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Asad (1973) - Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter Opt

Asad (1973) - Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter Opt

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"
INTRODUcnON
Talal Al8d.
British functional anthropology began to emerge as a dislinclive
discipline shorlly after lhe First World War through lhe efforts of
Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown; but it was not unlil after lhe
Second World War that it 8;1ined an assured academic status in the
universities, Compared Wilh the two decade' before lhe Second
World War an enormous quantity of anthropological writing was
published in the two decades after it. Within this brief period its
claim 10 academic respeclability was virtually unchallenged. By
1961 a prominent sociologist could write that "social anlhropology
is, among other things, a small but I think flourishing profession.
The subject, like social work and unlike sociology, has preslige",'
A few years later a political scienlist contrasled social anlhropology
favourably with sociology, declaring 01at unlike the laller, bUl
like the olher bona fide social sciences, social anlhropology "had
built up a body of knowledge which cannnt readily be described a,
anything "else",11
Functional anthropology had barely secured its enviable academic
reputation when some serious misgivings began (0 make themselves
felt from within the established profession. In 1961, Leach claimed
that "functionalist doctrine [has] ceased to carry conviction",' Five
later Worsley wrote his trenchant critiqiJe under the signifl..
"
'Donald 0, Macrae, Idrology {lIId Soc/tlY. London, 1961. p. 36,
'W. G. Runciman... .. in EIICIJUllltT. Oeoembcr. 1965. Vol. XXV.
No.6, p. 41.
'Eo R. Leach. A","wl'0logy. London, 1961, p. 1.
I

.,
_ A
TALAL ASAD
thay see as a sign of h II
more positiVe! t a Intellectual vitallt of
ara stlll vlablaJ; they affirm that classic And
Yet Wa would a 1St assumptions
such bland ba well·advlsed not to be .
leaders to After all, it is a by
continuity. Thera at least tha myth if not th/ of .cstabhshment
something has "bel no doubt that at the o.f smooth
as Ardene a ready happened .. ' eo og.cal level
tion of th: this event Is anthrop'ology"
Naw. ropology rather than as een as a dislntegra·
Thera wi' a crystallization of the
'ts as a t ma when soc' I
define
IS to obtain and axtend sl.:;rtl
y
arter the s;;:pe
commonly understood \va w ge. In social anthr I ar,
society to attempt to extend our kn °Pf ogy as it is
hterale societies' . Il'v communities, 'simpler owt
dge
of man
only interested :'. anthropologist asks n .. cs·. or 'pre-
p!imitivc society writ arc
SImply that our own sr:, t our own civilization turn to
not tha sarna as .e y IS not the onion ... , e answer is
society" \I Statem those found, or apt toY bee'fand Its phenomena
. ents of th' k' ound i .. .
cated concern for the d fi . md do not indicate ' n pflmtltve
of b:t
his gh
ave
social an·
seemed reason n ro uclton to Social A t ruc ard published
clear :-vhat subjoct ,:" 195 I, it
hvmg among them studics primitive s ut: ,The. social
search is usuall from r months or years. whereas ocle!,es directly,
a?thropo.logist and largely
g'es. their ceono . ,es as wholes-he s . . e soclOl
ramily and kinshi'::'cs, th.eir. legal and oecolo-
I' organizations the,'r I" Institutions thel'r
• re Iglons th . •
reccnl anlhropolo' I' ' elr tcchnologies.
The SctpllcaJ A JRterest in Ma . .
Social Briti'h Academy lect
th: I;"roduetion b M ogy am/ Marxist V/"ws
"See (0 vo umes in the ASA M ax Gluckman and
Social Science series. Fred Eggan 10
liS. P N"ad4 • ndon. 1968 arch Council's R
. a cit Tilt Foutlda'io,,; of S i I III Social .
oc a AIII"rnpology Lo d • non, 1953, p. 2.
'Ro,lney Needh.m, '''The Fulure of Sodal AnlhropololY: Disintesralio
n
or Metamorphosis?" in Anniversary Conrribll
tiollS
'" An,hropology:
Essays. t.eiden,'1970, p. 36 and p. 37.
'Edwin Arden
er
, ''I1\e. NeW AnthropoloSY .nd its CritiCS" in Mon N. S.
Vol. 6, No. 3, Seplember 19?I, p. 449.
'I1\c most inlerestinS of these include B.n.i
i
, "Cri,i. in British Anthro-
pology", N<>v Uti R,vi'W, No. 64, 1970, Copano, "pour une hi,toi,. et
une ,odoloS
i
• des 6tude. Africain...., Cahfers des lIudes Alrical
n
" No. 43.
1971. and Leclerc, AII,hrop<>lagl, " Colonialism" Paris. 1972-
'Se. for .xampl. I. M. Lew
i
., In"oductio
n
to HI'/ory alld Social AlIllrr
o
,
poloBY. London, 1968, p. xv. .
'It i' Ihi' lin' of reasoning Ihat Firlh adopl' to espl.in and ,ndarse the
\0
cant title "The End of Anthropology?" By 1970 Needham was
arguing Ihal social anthropOlogy "has no unitary and continuous
past sO far as ideas are "Nor is Ihere any luch Ihlng
as a rigorouS and coherenl body of theory proper 10 social anlhro,
pology".' A year later Ardener observed Ihat, "something h...
already happencd to Brilish anthropology (and to international
anthropology in related ways such Ihatfor practical purposes text·
books which looked useful, no longer are: monographs·whlch used
to appear exhaustive now seem selective: interpretations which once
looked full of insighl now seem mechanical and lifeless",'
The plausibility of the anthropolOgical enterprise which seemed
so self-evident 10 all its practilioners a mere decade ago. is now no
longer quite sO self_evident. A small minorily, apart from the names
just menlioncd, has begun to articulate its doubts in radical terms.'
What has happened to British social anthropology?
At the organisational level nothing very disturbing has happened.
On lhe contrary, the Associalion of socia' Anthropologists
flourishes as never before: il holds annual academic conferences
whose proceedings are regularly published in handsome hardcover
and paperback editions. Monographs, articles' and text;boo
ks
by
writers calling themselves anthropOlogists appear in increasing
number. A prestigioUS series of annual lectures on social anthro-
pology has recenlly been launched under Ihe auspiCes oflhe British
Academy. The subject is noW laught in more university and college
dcpartm
enls
than ever: the profession is even negotlaling 10 intro·
duee it as a sixth.form oplion in schools. seen in lerms of its public
aclivity. Ihere is no crisis in social anthropology.'
On Ihe whole. professlona' leaders of British anthropology are
not impressed by alarmist talk ahout crisis.' They would maintain,
if pressed. Ihat as the older ideas of socia" anlhropology beCame
.exhausled. it was natural that one should turn to fresh sources of
supply.' So they prefer to talk of increasing specialisation, which
lNTI'-ODUCT\ON
13
these COuntries in tho planned devolopment.of national nelworb of
communlcatlons, electrlflcatlon and broadcastlllg; the promotlon
of educatlon 8/ld of rural· improvement projects; ihe shift of
POlitical POWer from 'tribal' leaders to the nationalistic bourgeoisIe.
