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Possible Modernities Author(s): James Faubion Source: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp.

365-378 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/656483 . Accessed: 05/10/2011 03:43
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with the Calvinists.that era has its born. if Modernityis. it is apparently earnestat least. multidimensional. Nietzsche andthe rest may enrich as much as they undermineone another. For Hans Blumenberg. fragmentalist. in addition. Blumenberg. stricto sensu. Opinions on when. Berkeley Further diacriticsof the modern?Perhapsthose we have are enough. have to make reference such sociotechnical complexes as alphabeticliteracy.It is a matterof such epistemic patternsas those of rationalism. Weber.again among others.quite precisely.In the social sciences. esthough.funcis It a matter politanism. complex. treated. It would. particular. of aestheticschools: primitivist. however. and historicism. it has its practicalinaugurationwith the reformersof the late 18thcenturyand its ethical and philosophical one. as for Habermasand perhaps for Schluchter. and where. For Burckhardt. with Kant. of occupationalroles. nothing else.and egalitarianism. all be right-not. if what they are all talking about is a "concrete universal" in moreor less preciseontological analogywith any other. in near startingpoint in the ItalianRenaissance. KarlLowith locates the rootsof the modernin medievalism. Featurallyambiguous. it is originallyincarnatein GiordanoBruno. it has its outset in some painteror metaphysicianor poet active at or aroundthis century's turn. It is a matterof dispositions:totoward individualism. It would also have to and the differentiation and populationalcondensainclude such demographicprocesses as urbanization to tion. As often.Possible Modernities James Faubion Department of Anthropology University of California. meritocracism.scientism. But they cannot. among others. tionalist.Opinions on which of its dimensionsare more definitive. HaroldBloom locates them in the Hellenistic period. For a variety of literaryscholarsfrom Barzunto Kern.' Burckhardt.For Weber.and for many others of his generation.as a concreteuniversal. which are less. For Foucault.Lowith.bureaucratization. the modernis ontologically ambiguousas well. mass communication. surrealist. Nietzsche appearsto locate them in the Ionia and Attica of the fifth and fourth centuries B. significantlydiffer. Sometimes it is in fact manner. and futurist.The modern as we currentlyknow it is also a matterof politico-ethicalprinciples:secularism. A list of only the most frequentlycited of them would have to include a wide range of organizationalprocesses: industrialization.realist. at least.andpanopticism. and toward empatheticcosmoward participationalism. and with whom the modernera might begin accordinglydiffer as well. 365 .democratization.in the usual historiographical if it is as a treated strict.c.

or system.3largely focused upon one only thing or anotherof modernity'sputative"crystallizations. instancesof which might take hold generalor generalizablestructure can never achieve more thanpartialspeciIf about hermeneutics just anywhere.disagreement. after all). It has not perhapsproliferated as other it has But available. So far. and noematic precipitantsof that condition of loss. in what ancientlywould have been called "the cosmos. Anthropology. or in the existentially . if perhapslong. can properlybe attributed modernity that have settled upon their design for to those it must at least be ascribed less or anothersettled upondoing without one reason for have living thanto those that in the elaborated The one. it has taken very little account of the discursivenessof modernity (a social fact.4no Manchesterianmethodologyis likely entirely to capture. it has been treatedstill differently:as a perfectly or system. though measure in some is originallyWeber's:that modernity. Even when it has addressedconflict." dismodernity ously and discursive and practical. to any social or cultural"system" whatever. of the modem is. of condition is a loss. It has insteadlargely followed recent (and not so recent)2social scientific precedentin presumingthat.Whetheror not. a neverthelesstransitional Whetheror not modernityhas firstor as much as anythingto do with disrupand disintegration. exceptions. as Foucault'sefforts have surelyestablished. past two decades by both Foucaultand point. one. ficity. and somethingthat. instead. and with singularintimacy. yet seribeyond already do with to as much has whether considered "dysfunction. preciselybecause it is witness to the waning of its formeruniverseof study.before it is Blumenberg. moreover. or design for living distinct from "primitivity" or "tradition" but diacritics amenableto the same analyticseven so."5 Anthropology. modernityis indeed a generalizedstructure.economic. organizational. it has tendedto renprominent der it more or less necessarilyephemeral."cannotavoid the moder as easily as it was once able to do.witness to the ever morerapidwaningof the "primitive" and the "traditional. is (whetheror not it acknowledgesit) witness also."and has largelytakenas its analyticalarchetypeone or anotherof modernity'sputativelybetterwroughtand demonstrablystable sociocultural formations-a ratherabstractUnited States amongthem.366 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY pecially in the last 30 years. ultimatelyanyway. within which. the loss of faith in an "ethically ordered" anythingelse. of the modem canits the hermeneutics if can never exhaust it object. even less of the existential uncertaintybeneath. to the demographic. those not. however. It is even unlikely that we wouldtalk of modernityat all. few a with It has else. unlikely at least thatwe would conceive of it quite so diversely. were we not also uncertainabout the characterof the present.as with anydisintegration. and of our place within it. however. fully not seem even to fix one. life world.Even Geertz's divisive "age of ideology" (1973:254) would appearto be a less thanfully modernand.and the self. political.technological. ruption.it in any case has somethingto do with tion and disagreement them. commensuratewith the inThe indeterminacy of the objects (or whateverthey might be) to which talkof modernity determinacy almost invariablyalludes: the present. among things.

