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O n Ethnographic Allegory

99

JAMES CLIFFORD

O n Ethnographic Allegory
1 . a story in which people, things and happenings have another meaning, as in a fable or parable: allegories are used for teaching or explaining. 2. the presentation of ideas by means of such stories. ..."

the child." I got u p , took a blanket and covered Tashay with it; h e was still sleeping. T h e n I took another blanket and my smaller duiker skin covering and I left. Was I not the only one? T h e only other woman was Tashay's grandmother, and she was asleep in her hut. So, just as I was, I left. I walked a short distance from the village and sat down beside a tree. . . . After she was born, I sat there; I didn't know what to d o . I had n o sense. She lay there, m o v i n g her arms about, trying to suck her fingers. She started to cry. I just sat there, looking at her. I thought, "Is this my child? W h o gave birth to this child?" T h e n I thought, "A big thing like that? H o w could it possibly have c o m e o u t from my genitals?" I sat there and looked at her, looked and looked a n d looked. (1981:1-3) T h e story h a s g r e a t i m m e d i a c y . Nisa's voice is u n m i s t a k a b l e , t h e e x p e r i e n c e s h a r p l y e v o k e d : " S h e lay t h e r e , m o v i n g h e r a r m s a b o u t , t r y i n g to s u c k h e r fingers." B u t as r e a d e r s w e d o m o r e t h a n r e g i s t e r a u n i q u e e v e n t . T h e story's u n f o l d i n g r e q u i r e s us, first, to i m a g i n e a diff e r e n t cultural n o r m ( ! K u n g birth, a l o n e in the bush) a n d t h e n to r e c o g n i z e a c o m m o n human e x p e r i e n c e (the q u i e t h e r o i s m o f c h i l d b i r t h , f e e l i n g s o f p o s t p a r t u m w o n d e r a n d d o u b t ) . T h e story o f an o c c u r r e n c e s o m e w h e r e in the K a l a h a r i D e s e r t c a n n o t r e m a i n j u s t that. It i m p l i e s b o t h local c u l t u r a l m e a n i n g s a n d a g e n e r a l story o f b i r t h . A d i f f e r e n c e is p o s i t e d a n d t r a n s c e n d e d . M o r e o v e r , Nisa's story tells us ( h o w c o u l d it not?) s o m e t h i n g basic a b o u t w o m a n ' s e x p e r i e n c e . Shostak's life o f a !Kung i n d i v i d u a l inevitably b e c o m e s a n a l l e g o r y o f (female) humanity. I a r g u e b e l o w that these kinds o f t r a n s c e n d e n t m e a n i n g s a r e n o t a b s t r a c t i o n s o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s " a d d e d " to the o r i g i n a l " s i m p l e " acc o u n t . R a t h e r , t h e y are the c o n d i t i o n s o f its m e a n i n g f u l n e s s . E t h n o g r a p h i c texts are i n e s c a p a b l y allegorical, a n d a serious a c c e p t a n c e o f this fact c h a n g e s the ways they c a n be written a n d r e a d . U s i n g Shostak's e x p e r i m e n t as a case study I e x a m i n e a r e c e n t t e n d e n c y to d i s t i n g u i s h a l l e g o r i c a l levels as specific " v o i c e s " within the text. I a r g u e , finally, t h a t t h e v e r y activity o f e t h n o g r a p h i c writing—seen as inscription o r t e x t u a l i z a t i o n — e n a c t s a r e d e m p t i v e W e s t e r n allegory. T h i s p e r v a s i v e s t r u c t u r e n e e d s to b e p e r c e i v e d a n d w e i g h e d against o t h e r possible emplotments for the performance o f ethnography.
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I n a r e c e n t essay o n narrative V i c t o r T u r n e r a r g u e s t h a t social performances enact powerful stories—mythic and commonsensical— t h a t p r o v i d e the social process " w i t h a rhetoric, a m o d e o f e m p l o t m e n t , a n d a m e a n i n g " ( 1 9 8 0 : 1 5 3 ) . In w h a t follows I treat e t h n o g r a p h y itself as a p e r f o r m a n c e e m p l o t t e d by p o w e r f u l stories. E m b o d i e d in w r i t t e n r e p o r t s , these stories s i m u l t a n e o u s l y d e s c r i b e real c u l t u r a l e v e n t s a n d m a k e additional, m o r a l , i d e o l o g i c a l , a n d e v e n c o s m o l o g i c a l s t a t e m e n t s . E t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t i n g is allegorical at the level b o t h o f its c o n t e n t (what it says a b o u t cultures a n d their histories) a n d o f its f o r m ( w h a t is i m p l i e d b y its m o d e o f textualization). A n a p p a r e n t l y s i m p l e e x a m p l e will i n t r o d u c e m y a p p r o a c h . M a r j o r i e S h o s t a k b e g i n s h e r b o o k Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman w i t h a story o f c h i l d b i r t h the ! K u n g w a y — o u t s i d e t h e v i l l a g e , alone. H e r e are some excerpts: I lay there and felt the pains as they came, over and over again. T h e n I felt s o m e t h i n g wet, the beginning of the childbirth. I thought, "Eh hey, maybe it is 1. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, 2 n d ed. In literary studies definitions of allegory have ranged from Angus Fletcher's (1964:2) loose characterization ("In the simplest terms, allegory says one thing and means another") to Todorov's reassertion (1973:63) o f a stricter sense: "First of all, allegory implies the existence o f at least two meanings for the same words; according to some critics, the first meaning must disappear, while others require that the two be present together. Secondly, this double meaning is indicated in the work in an explicit fashion: it does not proceed from the reader's interpretation (whether arbitrary or not)." According to Quintilian, any continuous or extended metaphor develops into allegory; and as Northrop Frye ( 1 9 7 1 : 9 t ) observes, "Within the boundaries o f literature we find a kind of sliding scale, ranging from the most explicitly allegorical, consistent with being literature at all, at one extreme, to the most elusive, anti-explicit and anti-allegorical at the other." T h e various "second meanings" o f ethnographic allegory I shall be tracing here are all textually explicit. But ethnographies slide along Frye's scale, exhibiting strong allegorical features, usually without marking themselves as allegories.

Literary description always opens onto another scene set, so to speak, "behind" the this-worldly things it purports to depict.
MICHEL BEAUJOUR, "Some Paradoxes of Description"

A l l e g o r y ( G r . alios, "other," a n d agoreuein, "to speak") usually d e n o t e s a p r a c t i c e in w h i c h a n a r r a t i v e fiction c o n t i n u o u s l y refers to a n o t h e r p a t t e r n of ideas o r events. It is a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n that "interp r e t s " itself. I a m u s i n g the t e r m a l l e g o r y in the e x p a n d e d sense r e -

Taussig (1984). W h a t is m a i n t a i n e d i n t h e s e t e x t s is a d o u b l e a t t e n t i o n t o t h e d e s c r i p t i v e s u r f a c e a n d t o m o r e abstract. to t h e observing eye) s e e m s to b e "other. t h e s t r u c t u r e is t o o b l a t a n t : " D u r i n g the ceramic m a n u f a c t u r i n g process. so as to convey.lOO JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 101 c l a i m e d f o r it b y r e c e n t critical d i s c u s s i o n s . so that the parts combine to form a consistent whole. For as J o h a n n e s F a b i a n (1983) a r g u e s . w h a t a p p e a r s descriptively to t h e senses ( a n d primarily. w o m e n converse gently. T o say t h a t e x o t i c b e h a v i o r a n d s y m b o l s m a k e s e n s e e i t h e r i n " h u m a n " o r "cultural" t e r m s is t o s u p p l y t h e s a m e sorts o f allegorical a d d e d m e a n i n g s that a p p e a r in o l d e r narrat i v e s t h a t s a w a c t i o n s as "spiritually" s i g n i f i c a n t . t r a d i t i o n a l . t o e t h n o g r a p h i c " i d e o l o g y " — a l t h o u g h t h e p o l i t i c a l d i m e n s i o n s are always p r e s e n t ( J a m e s o n 1 9 8 1 ) — d r a w s attention to aspects o f cultural description that have until recently b e e n m i n i m i z e d . patterns o f associations that point to c o h e r e n t (theoretical. S t r a n g e b e h a v i o r is p o r t r a y e d as m e a n i n g f u l w i t h i n a c o m m o n network of symbols—a c o m m o n ground of understandable activity valid for b o t h o b s e r v e r a n d o b s e r v e d . t h a t b e f o r e t h e e m e r g e n c e o f s e c u l a r a n t h r o p o l o g y as a s c i e n c e o f human a n d cultural p h e n o m e n a . A l l e g o r y p r o m p t s u s t o say o f a n y c u l t u r a l d e s c r i p t i o n n o t "this r e p r e s e n t s . It is w o r t h n o t i n g . 1982). realism. fortunes. a l w a y s w i t h o u t c o n f l i c t ." while w h a t is s u g g e s t e d b y t h e c o h e r e n t s e r i e s o f p e r c e p t i o n s is a n u n d e r l y i n g s i m i l i t u d e . a n d explanatory levels o f m e a n i n g . T h u s e t h n o g r a p h y ' s n a r r a t i v e o f specific d i f f e r e n c e s p r e s u p p o s e s . (1936 :30) W h a t o n e sees i n a c o h e r e n t e t h n o g r a p h i c a c c o u n t . a n d romanticism—nineteenth-century ingredients o f t w e n t i e t h . i m p o s e d nat u r e o f r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l authority h a s b e c o m e u n u s u a l l y visible a n d c o n t e s t e d . A l l e g o r y d r a w s s p e c i a l a t t e n t i o n t o t h e narrative c h a r a c t e r o f c u l tural r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s . c o m p a r a t i v e . say. . A n "allegorical anthropology" is suggested fairly explicitly in recent works by Boon (1977. F a t h e r Lafitau's f a m o u s c o m p a r i s o n (1724) o f Native A m e r i c a n customs with those o f the ancient H e b r e w s a n d E g y p t i a n s e x e m p l i f i e s a n earlier t e n d e n c y to m a p descriptions o f t h e o t h e r o n t o c o n c e p t i o n s o f t h e "premiers temps. Gerard Genette. . "this is a ( m o r a l l y c h a r g e d ) story a b o u t t h a t . while in disguise. o r "typical" r e l a t i o n s h i p o f p a r t s t o w h o l e s ) — w a s c l o s e l y a l l i e d to t h e r o m a n t i c search for u n m e d i a t e d m e a n i n g i n t h e event. c o s m o l o g i cal n a t u r e o f s u c h w r i t i n g p r o c e s s e s . t o o m u c h a n o p e n i m p o s i t i o n o f m e a n i n g o n s e n s i b l e e v i d e n c e . a b o u t e c o s y s t e m d y n a m i c s . f u n c t i o n a l . t h e r e h a s b e e n a p e r v a s i v i : IcndriK y l o p r e l i g u r e o t h e r s in a t e m p o r a l l y d i s t i n c t .c e n t u r y a n t h r o p o l o g y — a l l r e j e c t e d t h e "false" artifice o f r h e t o r i c a l o n g w i t h allegory's s u p p o s e d abstractness. t o t h e e x t e n t t h a t t h e y a r e " c o n v i n c i n g " o r "rich. A r e c o g n i t i o n o f a l l e g o r y e m p h a s i z e s t h e fact t h a t realistic p o r traits. . a n d by i m p l i c a t i o n f o r all h u m a n g r o u p s . A d a p t i n g Coleridge's f o r m u l a . A t t i m e s . O n e l e v e l o f m e a n i n g i n a t e x t will a l w a y s g e n e r a t e o t h e r l e v e l s . to the stories built into t h e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l p r o c e s s itself. Crapanzano (1980). bui l o - 2. and Tyler (1984a). D e M a n ' s critique o f t h e valorization o f symbols over allegory in romantic esthetics also questions the project o f realism (De M a n 1969). T h i s t w o f o l d s t r u c t u r e is s e t o u t b y C o l e r i d g e i n a classic d e f i n i t i o n . I n e t h n o g r a p h y t h e c u r r e n t t u r n to rhetoric coincides with a p e r i o d o f political a n d epistemological réévaluation in which the constructed. m o r a l ) a d d i t i o n a l m e a n i n g s . Paul D e M a n . Michel d e Certeau. I t a l s o b r e a k s d o w n t h e s e a m l e s s q u a l i t y o f c u l t u r a l d e scription by a d d i n g a temporal aspect to the process o f reading. e t h n o g r a p h i c a c c o u n t s w e r e c o n n e c t e d t o d i f f e r e n t a l l e g o r i c a l r e f e r e n t s . either moral qualities or conceptions of the mind that are not in themselves objects of the senses. that" b u t r a t h e r . a n d a l w a y s r e f e r s t o . and this connectedly. a n abstract p l a n e o f s i m i l a r i t y . T h u s t h e rhetoric o f p r e s e n c e that has prevailed in m u c h post-romantic literat u r e ( a n d i n m u c h " s y m b o l i c a n t h r o p o l o g y " ) is i n t e r r u p t e d . quietly. We may then safely define allegorical writing as the employment of one set o f agents and images with actions and accompaniments correspondent. o r s y m b o l i z e s ." a r e e x t e n d e d m e t a p h o r s . e s t h e t i c . n o t a b l y t h o s e o f A n g u s F l e t c h e r ( 1 9 6 4 ) a n d Paul D e M a n ( 1 9 7 9 ) . Positivism. t h e i m a g e d c o n s t r u c t o f t h e o t h e r . It w a s t o o d e d u c t i v e . U s u a l l y it is l e s s o b v i o u s a n d t h u s m o r e realistic. as h e suggests. C u l t u r a l i s t a n d h u m a n i s t a l l e g o r i e s s t a n d b e h i n d t h e c o n t r o l l e d fictions o f d i f f e r e n c e a n d s i m i l i t u d e t h a t w e call e t h n o g r a p h i c a c c o u n t s ." M o r e o r less e x p l i c i t biblical o r classical a l l e g o r i e s a b o u n d i n t h e e a r l y d e s c r i p t i o n s o f t h e N e w W o r l d . A n y s t o r y h a s a p r o p e n s i t y t o g e n e r a t e a n o t h e r s t o r y i n t h e m i n d o f its r e a d e r ( o r h e a r e r ) . A l l e g o r y ( m o r e s t r o n g l y t h a n " i n t e r p r e t a t i o n " ) calls t o m i n d t h e p o e t i c ." ( W h i t t e n 1 9 7 8 : 8 4 7 ) . T h e claim that nonallegorical description was possible—a position u n d e r l y i n g b o t h p o s i t i v i s t l i t e r a l i s m a n d realist s y n e c d o c h e ( t h e o r g a n i c . and circumstances so that the difference is everywhere presented to the eye or imagination. A l l e g o r y violated t h e c a n o n s b o t h o f e m p i r i c a l s c i e n c e a n d o f artistic s p o n t a n e i t y ( O n g 1 9 7 1 : 6 — 9 ) . t h o u g h I c a n n o t p u r s u e t h e t h e m e h e r e . T h e r e c e n t "revival" o f r h e t o r i c b y a d i v e r s e g r o u p o f literary a n d cultural theorists ( R o l a n d B a r t h e s . T o f o c u s o n e t h n o g r a p h i c a l l e g o r y i n p r e f e r e n c e . " 2 T h e specific a c c o u n t s c o n t a i n e d in e t h n o g r a p h i e s c a n n e v e r b e l i m i t e d t o a p r o j e c t o f scientific d e s c r i p t i o n s o l o n g as t h e g u i d i n g task o f t h e w o r k is t o m a k e t h e ( o f t e n s t r a n g e ) b e h a v i o r o f a d i f f e r e n t w a y o f life h u m a n l y c o m p r e h e n s i b l e . is c o n n e c t e d i n a c o n t i n u o u s d o u b l e s t r u c t u r e w i t h w h a t o n e understands. H a y d e n White. or other images. K e n n e t h Burke. a n d Michel Beaujour a m o n g others) has t h r o w n serious d o u b t o n t h e positivist-romantic-realist consensus. while the likeness is suggested to the mind. agents. t o r e p e a t a n d d i s p l a c e s o m e p r i o r story.