Mainly. as a of nationalist expectations, scholars
began to recover an indigenous history." Some nationalist writers
denounCed the colonial connections of anthropology, Thus Increas.
Ingly the larger polltlcal·economlc system thrust Itsclf obtrusively
into tho anthropologist's Iramework, as did the' relevanco' 01 tho
past, both colonial and Pre-colonial. At anolher level. mounting
criticism 01 tho IlUIctlonallst tradition In American mainstream
SOCiology contributed Indirectly towards the undermining of lunc_
tlonallsl doctrine In BritlYlt social anlhropology." Since It.had n.ever
adequately "'&rIfled Ifte dlstlnction between. a tOlallslng molhod (in
whIch the lonnatlon of parts is explained wllh roference to 'a
developing structure 01 delerminations) and cthnographle holism
(in whIch the dlrrerent 'instltutions' pf a soclcty arc all doscribOd
and linked one to another);" an<j since it had in general confused
structural determination With simullancity, concrele developmcnls
In Ihe World oUlside pushed funclional anthropology until il collap.
sed Into micro-Sociology. So ·it is thai loday most anlhropologislS
have chosen to re'orient themsclves in relalion to a Illulti-Iude of
fragmentary problems-politi-cal, economic, "omestic. cultic, etc._
at a 'small'scale' level, and' have fOund In Ihi. Slale of fragmcn'!a_
lion their sense of intellcolua" dirCCti-on provIded for Ihcm by Ihcir
'cognate discipline'. These changes in the objcct of sludy
'and In the ideological supports of social anlhropology might by
themselves have Jed to a dlslnlegrati-on of lhe discipline, but Ihe
same POst-war pedod witneSSed a significant devclopmcnt In lhe
organisational basc of s'?Cial anlhropology wl,ich saved it, In 1946
TALALAsAD
.,......"""-'"---
"Pa,,'Y by chall.n,in, the funclional anthropo'Oli,,', do,ma thai only
writt.n '.cord, eouldprovide • reliable ba'i' for recon"roctin, hi,'oly.
Cf. J. Van'ina', Orol Trodlli"", 0 Sludy I" /finorlenl Mrrhodulogy. lOll'
don, 196$, ori,inallYPubli'h.d in French in 1961. The Benera' tendency
of functiona' an'hropolo,y Was '0 ."imil.,. indig.
nou
, his'oly 10 Ihe
<&'.,oly of mY'h-l.e. 10 vi.1Y i' in'crm, of inurom<JI<a'i'y ralhcr Ihan of
trUth in tho classical non-pra4malisl sense. .
"le'dln, 'ociolo'i", in Amen
ea
,_•.•. Parson" Mer'on, Homan'-h'd al.
WIly, Iak.n an aelive and ,ympalh"ic io'e,es, in Bri'i'h 'ocia' an'hropo.
loay, and 'heir wriUn" in lorn were a source of in,pira'ion and sUpPOrt '0
funnelon.1 amhropo,o,isls. The "lack on Am.riean "ruciural.funcilOnali,m
bYauch wri'." as ·R. Oahrendort 'nd C. WriBh' Mills w., 'herefore boond
10 ./fect tho doc'';n.' ..If-confid.n« of BriU'h ,ocial .n'hropo,o,y.
"Th.t thi, di"inetion f'CIll.Iin' unclear '0 m'ny anthropolo,iu, even 'oday
i, 'PPlrent from Iho ov.r-confid.nl remark, of levi.S'rauss in hi, POlemic
12
INTRODUCTION .. \I The doctrine.'
arts of general social syalema • lI,m thus gave
their arts. etc.. as p I by the name of funcllolUI
and approaches that and coherent Ilyle. is absent. The
social even this coherence of ..· both 'simple'
Today by. can: is someone who studies SOC I ;Iatistlcal tech.
noosorls to partlcipanl nnds himself
and [ archives and other liteIra. or psycho.
niquos, hlSlofica economists or po It a . Ihan he doe.s
intelleclually or anima! In terms 01
analysts or slruc . Is To describe th's slate 0 'ncation. The
to olher is surely to indulge In In exist.
scholarly f IIlics. 'CCOnomlcs, etc...ha hase of social
'cognate r:'he clasSical was It only
ence from question that 'must be as by anthro.
anthropol.ogy. I that they have been logisls could
example, that in 1940. philo.
pologisls? : IS lound that the we have sludied
wrile: "We areed us to undersland Ihe and in 1966: "We
sophers fhem nl lillie value.( lor marriage be.
and we conSJ e 'I's ripe for a dialogue. I rned with com.
'd h I the time . . I'nes conee
conSl er t a I and Ihe olher d,sc,p , . ? H was il thai Ihe
What made Ihe .Ii.me etc.) w!'ich
paratlve P? I economics. pollt,cs, lun bour 'cois soclely.
scparalc scll·undcrslandmg 10 anlh,.o.
reflected the .rag. al contradictions. were rea
with ils own hlStonc h . Ihe lacl Ihat since
pology? Id suggest is 10 be soug I m curred in the
The answer lundamenla! which .have
the '(/0ocial anl·hropology IIlhab'ls. nd Ihe organisallllna'
world whlc I l'he ideological a.. g Ihese changes we
affected ·ilsell. And m apprehend Ihe
base of soc,a
lves
thai anl'hropology dOC
h
s nO
rld
also dotermincs hnw
remmd ourS? . . located, but Ihat t e wo
Id in which II IS. • lIy
wor ill apprehend It. b cnlonial, ..peela
wnt 01 polilical independence ,: '60s acceleraled the
The alia mOl? 'n the lale '50s and the ear 'c change invnlving
African countries, I 1 war of socio.econoffil .
d apparent since t Ie I .
Iren , d 1951 P II.
1 LOll OIf. .: 1 S sUms . cf anJ Social AII,1Iropo A/ricall Po/j"ca y , ':E E. Evans-Pnl 1 'Evans.Pritchard, c: ., .
"101. Forles and E,j E. (d,) Pollllcni AII/h,opology,
London, 1940, tV \V Turner, A, Tuden, C ••
"M, J. Swarlz, .9 .
Chicago, 196M, p..
[3. _
---------J......... _
against Sarlre: "It is possible that the -requirement of ttolalisation' is a
.great novelty to some historians, sociologists and psychologists. It has been
taken for granted by anthroPologists ever 6inc:o they learnt it from Mali·
. nowski", Tile Savage MI/ld, London, 1966, p, 250, What anihropologists
learnt from MalinoYoo1ki was ethnographic holism. not the method of
.' , ' .
11M, Ghlc:1c.man and Fred Eggll.n, "·Introduction" .10 The Rtltvcu,ce 0/ Modtls
'fur Social Anthropology, London, 19,65; p. xii. Dy J968 the Association
had about 240 members (Social Science Research Council. Rutarch ;/1
Social Anthropology. London. 1968, p.79.)·
IfM, Fortes. (cd.) Social Stl'lIctUrl, OXfo.rd 1949, p', xiii.