as yet. epistemic. as much as it is a problem of suddenly finding onself with "beliefs. entangledin a rathermore complex political. With them. It perhapsrests less even in that discoverythan in the discovery that the bases of one's own "beliefs" may be no better(andno worse) thananyone else's." We insteadfind ourselves.It perhapsrests less in the mere discovery thatone's own "beliefs" differ from someone else's than in the discovery that one's own "beliefs" have been acquiredquite differentlyfrom someone else's. betterput.or the Netherlands." its assault upon the sanctity or preeminenceof whateveraristocracyor plutocracyor oligarchy or other caste or castelike regime happens to be in the way. On the otherhand. days at least. for example. obviously enough. or refashioning.between decisionism and loyalism.POSSIBLEMODERNITIES 367 uncertainaftermathof which. they thus seem more or less withoutrespiteto have them. pretation do we find ourselves in an utterlydisenchanted. It may. moreover. is less revolutionarythan revisionary. too). it would appearto be only one sign or pecially important.the subversionperhapsnot of statusascriptionbutof the finitudeandclosure of status hierarchieswould from a variety of scholarly sources appearto be esOn the other hand. the problem. thatchallenge would appearnot to lead to quite the resultsthatWeberhimself most fearedand fromwhich his own horrifiedinterof modernity. Call it the Problemof Foundations. is at the very least not one of fashioning.for thatmatter. or so I would submit. Whether in Japan. many (it supposed)we have not.howeverjust in its way. Nowhere.many of which we have already which be of could seen." and accordingly. the cosmos cannot preserve the integrityit once may have enjoyed.and even when most successful. receivedremotely . whetherin other "older" states or in a of thatdualism is in any case no more varietyof "newer" ones. provoke a retreat frommodernityquite as often as it propelsa marchin the otherdirection. It is not firstthe problem of suffering(thoughit is sometimes construedas one). Typically. it appearsrarely. Whetheror not such states strikingthanthe apparently as those which we inhabitneed their share of decisionists as much as their share of loyalists. technocracy's "challenge. I think. though not universally.if ever.the cosmos from the ground up. largelyderived. may be the most widespreadmotor of sociocultural change: an emergent technocracy (compare. it seems to be no less transitory thanabiding. however. characteristically and naggingly modem even so. with doubts.or America.or still more ways of seeing and being tends to foster.6 of these symptom what. It is the impetus. or triple. 248-249). it in any case also resides. Even when revolutionary. Among those precipitants.thatany relativelysustainedclash betweendual.The problem thatpoliticalcumepistemic cum valuationaldualismsfoster. and valuationaldualism:betweenthe zweckrationaland the wertrationalperhaps. It has not. of both conflicts and innumerable crystallizations. Once it gains a foothold. the instauration obdurate permanenceof it. But the problemof foundationsis. Geertz 1973:236. It is by no means exclusively modern.utterlyroutinized"iron cage. nor even firstthe problem of absurdity(though it is sometimes construedas that one. It is consequentlynot the primordial Problem of Meaning that Weber saw as thefons et origo of religious idea- tion and thatGeertzhas more recentlyexpandedfor us. simply to disappear. as we modems cannot but be well aware.