seeks to e v o k e m u l t i p l e (but not limitless) a l l e g o r i e s . "testing" the universality o f stressful a d o l e s c e n c e by e x a m i n i n g a c o u n t e r instance empirically.i n d e p e n d e n t status in the t e x t u a l w h o l e ." o r " e x p l a n a t i o n . with Utopian visions o f h u m a n m a l l e ability a n d fears o f d i s a g g r e g a t i o n . Freeman (1983). I n a r e v e a l i n g h n a l p a g e h e admits as m u c h ." as F r e e m a n p u t s it. " B u t o n c e all m e a n i n g f u l levels in a text. t a k i n g its distance f r o m totalizing a n t h r o p o l o g y ." to a d a p t N o r t h r o p Frye's title ( 1 9 6 3 ) . see Porter 1984. For another treatment in this vein. it b e c o m e s difficult to v i e w o n e o f t h e m as p r i v i l e g e d . B u t w h a t is the scientific status o f a "refutation" that c a n be s u b s u m e d so neatly b y a W e s t e r n m y t h i c o p p o s i t i o n ? O n e is left with a stark contrast: M e a d ' s attractive. VICTOR SEGALEN M e a d ' s " e x p e r i m e n t " in c o n t r o l l e d c u l t u r a l v a r i a t i o n n o w l o o k s less like science t h a n a l l e g o r y — a too sharply f o c u s e d story o f S a m o a s u g g e s t i n g a possible A m e r i c a . 1982. D e r e k Freeman's critique i g n o r e s a n y p r o p e r l y literary d i m e n s i o n s in e t h n o g r a p h i c w o r k ." see De Certeau 1983:128. M o s t d e s c r i p t i o n s o f o t h e r s c o n t i n u e to a s s u m e a n d r e f e r to e l e m e n t a l o r t r a n s c e n d e n t levels o f truth. L i k e R u t h B e n e d i c t in Patterns of Culture ( 1 9 3 4 ) ." "interpretation. with an a p p a r e n t b r e a k d o w n o f established traditions. o f S a m o a n life. 5. e m o t i o n a l . B u t the r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l p r o c e s s itself has n o t essentially c h a n g e d . M e a d w a s simply w r o n g a b o u t S a m o a n s . practical lessons for A m e r i c a n society. 4 7 5 . T h e y a r e v i o lent. O n the origins of this "monotone. strict controls. b u t a r e beset b y all the u s u a l h u m a n tensions. pluralist vision. a n d instead a p p l i e s its o w n b r a n d o f scientism.F r e e m a n c o n t r o v e r s y . d e s i g n e d to p r o p o s e 3. T h i s c o n c l u s i o n e m e r g e s clearly f r o m the r e c e n t M e a d . c o u n t e r i n g M e a d ' s " A p o l l o n i a n " sense o f cultural b a l a n c e with biology's " D i o n y s i a n " h u m a n n a t u r e (essential. t h e p r o b l e m o f p r e s e n t i n g a n d m e d i a t i n g m u l t i p l e s t o r i e s . whose opposing panels signify a r e c u r r e n t W e s t e r n a m b i v a l e n c e a b o u t the " p r i m i t i v e . which explores the literary dimensions of the controversy. 9 9 4 . T h e rest of this section is an expanded version of my review of Nisa in the Times Literary Supplement.9 5 . It has e s c h e w e d a search for origins in f a v o r o f s e e k i n g h u m a n similarities a n d c u l t u r a l d i f f e r e n c e s . a c c o u n t i n g for the rest. M e a d c l a i m e d to b e c o n d u c t i n g a c o n t r o l l e d " e x p e r i m e n t " in t h e field. p e r m i s s i v e p e o p l e she m a d e f a m o u s . O n c e this a n c h o r is d i s l o d g e d . " O n e is r e m i n d e d o f Melville's Typee. s o m e t h i n g a d d e d o n in p r e f a c e s a n d c o n c l u s i o n s . (3) t h e story o f a m o d e o f e t h n o g r a p h i c p r o d u c t i o n a n d r e l a t i o n s h i p (an intimate dia5 4. the t h r e a t o f v i o l e n c e . etc. a n d n o w F r e e m a n ' s S a m o a o f s e e t h i n g tensions. A scientific e t h n o g r a p h y n o r m a l l y establishes a p r i v i l e g e d all e g o r i c a l r e g i s t e r it identifies as "theory. B u t d e s p i t e B o a s i a n r h e t o r i c a b o u t t h e " l a b o r a t o r y " o f fieldwork. 3 Le transfert de l'Empire de la Chine à l'Empire de soi-même est constant. 1983. " b e c o m e s an i m p o r t a n t a r e a o f c o n c e r n for ethn o g r a p h i c w r i t e r s . T w o c o m p e t i n g portrayals o f S a m o a n life are cast as scientific p r o j e c t s . R e c e n t l y this has s o m e t i m e s m e a n t g i v i n g i n d i g e n o u s d i s c o u r s e a s e m i . she h e l d a liberal. A s F r e e m a n sees it. 4 M a r j o r i e Shostak's Nisa e x e m p l i f i e s . h e successfully s h o w s w h a t w a s a l r e a d y e x p l i c i t for an alert r e a d e r o f Coming of Age in Samoa: t h a t M e a d c o n s t r u c t e d a f o r e s h o r t e n e d p i c t u r e . r e s p o n d i n g to t h e d i l e m m a s o f a " c o m p l e x " A m e r i c a n society. (2) the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f a g e n d e r e d subject ( S h o s t a k asks: w h a t is it to b e a w o m a n ? ) . T h e y g e t ulcers.7 6 . for M e a d a n d B e n e d i c t . I n 1 7 0 p a g e s o f e m p i r i c a l o v e r k i l l . T h e i r o p e n l y allegorical p u r p o s e was not a kind o f moral or expository frame for e m pirical d e s c r i p t i o n s . Mead (1923). a n d wrestles with. May 13. a r e r e c o g n i z e d as allegorical. o r " v o i c e s . T h e y a r e not the casual. B u t as F r e e m a n h e a p s u p instances o f S a m o a n a n x i e t y a n d v i o l e n c e . h o w e v e r .). the s t a g i n g a n d v a l u i n g o f m u l t i p l e a l l e g o r i c a l r e g i s t e r s . C l e a r l y s o m e t h i n g m o r e is g e t t i n g e x p r e s s e d t h a n simply the " d a r k e r side. the a l l e g o r i c a l f r a m e f o r his o w n u n d e r t a k i n g b e g i n s to e m e r g e . 1 shall d w e l l o n it at s o m e l e n g t h . T h e entire project o f inventing and representing "cultures" was. i n c l u d i n g t h e o r i e s a n d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . M e a d ' s e x p e r i m e n t p r o d u c e d a m e s s a g e o f b r o a d ethical a n d political significance. . s e x u a l l y l i b e r a t e d .102 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory m o r a l . c a l m Pacific w o r l d . I have drawn on my review of Freeman in the Times Literary Supplement. a s e n s u o u s paradise w o v e n t h r o u g h w i t h d r e a d . ethical u n d e r t a k i n g . C u l t u r a l a n t h r o p o l o g y in the twentieth c e n t u r y has t e n d e d to r e p l a c e ( t h o u g h n e v e r c o m p l e t e l y ) these historical allegories with h u m a n i s t all e g o r i e s . int e r r u p t i n g t h e p r i v i l e g e d m o n o t o n e o f "scientific" r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . T h e i r e t h n o g r a p h i e s w e r e "fables o f identity. a p e d a g o g i c a l . AAA c a t a b l e . September 17. Ind e e d M e a d and Freeman form a kind o f diptych. a n d violent o u t b u r s t s . i n s p i r e d by r e c e n t d e v e l o p m e n t s in s o c i o b i o l o g y . M u c h e t h n o g r a p h y . T h e m a i n b o d y o f his critique is a m a s s i n g o f c o u n t e r e x a m p l e s d r a w n f r o m the historical r e c o r d a n d f r o m his o w n fieldwork. s p a c e (earlier) w i t h i n an a s s u m e d p r o g r e s s o f W e s t e r n history. S h o s t a k explicitly stages t h r e e a l l e g o r i c a l r e g i s t e r s : (1) the r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a c o h e r e n t cultural subject as s o u r c e o f scientific k n o w l e d g e (Nisa is a " ! K u n g w o m a n " ) . T h e e t h n o g r a p h i c stories M e a d a n d B e n e d i c t told w e r e manifestly l i n k e d to t h e situation o f a c u l t u r e s t r u g g l i n g with d i v e r s e values. b u t b o t h c o n f i g u r e the o t h e r as a m o r a l l y c h a r g e d alter e g o .

