Essay about Postmodernism, Deconstructionism, and the Ethnographic Text

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Postmodernism, Deconstructionism, and the Ethnographic Text Anthropology 575 Postmodernism      In the late 1960’s the social sciences (mainly anthropology and sociology) entered a crisis period in which traditional ways of conducting the study of the Other were re-examined in the context of their association with dominance-submission hierarchies and the objectification of the subjects of study. There was seen to be an association between Western imperialism’s objectification of the Third World and the Western ‘data imperialism’ that objectified the subjects of study. Increasingly social science research was called to task in the creation of new ways of conducting social science research…show more content…
     The Postmodernist view in ethnography, then, questions the basic assumptions underlying the reportage of ethnographic information, noting that reporting ethnography is a distinct action from doing ethnography, though equally important (Clifford and Marcus 1986); that there is not only one single language or style able to convey the elusive ‘truth’ of the universe, in fact there are a multiplicity of reporting modes or voices capable of conveying ethnographic information (Rorty 1982); and thus ethnography should not be based on the conveyed ‘understanding’ of the researcher (which places him or her in a position of privileged interpreter), on a dialogic relationship between the ethnographer and subject in which both participants within the dialogue are an integral part of the study (Marcus and Fisher 1986).      The current debate concerning the validation and reporting of ethnographic material generally takes the form rejection of all theoretical paradigms (Lyotard 1984), the deconstruction of texts (Derrida 1976), the removal of the authorial voice and sobriety in style (Marcus and Fisher 1986). Counterpoised to the postmodernists are the traditionalists, such as Geertz, who assert that ethnographic legitimacy is concomitant with the authors narrative ability and rejects

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