parture The problemof foundationsdoes not. "modernity" (as Blumenbergunderstands it) is precisely not a bridging. to some degree. it is concernedwith a period remarkablefor its many political and epistemic and valuationaldualisms. sometimesexploits. likely compromisedby its imbeddedness. otherwise put. and even how modernitybegins is. againin severalvariants. and hence of being plausiblyclose to what "we" moders take "our" modernityto be. also the workinghypothesisof Blumenberg's The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (1983). It is strictlyhistoriographical.not least because it incidentallyunderscoresa numberof other conceptions and vantages and practicesthat the anthropologyof modernity. It is insteadan alternative. I think. not a synthesis.but one that it distinctivelyleaves unsolved. strictlyand solely conpolemical. and it begins not from an ideationalcoalescence but ratherfrom a precursoryhiatus: between the Hellenistic doctrineof the Deus absconditusand its "anti-gnostic" Medievaldenial. As its title indicates.foundedupon or flowing from "self-assertion": An existentialprogram. sometimesembraces. it perhapshas the virtue of offering about as concise a fulcrumfor comparingnot only one and anothernative view of modernitybut also one and anothermodernnative's views as can at presentbe hoped. In otherterms. and progress. the treatise is it is. Every conception of modernityis a socioculturalfact. moreover. free will. It has not been recognized. it is: if not exclusively moder.has as yet barely touched. [1983:138] The program. all the ethno- . after a fashion anyway. cerned with the history of certain Western ideas: "curiosity. more or less in the "here andnow" (cf. All the same. also Foucault 1984:40ff). either. the problemof foundationsis quite so characteristically modernbecauseit imposesthose very phenomenologicalboundaries againstwhich the "modernsensibility" has." originality. Ratherthe contrary: it is one thatmodernitymanages. still the fairly precise point of defor anythingwe might reasonablyidentify as a modem bent or turning. and where.His conceptionof self-assertion. It is. Of thathiatus.arisenand in veiled or explicit referenceto which thatsame sensibilityhas.however. withoutbenefitof the guidanceof ethicalor intellectualabsolutes. Among them. for what. open to dispute. those that are.368 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY the anthropologicalattention it merits.7 Indeed.not simply "in history" but productivelyandreproductively "historicizing" are perhaps the most neglected. have a distinctivelymodernsolution. if also open to dispute. an imbeddedinstallationin the inventionof the very thing to which it refers. among others. accordingly. like the practiceof self-assertion. is still instructive. not a resolutionof any sort at all. Because of and beyond that.accordingto which [one] posits his existence in an historical situationand indicatesto himself how he is going to deal with the realitysurrounding him and what use he will make of the possibilities thatare open to him. however. it has the virtue of being neither entirely speculative nor entirely new. Beyond that. The proposalat least has the virtueof a certainintuitiveappeal.Blumenberg'sconception of when.come into its own.every conceptionis. is simply one of getting along. in several distinctvariants. indeed anthropology.

On to dialogue. in the shadowsof the same condition.less at the maintenance the "improvement"and "overcoming" of the socially and culturallygiven-at times. They obviously do not compel one to conclude that modernityis inherentlywithouteitherstabilityor systematicity. are modern. Even . more provisionalphenomenologicaland social regions that appearto unfold in the absence of ready absolutes. also substantively. in any case appearto be obligatory. tends not to dissolve but surelyto be blurredas a consequence. to pluralvoices? The end is admirable. or be soon to exist. We may all be existing. People are. or the materialimplicationsof what is arguablythe most perduringof specifically modem debates:between one or anotherexpression of positivistic constructivismandone or anotherexpressionof factitiousor scientisticdeterminism. comfortingdichotomy between self and other. a certain resort to post-structuralist. however circumof debates and othercriticalperformances scribed. Perhapsthey also suggest something of what is involved in inhabitingthe less certain. it leaves us still stratequite poorly versed in either the social precipitants." of course. guided by the conviction that.POSSIBLEMODERNITIES 369 graphicresearchfrom Malinowskiforwardinto one or anothersense of a mythic or legendarypast remainsstill almost entirely uncomplemented by researchinto the ecology or the semiotics of one or anotherantinecessitarian sense of the contingencyof boththe past andthe present. more perspectival.whetheror not that distinction is even justifiable.areno moreeccentrican aspectof modernity thancertaintypes of consonanceand constancy. for very good reasons.one legitimatedandinstitutional critical performanceamong many academic others. however. I find it largely utopian. we can demand of anyonewhat we can demandof ourselves.But I confess that. However peculiar. neither we noranthropology can be muchof anythingelse. in many otherrespects. Whetheror not the commitment was what Levi-Strausshad in mind when he distinguishedprimitivesocieties from their "hotter" (and more modern)contraries.8Whateverelse the hermeneuticsof modernitymay or may not have to be. too. Short of being in bad faith. it must certainlybe a hermeneuticsof self. the legitimation and. radicallyto differ. to consideringthat project. is anthropology.the sense thatperhapsthings do not have to be just as they are.But perhapsthey suggest insteadthat a portionat least of modernity'sactual stabilityand systemand reconstructionaticitylies in a commitmentto socioculturaldeconstruction a commitment. often distrustfulof dialogue. The lacuna is a ponderousone. the same existential problematic. Not least.But our situationscontinue. the same loss. For the anthropology of modat the ernity least. One may hope they always will. "We. How to proceed?Certainlynot by reinstatingsome latter-dayversionof a mission civilisatrice. such achievements suggest at least that certaintypes of conflict. It consequentlyleaves us poorly versed in what is arguablythe most "peculiar" of specifically modem achievements. all of us being equal. of intermittent disharmony.at least. of course. and whetherwe like it or not. than at manifestlyand.the institutionalization aimed."post-textual" hermeneutics of some aspects of modernity would.the representational gies. it would seem. though for the interpretation more than others. even between subjectandobject. after several months in the field. So. even of "the social" and "the cultural"themselves.