she n o w a p p e a r e d less u n u s u a l . a n d this l e d h e r to s e e k o u t a n i n f o r m a n t able to p r o v i d e a detailed p e r s o n a l n a r r a t i v e .l o v i n g . a n d e x p e r i e n c e s . T h i s is p a r t i c u l a r l y t r u e o f its o v e r a l l s h a p e . S e c o n d . the b o o k m o v e s constantly. ( A l o n g with o t h e r s t u d e n t s o f g a t h e r e r h u n t e r s . T h e b o o k ' s scientific d i s c o u r s e . is b r a i d e d t h r o u g h t h e o t h e r t w o voices. t h e subject o f t h e b o o k . r a p p o r t . activities. b u t in most o t h e r i m p o r t a n t r e spects she w a s a typical ! K u n g w o m a n " (358).104 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory typical attitudes. p a r t o f the r e i n v e n t i o n o f t h e g e n e r a l c a t e g o r y " w o m a n " in the 1970s a n d 80s.b a s e d r e s e a r c h g r o u p that has studied t h e !Kung S a n h u n t e r . a n d at times e a c h s e e m s to exist p r i m a r i l y in r e s p o n s e to the o t h e r . a n d so o n . Nisa n a r r a t e s a n i n t e r c u l t u r a l e n c o u n t e r in w h i c h t w o i n d i v i d u a l s coll a b o r a t e to p r o d u c e a specific d o m a i n o f t r u t h . t h e a u t o b i o g r a p h y . that o f cultural science. distanced position. M o s t p r e v i o u s a c c o u n t s o f the !Kung. "full" r e p r e s e n t a tion. A n insistent t u g t o w a r d the g e n e r a l is felt t h r o u g h o u t Nisa. this s h a p e d e x p e r i e n c e s o o n b e c o m e s a story o f " w o m e n ' s " e x i s t e n c e . finally. a n d it is n o t w i t h o u t pain that w e find N i s a g e n e r a l i z e d . is i n s e r t e d w i t h i n an o n g o i n g c u l t u r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n (to w h i c h it a d d s " d e p t h " ) . T h i s p o s e d a p r o b l e m for the e x p e c t a t i o n s o f a g e n e r a l i z i n g social science. it m u s t b e e n a c t e d . R o l a n d B a r t h e s ( 1 9 8 1 ) has written p o i g n a n t l y o f a n i m p o s s i b l e science o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l . o f contact a n d c o m p r e h e n s i o n . O n a r e t u r n t r i p to t h e K a l a h a r i . b e l i e v a b l e t o n e s . N i s a is the p s e u d o n y m o f a fifty-year-old w o m a n w h o has l i v e d m o s t o f h e r life in s e m i .) I n d e e d . a k i n d o f fictional. o p e r a t i n g at t h e levels b o t h o f c u l t u r a l d e s c r i p t i o n a n d o f a s e a r c h f o r h u m a n o r i g i n s . T h i s p o l y v o c a l i t y is a p p r o p r i a t e to t h e book's p r e d i c a m e n t . A b r a i d e d n a r r a t i v e . It e x p l a i n s Nisa's p e r s o n a l i t y in t e r m s o f !Kung w a y s . T h e p e r s o n a l d o e s n o t y i e l d t o t h e g e n e r a l w i t h o u t loss. T h e e t h n o g r a p h i c e n c o u n t e r itself b e c o m e s . its v e r y specificity. i n t r o d u c i n g e a c h o f the fifteen t h e m a t i c sections o f t h e life w i t h a few p a g e s o f b a c k g r o u n d . First. T h i r d . " D i d I really w a n t to b e the o n e to b a l a n c e the p i c t u r e ? " (350). Shostak's r e s e a r c h was b a s e d o n syst e m a t i c i n t e r v i e w s with m o r e t h a n a s c o r e o f !Kung w o m e n . t h a t t h e transition to scientific k n o w l e d g e is n o t s m o o t h . Nisa is an a l l e g o r y o f e t h n o g r a p h y . T h e r e is a r e a l d i s c r e p a n c y . at times a w k w a r d l y . T h e y r e m a i n s e p a r a t e . I f Nisa reveals intersubjective m e c h a n i s m s in u n u s u a l d e p t h . t o o . S h e was u n u s u a l l y articulate. A n d t h e e t h n o g r a p h e r b e c a m e " m o r e s u r e t h a n e v e r that o u r w o r k t o g e t h e r c o u l d a n d s h o u l d m o v e f o r w a r d . ( " O n c e a m a r r i a g e has s u r v i v e d a few y e a r s b e y o n d the y o u n g wife's first m e n s t r u a t i o n . A t t h e e n d o f h e r first s o j o u r n in the field. S h o s t a k w a s t r o u b l e d b y a s u s p i c i o n that h e r i n t e r l o c u t o r m i g h t b e t o o i d i o s y n c r a t i c . tied to "an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f !Kung life" (350). M a r j o r i e S h o s t a k b e l o n g s to a H a r v a r d . a fable o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n . w h o s e m e a n i n g s a r e excessively p e r s o n a l a n d intersubjective. tirelessly c o n t e x t u a l . N i s a h a d k n o w n s e v e r e p a i n . B u t it is m a n i f e s t l y the p r o d u c t o f a c o l l a b o r a t i o n . create m e a n i n g s that are resistant to t h e d e m a n d s o f a t y p i f y i n g science. a n d t h e p a r t i c u l a r c i r c u m s t a n c e s o f its m a k i n g . a story that r h y m e s closely with m a n y o f the e x p e r i e n c e s a n d issues h i g h l i g h t e d in r e c e n t feminist t h o u g h t . Nisa is like m a n y w o r k s t h a t p o r t r a y c o m m o n h u m a n e x p e r i e n c e s . the relat i o n s h i p b e t w e e n t h e s p o u s e s b e c o m e s m o r e e q u a l " [ 1 6 9 ] . in d r a m a t i c tension. it c a n n o l o n g e r be r e p r e s e n t e d . a n d s h e h a d s u f f e r e d g r e a t e r t h a n a v e r a g e loss. c r o s s . w o r k . conflicts. a n d it uses h e r e x p e r i e n c e to n u a n c e a n d c o r r e c t g e n e r alizations a b o u t h e r g r o u p . S h o s t a k f o u n d r e a s s u r a n c e . as a distinct n a r r a t i v e s p o k e n in characteristic. its p o l y v o c a l c o n s t r u c t i o n s h o w s . the H a r v a r d p r o j e c t — S h o s t a k i n c l u d e d — t e n d to see in this l o n g e s t stage o f h u m a n cultural d e v e l o p m e n t a baseline f o r h u m a n n a t u r e . F r o m t h e s e c o n v e r s a t i o n s she a m a s s e d a b o d y o f data l a r g e e n o u g h to r e v e a l .c h e c k e d against o t h e r !Kung w o m e n ' s lives. that o f m a n y self-conscious e t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t e r s w h o find it difficult to s p e a k o f w e l l . ) Nisa is a W e s t e r n feminist allegory. b u t p o t e n t . T h e b o o k ' s s e c o n d a n d t h i r d registers are s h a r p l y distinct f r o m t h e first. B u t S h o s t a k w a s dissatisfied b y the lack o f d e p t h in h e r interviews. b e t w e e n its t h r e e m e a n i n g f u l registers. m o r e o v e r t h e r e d e v e l o p e d a s t r o n g r e s o n a n c e b e t w e e n h e r stories a n d Shostak's p e r s o n a l c o n c e r n s . T h e c o m p l e x t r u t h s t h a t e m e r g e f r o m this "life a n d w o r d s " are n o t limited to an i n d i v i d u a l o r to h e r s u r r o u n d i n g cultural world. B u t t h e t e x t S h o s t a k has m a d e is o r i g i n a l in t h e w a y it r e fuses to b l e n d its t h r e e registers into a seamless. T h e i n t e r v i e w s I was c o n d u c t i n g w i t h o t h e r w o m e n w e r e p r o v i n g to m e that Nisa was f u n d a m e n t a l l y similar to t h o s e a r o u n d h e r . h a d s h o w n t h e m to b e p e a c e . holds its subject in f i r m r e l a t i o n to a social w o r l d . Nisa is t h u s manifestly an a l l e g o r y o f scientific c o m p r e h e n s i o n .d e f i n e d " o t h e r s " f r o m a stable. T h o u g h N i s a still e x e r t e d a special fascination. Nisa's life has its o w n t e x t u a l a u t o n o m y .n o m a d i c c o n d i t i o n s . h e r life as she recalled it w a s o f t e n v i o l e n t . F o r at the s a m e time that Nisa's story c o n t r i b u t e s to b e t t e r g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s a b o u t t h e !Kung. D i f f e r e n c e i n v a d e s t h e text. A n d so forth. Nisa's first r e g i s t e r . T h e book's t h r e e registers a r e in crucial respects d i s c r e p a n t . t y p i f y i n g . a full l i f e s p a n — f i f t e e n c h a p t e r s i n c l u d i n g l o g u e ) . h e r e .g a t h e r e r s since the 1950s. k i n s h i p . o n e s o m e t i m e s feels that the scientific d i s c o u r s e f u n c tions in t h e t e x t as a k i n d o f b r a k e o n the book's o t h e r voices. a n d . j o y s . T h e i r s t r u c t u r e is dialogical. like Elizabeth M a r s h a l l T h o m a s ' s The Harmless People ( 1 9 5 9 ) . Nisa w a s q u i t e u n u s u a l in h e r ability to recall a n d e x p l a i n h e r life.

this intensely p e r s o n a l c o l l e c t i o n o f m e m o r i e s is m a d e suitable for scientific typificat i o n as a "life-history" o r "life-cycle." "Marriage. as she o f t e n d o e s . "the w i n d has t a k e n t h a t away. F r o m this b l u r r e d b a c k g r o u n d . A s alter e g o . " T e a c h m e w h a t it is to b e a !Kung w o m a n " was the q u e s t i o n she a s k e d o f h e r i n f o r m a n t s (349). I f Nisa's w o r d s w e r e to be widely r e a d . " " D i s c o v e r i n g S e x . S h e is n o t an " i n f o r m a n t " s p e a k i n g cultural truths. a n d e d i t o r o f the d i s c o u r s e . I n d e e d ." S h o s t a k a d d r e s s e s t w o r a t h e r d i f f e r e n t a u d i e n c e s . O n ethnography as an allegory of conquest and initiation. ethnic. s k e t c h i n g the m a i n a r e a s to b e c o v e r e d . " "Family L i f e . m a r r i a g e . Nisa speaks. for another. to "a girlw o m a n . S h o s t a k m a k e s a n u m b e r o f significant i n t e r v e n t i o n s . p r o v i d i n g i n f o r m a t i o n r a t h e r t h a n circumstantial r e s p o n s e s . r e c e n t l y m a r r i e d . h e r w o r d s also s e e m e d to a n s w e r a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n . a n d with a final w o r d . t h r o u g h o u t . p r o v o k e r . in ter subjective) aspects o f r e s e a r c h . A c o m m o n a l i t y is p r o d u c e d that. the r e l a t i o n s h i p b e c a m e . she d r a m a t i z e s t h r o u g h h e r o w n q u e s t the w a y a n a r r a t e d life m a k e s sense. is b r o u g h t close to its r e a d e r s . B y t h e s e f o r m a l m e a n s the book's s e c o n d d i s c o u r s e . as if to e v e r y o n e a n d n o o n e . T h e b o o k is p a r t o f a n e w interest in r e v a l u i n g subjective ( m o r e accurately. W h e n Nisa says. traditionally m a s c u l i n e stories o f initiation a n d p e n e t r a tion d i f f e r e n t l y stage the p r o d u c t i v e e n c o u n t e r o f self a n d o t h e r . T h e assertion o f c o m m o n f e m a l e qualities (and oppressions) across racial. see Clifford 1983b. the o u t c o m e o f a n e n c o u n t e r that c a n n o t be r e w r i t t e n as a subject-object dic h o t o m y . T h i s m o m e n t o f r e c e n t feminist c o n s c i o u s n e s s is a l l e g o r i z e d in Nisa's fable o f its o w n relationality. f o r s o m e t h i n g g o i n g b e y o n d the usual e t h n o g r a p h i c r a p p o r t . a n d class lines is n e w l y p r o b l e m a t i c . p o t e n t in feminist m e a n i n g : "sister" ( 3 7 1 ) ." " W o m e n and Men. " W e lived in that place. a n d also an easily u n d e r s t a n d a b l e story. r e c o g nizes a c o m m o n estate. Nisa's life b r i n g s i n t o play a p o t e n t a n d p e r v a s i v e m e c h a n i s m for the p r o d u c t i o n o f m e a n i n g in t h e W e s t — t h e e x e m p l a r y . a n a r r a t i v e s h a p e e m e r g e s in the occasion o f s p e a k i n g . s t r u g g l i n g with t h e issues o f l o v e . I n h e r a c c o u n t . Shostak has clearly t h o u g h t c a r e fully a b o u t t h e f r a m i n g o f h e r transcripts. . It e m e r g e s f r o m a crucial m o m e n t o f f e m i n i s t politics a n d e p i s t e m o l o g y : consciousness r a i s i n g a n d the s h a r i n g o f e x p e r i e n c e s by w o m e n . S o m e t h i n g m o r e t h a n e x p l a i n i n g o r r e p r e s e n t i n g the life a n d w o r d s o f a n o t h e r is g o i n g o n — s o m e t h i n g m o r e o p e n . by b r i n g i n g s e p a r a t e lives t o g e t h e r . Nisa's story is r e v e a l e d as a j o i n t p r o d u c t i o n ." s o m e times " d a u g h t e r " ) is instructed b y an e x p e r i e n c e d e l d e r in t h e arts a n d p a i n s o f w o m a n h o o d . to a r e a d e r s h i p p r a c t i c e d in the ethical i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f selves. t a l k i n g a b o u t o n e story. w o r k a n d identity" (4). s o m e h o w . n o t as a n e u t r a l witness b u t as a p e r s o n g i v i n g specific kinds o f a d v i c e to s o m e o n e o f a p a r t i c u l a r a g e with manifest questions a n d desires. "I will b r e a k o p e n t h e story a n d tell y o u what's t h e r e " . O l n e y 1 9 7 2 . Nisa tells h e r life. I f Nisa r e s p o n d e d w i t h p e c u l i a r a p t n e s s . " W h a t is it to b e a w o m a n ? " Shostak told h e r i n f o r m a n t s "that I w a n t e d to l e a r n w h a t it m e a n t to b e a w o m a n in their c u l t u r e so I c o u l d b e t t e r u n d e r s t a n d w h a t it m e a n t in my o w n . S h o s t a k describes a search for p e r s o n a l k n o w l e d g e . W i t h o u t d r a w i n g e x p l i c i t lessons f r o m Nisa's e x p e r i e n c e ." o r at t h e start." O n t h e o t h e r ." " G r o w i n g O l d e r . " W i t h Nisa. s i m u l t a n e o u s l y to o n e s e l f a n d a n o t h e r . " " T r i a l M a r riages. b e c o m i n g a n a r r a t i o n that m a k e s e l o q u e n t " h u m a n " sense. " A l t h o u g h at t h e start o f t h e i n t e r v i e w s N i s a h a d m a p p e d o u t h e r life." o r simply. " w e lived a n d l i v e d " (69). It is a m o m e n t o f c o n t i n u i n g i m p o r t a n c e . the h u m o f u n m a r k e d . T h e y o u n g e r w o m a n ("niece. the thematic roster a p p e a r s to b e Shostak's. sexuality. S h e has also taken o u t a variety o f n a r r a t i v e m a r k e r s : h e r friend's habitual c o m m e n t at the e n d o f a story. e n l a r g e o r d e e p e n h e r sense o f b e i n g a m o d e r n W e s t e r n w o m a n . B u t Shostak has systematically rem o v e d h e r o w n i n t e r v e n t i o n s ( t h o u g h they can often b e s e n s e d in Nisa's r e s p o n s e ) . O n o n e side. ) Shostak's e x p l i c i t feminist a l l e g o r y thus reflects a specific m o m e n t in w h i c h t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f " w o m a n ' s " e x p e r i e n c e is g i v e n c e n t e r s t a g e . T h e b o o k ' s t h i r d distinct r e g i s t e r is Shostak's p e r s o n a l a c c o u n t o f fieldwork. e m p o w e r s p e r s o n a l action. T h e t r a n s f o r m i n g relationship e n d s with a n equality in affection a n d respect. T h e n w e left a n d w e n t s o m e w h e r e else. c o h e r e n t self (or r a t h e r ." "Motherhood and Loss. that o f an a u n t talking to a y o u n g n i e c e . Nisa's s p o k e n life. i m p e r s o n a l e x i s t e n c e c a n be h e a r d . a l l e g o r i cally. T h e r e is n o t h i n g u n i v e r s a l o r n a t u r a l a b o u t the fictional processes o f b i o g r a p h y a n d a u t o b i o g r a p h y ( G u s d o r f 1 9 5 6 . Nisa's distinct voice e m e r g e s ." " T a k i n g L o v e r s . a n d o n e c a n n o t h a v e e v e r y t h i n g — t h e p e r f o r m a n c e with all its d i v a g a t i o n s .io6 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 107 "Earliest M e m o r i e s . the self p u l l i n g itself t o g e t h e r in a u t o b i o g r a p h y ) . o r in t h e m i d d l e . in !Kung t e r m s .e n d e d . L e j e u n e 1975).L i v i n g d o e s n o t easily o r g a n i z e itself into a c o n t i n u o u s narrative. b y casting Nisa's d i s c o u r s e in the s h a p e o f a "life. " " A H e a l i n g Ritual. a p r o c e s s t e x t u a l l y d r a m a t i z e d in Shostak's b o o k . " W h a t a m I t r y i n g to d o ? H e r e I a m sitting. a n d a n o t h e r r u n s r i g h t into m y h e a d a n d into m y t h o u g h t s ! " (40). b u t it has b e e n c h a l l e n g e d b y r e c e n t c o u n t e r c u r r e n t s within feminist theory. A g o o d d e a l o f c u t t i n g a n d rea r r a n g i n g t r a n s f o r m s o v e r l a p p i n g stories into "a life" t h a t d o e s n o t r e p e a t itself u n d u l y a n d that d e v e l o p s by r e c o g n i z a b l e steps a n d passages. S h e h o p e s that i n t i m a c y with a !Kung w o m a n will. (In o t h e r ethn o g r a p h i e s . e a t i n g things. A n d in s o m e q u a r t e r s " w o m a n " is 6 0. c o n c e s s i o n s h a d to b e m a d e to t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s o f b i o g r a p h i c a l a l l e g o r y .

