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crisis of representation

by Maria Villa Largacha - Tuesday, 22 January 2019, 4:26 PM

Once one has, as researcher, embraced the idea of "weak knowledge" or "situated knowledge" that constructionism somehow secures, how can one navigate the political and epistemological sustainability of this type of research? 

Alternatively put: once we have become aware of the power relations shaping disciplines, and colonial (or generally Eurocentric, anthropocentric, etc) perspectives shaping institutional agendas and everyday practices where research is structured, how may one find an acceptable ground (premises, methodologies) to building knowledge? The mere act of choosing or representing a phenomena or object of study, 'the other' of our interest, is bound to superimpose on them a series of philosophical or empirical categories of which we may not be even conscious of, and that have the risk of being loaded with questionable assumptions embedded in our specific cultural and political point of view.

For an overview of the anthropological discussion see "Writing Culture" (1986), by G. Marcuse and J. Clifford, a key volume for redefinitions of anthropology regarding issues such as who should do fieldwork (e.g., people “at home” in the field or “native” anthropologists); how it should be done (e.g., collaboratively, including “informants”; in a reflexive way, problematizing “culture” and being sensitive to issues of gender, race, and class; or tracing the translocal in multiple localities); what topics should be studied (e.g., the “home” countries of anthropology, Western knowledge and science, or literary practices); and how the results should be ethnographically represented (e.g., experimentally). 

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