Prime Minister Papandreou.amid widespreadcomplaint. in diverse domains.initiated a determinedand fairly sober instructional campaignagainstthe contractionand spreadof AIDS. which has a devastatingcivil warless thanfourdecadesbehind it. "austerity. Moreor less concomitantly. now as before straightforwardly .arrangements ing were finalizedfor the releasingof nationalratio stationsfrom state control. at the urging and with the partialfinancial supportof the government.A furious contestationbetween the Orthodox Synod and the governmentover the Church's administrative province stirreda spectacularmass outcry and the virtual secession of a cohort of Mount Athos thathadbeen years in the makmonks. so when the Americanambassador overtly accusedcertainhigh Greekofficials of having bargainedwith terrorists. The place.370 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY when they are willing to converse.finally tabled. In the spring. conciliatory statement from the courts. though less in the simple nameof recordingthe Other'svoice thanin the name of putting our own into question. be spokenof as its centralcontemporary modstructural-functional reckonings anyway. they are often unwilling to be quoted. a Soviet-sponsoredplan to constructan aluminumfoundrywithinthe boundaries of the Delphic landscapewas. which neverthelessdid not entirelydo away with a generalsentimentof fear and suspicionand which did not preventa groupof registerednursesandlaw enforcementagentsfrom seizing and a Spanish singer who arrivedin the countryto false claims that she quarantining was sufferingfromthe disease. We cannotin any case insist upon symposia. are nothing new to Greece. even of the most chasmic sort. and a qualifieddenouncement. from the firstpanel on discrimination Parliament's European againsthomosexuals. and which has remainedvery much in socioculturalmotion ever since.some few weeks later. Habermassuggests that enlightenmentdepends upon a "therapeuticself-critique" (1984:21). In Januaryof 1987. by most of the morefacile cally. and the projectedplant's site relosurcatedelsewhere.During the same period.rifts. On the other hand. the popularmedia. and what might. in short." significantlyreorganizedhis Cabinet(and has since significantlyreorganizedit again). on the otherhand. met with an unheardof public backlash. We can listen. insistentcalls for election from a resurgentRight. afterlengthy local debate and persistentdisapprovalfrom various of the membersof the EuropeanEconomic Community. and a series of strikesin oppositionto a long-standingand supposedly anti-inflationary policy of litotita. and indeed changingso rapidlyas to make any resortto a singular"native's point of view" daringat best and to make most resortsto the ethnographic presentnot simply artificialbut positively laughable. Conflicts. The presenceof Americanmilitarybases anddisagreements the more continued to Greece's in NATO rounding membership provokeunrest. The anthropologyof modernity can. is changing. A disputeover educationalfundinganduniversity admissionsresultedin severalhostile encountersbetweenthe responsibleMinister and discontentedstudents. I think. Greece is still Greece. a subsequent. roughly or heuristiscene is. for example. PresidentSartzetakis'refusalto commutethe sentence of a certain ChristosRoussos. aspireat presentto that. convicted in 1976 and under circumstancesthat have repeatedlybeen examined and discussed of the murderof his male lover.