in p r i n c i p l e . AAA Welcome o f Tears is a beautiful book. I teased in the !Kung manner I had by then thoroughly learned. examined her breasts and as m u c h o f her body as she could see. This fictional freedom is crucial to ethnography's allegorical appeal: the simultaneous reconstruction o f a culture and a knowing self. an author's enunciative modes may shift back and forth between learning from and speaking for the other. o n tiptoe. b u t as a shifting subjective p o s i t i o n n o t r e d u c i b l e to a n y e s s e n c e . T h e y i m a g i n e . I f e t h n o g r a p h y as a tool for positive science is to be p r e s e r v e d . "You don't agree?" She beamed. T h i s s t r u g g l e ( w h i c h o f t e n i n v o l v e s disputes o v e r w h a t will c o u n t as "scientific" t h e o r y a n d w h a t as "literary" i n v e n t i o n o r " i d e o l o g i c a l " p r o j e c tion) m a i n t a i n s disciplinary a n d g e n e r i c c o n v e n t i o n s . combining the stories of a vanishing people and the growth of an anthropologist." r o r o f t h e o t h e r . then. w h i c h p r o d u c e t h e final inscription o f c o m m o n a l i t y . a l l e g o r i e s . m e m o i r s . She stepped back to see more. and Moraga (1983). moved in again for a closer look." "the S a m o a n s . in t h e m i r 7. w h a t f o r m e r l y s e e m e d to be e m p i r i c a l / i n t e r p r e t i v e a c c o u n t s o f g e n e r a l i z e d cultural facts (statements a n d attributions c o n c e r n i n g "the !Kung. T h e y c a n s i m u l t a n e o u s l y listen. O n c e t h e e t h n o g r a p h i c process is a c c o r d e d its full c o m p l e x i t y o f h i s t o r i c i z e d d i a l o g i c a l relations. such c o n v e n t i o n s m u s t ." T h e s e remarks were said easily. looking into the small mirror beside the driver's window o f our Land Rover. a n d h e r r e a d e r s . A n t h r o p o l o g i c a l fieldwork has b e e n r e p r e s e n t e d as b o t h a s c i e n tific " l a b o r a t o r y " a n d a p e r s o n a l "rite o f p a s s a g e . translation. a y o u n g voice. they s t r u g g l e to limit the play o f their " e x t r a " m e a n i n g s . . S h e looked intently at her face. and the work o f Hull. reflections. talk o f self-possession. a double "coming o f age in Samoa. a n d reversals d r a m a t i z e d h e r e . E t h n o g r a p h y gains subjective " d e p t h " t h r o u g h the sorts o f r o l e s . s u b o r d i n a t i n g t h e m to m i m e t i c . a m i r r o r . a n d " g i v e voice to. that it is t h e e t h n o g r a p h e r . a n d desire." Nisa's r e a d e r s f o l l o w — a n d p r o l o n g — t h e play o f a desire. S u c h a c c o u n t s m a y . . and finally of authority to understand and represent another culture. I'm beautiful!" She continued to look at herself. a n d p r o j e c t i o n . "So ugly! H o w is such a young girl already so ugly?" She laughed. T h e n e w t e n d e n c y to n a m e a n d q u o t e i n f o r m a n t s m o r e fully a n d to i n t r o d u c e p e r s o n a l e l e m e n t s i n t o t h e t e x t is a l t e r i n g e t h n o g r a p h y ' s discursive strategy a n d m o d e o f a u t h o r ity. (270) A g r e a t d e a l o f t h e b o o k is h e r e : an old voice. " etc. in the text. S h o s t a k ' s a l l e g o r y s e e m s to r e g i s t e r t h e s e c o u n t e r c u r r e n t s in its occ a s i o n a l l y c o m p l e x a c c o u n t s o f the p r o c e s s e s o f play a n d t r a n s f e r e n c e . a n d so forth. Scott. that c a n m a k e u s e o f p e r s o n a l truths o n l y as e x a m p l e s o f typical p h e n o m e n a o r as e x c e p t i o n s to collective patterns. then went to her face again. too. L a t e l y this set o f d i s c i p l i n a r y r u l e s is g i v i n g way. " "I a m p r o d u c t i v e . "Everywhere— my face. O n racial and class divisions within feminism. S h e saw m e watching. o r p r e d o m i n a n t l y . T h e researcher begins in a child's relationship to adult culture.io8 7 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 109 s e e n .) n o w a p p e a r as j u s t o n e level o f a l l e g o r y . MARGARET MEAD. Narcissism. m o v e m e n t s a l l e g o r i z e d in o n e o f t h e stories S h o s t a k tells in c o u n t e r p o i n t to Nisa's n a r r a t i v e — a n incid e n t t u r n i n g o n t h e v a l u e o f a girl-woman's b o d y . inventive m o m e n t in t h e history o f cross-cultural r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . as w e h a v e s e e n . j u s t as N i s a p r o v i d e s an allegorical m i r r o r w h e n Shostak takes t h e r o l e o f y o u t h . T h i s poses f u n d a m e n t a l p r o b l e m s f o r a n y s c i e n c e t h a t m o v e s p r e d o m i n a n t l y f r o m the particular to t h e g e n e r a l . this impossibility w a s m a s k e d b y m a r g i n a l i z i n g t h e intersubjective f o u n d a t i o n s o f fieldwork. and ends by speaking with the wisdom o f experience. i m a g i n a t i o n . my body. an u n c o m p l i c a t e d f e e l i n g o f " a t t r a c t i v e n e s s " that S h o s t a k translates as "I h a v e w o r k . a t e r m o f d e v i a n c e a p p l i e d to w o m e n o f the West. a s s u m i n g access to the s a m e p o o l o f c u l t u r a l facts. the acquisition of knowledge. "voices"—reflect a troubled. a guileless self-possession. these a c c o u n t s a r e clearly n o l o n g e r the story. is t r a n s f i g u r e d . a n d t h e y a r e . "Beautiful? Perhaps my eyes have b e c o m e broken with age that I can't see where it is?" She said. not at all. T h e r e is no ugliness at all. Ethnographies often present themselves as fictions of learning. "No. r e f e r e n t i a l f u n c t i o n s . It is interesting to observe how. b u t a story a m o n g o t h e r stories. whose breasts had just started to develop. O n e day I noticed a twelve-year-old girl. b e c o m p l e x a n d t r u t h ful. B u t as written v e r s i o n s b a s e d o n fieldwork. " T h e t w o m e t a p h o r s c a p t u r e n i c e l y t h e discipline's impossible a t t e m p t to fuse objective a n d subjective practices. Strong feminist critiques o f essentialism may be found in Wittig (1981) and Haraway (1985)8. M u c h o f o u r k n o w l e d g e a b o u t o t h e r c u l t u r e s m u s t n o w b e s e e n as c o n t i n g e n t . blurb for the paperback edition of Charles Wagley's Welcome of Tears E t h n o g r a p h i c texts are n o t only. confessions. but without arrogance. U n t i l recently. a n e c d o t e s . never quite manageable. although not outstanding in any way except being in the full health a n d beauty o f youth. I asked. and Smith (1982). I n d e e d . T h e pleasure she felt in her changing body was as evident as the absence of conflict about it. For the book's int i m a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p s are based o n subtle. b y e x c l u d i n g t h e m f r o m serious e t h n o g r a p h i c texts. I said. Nisa's d i s c o r d a n t allegorical r e g i s t e r s — t h e b o o k ' s three. with a broad smile. r e l e g a t i n g t h e m to prefaces. c a n b e b o t h y o u n g (learning) a n d o l d ( k n o w i n g ) . n o t as a l o c u s o f e x p e r i e n c e . a s s u m i n g a voice o f a g e . Hooks (1981). see the rethinking of Rich ( 1979). " "I h a v e w o r t h " (270). t h e p r o b l e m a t i c o u t c o m e o f intersubjective d i a l o g u e ." the other. She was a lovely girl. W e notice. w h o has b r o u g h t a m i r r o r . susceptible to refutation. r e c i p r o c a l m o v e m e n t s o f d o u b l i n g . T h e w r i t e r .