! ,
I
I
I
I
I
became a nouri'hin . 15
Ihroughnut this profession t .
were Jls or lhut
nOli-European s ' . Y uropca.ns for a E rt descrIption and
lhere is a strangeocJ,ctles d,ominated 'by Euro uropean aUdience_of
pol,ogists to con On Ihe part of m peal) P0Y:'er, And yet
their diseipline h
Sldcr
.. serIOusly I'he 'powe OY! proleSSlOnal anlhro_ '
:enyled hy Ihe shape. Thc which I
o o/ume Three f from Yic'o
r
T IS wcll reprc_
J971), in which Ihe in Africa s llllroduction
pology and eolonioJ' p 01 the relationsh' 60, (Cambridge
two Shorl IS lnvialised and dismi rpd anl/lro:
It used to be a . SSe In thc space 01
by officials 01 the ancle '
Ille. came to Ihey were in Ihal anlhro_
became their' e structural pers . CI JCoS of African
impeded Ihe a!,d by their informanl',
govern efficien I IsrrJct and provi' works
and European t r- ,Some were even accu nClal administrators to
'<.Inarchists·. It serVants of being settlers
administrators d now asseverated by Af . S, sOClall."ils' and
bclore indcpende 10 Ihe districI leaders and
agents of were 'apoJogiSl
s
of
merely to Provide Who studied <lnd sllbllc
c.Jall1aging to "al' ammant while nl,'n ,nedn cuslOO1s
'. Ive IOte 't· b Or,ly with' f
IOVc.stlgalion Thu' res s ut nOrmally In orllJal;un
Sir yesterday's 'SOCialist' ha to White
arc Improba'bly Durns (1957) and F' . eOlllc Inuay',
It is true 01 J. Tantz FalioH (196J)
. ,course Ih- '
gIsts. like ever on ' at In their personal .
,Views, Some ke else, ,have a wide SpeClr capalcllY
left'. nut as conservatives" um 0 poJJlIl:aJ·
as {ilr 10 lhe
Jnformation as I as doctors, to coli are OVer
Whatever may observers' kinds of
as the currcnt I I elr views .r WI I enable them,
coherent pictur::Ct :;: as objcelivcly
to spend some years 0 e system permiL.s, a
01 processe, th I llhelr lIves in stud' Yhavc clecled
Iheir findings in it. It is their and of Ihe kind,
'1lon ollhe means Ihem, logelher dUly 10 publish
JIIlernational pub,. YIWh,e!, they Were Obla' dan exael deserip_
'c 0 lhelr anlhropol . ,ne , 10 Ihe
ogleal Colleague, anu
TAlAL ASAQ
INTJ.OOUCTION 14
the Association of Social Anthropologilts of tho British Common·
(ASA) was founded with under 20 membofl: by 1962 tho
membership had risen to over ISO, "even though election to memo
bersMp required' normally ·both ·the holding of a teaehlng or a
research post in the Commonwealth and tho attalnntenl of ekher
a post·graduato degr'" (usually a doctorate) Of substantial publica.
tions"." Oncc this base was in efTectivo operation, IIOCJa1 anthro·
pology as institutionalised praetice could dispell.lO with tbe dOClrlruil
specificity it had previously insisted on. Professional dllllnetiveness
could now 'be maintained through an established nclwork of vested
interests-:-for which the ASA was a co-ordlnatlng ageney-rather
rhan 'by any particular doctrines or methods. AnthropolOS)' was
now ·truly a tprofession'. .
Ironieally, the same forces that were contributing to the Ideo·
logical dissolution of classical functional anthropology had also
contributed to a. strengthening of its organisational base. Thus
Fortes notes that during ·t'he Seeond World War in Britain, "ceon·
omic, politiea'l and especially mH;tary necessities aroused a new and
lively public interest in the African and Asiatic dependencies of
Britain and her allics. The plans for post·war economie and social
development in these areas generated under pressure of war·time
experiences included big schemes of research in the natural and
social sciences. The boom in. anthropological studies thus fore·
shadowed began after RadclifTe-Brown had retired from tbe Ox-
ford chair [in J 946]"... It was in the year of Radclilfe·Brown'sretire·
ment that ·the ASA was rounded 'by .scholars who were already
of the long-esta'blished 'but far less exclusive Royal An·
thropological Institute. An exclusive 'professional' organisation was
clearly fad:ieuer placed to exploit tbe new funding possibilities for
research ·in the changing.power-paUern of t'he post·war world.
It is not a maltcr of dispute that social anthropology emerged as
a distinctive ·discipline at the beginning of the colonial era. that it
;"See Cor example E. B. Evans-Pritchard, op, cit, M. Harris, The Rise ul
Anthrupulul/lcal 7'heury, London, 1969, R. Firth, op. cit.
:tC. Lcvl-Strauss was 'one of the first anthropologists to notc this important
(act. although he has barely gone beyond noting it. See 7'he Scope 01 All'
,h,upuluI/Y, LoJ)don. 1961, pp. 51·2.
Part 1: Gener"} St I'
n 11( leg
INTRODUCTION 16
beyond that to the 'world of learning', Eventually. news of their
work and analyses. through their own ·popular' w{Hings or
through citations. rCsumts (not infrequently bowdleriscd) and
digests by noq·amhropologists. seeps through to the general
reading public, Time thus winnows their reports and rids them
of much that is biased and 'loaded', There is no point in special
pleading or tendentious argument; there arc professional
_'J,. standards against which all reports arc measured. and. in the
end. the common sense of the common man, (pp.l.2)
But io speak about 'professional standards' and the authority of
'common sense' is surely no less naive Ihan arc wild remarks about
anthropology being merely Ihe handmaiden of colonialism. Tltere
arc today no clear·cut standards in anthropology. Ihere is only
a nourishing professional organisalion: and the common sense
of Western COl1l111011 man, himself all alienuted Bnd cxploilctl
being. is 'hardly reliable as a critical test of anthropological know·
ledge, And yot the easy assurance of Turner's remarks is itself an
indication of the kind of commonsense V(0rld that the typical an·
thropologist still shares. and knows 'he shares, with those whom he
primarily addresses.
We have been reminded time and again by anthropologists
of Ihe ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment in which the intellec·
tual inspira"tiun of anthropology is supposed to But anthro-
pology is also rooted in an unequal power encounter betwccn the
West and Third World which gocs back (0 the omergence of .bour·
gcois Europe, an encounter in which colonialism is merely one
hislorical moment." It is this encounter that gives the West access
to cullural and historical information about the societies it has
progressively domina·led. and thus not only generates a certain kind
of universal understanding, but also re·enforces the in
capacity between the European and the non· European worlds (and
derivatively. between the Europeanized elite\> and the 'traditional'
masses in tho Third World). We aro today becoming 'increasingly
aware of the fact ihat informalion and understanding produced by
bourgeois disciplines like anthropology are aC4uiiod and used most
readily by those with 'Ihe greatest capacity for exploitation. This
follows partly from Ihe structure of research. but moro especially
INTRODUCTION 11
from tho way In which thcso disciplines objeotify their knowledge.