POSSIBLEMODERNITIES 371 endowed er. however. Greece is in many respects modem without. it would. since the late '50s.with it. there are even quite a few who are passionatelyinterestedin the very topic of "modernity" itself. as it were. the more purelyDemotic neoterikotita. they have." he said.we are.and is not "good Greek". has largelyartistic ficultieseven with the lexeme: modernikotita. The twist. but a practicallyunavoidable one all the same. "Politically. views are diverse.thatof "poly-mentality. There are difis not. overtones." is a just-born coinage of hardlyany currencywhatever. perhaps. urban. so to speak. with its fair shareof institutionsof critique. The paradox of an imported or invasive modernity is. a traditional sometimesused. in my acquaintance." Indeed. It is correlativelyresponsiblefor complicatingthattask with the categorial requisite also of defining and directing Greece's relation to the several territoriesof "the West"-a nonentity.also seem to be wrought by a quite . The irony imbeddedwithinit is above all the ironyof what in Bourdieu's(1984:120ff) sense once put mustbe nameda "dominated"freedom. Hence. in what might otherwise seem a quite consistent tableauarises precisely there:the topic of "modernity" one. the stratummost frequentlycalled upon not simply to face it but to make some articulateassizementof it as well. in those respects Greece looks altogetherlike its WesternEuropeansisters.9 The constitutionallydemarcatedapparatuses derived.provenquite adept. as intent upon one or anotherprogramof selfassertion. An industrialdemocracy.ambiguous between "modernism" and "modernity. but within it perhaps most acutely by the culturalelite. "we are not a colony. The agents of industrialization have. The irony is in anycase importantly responsiblefor makingthe taskof defininganddirecting the Greeksituationquite as fraughtwith uncertaintyand quite as exasperatingas in fact it is. With its most commonparadox.as accustomedto gettingalong withoutbenefitof the guidanceof ethical and intellectual absolutes as any soi-disant "modem" could ever hope to be. Culturally. however. less tractable." the stratum to which my own fieldworkwas largely confined. On this matteras on so many others. One of my native interlocutors the matterin severe summaryfor me." whetherin the artsor in politics or in the no less vivid domainof personaldeportment.If thereis such a specifiably"Greek" modernity. the least absolutistof those with which I am acquaintedis far less preoccupiedwith either "hellenicity" or "occidentality" as such than with the creative and re-creativepotentialof juxtaposing the hellenic "here" with one or anotheroccidental "there. Among the "culturalelite.The topic is not the only import. there are moreoverthose who are as gracefully cosmopolitan. been no more often native than forof governmentare primarily eign. It is a relativelyrecentimport." The force of thatirony is of course felt beyond Greece. from those of Franceand Belgium. largely literate.its content at least would seem to flow quite precisely fromthat(often ironic)juxtaposition." Greekshave been burdened for centuries.either. having become so. if there is a stylistically integral"Greek modem.' Any institutionalimportationor invasion is likely to spawn paradox. The most gracefully cosmopolitan. participationist. Among them. from the authorof the Byzantine epic Diyenis ("Double-born")Akritasto Nikos Kazantzakis.thoughnot quite so recently.

see Manezis 1986:37) and topiki aftodhiikisi("local self-government":a sort of administrative federalismfirstbroughtto Greekcountrysideby the Leftist resistanceduring the Second WorldWar). imagined. in some measure. be in more strikingcontrastto those ethoses typicalof segments immediatelyunderneath. and above all to be educatedabroad-particularly in Paris. and the life chancesof the older. "interiorist"wing of the CommunistLeft. The several ethoses of that segment could not. and on the AmericanEast Coast. and frequently at odds. in partat least. on the otherhand. Some aremore worldlythanothers. isolationismis not at all dead. Not to be equated with the socioculturalupperclass. Somewhat to be strongly"developmentaltoo ambivalent over the worthof industrialization ist" (cf. Sophisticationin the exploitationof thatjuxtaposiof the "here" and the "there" tion.If the Greek middle class has even morecause to worryover the securityof its (dominated)native standingthanthe lower ones. It favors educationalas well as most other sorts of self- . is also a self-consciously uppercompetency. traditionalism In Greece as most everywhereelse. If.the least mystifying and least mystifiedexpressions of it are typically also the most explicitly political. reflectingamong other things the very prodigious sanction given to that sort of polylingual and polyculturalfluency that can only be acquiredby those who have or who know how to obtainresourcessufficientto enable them to travel. to live. pretematuralizing from within. in the (usually partial)instrumentalization and in the creative playing off of the one against the other. but also in Berlin. But many of thembetraya decidedly reaction against victimization. Middle readingsof the relationsbetweenGreece andthe West arecorrespondingly dense. for example. In Greece particularly. No doubt it reflects. managerialfraction. in London.Sophisticationin the handling of thejuxtapositionof the hellenic "here" and the occidental "there" is in fact a quite self-conscious and quite inexpendableuppercompetency. are neverthelessobjectively mosuch models of and models for self-preservation tivated. do in fact belong to the upperclass. But it also reflectsthe confidenceprecisely of thatsocial segment that. that is in partbecause it has more to lose.They do not imply a returnof the cosmos. on the other hand. having least cause to worry over either the security or the dominanceof its native standing. the platformof the moderate. its life chances are no less dependentupon the convolutionof international logistics than those of its lower analogues. else. and Hansen 1972:340).372 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY uniformcadre. from withoutor from both. Mystificationsperhaps. in Greece as most everywhere of that sort is largely dead. Schneider. threatened.Schneider.or real. that platformin any case favors aftodhiakhirisi(the self-managementof foreign enterprise. in copious possession of both social and culturalcapital. that cadre would neverthelessappearto be largely if not entirelycomposedof personswho. Hence. a still dominatedfreedom. is consequently least likely to see either the "here" or the "there" as a preternatural agency to be adoredor to be despised but in any case altogetherbeyond being manipulatedor put to use. they are less easily calculable. " Thatconjunctionis by no meanscoincidental. in that respect. proprietary fractionof the middleclass in any case calculable differentlyfrom those of the newer.