which passes." W i t h i n this h i s t o r i c a l p r e d i c a m e n t . there being n o a u t o n o m o u s points o f reference to which activities have to conform with precision. N u e r are fortunate. d e s i r a b l e h u m a n traits. t h e c u l t u r a l i s l a n d s o u t o f t i m e ( o r " w i t h o u t history") d e s c r i b e d by m a n y e t h n o g r a p h e r s h a v e a persistent prelapsarian appeal. at a n y historical m o m e n t . . a n d the reader. ( W e a r e u n f o r t u n a t e . i n p r a c t i c e . a s e r i e s o f d i s p l a c e d " m e a n i n g s " w i t h n o full s t o p . E v e n t h e m o s t c o o l l y a n a l y t i c a c c o u n t s m a y b e b u i l t o n this r e t r o s p e c t i v e a p p r o p r i a t i o n . I n t h e r e m a i n d e r o f this e s s a y I e x p l o r e a b r o a d . a past). portraying exotic societies in a n " e t h n o g r a p h i c p r e s e n t " ( w h i c h is always.e n d e d . orienting allegory (or m o r e accurately. a r g u i n g that the choice o f a d o m i n a n t r h e t o r i c . I n a t r e n c h a n t article. because their points o f reference are mainly the activities themselves. E v a n s . "Allochronic" representations.P r i t c h a r d w r i t e s . s i n c e t h e early t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y . i n fact. T h i s s y n c h r o n i c s u s p e n s i o n effectively textualizes the other. which are generally o f a leisurely character. t h e e t h n o g r a p h e r . E n t e r e x a m p l e s d r a w n f r o m e t h n o g r a p h y .o b s e r v a t i o n . it is a s s u m e d t h a t e v i d e n c e f r o m " s i m p l e " s o c i e t i e s will i l l u m i n a t e t h e o r i g i n s a n d structure o f c o n t e m p o r a r y cultural patterns.S a x o n d e m o c r a c y . . a pattern o f p o s s i b l e a l l e g o r i e s ) t h a t h a s r e c e n t l y e m e r g e d as a c o n t e s t e d a r e a — a structure o f retrospection that m a y b e called "ethnographic pastoral. E. Rosaldo notes that m o s t scientific a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s h a v e . e v e n s c i e n t i f i c e t h n o g r a p h e r s c a n n o t fully c o n t r o l t h e m e a n i n g s — r e a d i n g s — p r o v o k e d b y t h e i r a c c o u n t s . " T h e r e is n o m a s t e r a n d n o s e r v a n t i n t h e i r s o c i e t y . H e n r y M a i n e . o r b e t t e r perhaps. Events follow a logical order. a r e e n m e s h e d i n this s t r u c t u r e . f o r it p o r t r a y s a n a p p e a l i n g l y h a r m o n i o u s a n a r c h y . T h e r e is. W h e n E v a n s ." Shostak's b o o k a n d the Harvard hunter-gatherer studies. h a v e b e e n p e r v a s i v e i n t w e n t i e t h . to a diagnosis o f contemporary subordination a n d f r o m t h e n o n to t h e q u e r i e s 'Were things always as they are today?' a n d t h e n ' W h e n d i d "it" start?'" ( 1 9 8 0 : 3 9 1 ) . o r F r e u d . For t h e y a r e p r e s e n t e d t h r o u g h t h e d e t o u r o f a n e t h n o g r a p h i c subjectivity w h o s e a t t i t u d e t o w a r d t h e o t h e r is o n e o f p a r t i c i p a n t . can be saved. o r n a r r a t i v e m o d e i n a t e x t is a l w a y s a n i m perfect attempt to i m p o s e a reading or range o f readings o n a n interp r e t i v e p r o c e s s t h a t is o p e n . A n a l y s e s o f social " g i v e n s " s u c h as g e n d e r a n d s e x u a l i t y s h o w a n a l m o s t r e f l e x i v e n e e d for anthropological just-so-stories. " it is n o t difficult t o h e a r e c h o e s o f a l o n g political t r a d i t i o n o f n o s t a l g i a f o r "an e g a l i t a r i a n . to the e x t e n t t h a t t h e y e n g a g e i n a s e a r c h f o r f u n d a m e n t a l . therefore. E. b u t o n l y e q u a l s w h o r e g a r d t h e m s e l v e s as G o d ' s n o b l e s t c r e a t i o n . m o v i n g historical p r e s e n t t h a t i n c l u d e s a n d s i t u a t e s t h e o t h e r . t h e t e m p o r a l e a s e . b u t h e r essay s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e r e f l e x is p e r v a s i v e a n d e n d u r i n g . to u s e J o h a n n e s Fabian's t e r m . a l i m i t e d r a n g e o f c a n o n i c a l a n d e m e r g e n t a l l e g o r i e s available t o t h e c o m p e t e n t r e a d e r ( t h e r e a d e r w h o s e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n will b e d e e m e d p l a u s i b l e b y a specific c o m m u n i t y ) . multiple allegorical processes. For m a y n o t every ext e n d e d d e s c r i p t i o n .c e n t u r y scientific e t h n o g r a p h y . relentless progress leading n o w h e r e certain a n d p e r m i t t i n g n o p a u s e o r cyclic r e t u r n . " T h e U s e a n d A b u s e o f A n t h r o p o l o g y : R e flections o n Feminism and Cross-Cultural Understanding. drily. t h e c r i t i q u e o f s t o r i e s a n d p a t terns that persistently i n f o r m cross-cultural accounts r e m a i n s a n i m p o r t a n t political as w e l l a s scientific task. a s o c i e t y u n c o r r u p t e d b y a Fall. I do not think that they ever experience the same feeling of fighting against time or o f having to coordinate activities with an abstract passage of time. can be wasted. a b a n d o n e d t h e evolutionary search for origins. n o t i n t h e s a m e a m b i g u o u s . H e n r i k a K u k l i c k (1984) h a s a n a l y z e d The Nuer ( i n t h e c o n t e x t o f a b r o a d t r e n d i n B r i t i s h political a n t h r o p o l o g y c o n c e r n e d w i t h a c e p h a l o u s "tribal" s o c i e t i e s ) as a political a l l e g o r y r e i n s c r i b i n g a r e c u r r e n t "folk m o d e l " o f A n g l o ." Michelle R o s a l d o h a s q u e s t i o n e d a p e r s i s t e n t t e n d e n c y to a p p r o p r i a t e e t h n o g r a p h i c d a t a i n t h e f o r m o f a s e a r c h f o r o r i g i n s . E n g e l s . speak of time as t h o u g h it were something actual. t h e r e a r e . D u r k h e i m . T h e y invite allegorical a p p r o p r i a t i o n s in t h e mythologizing m o d e Rosaldo repudiates. belief-skepticism (See Webster 1982:93). and so forth. ) T h e a p p e a l is fictional. stylistic t u r n . however. In a practice n o t essentially different f r o m that o f H e r b e r t S p e n c e r . T h o u g h I have spoken of time and units o f time the N u e r have n o expression equivalent to "time" in our language. B u t w h e r e a s t h e f r e e play o f r e a d i n g s m a y i n t h e o r y b e i n f i n i t e .1 IO JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 111 mask. N u e r are fortun a t e . but they are not controlled by an abstract system. M o r e o v e r . o r m e t a p h o r b e r e a d t o m e a n s o m e t h i n g else? ( N e e d w e accept the three explicit levels o f allegory in a b o o k l i k e Nisa} W h a t a b o u t its p h o t o g r a p h s . as we can. B e g i n n i n g with S i m o n e d e B e a u v o i r ' s f o u n d i n g q u e s t i o n . W e note. ( 1 0 3 ) For a r e a d e r s h i p c a u g h t u p in t h e post-Darwinian b o u r g e o i s e x p e r i e n c e o f t i m e — a linear. as a l w a y s w i t h E v a n s P r i t c h a r d . or direct. w h i c h tell t h e i r o w n s t o r y ? ) A r e n o t r e a d i n g s t h e m s e l v e s u n d e c i d a b l e ? Critics l i k e D e M a n (1979) rigorously a d o p t such a position. figure. c o n t r a c t u a l u n i o n " o f f r e e i n d i v i d u a l s . a n d gives t h e s e n s e o f a reality n o t i n t e m p o r a l f l u x . the ironic structure ( w h i c h n e e d n o t i m p l y a n i r o n i c t o n e ) o f s u c h a l l e g o r i e s . and they cannot. " W h a t is w o m a n ? " s c h o l a r l y d i s c u s s i o n s "move . T h e s e structures o f m e a n i n g are historically b o u n d e d a n d c o e r c i v e .P r i t c h a r d ' s The Nuer (1940) is a c a s e i n p o i n t . T h i s is e s p e c i a l l y t r u e o f r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s that have n o t historicized their objects. story. E d e n i c o v e r t o n e s a r e o c c a s i o n a l l y u n d e r s c o r e d . n o "free play.

n o t e s a n u n s e t t l i n g r e g r e s s i o n . B u t t h e persistent a n d repetitious "disappearance" o f social f o r m s at t h e m o m e n t o f their e t h n o g r a p h i c representation d e m a n d s analysis as a n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e ." t h e fieldworker's) t o a w r i t t e n v e r s i o n o f t h a t e x p e r i e n c e ( t h e e t h n o g r a p h i c text) is e n a c t i n g t h e s t r u c t u r e o f " s a l v a g e . a r h e t o r i c a l c o n s t r u c t l e g i t i m a t i n g a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l p r a c t i c e : "salv a g e " e t h n o g r a p h y i n its w i d e s t s e n s e . s o m e t i m e s e x t e r m i n a t e d . R a y m o n d Williams's The Country and the City ( 1 9 7 3 ) . A n d I question. a c o h e r e n t differential identity. Writing in t h e 1950s.f a m i l i a r film Trobriand Cricket s h o w s a v e r y d i s t i n c t w a y o f life. o r r e d e m p t i v e . n o t p r e s e n t o r f u t u r e ) . ) S u c h attitudes. w h i l e d r a w i n g o n an established tradition o f scholarship o n pastoral ( E m p s o n 1950. as t r a n s c r i p t i o n . W i l l i a m s traces t h e constant r e e m e r g e n c e o f a conventionalized pattern o f retros p e c t i o n that l a m e n t s the loss o f a " g o o d " country. t h e m o d e o f scientific a n d m o r a l a u t h o r i t y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h s a l v a g e . o f t h e e n d o f traditional s o c i e t y ( t h e v e r y a c t o f n a m i n g it "traditional" i m p l i e s a r u p t u r e ) . Frye 1 9 7 1 . It is a s s u m e d t h a t t h e o t h e r s o c i e t y is w e a k a n d " n e e d s " t o b e r e p r e s e n t e d b y a n o u t s i d e r ( a n d t h a t w h a t m a t t e r s i n its life is its p a s t . n o t t o say t r a g i c p o s i t i o n . H e s h o w s h o w a f u n d a m e n t a l c o n t r a s t b e t w e e n city a n d c o u n t r y a l i g n s itself w i t h o t h e r p e r v a s i v e o p p o s i t i o n s : c i v i l i z e d a n d p r i m i t i v e . "die". a place w h e r e a u thentic social a n d natural contacts w e r e o n c e possible. T h i s s t r u c t u r e is a p p r o p r i a t e l y l o c a t e d w i t h i n a l o n g W e s t e r n trad i t i o n o f p a s t o r a l (a t o p i c a l s o d e v e l o p e d b y R e n a t o R o s a l d o i n this v o l u m e ) . o r d i a l o g u e ) t h e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n will c o n t i n u e t o e n a c t a p o t e n t . I n d e e d . w a s n o t l o n g f o r this w o r l d . T h i s ironic appeal belongs to a broad ideological pattern that has o r i e n t e d m u c h . "I h a d b e e n l o o k i n g f o r a s o c i e t y r e d u c e d t o its s i m p l e s t e x p r e s s i o n . . Few a n t h r o pologists today would e m b r a c e the logic o f e t h n o g r a p h y in t h e terms i n w h i c h it w a s e n u n c i a t e d i n F r a n z Boas's t i m e . B u t t h e i r w o r l d is f a l l i n g a p a r t . A t t h e very instant they b e c o m e k n o w n to us they are d o o m e d . E d e n (9—12). are d i m i n i s h i n g . w a y s o f life c a n . i n d i s i n t e g r a t i n g time a n d space. t h e m a t e r i a l o f its s t u d y m e l t s away w i t h h o p e l e s s r a p i d i t y " ( 1 9 6 1 : x v ) . I d o n o t wish to d e n y specific cases o f d i s a p p e a r i n g c u s t o m s a n d l a n g u a g e s . " A n d l i v i n g T r o b r i a n d c u l t u r e h a s b e e n t h e o b j e c t o f r e c e n t field s t u d y ( W e i n e r 1 9 7 6 ) . I s h a l l a r g u e i n a m o m e n t t h a t it is built i n t o t h e c o n c e p t i o n a n d p r a c t i c e o f e t h n o g r a p h y a s a p r o c e s s o f w r i t i n g . b u t saved in t h e text. however. textually recovered. t o start r e a d y f o r w o r k o n its a p p o i n t e d task. a " s t r u c t u r e o f f e e l i n g " ( 1 9 7 3 : 1 2 ) .W e s t . t h o u g h they persist. Tristes Tropiques s a d l y p o r t r a y s d i f f e r e n t i a t e d social structures disintegrating into global h o m o g e n e i t y u n d e r the shock o f contact with a potent monoculture. T h e r e c o r d e r a n d i n t e r p r e t e r o f f r a g i l e c u s t o m is c u s t o d i a n o f a n e s s e n c e . A f e w y e a r s a g o t h e American Ethnologist p r i n t e d a n a r t i c l e b a s e d o n r e c e n t fieldwork a m o n g t h e N a m b i k w a r a — w h o a r e still s o m e t h i n g m o r e t h a n " i n d i v i d u a l h u m a n b e i n g s . H e a n a l y z e s a c o m p l e x . p r i m i t i v e s o c i e t i e s [Naturvölker] a r e e p h e m e r a l . question the a s s u m p t i o n t h a t w i t h r a p i d c h a n g e s o m e t h i n g e s s e n t i a l ("culture"). B u t t h e a l l e g o r y o f s a l v a g e is d e e p l y i n g r a i n e d . as a l a s t . i n v e n t i v e . a l l e g o r i c a l structure. p r e v i o u s d i s a p p e a r a n c e . Poggioli 1 9 7 5 .c h a n c e r e s c u e o p e r a t i o n . i n a m e a n i n g f u l s e n s e . t o o .S t r a u s s t o t h e N a m b i k w a r a . " T o t h e e x t e n t t h a t t h e e t h n o g r a p h i c p r o c e s s is s e e n as i n s c r i p t i o n ( r a t h e r t h a n . B r o n i s l a w M a l i n o w s k i : " E t h n o l o g y is i n t h e s a d l y l u d i c r o u s . A d o l p h B a s t i a n i n 1881 ( q u o t e d i n Fabian 1 9 8 3 : 1 2 2 ) . t h e s a l v a g e d v e r s i o n c a n n o t b e easily r e f u t e d . T h e n o w . twentieth century cross-cultural repres e n t a t i o n . . o f c o u r s e . T h a t o f t h e N a m b i k w a r a w a s s o t r u l y s i m p l e t h a t all I c o u l d find i n it w a s i n d i v i d u a l h u m a n beings" (1975:317). i n s i g n i f i c a n t d e g r e e . I n 1 9 2 1 . " f u t u r e a n d past. t h a t at t h e v e r y m o m e n t w h e n it b e g i n s t o p u t its w o r k s h o p i n o r d e r . " o r g a n i c " m o m e n t . " T h u s . m a y b e s t r o n g ( t h o u g h it d e p e n d s o n l o c a l c i r c u m stances a n d c a n n o t a n y l o n g e r b e generalized). K e r m o d e 1952. o n e finds a n o t h e r w r i t e r o f t h a t e a r l i e r p e r i o d l a m e n t i n g a similar. specifically o f t e x t u a l i z a t i o n . C l a u d e Lévi-Strauss saw a g l o b a l p r o c e s s o f e n t r o p y .112 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 113 a n d attractive anarchy o f N u e r society are distant. T h e y are lost qualities. F o r e a c h t i m e o n e finds a w r i t e r l o o k i n g b a c k t o a h a p p i e r p l a c e . A Rousseauian quest f o r " e l e m e n t a r y " f o r m s o f h u m a n collectivity l e a d s L é v i . T h e o t h e r is lost. e t h n o g r a p h y . p o p u l a t i o n s a r e r e g u l a r l y v i o l e n t l y d i s r u p t e d . strongly p a t t e r n e d set o f r e s p o n s e s to social dislocation a n d c h a n g e . . A u t h e n t i c T r o b r i a n d society. "For u s . T r a d i t i o n s a r e c o n s t a n t l y b e i n g lost. h o w e v e r . I do. H e s o o n . s i n c e t h e "true" c u l t u r e h a s a l w a y s v a n i s h e d . irretrievable. U n d e n i a b l y . a n d q u e s t i o n a b l e ." m o v i n g from oral-discursive experie n c e ( t h e "native's. vanishes. p e r h a p s most. t o f o r g e its p r o p e r t o o l s . It is. T h e rationale f o r f o c u s i n g one's attention o n vanishing lore. T h e u l t i m a t e r e f e r e n t is. ( M o r e o v e r . is p e r v a s i v e i n e t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t i n g . r e i n v e n t i n g itself u n d e r t h e c o n d i t i o n s o f c o l o nialism a n d early n a t i o n h o o d . s t r e t c h i n g f r o m classical a n t i q u i t y t o t h e p r e s e n t . t o a lost. or to c h a l l e n g e the value of recording such phenomena. . f o r e x a m p l e . E v e r y d e s c r i p t i o n o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t h a t c o n c e i v e s i t s e l f as "bringing a culture into writing. i n R a y m o n d Williams's p h r a s e . u n i m p e a c h a b l e w i t n e s s t o a n a u t h e n t i c i t y . t h e n . a m o n g others) strains t o w a r d a global scope wide e n o u g h to a c c o m m o d a t e e t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t i n g . E t h n o g r a p h y ' s d i s a p p e a r i n g o b j e c t is. for rescuing in writing t h e knowle d g e o f o l d p e o p l e . h e i m p l i e d . W e s t a n d " n o n . T h e t h e m e o f t h e vanishing primitive.

