think or learn, or how they can speak, and on the other, suggests that empiricism writes on the blank slate of the human mind through the scribe of experience only. This historical difference is analogous to the positivist/post-positivist debate. 9 The former suggests, similar to empiricism, that it is sense experience which is important, whereas the latter, as embodied in anthropology through structuralism, Marxism, phenomenology and others, attempts to offer a deeper view. Chomsky cannot himself be characterized as being strictly within either camp, and suggests that neither rationalism nor empiricism need, or can, be completely distinguished (1965:52). As well, he favors a dialogue between sense and mind, perception and acquisition that he sees in rational discussions of language. Innate and latent structures may well be activated by experience and then would become subject to interpretation (1965:51). Portions of Chomsky's linguistic analyses can be seen as rewriting a rationalist epistemology (1965:172). He attempts to incorporate traditional analyses with his own, but always with a view to aid in the exposition of not only deep structures, but to eventually construct a grammar. These incorporations may have minute beginnings, as with a lexical index: "We see that with a slight extension of conventional notations the systematic use of complex symbols permits a fairly simple and informative statement of one of the basic processes of sub-classification" (1965:95). Here, symbols which are already extant in other kinds of linguistic analysis may be turned from their previously descriptive tasks to an analysis which sheds light on the limits different permutations of rules set on grammatical correctness. Through 9 Neither positive nor post-positive, numerous hints throughout the text suggest interesting links between Chomsky and post-modernism (see for example 1965:36 where description is devalued, 1965:182 where his analysis of erasure operations verges onto the Derridean concept of supplement, and 1965:184 where the problem of homonymity suggests iterability and the undecidable structure of certain concepts which hold within them their own oppositions (Derrida 1967a:73; 161; 164). See also Chomsky 1965:168; however, where the concepts of arbitrary and nature are still at least hueristically distinguished. 19 continuity of epistemological limits, Chomsky is also able to criticise his previous work (1965:99). Rationalistic overtones, however, pervade his text. In discussing the component of 'base', he suggests its function has a kind of inevitable weight: "In fact, its role is that of defining the grammatical relations that are expressed in the deep structure and that therefore determine the semantic interpretation of a sentence" (1965:99). Within a grammar, the syntactic component includes its own theme and variations, the base and transformational components respectively (1965:141). It is the base, however, which ultimately provides the material not only to generate permutations but by which new sentences are recognized. As well, syntax is recursive and self-referencing in a manner very different from empiricist notions of referentiality in terms of words and things (1965:146). Through these limits, it is "...the grammar which assigns semantic interpretations to signals..." (1965:141). At the time, the lack of evidence for universal grammar and deep structures was explained by Chomsky as due to scholarly ignorance of "...relevant psychological and physiological facts..." (1965:160). Semantics, or what a sentence means, which is subject to the conflict of interpretations, might be in part reduced to syntactics (1965:158), and thus available meaning might be generated by rules imbedded in syntax, even though Chomsky also discusses interpretation as a function of selection by rules manifest in semantics proper. He admits that there remained something unexplained about semantics that lay beyond both surface and deep structures (1965:163). Although at the time mainly concerned with the syntactic component of a generalized grammar, and thereby distancing himself from both hermeneutic and positivistic endeavours, both semantics (the subject of interpretation) and phonetics (amenable to empirical work) were implicated in Chomsky's work: Consequently, the syntactic component of a grammar must specify, for each sentence, a deep structure that determines its semantic interpretation and a surface structure that determines its phonetic interpretation. The first of these is interpreted by the semantic component; the second, by the phonological component (1965:16). 20 What makes Chomsky's grammar transformational is, in essence, that there exist certain innate limitations in and to cognition that allow only a certain amount of the potentially infinitely iterable phrases constructed with a lexicon to become sentences in a 'well-formed surface structure' (1965:143). Following from this, it seemed to Chomsky that the structures of both the semantic and phonetic components functioned analogously with that syntactic.1 0 He proceeds with various other simplifications to his previous theories (1965:144-7). It is also important to recognize that human communication as it is pragmatically and actually realized in speech acts may have little to do with that speaker's knowledge of language. In Chomsky, 'knowledge' means neither knowledge for, nor knowledge of, as the former is like a blueprint and the latter conscious awareness of content and description. Chomskian knowledge is defined through his notion of competence: We thus make a fundamental distinction between competence (the speaker-hearer's knowledge of his language) and performance (the actual use of language in concrete situations). Only under the idealization set forth... is performance a direct reflection of competence. In actual fact, it obviously could not directly reflect competence (1965:4). Due to the vagaries and inconsistencies involved in speaking and hearing, each one of us through speech occludes the relation between our pragmatic abilities and our innate knowledge1 1, which Chomsky feels is fundamental to linguistic study and language acquisition: The problem for the linguist, as well as for the child learning the language, is to determine from the data of performance the underlying system of rules that has been mastered by the speaker-hearer and that he puts to use in actual performance, hence, in the technical sense, linguistic theory is mentalistic, since it is concerned with discovering a mental reality underlying actual behavior (1965:4). 1 0 'Thus the syntactic component consists of a base that generates deep structures and a transformational part that maps them into surface structures. The deep structure of a sentence is submitted to the semantic component for semantic interpretation, and its surface structure enters the phonological component and undergoes phonetic interpretation. The final effect of a grammar, then, is to relate a semantic interpretation to a phonetic representation - that is, to state how a sentence is interpreted" (1965:135-6). 1 1 This distinction in structure is similar to Freud's depths and surfaces in that both Chomsky and Freud posited a level below conscious awareness and therefore not subject to empirical analysis. In one, a universal grammar; in the other, a universal unconscious. 21 Chomsky continues by suggesting that the speaker-hearer will most likely be unaware of these rules, and may in many cases remain so. 1 2 As well, ethnographic statements regarding such a system of rules may be inaccurate. Such a sentiment puts Chomsky firmly within the structuralist camp of Freud, Marx, and Levi-Strauss. Freud's psychoanalysis, Marx's alienated consciousness, and L6vi-Strauss' disbelief of local emic interpretations are all examples of what may be the inevitable weight of broaching a theory which purports to attain a deeper level of reality than that empirical or even 'natural'. Yet this is exactly what Chomsky suggested was important: Any interesting generative grammar will be dealing, for the most part, with mental processes that are far beyond the level of actual or even potential consciousness; furthermore, it is quite apparent that a speaker's reports and viewpoints about his behavior and his competence may be in error. Thus a generative grammar attempts to specify what the speaker actually knows, not what he may report about his knowledge (1965:8). This in turn creates methodological problems. In posing a break with empiricist epistemology, Chomsky also necessitates at least a partial rupture with its methods. Although speech as recorded in situations of actuation, rather than direct evidence of the speaker's actual knowledge, will remain important in determining underlying reality, this ev