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JAC 11.

2 (1991)
Clifford Geertz Construction
GA ! A. "#S"$
Clifford Geertz says it all in one crisp, succinct sentence: "I'm probably a closet rhetorician, although I'm coming out of the closet a bit." For over three decades, Geertz has been attempting to steer anthropological scholarship a ay from a rigidly scientific model and to ard a humanistic, interpretive, hermeneutic model!apparently ith great success. "erhaps it is Geertz's preoccupation ith seeing science and scholarship as rhetorical, as socially constructed, that ma#es his or# so eminently appealing to many of us in rhetoric and composition. Geertz sees rhetoric as central to his o n life and or#. From his college days as an $nglish ma%or at &ntioch College and a copyboy at the New York Post to '()) and his Works and Lives * here he "reads" the or# of four ma%or anthropologists as if he ere a literary critic e+plicating canonical te+ts,, Geertz has been consumed ith -uestions of language, rhetoric, interpretation. For years he has pondered e+actly hat ma#es a te+t in anthropology persuasive. &s he e+plains in this intervie , it's not simply a matter of presenting a body of facts. it has much more to do ith the author's ethos, ith the po er of his or her presentation. /his is hy, according to Geertz, a #ind of 0e Critical close reading of te+ts is essential. &ll te+ts in the social sciences are in one ay or another "fictions," constructions, and e need to treat them as such, not as inviolable, unassailable statements of scientific truth. /reating research reports and the li#e as "te+ts," be they in anthropology or in rhetoric and composition, does not diminish their usefulness or even their "truthfulness". rather, it opens these te+ts up to a richer, more significant interpretation that leads to broader understanding of the sub%ect at hand. Geertz sees rhetoric and composition as similar in many ays to anthropology, especially in the relative youth of both disciplines and in the fact that neither has "a distinct sub%ect matter" or a "real method" of research. 1embers of both disciplines share the fate of fields that "don't trac# something in the real orld very closely": a great deal of an+iety over disciplinary identity. 2pea#ing of anthropology and, by e+tension, of composition, Geertz says, "/here's a sense that someho e don't have an identity, that someho the field doesn't hold together internally." 3ut to Geertz, an atmosphere of pluralism, diversity, debate, and conflict is productive because it #eeps a discipline intellectually vital: "If you ant that certainty, and if obbling around in the ater bothers you, then you should go into chemistry, not anthropology!and, I have a feeling, not into rhetoric and composition either." 4nderstandably, then, Geertz recommends the same modes of in-uiry for composition that he does for anthropology. 5hile he's un illing to rule out any research modes, even e+perimentation, he gravitates to ard interpretive modes, such as ethnography, that ill lend insight into the or#ings of human activities. 6et he rails against notions of ethnographic research that assume that researchers must be ob%ective, detached, scientifically uninvolved in the community under investigation. /o represent ethnography "as though it ere a laboratory study of some sort" is,