B u t t h e m o s t p r o b l e m a t i c . a n d t r a n s i e n t . tribal s o c i e t i e s a r e c o n s t a n t l y y i e l d - i n g to p r o g r e s s . a n d politically c h a r g e d . S i n c e a n t i q u i t y the story o f a passage from the oral/aural into writing has b e e n a c o m p l e x a n d c h a r g e d o n e . b u t u l t i m a t e l y d i s e n g a g e d . e s s e n t i a l w h o l e . c o n s i s t e n t l y t o associate t h e inventive.W e s t e r n . A n d this is a p p r o x i m a t e l y t h e t e m p o r a l distance that m a n y conventional e t h n o g r a p h i e s a s s u m e w h e n t h e y d e s c r i b e a p a s s i n g reality. T h e r e are various ways o f effecting this translat i o n ." T h e former are associated with the idea of culture as a structuring tradition ( 1 9 7 9 : 1 6 2 ) . W h a t w o u l d it r e q u i r e . I n properly ethnographic p a s t o r a l this t e x t u a l i z i n g s t r u c t u r e is g e n e r a l i z e d b e y o n d t h e d i s s o c i a t i o n s o f n i n e t e e n t h . uncertain. A n d i n d e e d every imagined authenticity presupposes. a s p e c t o f t h i s " p a s t o r a l " e n c o d a t i o n is its r e l e n t l e s s p l a c e m e n t o f o t h e r s i n a p r e s e n t b e c o m i n g . H e notes that pastoral frequently inv o l v e s a critical nostalgia. . by means of an ethnographic invention of Melanesia. is p r o j e c t e d a g e n e r a t i o n b a c k f r o m t h e t i m e o f its w r i t i n g t o 1830. Western "anticipations of the past" with Melanesian "anticipations of the future. in specific historical circumstances. corrupt present by a s s e r t i n g t h e r e a l i t y o f a r a d i c a l a l t e r n a t i v e . T h i s s e n s e o f p e r v a s i v e s o c i a l f r a g m e n t a t i o n . O n e c a n "write u p " t h e r e s u l t s o f a n i n d i v i d u a l e x p e r i e n c e o f r e s e a r c h . it is n o t a n i n n o c e n t c o m m o n s e n s e . is c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f a s u b j e c t i v i t y W i l l i a m s l o o s e l y c o n n e c t s w i t h city l i f e a n d w i t h r o m a n t i c i s m . a p r e s e n t c i r c u m s t a n c e o f felt i n a u t h e n t i c i t y . i n t h e p r e s e n t t e n s e . T h e self. I n G e o r g e E l i o t w e c a n s e e t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f a style o f s o c i o l o g i cal w r i t i n g t h a t will d e s c r i b e w h o l e c u l t u r e s ( k n o w a b l e w o r l d s ) f r o m a specific temporal distance a n d with a p r e s u m p t i o n o f their transience. t h r e a t e n e d . Every ethnography enacts such a m o v e m e n t . "traditional" life. T h e fiction o f a k n o w a b l e c o m m u n i t y "can b e r e c r e a t e d t h e r e for a widely r a n g i n g moral action." n o n l i t e r a t e . V a l u e is i n t h e p a s t . a n d t h i s is o n e s o u r c e o f t h e p e c u l i a r a u t h o r i t y t h a t finds b o t h r e s c u e a n d irretrievable l o s s — a kind o f death in life—in the m a k i n g o f texts f r o m events a n d dialogues. T h i s m a y g e n e r a t e a realistic a c c o u n t o f t h e u n w r i t t e n e x p e r i e n c e o f a n o t h e r g r o u p o r p e r s o n . belong[ing] ideally in t h e past. O n e c a n p r e s e n t this t e x t u a l i z a t i o n as t h e o u t c o m e o f observation. w h a t a m o u n t s to t h e s a m e thing. o r o n e c a n s h o w it t o b e t h e p r o d u c t o f a n a r r a t i v e o f discovery. B u t the real step that h a s b e e n t a k e n is w i t h d r a w a l f r o m a n y full r e s p o n s e t o a n e x i s t i n g s o c i e t y . a knowable c o m m u n i t y . O n e c a n p o r t r a y t h e o t h e r as a s t a b l e . b u t r a t h e r f o l l o w s o u t a v e r y c o m p l e x set o f t e m p o r a l . a n d m o r a l positions. it t r a n s l a t e s e x p e r i e n c e into text. city/country oppositions. p r i m i t i v e . I n my reading. H e presents his work as a political collaboration. have to be transformed. in any event. a n d is p r o d u c e d by. o f a c o n s t a n t d i s r u p t i o n o f "natural" r e l a t i o n s . walking a fine line between narratives of "survival. u n d e r d e v e l o p e d . w h i c h it m a n i f e s t l y is. T h o u g h t h i s is m a n i f e s t l y t h e c a s e .c e n t u r y E n g l a n d t o a w i d e r capitalist t o p o g r a p h y o f W e s t e r n / n o n . perhaps too sharply. f o r e x a m p l e . g r a s p e d f r o m a s t a n c e o f i n c o m p l e t e i n v o l v e m e n t . "Primitive. i n all o f t h e m . s t a n d p o i n t . 9 J jl 1 ! Pervasive a s s u m p t i o n s about e t h n o g r a p h y as writing w o u l d also have to b e altered. W h o l e n e s s by definition b e c o m e s a t h i n g o f t h e p a s t (rural." Middlemarch. having internalized loss a n d e m b a r k e d o n an endless search for authenticity. a w a y (as D i a m o n d [ 1 9 7 4 ] a r g u e s f o r a c o n cept o f t h e primitive) to break with the h e g e m o n i c . a s a g e n e r a l r e t r o s p e c t i v e c o n d i t i o n . 1980). T h i s will b e a c c o m p l i s h e d f r o m a l o v i n g . is t h e a s s u m p t i o n t h a t e t h n o g r a p h y b r i n g s e x p e r i e n c e a n d d i s c o u r s e into writing. allegorical appropriation by individual readers. w a y s t h a t h a v e s i g n i f i c a n t e t h i c a l a n d political c o n s e q u e n c e s . . hunting for sport. H e opposes. W h a t e v e r e l s e a n e t h n o g r a p h y d o e s . a n d is i n t h e p r e s e n t o n l y as a p a r t i c u l a r a n d p r i v a t e sensibility. is a n identity in search o f w h o l e n e s s . O n e can construct an e t h n o g r a p h y c o m p o s e d o f dialogues. O n e can feature mult i p l e v o i c e s ." "acculturation. spatial. a n d i n d e e d r e f l e c t s a k i n d o f c o m m o n s e n s e ." and "impact. c u t l o o s e f r o m viable c o l l e c t i v e ties. G e n u i n e a n d S p u r i o u s " (1966) r e c a p i t u l a t e s t h e s e critical p a s t o r a l values. the most powerful attempt to unthink this temporal setup. of interpretation.p a s t . " writes Robert M u r p h y (1984). And he is careful to keep the future open. "In t h e n a m e o f science. f o r e x a m p l e . H u g h Brody's Maps and Dreams (1982) offers a subtle and precise attempt to portray the hunting life of Beaver Indians in northwest Canada as they confront world-system forces. an oil pipeline. of dialogue." . t h e i n d i v i d u a l m o r a l a c t i o n " (180). W h a t is i r r e d u c i b l e . etc. d e t a i l e d . w e a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s c o m p o s e r e q u i e m s . c h i l d l i k e ) a c c e s s i b l e o n l y as a fiction. o r a s i n g l e v o i c e . or.114 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 115 W i l l i a m s d o e s n o t d i s m i s s this s t r u c t u r e as s i m p l y n o s t a l g i c . I have d i s c u s s e d s o m e o f t h e s e c h o i c e s e l s e w h e r e ( 1 9 8 3 a ) . is the work of Roy Wagner (1979. e n o r m o u s l y varied societies o f M e l a n e s i a w i t h t h e c u l t u r a l future o f t h e p l a n e t ? H o w m i g h t e t h n o g r a p h i e s b e d i f f e r e n t l y c o n c e i v e d i f this s t a n d p o i n t c o u l d b e s e r i o u s l y a d o p t e d ? P a s t o r a l a l l e g o r i e s o f c u l t u r a l loss a n d t e x t u a l r e s c u e w o u l d . "losing" their traditions. that t h e " g e n u i n e " e l e m e n t s o f c u l t u r a l life n e e d n o t b e r e p e t i t i o u s l y e n c o d e d as f r a g i l e . resilient. G e o r g e Eliot's n o v e l s e p i t o m i z e this s i t u a t i o n o f p a r t i c i p a n t . Words a n d deeds are transient (and au- | | ! 9. For allegories o f salvage are implied by t h e very p r a c t i c e o f t e x t u a l i z a t i o n t h a t is g e n e r a l l y a s s u m e d t o b e at t h e c o r e o f c u l t u r a l d e s c r i p t i o n . B u t Williams's t r e a t m e n t suggests that such projections n e e d n o t be consistently located in t h e past. H i s t o r i c a l w o r l d s will b e s a l v a g e d as t e x t u a l f a b rications d i s c o n n e c t e d from o n g o i n g lived milieux a n d suitable for moral. E d w a r d Sapir's " C u l t u r e .o b s e r v a t i o n i n a " c o m m o n condition .