It is because the powerful who support research expect the kind of
understanding which will ultimately confirm them in their world
that anthropology has not very easily turned to the produotion of
radically subversive fomlS of underslanding. It is because anthro·
pologica'l understanding is overwhelmingly objectified in European
,) languages that it is most easily accommodated to the mode of life,
and hence to the rationality, of the world power whioh the Wcst
represents.
We must begin from the fact that the basic reality whioh made
·pre·war social anthropology a feasible and effective enlerprise was
the power relationship belween dominating (European) and domino
ated (non·European) cultures, We then need to ask ourselves how
this relalionship has affecled the practical pre·conditions of social
anthropology; the uses to which its knowledge was PUI; the thco·
., retical treatment of particular topics; the mode of perceiving and
objeclifying alien societies; and the anthropologist's claim of politi.
cal neutrality.
The colonial power struolure made the object of anthropological
study accessible and safe-because of it sustained physical proxi.
mity between the observing European and the living non· European
became a praOlical possibility. It made possible the kind of human
intimacy on which anlhr:opologieal fieldwork is based, but ensured
that should, be one-sided and provisional. It is worlh
f
.noting that anthropologist has been won./
over personally to Ihe subordinaled culture he has sludied; allhough
countless non.Europeans, having come to the West to study its cui·
ture, have been captured by its values and assumptions, and also
contributed to an understanding of it.
The reason for this asymmetry is the dialectic of world power.
Anthropologists can claim to have contributed to the cullural
heritage of the societies they study by a sympathetic recording of
indigenous forms of life that would otherwise be lost to posterity.
But they have also contributed, sometimes indirectly, towards main-
taining the structure of power represented by the colonial system.
That such contributions were not in the final reckoning crucial for
the vast empire which received knowledge and provided patronage
does not mean that it was not critical for the small discipline which
offered knowledge and received that patronage. For the structure
of power cerlainly affecled the theorclical choice and treatment of
what social anthropology objeclified-more so in some matters
than in others. (We should in any case avoid the tendency found
among some critics anU'"defenders of of speak-
ing as though doclrines and analyses labelled 'funclionalism'
wcre parts of a highly inlegraled logical structure_) Its analyses-
of holislic polilies mosl of all, of cosmological systems least of all
-were afTecled by a readiness to adapt to colonial ideology At any
rale the general drift of anlhropological underslanding did con·
slilule a basic challenge to the unequal world represented by the
colonial system. Nor was the colonial system as such-within which
Ihe social objccts sludied were localed-analysed -by the social
anthropologis!. To argue that the anthropologist's expertise did not
qualify him for considering fruitfully such a syslem is to confess
thaI this expertise was malformed, For any objccl which is subor·
dinaled and manipulated is partly the product of a power relation·
ship, and 10 ignore this facI is to miscomprehend the nature of that
objec!.
I
Clearly Ihe anthropologisl's claim to political neulralily cannot
be scparatod from all that has been said soJar. Thus the scientistic
_
definilion of anlhropology as a disinleresled -(objeclive, value·free)
sludy of 'olher cullurcs' hclped to mark off Ihe anthropologist's
! enterprise from thM of colonial Europeans (the trader. the mission..
ary. 1"I1C administrator and other men of practical affairs); but did it
not also render him una'ble to envisage and argue for a radically
dillerenl polilieal fUlure for the subordinale people he s1udied and
thus serve to merge that enterprise in eDect with that of dominant
status-quo Europeans? If ,the anthropologist sometimes endorsed or
condemned particular social changes affccting "his people", did he,
in this ad hoc commitment, do any more or any less than many
colonial Europeans who accepted colonialism as a system? If he
was sometimes accusingly called "a Red', 'n socialist' or "an anar-
chist' by administrators and settlers, did this not merely reveal one
fa cot of -the 'hysterically intolerant character of colonialism as a
system, with which he chose nevertheless to live professionally at
peace?
I believe it is a mistake to view social anthropology in the colo-
nial era as primarily an aid to colonial administration, or as the
simple reOeetion of colonial ideology. I say this not because I sub-
scribe to the anthropological establishment's comforta'ble view of
itself, but 'because bourgeois consciousness, of which social anthro-
pology is merely one fragment. has always contained within itself
profound contradictions and ambiguities-and therefore the poten-
tialities for transcending itself. For these contradictions to be ade-
quatcly apprehended it is cssential to turn to the historical power

-.
INTRODUCTION
relalionshlp between Ih /9
f
Ihe Ways In which I e Wcsl and Ihe Third World
condilions. Ihe Wo has -been dialeclically linked and 10 examine
all disciplines and Ihe Pp'::lca/
Th ropesn humanity, e uropcan underslandinB of UOI
e papcrs fOllowa I non·
p%gica/ Ihinkl na yse and document w .
nla/I,m ,but Iheng and praOlice have been afT ays /J1 Which anlhro.
and al different r this lopic from by Brillsh colo.
a Seminar held s':,t
ll
bltl Roger Owen's erenl points of view
tor has had Ihe 0' n,Seplember 1972, Allh":: firstal
eussions Id nHyto revise his papcr I g conlribu·
been made 10 I e at the Seminar no ' n ! e I,ghl of dis.
sure thaI unlly On Ihem', or al-Iempt has
problem Th represenl a eomp h' mailer to en·
that is i":.t':.';f toverage of the
anthropoloBisls and," Which as 0 an argumenl
over a quarter o::c (It a handfUl of
regarded was found«J Ihe A;OLed that in
The group which a WOrl'hy of a coni A has never
providin f mel WIshes 10 Ihank h ..renee.)
Wish 10 facf/ilies for the of Hull for
and Social Anlh unnlson, Head of lhe De' osl especially, we
Conslant Hull, WllhoUI of Sociology
.Iaken place, It Was hen I e Seminar wouid : ael,ve help and
/J1 various Universili e who Anlhro not have
most of the organ' for POSSIble gy Departments
lsa IOna/ duties in pr ,rs, and undertook
eparallOn for I'he meeti'
ng.