" "Greekness"). the interioristplatformis neutralist. diaxenomaniaorxenolatria ("madmetricallyopposedto the stridentlyantinostalgic ness for the foreign. or supposedly existed. Unlike its pro-Soviet. a largely unilateralundertaking.and perhaps. "exteriorist" counterpart. Evidently enough Western.Like the platformof all otherGreekparties. Against it as well.dehave also stimulated and exacerbateda widependency and peripheralization spreadandself-suspectingcomplex of "relativedeprivation"-more preciselyof 12The highly selective andoccasionallydis"culturalfallenness" or degradation. beyond one of Europe's highest rates of unemployment. in our supI not infrequently was. It is conversely and quite understandably political andeconomic ties to the accordinglyagainstGreece's deeply entrenched capitalistempires. on the otherhand. especially the United States. and particularly in a nostalgiafor the rustic and insularpuritiesof a Greece that existed.either.the liberalprofessionals. briefly put. and rathermore like the platformof Papandreou's rulingPanhellenic Socialist Movement. is in any case due perhapsless to its being stringentlyCommunist(in fact it is not) thanto its offering a cogentrepresentational strategyof resistance-and not simply againsteconomic domination.it is moreoveralmostexclusively a platform of principle. less negationalthaninversional. social. but moremystified." "worship of the foreign": often heard in Demotic) characteristicof those fractionsof the newer middle class whose store of economic. and culturalcapital is almost entirely derived by association. I discovered myself in the role of the enviable em- . Its most usual proponents but from various higher class sectors: accordinglycome not from the proletariat the culturallydominantbut economically dominated literati. I not infrequentlydiscovered myself in the role of the corrosive invader. direct. approving gaze of the touristandthe foreign scholarhas only reinforcedthatcomplex. beyond urbanpollution and urbansprawl. sometime in the not too distantpast:before the junta. No less frequently. certainlyless literaland political thansymbolic and sentimental. also has expression-still typically middling. The literati.Its abidingpostulate:if Greece is fallen. duringthe interludebetween the Firstand Second WorldWars. anthropologystill being. Isolationism. and the petite bourgeoisie have alike sufferedfrom it most. Beyond at least one militaryjunta. "Essentialist"in Geertz'sprecise sense of thatterm(1973:241).with one or anothermanufactural Both sorts of sentimentfind an easy enough object in the ethnographer-this one at least. It is.andit is in principleandby principleneither"vulgarly" Marxistnor "vulgarly" enthusiasticabout "cultural" revolutions. Its metataxicappeal. the culturallyrespectable"liberalprofessionals.however. the interioriststrategyis. before industrialization. director inor academicenterprise of or in the West.POSSIBLEMODERNITIES 373 againstdependency. With little chance of enactment." "popular"). posedly postcolonialera. and is sufficiency. It is occasionally displaced into a love of everything laiko ("laic." and the culturallyrespectfulpetite bourgeoisie (Manezis 1986:37). the capitalistWest has made it fall even further. it is unabashedlynationalist. it is occasionally displacedas well into a rathermore abstractpreoccupationwith the "true" substanceof ellinikotita("Hellenicity. considerablyless resistive than merely reactive-in nostalgism. odd in some respects. however.