Yet t h i s i n t e r t e x t u a l p r e d i c a m e n t is m o r e a n d m o r e t h e c a s e ( L a r c o m 1983). spatial articulations. c h e c k i n g w h e t h e r t h e c u s t o m s p e r s i s t . o r else n o t i n g that a practice has b e e n a b a n d o n e d . T h e s t r u c t u r e . t h e r e a r e f e w . T h e y interp r e t p r i o r v e r s i o n s o f t h e i r c u l t u r e . t r a v e l e r s . p o s s e s s a n " o r a l . a r e t o b e h e a r d i n "i the folklore o f e t h n o g r a p h y . a d m i n i s t r a t o r s .h i s t o r y is c o n d u c t i n g field r e s e a r c h in G a b o n . knits h i s b r o w s . a n d s o o n . a c o a s t a l g r o u p w h o . " T h e r e is n o n e e d h e r e t o p u r s u e i n d e t a i l a d i s o r i e n t i n g p r o j e c t t h a t is b y n o w w e l l k n o w n . i t s e l f p o w e r f u l l y w r i t t e n by P l a t o . if a n y . classify. s u d denly. B. e m p o w e r i n g distinction h a s b e e n e r o d e d : t h e d i v i s i o n o f t h e g l o b e i n t o literate a n d n o n l i t e r a t e p e o p l e s . r e l i g i o u s ritual.e v i d e n t . My thanks to Henry Bucher for this true story. in t h e n i n e t e e n t h century. r e c o r d e d a n d d e f i n e d b y R a p o n d a . h o w e v e r . w e r e active in contacts with E u r o p e a n t r a d e r s a n d c o l o n i s t s . B u t the m o s t subversive challenge to the allegory o f textualization I h a v e b e e n d i s c u s s i n g h e r e is f o u n d i n t h e w o r k o f D e r r i d a ( 1 9 7 4 ) . o r m a r g i n a l i z e p r i o r w r i t t e n a c c o u n t s (by m i s s i o n a r i e s . a n d the ethno-historian has arranged to interview the c u r r e n t M p o n g w é c h i e f a b o u t t r a d i t i o n a l life. "informants" increasingly r e a d a n d write. e v e n o t h e r e t h n o g r a p h e r s ) . l i k e S o c r a t e s i n t h e Phaedrus." the data merely i m p o s e d . T h i s d i s t i n c t i o n is n o l o n g e r w i d e l y a c c u r a t e . i n t h e r e g i o n o f Libreville. T h e i n t e r v i e w will f o l l o w this list. h e a r g u e s . 1 0 i n a s t e r i l e s h o r t c i r c u i t . typically.W a l k e r ' s c o m p e n d i u m . both because it is one.W a l k e r . w r i t i n g e n d u r e s (as s u p p l e m e n t a r i t y a n d artifice). T h e field is n o t c o n c e i v e d o f a s a l r e a d y filled w i t h t e x t s .W a l k e r . t h e c h i e f s e e m s u n c e r t a i n . it is n o l o n g e r p o s s i b l e t o act as if t h e o u t s i d e r e s e a r c h e r is t h e s o l e .j v e n t i o n . T h e fieldworker.) | jj ! !Ì :| V e r s i o n s o f this story.ii6 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 117 t h e n t i c ) . T h i s is n o t t o say. a p r o f o u n d a m b i v a l e n c e t o w a r d t h e p a s s a g e f r o m o r a l to l i t e r a t e h a s c h a r a c t e r i z e d W e s t e r n thinking. T h e i n t e r v i e w h a s n o t . I n o p p o s i n g l o g o c e n t r i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n t o écriture. and because I suspect he would tell it somewhat differently. For t h e rest o f t h e i n t e r v i e w t h e b o o k lies o p e n o n his lap. w h a t o n e m u s t reckon with are n e w conditions o f ethnographic production.l e n g t h cultural d e scription f o u n d in t h e papers o f J a m e s Walker. "Just a m o m e n t . B e f o r e m e e t i n g with t h e M p o n g w é c h i e f t h e ethn o g r a p h e r c o p i e s o u t a list o f r e l i g i o u s t e r m s . r e w r i t i n g . W h a t m a t t e r s for e t h n o g r a p h y is t h e c l a i m t h a t all h u m a n g r o u p s write-—if t h e y a r t i c u l a t e . B o t h i n f o r m a n t a n d r e s e a r c h e r a r e r e a d e r s a n d re-writers o f a c u l t u r a l i n . S e c o n d . i n fact. t h e o r a l / a u r a l w o r d . A n d m u c h o f the power and pathos of ethnography derives f r o m t h e f a c t t h a t it h a s s i t u a t e d its p r a c t i c e w i t h i n this c r u c i a l t r a n s i tion. After a t i m e . as w e l l as t h o s e b e i n g w r i t t e n b y e t h n o g r a p h i c scholars. w i t h w h a t i n n o v a t i o n s . S u d d e n l y cultural data cease to m o v e j s m o o t h l y f r o m oral p e r f o r m a n c e into descriptive writing. l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s . D e a c o n to t h e S i o u x G e o r g e Sword's b o o k . a n d s o f o r t h — i s n o l o n g e r (if it e v e r was) t h e e x c l u s i v e d o main o f outside authorities. i n s t i t u t i o n s a n d c o n c e p t s . a n d controls in s o m e d e g r e e . s e l d o m b e e n t h e case. First. r a t h e r t h a n f r o m r e a d i n g o r t r a n s c r i b i n g .l i t e r a t u r e . T h e fieldworker presides over. l a m e n t t h e e r o s i o n o f m e m o r y by literacy. "virgin" l i f e w a y s to b e v i o l a t e d a n d p r e served by writing. b r i n g e r o f t h e c u l t u r e i n t o w r i t i n g . is a r e s t r i c t i v e d e f i n i t i o n t h a t ties t h e b r o a d r a n g e o f m a r k s . i n s c r i p t i o n b e c o m e s t r a n s c r i p t i o n . o f p a s t o r a l is repeated. as n o n . if n o t t h e t h e m a t i c c o n t e n t . Work with t e x t s — t h e process o f inscription. o r p r i m a r y . T h i r d . P e r h a p s t h e m o s t e n d u r i n g e f f e c t o f h i s revival o f " g r a m m a t o l o g y " h a s b e e n t o e x p a n d w h a t w a s c o n v e n t i o n a l l y t h o u g h t o f a s w r i t i n g . T h e "tribe" still e x i s t s . A s t u d e n t o f A f r i c a n e t h n ' o . H o w e v e r . d i s c r e d i t . "Nonliterate" cultures are already text u a l i z e d . "tribal" p e o p l e s b e c o m e i n c r e a s i n g l y literate. o n c e o n e begins to d o u b t the ethnographer's m o n o p o l y o n the p o w e r to ins c r i b e . p. t h e A b b é R a p o n d a . Alphabetic w r i t i n g . I have told it as a parable. h e r a d i c a l l y e x t e n d s t h e d e f i n i t i o n o f t h e "written. I n p r e p a r a t i o n f o r his i n t e r v i e w t h e r e s e a r c h e r c o n s u l t s a c o m p e n d i u m o f local c u s t o m c o m p i l e d in t h e early twentieth c e n t u r y by a G a b o n e s e Christian a n d p i o n e e r i n g e t h n o g r a p h e r ." in e f f e c t s m u d g i n g its c l e a r d i s t i n c t i o n f r o m t h e " s p o k e n . t h a t t h e i n t e r v i e w h a s e n d e d | 10. a n d o t h e r inscriptions at w o r k i n h u m a n c u l t u r e s t o o c l o s e l y to t h e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f s p e e c h . T h e y r e p e a t e d l y " t e x t u a l i z e " . t h e m a k i n g o f a t e x t o u t o f life. It is a t r u e p a r a b l e . B u t f u r t h e r m o r e . H i s o r h e r d e s c r i p t i o n s a n d i n t e r p r e t a tions b e c o m e part o f t h e "consultable record o f what m a n has said" ( G e e r t z 1 9 7 3 : 3 0 ) . as s o m e m i g h t . a n d if s o . w h e n t h e r e s e a r c h e r asks a b o u t a p a r t i c u l a r w o r d . b e c o m e "inauthentic. " o r i n s c r i b e t h e i r w o r l d in ritual acts. a very widespread. A t first t h i n g s g o s m o o t h l y . o n e b e g i n s t o s e e t h e "writing" activities that h a v e a l w a y s b e e n p u r s u e d b y n a t i v e c o l l a b o r a t o r s — f r o m a n A m b r y m islander's s k e t c h (in a f a m o u s g e s t u r e ) o f a n i n t r i c a t e k i n s h i p s y s t e m i n t h e s a n d f o r A. H e is c o n c e r n e d w i t h t h e M p o n g w é . there has b e e n a consistent t e n d e n c y a m o n g fieldworkers t o h i d e . N o w d a t a ! a l s o m o v e f r o m t e x t to t e x t . T h e t e x t e m b a l m s t h e e v e n t as it e x t e n d s its " m e a n i n g . (See the I n t r o d u c t i o n o f this v o l u m e . N o r n e e d o n e .W e s t e r n . " S i n c e S o c r a t e s ' r e f u s a l t o w r i t e . i n a past. T h i s h a s . T h e t e x t is a r e c o r d o f s o m e t h i n g e n u n c i a t e d . f r o m a r e s e a r c h experience. having been there. starts f r o m s c r a t c h . " h e says c h e e r f u l l y . 15. in i n c r e a s i n g n u m b e r s . A s m a l l p a r a b l e m a y g i v e a s e n s e o f w h y this a l l e g o r y o f e t h n o g r a p h i c r e s c u e a n d loss h a s r e c e n t l y b e c o m e less s e l f . Rather. w i t h t h e M p o n g w é a u thority-providing descriptions a n d interpretations of the terms sugg e s t e d . gestures. a n d d i s a p p e a r s i n t o his h o u s e to r e t u r n w i t h a c o p y o f R a p o n d a .