Mareh 1973
INTROOUCTION 18

th~ir statist~::o~~lcal ~e. In"oduction to HI'/ory alld Social AlIllrr .' The plausibility of the anthropolOgical enterprise which seemed so self-evident 10 all its practilioners a mere decade ago.boo by writers calling themselves anthropOlogists appear in increasing number. social search is usuall from r months or years. On lhe contrary. Cahfers des lIudes Alrical " No.eir.nd 'Edwin Arden . professlona' leaders of British anthropology are not impressed by alarmist talk ahout crisis.' On Ihe whole. xv.t. .~. e answer is society" \I Statem those found. of b:t ave his gh social an· seemed reason n ro uclton to Social A t ruc ard published clear :-vhat subjoct .es directly... articles' and text. or apt toY bee'fand Its phenomena . '''The Fulure of Sodal AnlhropololY: Disintesralio tiollS or Metamorphosis?" in Anniversary Conrribll '" An.vi'W. AnthropoloSY 37. . 36 and p. anthropologist asks n .Social III p.. 449..~~o~~Ogy ~Udies ~~~~enlS pOlilica:u~. .:pe commonly understood \va w ge. No. 43. they affirm that classic Yet Wa would runct\~~ a~~oression. "something h. Copano.~~t ~n!hropoIOgist. I. their ceono . . p. Ihat as the older ideas of socia" anlhropology beCame . "Cri. er Vol.xampl..cal level as Ardene a ready happened tion of th: this event Is anthrop'ology" een as a dislntegra· Naw. 1968 a oc a AIII"rnpology • Lo non. which n 'Ro.' They would maintain. N"ad4cit Tilt Foutlda'io. of S i Iarch Council's R • ndon.cstabhshment "bel no doubt that at the o. legal and oecoloI' organizations the.hropology: TALAL ASAD ~oncerned". has begun to articulate its doubts in radical terms.. ''I1\e. 2. " Colonialism" Paris. "pour une n hi. Lew i. London. is now no longer quite sO self_evident.m.lney Needh..~~~~eos. apart from the names just menlioncd. .form oplion in schools. ' eo og. its CritiCS" in Mon N. most 3.~aldPI. 61~ ~~~~thOugh Ind~n te~~n~aSlIY persu~ded b:t~e~~.ndarse the _ A . A prestigioUS series of annual lectures on social anthropology has recenlly been launched under Ihe auspiCes oflhe British Academy. Thera at least tha myth if not th/ of .'1970.in and .odoloS • des 6tude. the Associalion of socia' Anthropologists flourishes as never before: il holds annual academic conferences whose proceedings are regularly published in handsome hardcover ks and paperback editions.. it hvmg among them studics primitive s ut: . .rtl y arter the s. NeW p. Firlh ado pl' to espl.~cI1/Y' Londo~1/197r. M. poloBY.i.n.inlerestinS of these include B. ..exhausled..log/st7 Social ~:.' A year later Ardener observed Ihat. In social anthr I ar. N<>v Uti R. The SctpllcaJ A ~lca JRterest in Ma .' So they prefer to talk of increasing specialisation...~~ Ys. T\\'e'\I~ Essays. .es. ents of th' k' ound i md do not indicate ' n pflmtltve cated concern for the d fi . leaders to After all. e soclOl ramily and kinshi'::'cs. it is a by continuity.. No. in British Anthropology". 'simpler ow only interested :'. and largely a?thropo. S.toi. as ?~e~~~~~:"~~%t~~~~s:~V~. The subject is noW laught in more university and college dcpartm than ever: the profession is even negotlaling 10 intro· enls duee it as a sixth. no longer are: monographs·whlch used to appear exhaustive now seem selective: interpretations which once looked full of insighl now seem mechanical and lifeless".. o i 1971. and Leclerc.. .. Africain. AII. 1970. Seplember 19?I.. A small minorily.\0 lNTI'-ODUCT\ON cant title "The End of Anthropology?" By 1970 Needham was arguing Ihal social anthropOlogy "has no unitary and continuous past sO far as ideas are "Nor is Ihere any luch Ihlng as a rigorouS and coherenl body of theory proper 10 social anlhro. th. 'I1\c 6. whereas ocle!.i"~~). ropology rather than as Thera w i ' a crystallization of the . thay see as a sign of tha Intellectual vitallt of more positiVe! ara stlll vlablaJ. 1972'Se.ltSh r~hlr define to obtain and axtend sl.'r Institutions • thel'r • re I"Iglons th . pology".b~e ~~Plamed. it was natural that one should turn to fresh sources of supply. cs·.es as wholes-he s . .h~~i~~ilt~~~~::~~i~n~. Il'v communities. Ihere is no crisis in social anthropology. et une . And 1St assumptions II such bland ba well·advlsed not to be . Monographs.I' Briti'h Academy lect th: ft~ter~u~Ple'I'h' I.eiden. Fred Eggan 10 liS.~~~ ~~K~:~~ :1I_fn~$~a~t.logist g'es. 1953.:. 64. !~e :.The. reasoning Ihat 'It i' Ihi' lin' of 1968. for . . p. Whena~:~~~..ii.e y IS not the onion . reccnl anlhropolo' I ' ' elr tcchnologies. or 'prep!imitivc society writ arc SImply that our own sr:.f smooth something has . if pressed. already happencd to Brilish anthropology (and to international anthropology in related ways such Ihatfor practical purposes text· books which looked useful. dge as it is society to attempt to extend our kn ogy of man hterale societies' . .:" 195 I.hrop<>lagl. P . t our own civilization turn to not tha sarna as .a.~d 'ts a t ma when soc' I ~nd IS 'pilmlr"~' a~ kn~ Second'Worl~ °Pf ~p t eUltur~nr~~~~Y'~ a~ ~ large.' What has happened to British social anthropology? At the organisational level nothing very disturbing has happened.. seen in lerms of its public aclivity.h~dif'we ~hu ~~r~e%ent pra~mati~ ~r~~~~ ~~dai~r~blem~tie.~Sibility.::. d ~st(Jrcl."roduetion bMMax Gluckman and V/"ws u~~ ogy am/ Marxist "See (0 vo umes in the ASA Alllhr()~~agmyplLo0Social Science RCS~noiraphS series.