so.and relentlesslyweird splendor. is likely to be arduouseverywhere. We can. whether we can be free of all bias. thatalternativeis of no mean impactat all.neither"essentialistic" nor "modernistic.pro-Westemismis. at least remindourselvesthata self-serving reverenceof modernityis bound to do no more anthropologicalgood than the orientalizingromanticizationof the primitive has already done. and that in its suitability-which is somethingelse besides either its effortlessnessor its adaptabilbut its moralweight in fact lies.is ratherthat the task of being and becoming modern is likely to be quite differentfrom one place to the next. ity-not simply its anthropological . in partbecauseof the endowmentsof those who pursue it. the convolutionsof international logistics thuspress an alreadyoperativeschizmogenesisnot simplytowardsentimentalbut also towardstylistic extremes. Nostalgia and its opposite are. Not everyone is at leisure to gamble with what he or she has."frequentlywielded as well. It is manifestsometimes in an antipopulistsnobbery. in the name of authenticityamong other things. a greatmany of them have surrendered to its seductionsall the same. however it might differ from place to place.as the modem "alternative"is likely to be of little sociocultural impact." for thatmatterneither"epochalistic" (Geertz 1973:241) nor necessarily "developmentalistic"either. all the more hostile perhapsbecause both are in competitionfor the same sociocultural resources-in any event. The issue is not. in Greece or anywhereelse. I was in fact once told. certainlynot as an ideology. the symbolic isolationist and his or her "modernistic"altershow an almost compulsive scorn for one another. thatis perhapsbecause socioculturalresourcesand socioculturalspaces are indeed scarce. We cannotbe. As elsewhere. on the otherhand. perhaps. and hence thatmodernityitself is likely to be not one but many things. That surrender is manifest in the mannerismand the mimeticismof many of the accoutrementsand denizens of Athens' more chic quartiers. the Greek modem is somewheremore leisurely in between. sometimes in a "taste" for the folk.that "hegemony was pro-Westerism I was busily attempting just fine". however.13but instead. and moreabstractly. is. and whetheror not others of his same class cohort would be quite so convincedof hegemony's goodnesses. A decidedly unsettlingethnographic(and of course ethnocentric)condescension has on several occasions already resulted from making far too little of that arduousness."'Anti-Westernism. usually in the nameof an "escape from backwardness. in all its particularly unisolated. The lesson.is also thatthe task of being and becoming modern. which has steadily climbed as more andmore money has been spent on Westerntrappingsand Westernluxuries. what might be spokenof perhapsnot as an ethos. by an up-and-comingrightist and newer middle politician whose undaunted to debunk.frantic.Neithernostalgicnor antinostalgic. too.It is manifestin the nationaldebt. The lesson is not that. perhapsnot to what the world once was but to what. The lesson. Not coincidentally. If a meeting of minds is unlikely. in Greece.it is now. sentiments of duress.In Greeceat least.374 CULTURALANTHROPOLOGY issary of an enviable land whose bounties could be but dreamed. The issue is whetherand to what extent it mightbe plausiblethatthe "modernalternative"is suited. for the same sociocultural"space. a weapon frequently wieldedin thatinternalcontest. in Greece as perhapselsewhere. perhaps.

Kern's "rhe(andpro-Romanticism) appeared torical" portraitof a "cubist" modernity. most eloquently. 1956). for those exceptions. 1963). "Hellenizing" construalof modernity. cf. ed. Blumenberg'sargumentin The Legitimacyof the Modern Age is specifically directed against Karl Lowith's "medievalizing" and secularizationist readingof modernity(Lowith 1949.POSSIBLE MODERNITIES 375 Notes I would like to thankMia Fullerfor readingandcommentingupon sevAcknowledgments.I was affiliatedwith the Academy of Athens' Centerfor Researchon GreekSociety. the first (and still virtuallythe only) analysis of the historicizingcon- sciousness undertaken by an anthropologistis to be found in the closing chapterof The . 2Parsons is by far the most influential. Foucault 1970:218-220). For Blumenberg'sposition. 1946b:139-142. 3See. 7So far as I know. in particular.pace. Similarly. more precisely perhaps. I would like to thank the staffs of the Instituteof International Educationand of the American EducationalFoundationin Greece for proandadvice before. 