P r e . a n d e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l status o f w r i t i n g . a n d loss. lost w i t h t h e g e n e r a l i z a t i o n o f writi n g . contestable. w r i t e s a m y t h t h a t is r e c i t e d i n t o a t a p e r e c o r d e r . a n d t h e s e a r e c o n v e n t i o n a l . in Derrida's epistemology. n o t o f i n v e n t i v e life. m a y b e d r a w n f r o m this e x p l o r a t i o n . C u l t u r a l facts a r e n o t t r u e a n d c u l t u r a l all e g o r i e s f a l s e . F o r i n t h e W e s t t h e p a s s a g e f r o m o r a l t o l i t e r a t e is a p o t e n t r e c u r r i n g story— o f p o w e r . t r a d e r . T h e s e c o m p o n e n t s o f what I have called e t h n o g r a p h i c pastoral n o 1 1 . " T h e m a t e r i a l a n a l o g u e o f a l l e g o r y is t h u s t h e "ruin" ( 1 7 8 ) . o r at least a s s e r t i o n s . as D e r r i d a w o u l d say. w r i t i n g c o m e s t o t h e m f r o m "outside. a f t e r D e r r i d a . t h e notion that e t h n o g r a p h i c text u a l i z a t i o n is a p r o c e s s t h a t e n a c t s a f u n d a m e n t a l t r a n s i t i o n f r o m o r a l e x p e r i e n c e to written representation. o f the presence a n d intimacy o f speech). l o n g e r a p p e a r as c o m m o n s e n s e . n o t b y a b a n d o n i n g a l l e g o r y — a n impossible a i m — b u t by o p e n i n g ourselves to different histories. B u t a u t h e n t i c c u l t u r e is n o t t h a t s o m e t h i n g — t o b e g a t h e r e d u p i n its f r a g i l e . t h e writing o f e t h n o g r a p h y c a n n o t b e s e e n as a drastically n e w f o r m o f c u l t u r a l i n s c r i p t i o n . a n d politicized m o d e l s o f temporality. t h e y a r e b e i n g r e w r i t t e n a n d critic i z e d i n c u r r e n t p r a c t i c e .ii8 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory 119 m e a n i n g s . s u r g i c a l l y . " W h a t e v e r m a y o r m a y n o t h a v e b e e n s e t t l e d i n t h e d e b a t e . c o r r u p t i o n . is o n e o f t h e s t r o n g e s t i m p u l s e s i n a l l e g o r y " ( q u o t e d b y W o l i n 1982 : 7 1 ) . Goody (1977) and Eisenstein (1979) have made important recent contributions. AAA Allegories are secured . B e n j a m i n observes that "appreciation o f the transience o f things." a n intrusion from a wider world. 1982) and Derrida (1973. " H i s t o r y " is g r a s p e d as a p r o c e s s . i n d e e d . t h e c u l t u r e s s t u d i e d b y a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s are always already writing themselves. L o g o c e n t r i c w r i t i n g is c o n v e n t i o n a l l y c o n c e i v e d t o b e a representation o f a u t h e n t i c s p e e c h . I n t h e p r e s e n t c o n t e x t I want merely to u n d e r l i n e t h e pervasive c h a l l e n g e . M o d e r n a l l e g o r y . Western allegory. W a l t e r B e n j a m i n ( 1 9 7 7 ) tells u s . t h e r e is n o d o u b t o f w h a t h a s b e c o m e unsettled: t h e s h a r p distinction o f t h e world's cul. S e e n i n this l i g h t . T h e "debate" centers on the confrontation of Ong (1967. It is i m p o r t a n t t o k e e p t h e a l l e g o r i c a l d i m e n s i o n s i n m i n d . M y a c c o u n t o f e t h n o g r a p h i c p a s t o r a l s u g g e s t s t h a t this " i m p u l s e " is t o b e r e s i s t e d . o r e t h n o g r a p h e r . 1984b) tries to work past the opposition. . fables o f personal ( g e n d e r e d ) identity. A c o m p l e x a n d fertile r e c e n t debate has circled a r o u n d t h e valorization. TALAL ASAD (comment on this essay at the Santa Fe seminar) I h a v e e x p l o r e d s o m e i m p o r t a n t allegorical f o r m s that e x press "cosmological" patterns o f o r d e r a n d disorder. by teaching people to read in certain ways. It r e p l i c a t e s ( a n d t o a n e x t e n t p r o d u c e s ) t h e structure o f pastoral that h a s b e e n pervasive in t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y e t h n o g r a p h y . g e n e r ate a r e t h i n k i n g o f e t h n o g r a p h i c authority (Clifford 1983a). . o f t h e f a c e . b o t h h i s t o r i c a l a n d t h e o r e t i c a l i n o r i g i n . the assumption that s o m e t h i n g e s s e n t i a l is l o s t w h e n a c u l t u r e b e c o m e s " e t h n o g r a p h i c " . final t r u t h b y a n e t h n o g r a p h e r o r b y a n y o n e e l s e . Tyler (1978. " u n w r i t t e n o r a l / a u r a l u n i v e r s e . 1977.t o . t o s e p a r a t e t h e f a c t u a l f r o m the allegorical in cultural accounts. Novels by a Samoan (Alfred Wendt) can challenge t h e portrait o f his p e o p l e by a distinguished anthropologist. T h e data o f e t h n o g r a p h y m a k e sense only within patterned arrangements a n d narratives. Fieldworkers are increasingly constrained i n w h a t t h e y p u b l i s h b y t h e r e a c t i o n s o f t h o s e p r e v i o u s l y classified as nonliterate. as a n e x t e r i o r i m p o s i t i o n o n a " p u r e . a n d the c o n c e r n t o r e d e e m t h e m f o r e t e r n i t y . a n d m e a n i n g f u l i n a m o r e t h a n r e f e r e n t i a l s e n s e . • T h e r e is n o w a y d e f i n i t e l y . t h e p r o c e s s e s o f e t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t i n g a p p e a r m o r e c o m p l e x .i tures into literate a n d pre-literate. that p r e s e n t l y c o n f r o n t s t h e allegory o f e t h n o g r a p h i c practice as textualization. T h u s . T h e l o g o s is n o t p r i m a r y a n d t h e gramme its m e r e s e c o n d a r y representation. political. . t h e n a t i v e a l s o r e a d s o v e r t h e e t h n o g r a p h e r ' s s h o u l d e r as h e o r s h e w r i t e s each cultural description. A f e w c o n c l u s i o n s . s e e n t o b e a p e r vasive. i n fact. R e a d i n g a n d w r i t i n g a r e g e n e r a l i z e d . w r i t i n g is b o t h e m p o w e r i n g (a n e c essary. t h e s t r a n g e l y a m b i v a l e n t a u t h o r i t y o f a p r a c t i c e t h a t s a l v a g e s as t e x t a c u l t u r a l life b e c o m i n g past. T h e notion t h a t w r i t i n g is a c o r r u p t i o n . t h e special status of the fieldworker-scholar w h o "brings t h e c u l t u r e i n t o w r i t i n g " is u n d e r c u t . I n t h e h u m a n s c i e n c e s t h e r e l a t i o n o f fact t o alleg o r y is a d o m a i n o f s t r u g g l e a n d i n s t i t u t i o n a l d i s c i p l i n e . W h o . T h e f u t u r e o f t h e s e f o r m s is u n c e r t a i n . effective way o f storing a n d m a n i p u l a t i n g k n o w l e d g e ) a n d c o r r u p t i n g (a l o s s o f i m m e d i a c y .f a c e c o m m u n i c a t i o n Socrates cherished. If.l i t e r a t e ( t h e p h r a s e c o n t a i n s a s t o r y ) s o c i e t i e s a r e oral s o c i e t i e s . hist o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . is b a s e d o n a s e n s e o f t h e w o r l d as t r a n s i e n t a n d f r a g m e n t a r y . a n d s h o u l d . W h e t h e r b r o u g h t by miss i o n a r y . a n a l w a y s d i s a p p e a r i n g structure that invites imaginative r e c o n s t r u c t i o n . b u t o f "irresistible d e c a y . Walter O n g a n d o t h e r s h a v e s h o w n t h a t s o m e t h i n g is. 1974). I f t h e e t h n o g r a p h e r r e a d s c u l t u r e o v e r t h e native's s h o u l d e r . t h a t s o m e t h i n g i r r e t r i e v a b l y p u r e is lost w h e n a c u l t u r a l w o r l d is t e x t u a l i z e d is. o r c o p i e d d o w n t o b e c o m e p a r t o f field n o t e s ? W h o w r i t e s ( i n a sense g o i n g b e y o n d transcription) a n interpretation o f c u s t o m prod u c e d t h r o u g h i n t e n s e c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h k n o w l e d g e a b l e n a t i v e coll a b o r a t o r s ? I h a v e a r g u e d that s u c h q u e s t i o n s c a n .

I w o u l d s u g g e s t as a m o d e l o f a l l e g o r i c a l tact M a r c e l M a u s s ' s The Gift. A r e c o g n i t i o n o f a l l e g o r y inescapably p o s e s t h e political a n d ethical d i m e n s i o n s o f e t h n o g r a p h i c w r i t i n g . B u t i f e t h n o g raphies are susceptible to multiple interpretations. a n d o t h e r t e m p o r a l s e t u p s . T h i s is a s a d m i s t a k e . See also James Boon's 1983 exploration of anthropology's satiric dimensions.e n d e d . N o o n e w o u l d d e n y its scientific i m p o r t a n c e o r s c h o l a r l y c o m m i t m e n t . Is t h e r e d e m p t i v e structure o f salvage-textualization being replaced? By what n e w a l l e g o r i e s ? O f conflict? O f e m e r g e n c e ? O f s y n c r e t i s m ? 1 2 F i n a l l y . at l e a s t . This recognition n e e d not ultimately lead to a n i r o n i c p o s i t i o n — t h o u g h it m u s t c o n t e n d w i t h p r o f o u n d i r o n i e s . David Schneider. For helpful criticisms of this paper I would like to thank Richard Handler. N e i t h e r a n author's intention. T h e marking off o f extended indigenous discourses shows the powerful s t o r i e s . n o t h i d d e n . performs a critique on the limits of its own enterprise even as it ironically displays its delight in the activity it criticizes" (1984: 2). t h e o p e n a l l e g o r i z i n g o f a M e a d or a Benedict enacts a certain probity—properly e x p o s i n g i t s e l f t o t h e a c c u s a t i o n o f h a v i n g used tribal s o c i e t i e s f o r p e d a g o g i cal p u r p o s e s . 12.h u m a n i s t a l l e g o r y a d d r e s s e d t o t h e p o l i t i c a l w o r l d o f t h e twenties. o f course. w i t h a d m o n i t i o n s t o s k i m o v e r t h e final c h a p t e r . t h i s is n o t a realistic f e a r . "Such pastoral constructs within itself an image of its generic traditions in order to criticize them and. in the process. tell s t o r i e s w e b e l i e v e t o b e t r u e . Susan Gevirtz. t h e s e a n d o t h e r u r g e n t r e s o n a n c e s m a r k t h e w o r k as a s o c i a l i s t . A t e n d e n c y e m e r g e s to specify a n d separate different allegorical registers within t h e text. ( L e t t h o s e f r e e o f s u c h p u r p o s e s cast t h e first s t o n e ! ) O n e n e e d not." or twist c u l t u r a l facts (as p r e s e n t l y k n o w n ) t o a p o l i t i c a l p u r p o s e . Modern ethnographic examples are rare. these are n o t at a n y g i v e n m o m e n t i n f i n i t e . It c o n f u s e s c o n t e s t s f o r m e a n i n g w i t h d i s o r d e r . M o r e o v e r . Harry Berger. F o r it m i s s e s t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o l e a r n f r o m a n a d m i r a b l e e x a m p l e o f s c i e n c e d e p l o y i n g i t s e l f in h i s t o r y . m a y w e n o t . T h e b o o k w a s w r i t t e n i n r e s p o n s e t o t h e b r e a k d o w n o f E u r o p e a n r e c i p r o c i t y i n W o r l d W a r I. encounter. . Marvell. T h i s is n o t t h e w o r k ' s o n l y " c o n t e n t . Y e t f r o m t h e o u t s e t . I t is a p a l i m p s e s t ( O w e n s 1980). i m p l i c i t l y o r e x p l i c i t l y at w o r k . w e struggle to confront a n d take responsibility f o r o u r s y s t e m a t i c c o n s t r u c t i o n s o f o t h e r s a n d o f o u r s e l v e s t h r o u g h others. scientific. and Bruner 1985. o r political p r o j e c t s . Shakespeare. although much of Lévi-Strauss's Tristes Tropiques certainly qualifies. above. " T h e m a n y r e r e a d i n g s The Gift h a s g e n e r a t e d t e s tify t o its p r o d u c t i v i t y as a t e x t . see note 9.120 JAMES CLIFFORD O n Ethnographic Allegory e t h n o g r a p h y to be a hierarchical structure o f p o w e r f u l that translate. A n d o f t e n it reflects a w i s h t o p r e s e r v e a n " o b j e c t i v e " r h e t o r i c . a r e c o g n i t i o n o f a l l e g o r y r e q u i r e s t h a t as r e a d e r s a n d w r i t ers o f e t h n o g r a p h i e s . I f w e a r e c o n d e m n e d t o tell s t o r i e s w e c a n n o t c o n t r o l . and Pope. a f e a r t h a t it l e a d s t o a n i h i l i s m o f r e a d i n g . purvey heavy-handed "messages. It c a n e v e n b e r e a d — i n c e r t a i n g r a d u a t e s e m i n a r s — a s a classic c o m p a r a t i v e s t u d y o f e x c h a n g e . It s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e s e b e m a n i f e s t e d . A partial way out can perhaps be envisioned in the pre-modern current that Harry Berger has called "strong" or "metapastoral"—a tradition he finds in the writing o f Sidney. Spenser. a n d e s p e c i a l l y i n its c o n c l u d i n g c h a p t e r . A recognition of allegory complicates the writing a n d reading of e t h n o g r a p h i e s in potentially fruitful ways. r e f u s i n g t o l o c a t e its o w n m o d e o f p r o d u c t i o n w i t h i n i n ventive culture a n d historical c h a n g e . n o r the r u l e s o f g e n r e c a n l i m i t t h e r e a d i n g s o f a t e x t t h a t will e m e r g e w i t h n e w h i s t o r i c a l . For recent changes in these underlying stories. t h e w o r k ' s a i m is p a t e n t : "to d r a w c o n c l u s i o n s o f a m o r a l n a t u r e a b o u t s o m e o f t h e p r o b l e m s c o n f r o n t i n g us in o u r p r e s e n t e c o n o m i c crisis" ( 1 9 6 7 : 2 ) . Cervantes. R e a d i n g is i n d e t e r m i n a t e o n l y t o t h e e x t e n t t h a t h i s t o r y i t s e l f is o p e n . T h e t r o u b l i n g p r o x i m i t y it s h o w s b e t w e e n e x c h a n g e a n d w a r f a r e . a n a w a r e n e s s o f allegory h e i g h t e n s awareness o f the narratives. t h e i m a g e o f t h e r o u n d t a b l e e v o k e d at t h e e n d .. and the Santa Fe seminar participants. I n this l i g h t . especially Michael Fischer. Milton. a n d recontextualize other 121 stories T h e m e a n i n g s of an ethnographic account are uncontrollable. n o r disciplinary training. I f t h e r e is a c o m m o n r e s i s t a n c e t o t h e r e c o g n i t i o n o f a l l e g o r y . o r m e r e l y " s u b j e c t i v e " ( i n t h e p e j o r a t i v e s e n s e ) .