of inurom<JI<a'i'y ralhcr Ihan of trUth in of classical non-pra4malisl sense.'.. 1940.~nlcd ~IP?.: . a tOlallslng molhod (in whIch the lonnatlon of parts is explained wllh roference to 'a developing structure 01 delerminations) and cthnographle holism (in whIch the dlrrerent 'instltutions' pf a soclcty arc all doscribOd and linked one to another). Cf.ich saved it. TALALAsAD anthropolOt~st anthropologlS~ a~e~ssured 13 these COuntries in tho planned devolopment. and we conSJI the time 's ripe for a dialogue.isls.es.~~~ . were rea -~------. The "lack on Am.n'hropo.oly tho mY'h-l.y Was '0 .ocial . as did the' relevanco' 01 tho past. ence from anthropol. "Pa. but Ihat the wo rld Id in which II I S .. invnlving 1 war of socio. J. Orol Trodlli"". LOll OIf.inallYPubli'h.: scienli~c n~1 ant~:orolltical Iwee~ anlh~?rn .S'rauss in hi. scparalc reflected the .. ..ever adequately "'&rIfled Ifte dlstlnction between.: '60s acceleraled the The countries.' ./fect tho doc''.9 . Slale of fragmcn'!a_ lion their sense of intellcolua" dirCCti-on provIded for Ihcm by Ihcir 'cognate discipline'.n.1Iropo c: . The to olher is surely to indulge In In exist. pologisls? : IS lound that the we have sludied wrile: "We areed us to undersland Ihe and in 1966: "We sophers fhem nl lillie value. The Benera' tendency of functiona' an'hropolo.. as parts of general name of funcllolUI lI... that in 1940. as a of nationalist expectations. _ 12 INTRODUCTION . concrele developmcnls In Ihe World oUlside pushed funclional anthropology until il collap. m'ny anthropolo.nl remark.. O~y iJ~spire with ils own hlStonc h . "le'dln.had n. . b cnlonial. paratlve P? I scll·undcrslandmg 10 anlh.u~~~~rs ~ 1SC:::[enli~ts c~nsoquenco dISCIPhn~l~re comparat.riean "ruciural.rag. philo. both colonial and Pre-colonial.) w!'ich economics.j \V Turner. can: is someone who studies SOC I . Homan'-h'd al.of national nelworb of communlcatlons. ." ""-'"--. and' have fOund In Ihi.'oly. do. 196$. ? H was il thai Ihe conSl er t a I What made Ihe .a lves thai anl'hropology dOCs nO also dotermincs hnw remmd ourS? . eouldprovide • reliable ba'i' for recon"roctin. the promotlon of educatlon 8/ld of rural· improvement projects. Il~~ observatlO~~. . f IIlics. Chicago. Ihan he doe.v~h r~f:'tl~r lon~he funetl~':thl~ ~hY m~~tbeen disco~ered hav~}~ ~ot Ihcon'~'es S"'..[3. noosorls to partlcipanl nnds himself [ archives and other liteIra. his'oly 10 Ihe nou <&'. I that they have been logisls could example.pira'ion and sUpPOrt funnelon.p .o. 0 Sludy I" /finorlenl Mrrhodulogy." as ·R.Iin' unclear i.( lor marriage be. th~ ~ ~~hropology IrI~O~ar. in Bri'i'h 'ocia' an'hropo. electrlflcatlon and broadcastlllg. e 'I 'd h . I conee rned with com. etc." Some nationalist writers denounCed the colonial connections of anthropology.n« of BriU'h .1O(B~·S) A/ricall Po/j"ca1 SysUms. 'CCOnomlcs. al contradictions. d 1951 P II.cord.opology.•.. Parson" Mer'on. and 'heir wriUn" in lorn were a source of in.iu.Ii. dlSc'~hn~. .1Y i' in'crm.. Iak. POlemic '0 '0 .." Since It. In 1946 'con~plex." an<j since it had in general confused structural determination With simullancity..me etc. or psycho.y.m bYauch wri'. \I The doctrine.Iatistlcal tech. mounting criticism 01 tho IlUIctlonallst tradition In American mainstream SOCiology contributed Indirectly towards the undermining of lunc_ tlonallsl doctrine In BritlYlt social anlhropology. (d.) Pollllcni AII/h. g Ihese changes we world whlc affected ·ilsell. loay. .s intelleclually or anima! In terms 01 analysts or slruc . 196M. ·both 'simple' Today by. I'nes and Ihe olher d. .sc. di"inetion f'CIll.ogy. These changes in the objcct of sludy 'and In the ideological supports of social anlhropology might by themselves have Jed to a dlslnlegrati-on of lhe discipline.!~. Oahrendort 'nd C.cs. ihe shift of POlitical POWer from 'tribal' leaders to the nationalistic bourgeoisIe. hi...n an aelive and . "101. The social even this coherence of . .n '. And m apprehend Ihe base of soc. sed Into micro-Sociology.n.pru~. even 'oday "Th. At anolher level. economic... ori.o.econoffil d apparent since t Ie Iren ._•. London.in.d in French in 1961. WIly.1 amhropo. Forles andtVE. located... Thus Increas. . is absent.. and niquos. Is To describe th's slate 0 'ncation. cha~ges~~aaV~g~ sup~ort ~levaot n~~:~rely anlhropolo~y I .c~. nd Ihe organisallllna' I l'he ideological a.t thi. Social AII. indig. cultic.. but Ihe same POst-war pedod witneSSed a significant devclopmcnt In lhe organisational basc of s'?Cial anlhropology wl. Ihe lacl Ihat since Id suggest is 10 be soug I m curred in the pology? The answer lundamenla! which . E. lOll' don.funcilOnali. A.. etc. WriBh' Mills w. 'PPlrent from Iho ov. .o. C •• "M. hlSlofica economists or po It a ...Pritchard. Secon~ ~.m thus gave I by the social syalema • and approaches that and coherent Ilyle.nce. ':E E. in Amen ea . etc.' their arts. Swarlz. pollt. anthr~p~IO~~n' ~pe:c'~hza. Van'ina'. Ingly the larger polltlcal·economlc system thrust Itsclf obtrusively into tho anthropologist's Iramework.If-confid.have the '(/0ocial anl·hropology IIlhab'ls.ympalh"ic io'e.r-confid. "omestic.ha hase of social scholarly 'cognate r:'he clasSical was It only question that 'must be as by anthro. Africanalia mOl? I'n the lale '50s and the ear 'c change . Tuden. So ·it is thai loday most anlhropologislS have chosen to re'orient themsclves in relalion to a Illulti-Iude of fragmentary problems-politi-cal. p. of levi.'Y by chall. 'herefore boond 10 . Mainly. Evans-Pnl cf1anJ 'Evans. J. 10 vi. the funclional anthropo'Oli. lun bour 'cois soclely. scholars began to recover an indigenous history. 'ociolo'i". CIO~~~a:~ingUISIS behaVIO.e.peela wnt 01 polilical independence ."imil.. • lIy wor ill apprehend It.ma thai only writt._ at a 'small'scale' level.