according to Geertz, "almost in a #ind of positivist sense false." Instead, he continues to champion a studied self!refle+ivity, or hat 7enato 7osaldo has called the "positioned observer"!a recognition that "you are somebody: you come out of a certain class. you come out of a certain place. you go into a certain country. you then go home. you do all of these things." &s if to underscore the importance of this recognition, Geertz is preparing a ne boo# After the Fact, in hich he is surveying the or# of his long career in an attempt to "reconceptualize" his life's or# in terms of research conducted not by some impersonal, ob%ective "scientist," but "by human hands!that is, mine." Geertz is particularly frustrated ith attempts to maintain a sharp distinction bet een the humanities and the sciences. 0ot only is such an artificial distinction "false," but it is used to ma#e value %udgments bet een " hat is legitimately rigorous and ob%ective and hat is soft and stupid." Geertz believes e should "deconstruct this dichotomy and be done ith it," especially since this very distinction has often been made regarding his o n or#, ith critics charging that he is "not a reasonable scientist." 2uch critics, Geertz counters, are succumbing to a simplistic t o!cultures notion that fails to account for the comple+ity of the intellectual universe. It ill be of little surprise that Geertz considers himself a social constructionist, that he believes "meaning is socially, historically, and rhetorically constructed." 8e stops short, ho ever, of calling himself a poststructuralist, thin#ing of himself instead as a "late modernist under pressure." 6et Geertz does find poststructuralist perspectives useful, and he has al ays opposed the structuralists for their essentialism and hyper rationalism. &nd though he agrees ith the criti-ues of the 0e Critics, he has a special affinity for the #ind of close te+tual analysis they championed. Clearly, hat ma#es Geertz especially influential in composition scholarship is that throughout his career he has restled ith the very same issues that e ourselves have: the nature of interpretation, the role of rhetoric, the nature of persuasiveness, the social construction of meaning, the relative value of various modes of in-uiry, the role of the researcher in ethnographic research. In many ays Geertz is, as he rather proudly admits, a rhetorician. and in many ays his life's or# has been a sustained and impassioned study of rhetoric, its uses and abuses. Clifford Geertz may very ell thin# of himself as a "novelist man-u9," but to many of us in rhetoric and composition he is a rhetorician accompli. :. It's often been noted that your prose, even in your more technical anthropological ritings, is very readable!even, at times, entertaining, in the best sense of that ord. In your recent boo#, Works and Lives, you e+amine the notion that ethnography itself is "a #ind of riting, putting things on paper." In hat ays do you thin# of yo rself as a riter; &. In all #inds of ays. I started out to !e one. that's the first ans er. I anted to be a novelist and a ne spaper man. &s an undergraduate, I had the notion!maybe an anti-uated one by no !that one could or# on a ne spaper and ritten novels in the evening. I ent to &ntioch College and ma%ored in $nglish, at least in the beginning, ith the intention of doing something li#e that. In high school I had edited a ne spaper and a literary magazine!the usual sort of thing. 2o I anted to be a novelist. I even rote a novel *though I didn't publish it, and some short stories.

&ntioch had a co!op program so I ent to or# for the New York Post as a copyboy hen I decided I didn't ant to be a ne spaper man. it as fun, but it asn't practical. &fter a hile I shifted into philosophy as a ma%or, but I never had any undergraduate training at all in anthropology and, indeed, very little social science outside of economics. I had a lot of economics but nothing else. &nthropology asn't even taught at &ntioch then, although it is no . &nd e+cept for a political science course or t o and lots of economics, I didn't have any social sciences. 2o I as in literature for at least half the time I as there, the first couple of years, and then I shifted to philosophy, partly because of the influence of a terrific teacher and partly because in a small college you can run out of courses. '1en I got interested in the same sort of thing I'm interested in no : values, ideas, and so on. Finally, one of my professors said, "5hy don't you thin# about anthropology;" /hat as the first time I had thought seriously about being an anthropologist, and then I began to thin# about it and I ent to 8arvard and so on. 2o I came in preformed as a riter and put riting aside for a hile because I had to learn hat anthropology as all about and do research and get a #ind of union card as a or#ing anthropologist. 3ut, yes, I really am a novelist man-u9. *2ome of my enemies ould say I'm still a novelists fiction riter any ay., 2o it's not accidental. I've al ays had that bent, I gum, and I still do. I thin# of myself as a riter ho happens to be doing his riting as an anthropologist. I've often been accused of ma#ing anthropology %ust into literature, but I don't believe I'm doing that. &nthropology is also field research and so on, but riting is central to it. :. 5ould you describe your riting process; For e+ample, do you spend substantial time gathering information and synthesizing it before you draft; <o you prepare an outline, revise e+tensively, use a computer; & I've spent a lot of time in the field!almost a dozen years in 2outheast &sia and 0orth &frica! here I don't do any riting at all. I can't rite in the field. I rite a lot of field notes, but I can't compose anything. I once started to rite a boo# revie in the field, but that didn't or#. I %ust can't do it. I thin# there's a much greater separation in anthropology, especially among field anthropologists, than in a lot of social sciences bet een the research and the riting!at least as I do it. 6ou do t o or t o!and!a!half years in =ava in hich all you do is live ith the people, rite do n everything, and try to figure out hat the hell is going on. then you come bac# and rite!out of the notes, out of your memories, and out of hatever is going on in the field. 2o, for me at least, it's a fairly divided life. I don't rite in the field. I rite after I return. 1ostly, here I rite and there research. &s far as how I rite, there's no single ans er. I hesitate to confess this in public because I thin# it's a very bad ay to do things, but I'll do it any ay: I don't rite drafts. I rite from the beginning to the end, and hen it's finished it's done. &nd I rite very slo ly. /hat may seem odd, because I've ritten a lot, but I've often been in situations li#e this one here in "rinceton here I've had a lot of time to rite. I never leave a sentence or a paragraph until I'm satisfied ith it. and e+cept for a fe touch!ups at the end, I rite essentially one draft. >nce in a hile people as# me for early drafts, but these drafts %ust don't e+ist. 2o I %ust go from line one to line ?!even in a boo#. I have an outline, especially if it's a boo#, but I hardly pay attention to it. I %ust build it up in a sort of craft!li#e ay of going through it carefully, and hen it's done it's done. /he process is very slo . I ould not advise that other people rite this ay. I #no people ho can rite a first draft and not care hether it's idiotic.