6Seeespecially Fallers' essay in Old Societies and New States (1963:158-219). Pierre Riviere . See. Romantic. and would like to thankGrigorisGizelis.of the "Classical. see Habermas'firstvolume of The Theory of Communicative Action (1984:211-226).after Nietzsche (cf. Weber's position is to be found in the closing pages of The ProtestantEthic (1958:180-183). (Foucault. a manifestoof antimodernism in 1943. The Culture of Time and Space: 1880-1918 (1983). in which the politico-epistemics of reformismare given center stage. Compare Wolfgang Schluchter'sRise of WesternRationalism(1981). and Modern. Financial supportwas provided by the ITT International Fellowship Foundation. While vidingme with information there.Blumenberg(1983:137ff) and Weber (on disenchantment. andfor numerouschallengingandproductivediscussionsas well. 4Aparticularly starkportrait anddiscussionof characteristically modernpolitico-epistemic battlingmay be found in I. The most recent. 155. and singularlysubtle.ed. comparably. On the ideationaland attitudinallineamentsof modernity. but somewhat differently. has appeared in HaroldBloom's Agon (1982). see Foucault's "What is Enlightenment?"(1984). The observationsupon which this article is based were collected from October 1986 throughJune 1987. on the loss of the "ethically ordered" cosmos.Beyond the Foundation. eralearlierdraftsof this article. 1975). and more explicitly stated in Discipline and Punish (1979:105-131)." the collapse of which in any case allowed the "modernepisteme" to emerge (cf. Bourdieu(1972) and Rabinow (1975). 5Foucault spoke less of "the cosmos" than.andaftermy stay in the field.advice. . Blumenberg1983:27-35). See. precisely40 years later. Comparealso oped statement appearsas Structure Bendix's more particularistic "Traditionand ModernityReconsidered"(1967). Parsons'most develessays and Process in ModernSocieties (1960). Eva Kalpourtzi.Lerner(1958) and the several collected in Old Societies and New States (Geertz. 1946a:350-357). Foucault's position is quite elegantly suggested in the second part of The Order of Things (1970:217-221). I would especially like to thankPaul Rabinow. and patience as well. 'See Burckhardt (1954). Barzun'sClassic.and Iliana Andonakopoulou of the Centerfor theirconsiderableinformation.. see The Legitimacyof the Modern Age (1983:469ff). for similar readingsandcomments. during.

processualistview of the relationbetween culturalconceptions and temporalevents (cf. however. "Hereand in the pages thatfollow I use not Marx's notion of class but ratherBourdieu's. quasi-officialand unofficial rangedduringmy stay from between9 and 20%. there is very little doubt aboutthe CIA's facilitative role in bringingthe colonels to power.Comparative 1967 Tradition tory 9(2):292-347. modernity is not itself a "model of and model for" the managementof any particular practicalproblem whatever-not even the problem of foundations. Harold 1975 A Map of Misreading. Bendix.and beyond Blumenemergedandhas succeededin reproducing berg. . Similarly. Reinhard Studiesin Society andHisandModernityReconsidered. thoughit veers in its assertionthathistoryis a methodwithoutan object (1966:262) so far from ethnographic reality as to underminethe force of its largerargument. Among them. 1985:144ff) seems to me not to offer a very promisingapproachto an analysis of the conditions underwhich that consciousness has itself.Sahlins' more recent study (1985) has in fact almost nothing to say about the specifically historicizing consciousness. It seems to me. '2On American. 9Forthe periodbetween 1960 and 1966. Bloom. At most. either.g. See Bourdieu'sDistinction (1984:xi-xii). for example.and Modern. fully half of all industrial investments in Greececame from multinational In one-third of the industrial Greek 1970. scholarlyopinion (see..Jacques 1943 Classic. It is indeed much less appreciated to be.New York:Oxford UniversityPress." References Cited Barzun. Oxford:Oxford UniversityPress. corporations. 1983:94). '3Foucault (1984) indeed suggests that modernitybe substantivelyconstruedas an ethos. or status group. Among the Greek public. sectorwas still foreign. '?Thepoint has been made by several native scholarsas well. that modernity. whatevertheirpurposes. Romantic.conceived as I have been particularly conceiving it throughoutthis article as a personalcondition. would betterbe construed as imposingcertainphenomenologicalconstraintspreclusiveof the formationof certainethoses andfacilitativeof the formationof a varietyof others. and his continualist. HaroldBloom's "practicalpoetics. foreign. As for the rate of unemployment. at least in print.Chicago: Universityof Chicago Press. 328ff) and HaydnWhite (1973). particularly e.376 CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY than it ought Savage Mind (L6vi-Strauss1966:258ff). 83-105).involvementin the 1967junta. as the obvious enough differenceof ethos between such a modem as Kant and such a modem as Foucaultitself indicates.Veremis 1986:141-142) is generally cautious.Tsoukalas 1981:190ff.estimates official. seeA Map 8Ihave in mindparticularly of Misreading(1975:3-6. it imposes those limits withinwhich such models must. Yanoulopoulos1977:87.be wrought-at least if they are to be "modern. In contrast. See Yannitsis(1986:256. itself a synthesis of Marx's notion and Weber's notion of the Stand. see Foucault(1970:217-221. see Tsoukalas (1983:38-39)." BeyondAgon. 1982 Agon: Towardsa Theoryof Revisionism.

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