~..~ Jls c1o~e. "·Introduction" .~~n leaders and agents of Colollja~CC were 'apoJogiSl s of ~Oloat.'ca~dlhcir informanl'. .ctles d. The plans for post·war economie and social development in these areas generated under pressure of war·time experiences included big schemes of research in the natural and social sciences. . 250.s.~/~~' a!. IIOCJa1 anthro· pology as institutionalised praetice could dispell. or lhut nOli-European s ' . It is true 01 J. What anihropologists learnt from MalinoYoo1ki was ethnographic holism. . It is their U/{. S." Oncc this base was in efTectivo operation. '1lon ollhe means ~xpos~ Ihem. "even though election to memo bersMp required' normally ·both ·the holding of a teaehlng or a research post in the Commonwealth and tho attalnntenl of ekher a post·graduato degr'" (usually a doctorate) Of substantial publica. imm.ominated Euro uropean aUdience_of pol.79..14 INTJ. eOlllc Inuay'.ultural system :me~( permiL. An exclusive 'professional' organisation was clearly fad:ieuer placed to exploit tbe new funding possibilities for research ·in the changing.un ~rea~lioJJary'" Sir ~ yesterday's 'SOCialist' ha ~PbeqUC to White arc Improba'bly al/'~' Durns (1957) and F' ..ce 0/ Modtls 'fur Social Anthropology. became a nouri'hin . 15 Ihroughnut this ~ a~adenJlc profession t .Jall1aging to "al' ~ ammant while nl. to coli are l~amcd. logelher Wil~ale dUly 10 publish JIIlernational pub. CI JCoS of African impeded Ihe e.: 'hcI~ djscipJine'~ d~.~:~~e ~il'hin which I o o/ume Three f a~sage from Yic'o r T ~ IS wcll reprc_ J971).' .cee. (cd.have a wide SpeClr capalcllY ~'!lhrop().)· IfM.c On Ihe part of m peal) P0Y:'er. ' . Tile Savage MI/ld. anu 'by I r- I I I I ---------J. p. Thc 'YPi~a:'~~. 19. Ive IOte 't· b Or. came to .on in it.) Social Stl'lIctUrl.course Ih.. "ceon· omic.man and Fred Eggll. 11M. 1968. Fortes.power-paUern of t'he post·war world. It ~JVJl serVants of being 'Rs::1. . OXfo.am kinds of as the currcnt I I elr PC~sonal views . sociologists and psychologists.. Tantz FalioH (196J) . 1966. The boom in. tions". London.'/. p. xiii.n. . London.b~.65. OVer Whatever may b~~~tl~lpant observers' wh%~cc~.nedn cuslOO1s '.d by their ~~~:. politiea'l and especially mH./1 Social Anthropology.ly with' f IOVc.ns for a E rt descrIption and lhere is a strangeocJ..~escOl as objcelivcly to spend some years 0 e sOC~oc.great novelty to some historians. Rutarch . (Cambridge two Shorl par.anthroPOl08js~~hersJca~l {ilr 10 lhe Jnformation as I Yca~s. a~thr()PO'ogists merely to Provide thup~em~cy Who studied A~'~~~S01' <lnd sllbll c c. Y uropca.ne . serIOusly I'he 'powe OY! proleSSlOnal anlhro_ ' :enyled hy Ihe fOI::~i~~enp shape.r WI I enable them.o_ left'. _ .' gIsts. coherent pictur::Ct :. govern efficien I IsrrJct and provi' works and European t .~ng.OOUCTION TAlAL ASAQ ! . anaIYSis-carri~~~bJtsEeflorrs were devo~~a."ils' and bclore indcpende o~n 10 Ihe districI Icve!."ed by officials 01 the ancle ' Ille. not the method of lo~Hsation.10 The Rtltvcu. p'. and of Ihe kind. Professional dllllnetiveness could now 'be maintained through an established nclwork of vested interests-:-for which the ASA was a co-ordlnatlng ageney-rather rhan 'by any particular doctrines or methods. like ever on ' at In their personal . th I llhelr lIves in stud' Y havc clecled Iheir findings a~lo.e!.. strengthening of its organisational base.. that it against Sarlre: "It is possible that the -requirement of ttolalisation' is a . the same forces that were contributing to the Ideo· logical dissolution of classical functional anthropology had also contributed to a.rd 1949. And yet Sldcr their diseipline h . they Were Obla' dan exael deserip_ 'c 0 lhelr anlhropol .:t~S Ihey were in 'lhespecWr~~lIIze Ihal anlhro_ became their' e structural pers . London.lO with tbe dOClrlruil specificity it had previously insisted on.tary necessities aroused a new and lively public interest in the African and Asiatic dependencies of Britain and her allics. sOClall.f:C~.. Ironieally. w~il~ settlers administrators d now asseverated by Af . Some a~ k e else. It was in the year of Radclilfe·Brown'sretire· ment that ·the ASA was rounded 'by .~c U~tan~. AnthropolOS)' was now ·truly a tprofession'. Dy J 968 the Association had about 240 members (Social Science Research Council. YIWh.Some were even accu nClal administrators to '<. p. SSe In thc space 01 ~0108is1S.r s llllroduction pology and eolonioJ' p ~ e~1 01 the relationsh' 60. a 01 processe.scholars who were already mem~rs of the long-esta'blished 'but far less exclusive Royal An· thropological Institute. . nut as n~wlI conservatives" um 0 poJJlIl:aJ· ~lnlOst as ma~. It is not a maltcr of dispute that social anthropology emerged as a distinctive ·discipline at the beginning of the colonial era. anthropological studies thus fore· shadowed began after RadclifTe-Brown had retired from tbe Oxford chair [in J 946]".ogists to con .Inarchists·..Views. Thus Fortes notes that during ·t'he Seeond World War in Britain. It has been taken for granted by anthroPologists ever 6inc:o they learnt it from Mali· . Ghlc:1c. as doctors.stlgalion Thu' res s ut nOrmally In orllJal.. xii.Ofc~sJOnals. the Association of Social Anthropologilts of tho British Common· we~lth (ASA) was founded with under 20 membofl: by 1962 tho membership had risen to over ISO.'n ... nowski". 10 Ihe ogleal Colleague. in which Ihe C~/~7IaIiJ'fIJ in Africa 187~.8raph':~11 IS lnvialised and dismi rpd ~lwcen anl/lro: It used to be a .

Time thus winnows their reports and rids them of much that is biased and 'loaded'." It is this encounter that gives the West access to cullural and historical information about the societies it has of universal understanding. B. himself all alienuted Bnd cxploilctl being. between the Europeanized elite\> and the 'traditional' masses in tho Third World). with those whom he primarily addresses. Ihere is only Part 1: Gener"} St 11(I' n leg a nourishing professional organisalion: and the common sense of Western COl1l111011 man. cit. cit. op. LoJ)don. Lcvl-Strauss was 'one of the first anthropologists to notc this important (act. op.h."See Cor example E. standards against which all reports arc measured. and knows 'he shares. Tltere arc today no clear·cut standards in anthropology. although he has barely gone beyond noting it. 51·2. We have been reminded time and again by anthropologists of Ihe ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment in which the intellec· tual inspira"tiun of anthropology is supposed to Iic. R. Eventually. We aro today becoming 'increasingly aware of the fact ihat informalion and understanding produced by bourgeois disciplines like anthropology are aC4uiiod and used most readily by those with 'Ihe greatest capacity for exploitation.l. rCsumts (not infrequently bowdleriscd) and digests by noq·amhropologists. :tC. 1961. through their own ·popular' w{Hings or through citations.bour· gcois Europe. (pp. London.16 INTRODUCTION beyond that to the 'world of learning'. news of their work and analyses. There is no point in special pleading or tendentious argument. seeps through to the general reading public. Firth. Evans-Pritchard.. 1969. in the end. but also re·enforces the incqua~itics in capacity between the European and the non· European worlds (and derivatively. and. an encounter in which colonialism is merely one hislorical moment. And yot the easy assurance of Turner's remarks is itself an indication of the kind of commonsense V(0rld that the typical an· thropologist still shares. but moro especially . progressively domina·led. M.upuluI/Y. See 7'he Scope 01 All' . there arc professional _'J. and thus not only generates a certain kind .~o But anthropology is also rooted in an unequal power encounter betwccn the West and Third World which gocs back (0 the omergence of .2) But io speak about 'professional standards' and the authority of 'common sense' is surely no less naive Ihan arc wild remarks about anthropology being merely Ihe handmaiden of colonialism. The Rise ul Anthrupulul/lcal 7'heury. is 'hardly reliable as a critical test of anthropological know· ledge. pp. Harris. This follows partly from Ihe structure of research. the common sense of the common man.

