Maureen Therese Anderson manders at
Thu Mar 11 10:35:18 PST 1999

Rakesh wrote:

>I can't let peer judgement have much weight in this case since Obeysekere
>seems to be challenging the extreme cultural relativism that he claims has
>become dominant in post Boasian anthro.

Cultural relativism may be dominant in post-Boasian anthro, but post-Boasian anthro isn't dominant in the discipline. By "peers," I mean those Sixties- children currently at the helms of the elite departments and journals, drawing crowds at their conference panels, and so forth.

>Judging Sahlins by the title of his rejoinder *How Natives
>Think*, one would think there was a return to Levy Bruhl here. At any rate,
>I can't imagine the debate is a simple one--though apparently it has been
>quite a polemical one (take note, Doug!) And I shouldn't judge books by
>their covers.

This is one book you're allowed to judge more by its cover. "Natives" is in quotations, referencing his sense of irony about the whole accusation. The irony would surely have been clearer had MS kept his first title. He'd originally intended his response to take the form of one of those 18th century polemical pamphlets, with corresponding title: " 'Natives' versus Anthropologists; Or, How Gananath Obeyesekere Turned the Hawaiians into Bourgeois Realists on the Grounds They Were 'Natives' Just Like Sri Lankans, in Opposition to Anthropologists and Other Prisoners of Western Mythical Thinking." (Yes, indeed polemical.)

>As I mentioned in private correspondence, I found quite interesting Stephen
>Lukes' criticism of Levy Bruhl in the volume he edited with Martin Hollis
>Rationality and Relativism (something like that). I wonder if Lukes'
>argument would lend support to Ob against MS. At any rate, if I read these
>texts, I would surely find that they have worked through Levy Bruhl, Levi
>Strauss, Piaget, Godelier, Horton, Foucault, Halpike, Lukes, Mudimbe,
>Worsley etc at a very high level of sophistication. It must be fun to be
>an anthropologist. I am sad that I won't have time to think this through
>(I have to determine the strength of the evidence for the Brenner thesis
>that intl competition reduced the nominal output-capital ratio and therwith
>the rates of profit and accumulation in the OECD, giving rise to first much
>excess capacity that was not easily liquidated and then to nasty bourgeois
>reactions such as wage cutting, intensification of labor, competitive
>devaluations and the like--any thoughts?

Must be fun to be an economist. You get to use lots more impressive guy-words than we do. BTW does the parallel dispute about economics (Polanyi, etc.) only take place in other disciplines, or do economists ever argue about it amongst themselves? And who is Halpike?


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