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The Challenge of Epistemology
Edited by Christina Toren and João de Pina-Cabral
228 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-0-85745-435-5 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (October 2011)
eISBN 978-0-85745-516-1 eBook
“While the editors emphasize that their contributors are not always in agreement, there is a notable coherence to this volume, reflecting the evidently thorough preparation… This reviewer found much food for thought here, especially in Gow’s fascinating multi-dimensional autoethnography, prompted by a question arising from an indigenous epistemology. Such critical ethnography of the ontoepistemological foundations of our multiple personal pasts offers, at the same time, a window on the human condition.” · Social Analysis
Epistemology poses particular problems for anthropologists whose task it is to understand manifold ways of being human. Through their work, anthropologists often encounter people whose ideas concerning the nature and foundations of knowledge are at odds with their own. Going right to the heart of anthropological theory and method, this volume discusses issues that have vexed practicing anthropologists for a long time. The authors are by no means in agreement with one another as to where the answers might lie. Some are primarily concerned with the clarity and theoretical utility of analytical categories across disciplines; others are more inclined to push ethnographic analysis to its limits in an effort to demonstrate what kind of sense it can make. All are aware of the much-wanted differences that good ethnography can make in explaining the human sciences and philosophy. The contributors show a continued commitment to ethnography as a profoundly radical intellectual endeavor that goes to the very roots of inquiry into what it is to be human, and, to anthropology as a comparative project that should be central to any attempt to understand who we are.
Christina Toren is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She is trained in both psychology and anthropology, does her fieldwork in Fiji, and has published widely on many aspects of contemporary Fijian life, including ethnographic studies of ontogeny.
João de Pina-Cabral is Professor of Anthropology and Research Coordinator at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon where he was Scientific Director (1997– 2003). He was Founding President and of the Portuguese Association of Anthropology (1989– 91), President of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (2003–05). He has carried out fieldwork and published extensively on the Alto Minho (Portugal), Macau (China), and Bahia (Brazil).
Subject: Theory and Methodology
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