and the anthropologist's claim of politi. cal neutrality. have been captured by its values and assumptions. the thco· . We must begin from the fact that the basic reality whioh made ·pre·war social anthropology a feasible and effective enlerprise was the power relationship belween dominating (European) and domino ated (non·European) cultures. retical treatment of particular topics. of the world power whioh the Wcst represents. and hence to the rationality. We then need to ask ourselves how this relalionship has affecled the practical pre·conditions of social anthropology. sometimes indirectly. It is worlh noting that virtuall~uropean anthropologist has been won. For the structure of power cerlainly affecled the theorclical choice and treatment of what social anthropology objeclified-more so in some matters than in others. the mode of perceiving and objeclifying alien societies. That such contributions were not in the final reckoning crucial for the vast empire which received knowledge and provided patronage does not mean that it was not critical for the small discipline which offered knowledge and received that patronage. but ensured that ~'intimacy should. f . towards maintaining the structure of power represented by the colonial system. The colonial power struolure made the object of anthropological study accessible and safe-because of it sustained physical proxi. Anthropologists can claim to have contributed to the cullural heritage of the societies they study by a sympathetic recording of indigenous forms of life that would otherwise be lost to posterity. mity between the observing European and the living non· European became a praOlical possibility.Europeans. the uses to which its knowledge was PUI. It is because anthro· pologica'l understanding is overwhelmingly objectified in European . It made possible the kind of human intimacy on which anlhr:opologieal fieldwork is based.) languages that it is most easily accommodated to the mode of life.. having come to the West to study its cui· ture. (We should in any case avoid the tendency found . and also contributed to an understanding of it.INTRODUCTION 11 from tho way In which thcso disciplines objeotify their knowledge. The reason for this asymmetry is the dialectic of world power. be one-sided and provisional./ over personally to Ihe subordinaled culture he has sludied. allhough countless non. But they have also contributed. It is because the powerful who support research expect the kind of understanding which will ultimately confirm them in their world that anthropology has not very easily turned to the produotion of radically subversive fomlS of underslanding.

Head of lhe De' osl especially. Pp'::lca/ Th ropesn humanity. with which he chose nevertheless to live professionally at peace? I believe it is a mistake to view social anthropology in the colonial era as primarily an aid to colonial administration.. and. f r i":.) Wish 10 I~a~~d.~bably not have most of the organ' t~ for POSSIble conlribut~ gy Departments lsa IOna/ duties in pr .m . To argue that the anthropologist's expertise did not qualify him for considering fruitfully such a syslem is to confess thaI this expertise was malformed. Thus the scientistic relalionshlp between Ih /9 Ihe Ways In which I e Wcsl and Ihe Third World condilions.:IO~Y ~l Hull.but Iheng and praOlice have been afT ays /J1 Which anlhro.~led by Brillsh colo.Seplember 1972. but did it not also render him una'ble to envisage and argue for a radically dillerenl polilieal fUlure for the subordinale people he s1udied and thus serve to merge that enterprise in eDect with that of dominant status-quo Europeans? If . nla/I. in this ad hoc commitment. 1"I1C administrator and other men of practical affairs). of cosmological systems least of all -were afTecled by a readiness to adapt to colonial ideology At any rale the general drift of anlhropological underslanding did ~t con· slilule a basic challenge to the unequal world represented by the colonial system. has -been dialeclically linked and 10 examine ~ all disciplines re~r~n~~~~r~ns and Ihe Inlel:~~~:.t ll bltl Roger Owen's ~ erenl points of view tor has had Ihe 0' u~1J n . . of which social anthropology is merely one fragment. (It sh~~~d°'. a Seminar held i:~ s':. e uropcan underslandinB of UOI e papcrs ~hal fOllow a I non· p%gica/ Ihinkl na yse and document w .t':.rs. Clearly Ihe anthropologisl's claim to political neulralily cannot _ definilion of anlhropology as a disinleresled -(objeclive. or f-:":~~~I al-Iempt has problem Th represenl a eomp h ' mailer to en· a~ indivjd~al conlr~u~~~:c toverage of the that is o~/y anthropoloBisls n~'"B. and undertook eparallOn for I'he meeti'ng. the mission. Allh":: ~resenled firstal eussions ~hat wer'~~ Id nHyto revise his papcr I g hea~h conlribu· e at the Seminar no ' n ! e I. It Was hen I e Seminar wouid : ael. renee. and 10 ignore this facI is to miscomprehend the nature of that objec!.ghl of dis. did he. ary. but 'because bourgeois consciousness. 'n socialist' or "an anarchist' by administrators and settlers. of Sociology .the anthropologist sometimes endorsed or condemned particular social changes affccting "his people".ve help and /J1 various Universili e who ean~aSSed Anlhro ~. and al different a~roach this lopic from d.ersiIY of Hull for and Social Anlh unnlson.OLed that in The group which a ~OPIC WOrl'hy of a coni A has never providin f mel WIshes 10 Ihank h . WllhoUI ::~:menl. has always contained within itself profound contradictions and ambiguities-and therefore the potentialities for transcending itself.Iaken place.. or as the simple reOeetion of colonial ideology. value·free) sludy of 'olher cullurcs' hclped to mark off Ihe anthropologist's ! enterprise from thM of colonial Europeans (the trader.18 among some critics anU'"defenders of INTROOUCTION ing as though ~he doclrines and analyses labelled 'funclionalism' wcre parts of a highly inlegraled logical structure_) Its analysesof holislic polilies mosl of all.{ a handfUl of regarded cOlonia/jsme:~ury sl~ee't was found«J Ihe A. did this not merely reveal one fa cot of -the 'hysterically intolerant character of colonialism as a system. do any more or any less than many colonial Europeans who accepted colonialism as a system? If he was sometimes accusingly called "a Red'. Nor was the colonial system as such-within which soci~i 8nthro~logy INTRODUCTION of speak- • Ihe social objccts sludied were localed-analysed -by the social anthropologis!.." Which as 0 an argumenl over a quarter o::cse"ousl~inl~rcsled. Ihe Wo ~.'. I say this not because I subscribe to the anthropological establishment's comforta'ble view of itself. For these contradictions to be adequatcly apprehended it is cssential to turn to the historical power I be scparatod from all that has been said soJar.:. For any objccl which is subor· dinaled and manipulated is partly the product of a power relation· ship. been made 10 I sure thaI logelh~~~yany unlly On Ihem'.a~ facf/ilies for the Sen:i:a~. we Conslant eneour:..f Mareh 1973 -.

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