/hey'll rite "blah, blah, blah," and put zeros to hold space for something to be filled in later. Good riters do this. I ish I could too, but for reasons that are probably deeply psychological, it's impossible. I usually rite about a paragraph a day, but at least it's essentially finished hen it's done. &nd all of this is not due %ust to the computer, because I've only used the computer for a year or so. I rite by hand. even no I rite by hand. I %ust type te+t in to the computer so I can print it out and read it. :. In discussing hat constitutes persuasive discourse in anthropology, you've observed that the persuasiveness of a te+t does not rest on the accretion of facts and details but on "the ability of the anthropologist @or any ritersA to get us to ta#e hat they say seriously"!that is, on hat rhetoricians call the riter's ethos. $+actly hat factors do you thin# ma#e discourse particularly persuasive; 5hat is it about a given te+t that ma#es us ta#e the author and the te+t seriously; &. In Works and Lives that's a -uestion I asked rather than tried to give a definitive ans er to. 2o my first response is that I don't #no . If you loo# in anthropology, the diversity of #inds of te+ts that have been persuasive and have had purchase in the field militates against any simple conclusion. "n Works and Lives, " really asn't trying to establish a canon. rather, I as trying to say, "/his seems to be the canon. hy do e believe $vans "ritchard and Bevi!2trauss and 1alino s#i and 3enedict and some others;" I thin# the ans er to your -uestion is itself empirical, and I thin# it's empirical in a discipline that is yet to come!that is, rhetorical analysis in anthropology. 5e need to thin# more about the nature of rhetoric in anthropology, and that's hat I tried to begin. /here isn't a body of #no ledge and thought to fall bac# on in this regard. :. Is it that e %ust #no persuasive riting, good rhetoric, hen e see it; & I thin# people are ma#ing %udgments, but I don't thin# they #no they're ma#ing them on. hat basis

In recent years, there's been more and more riting about anthropological riting, but still there's not that much. 6ou could name a half dozen boo#s and another dozen articles and pretty ell e+haust the stuff that's orth reading. It's not a vast field. I'm sometimes amused by people ho are furious about Works and Lives because they thin# it's an abandonment of the field to literature. I respond, "It's the only boo# li#e this I ever rote and probably the only one li#e it that I ever ill rite. '1e field is not really dissolving into this. most anthropologists are doing straightfor ard ethnography, and should do it." 2o in that boo# I tried to e+amine ho at least these four people managed to be persuasive, and it turned out to be a little bit different each time. $ven the factuality problem is not that simple. It certainly is true that %ust the assembly off acts is not going to ma#e a te+t persuasive. if it ere, there ould be a lot of very dull boo#s that ould be a lot more famous than they are. 2omeho , the sense of circumstantiality and of po er in reserve *if an anecdote or an e+ample doesn't sound strained but sounds li#e you've got fifty others and this is the best one you chose, are factors that are rhetorically important. I guess I ant to dodge the issue, mostly because I %ust don't #no the ans er. 5hat I ant to see get started is a lot more reflection about these matters. 3oo# revie s in #he American Anthropologist hardly ever concern themselves ith rhetoric. /he most you ever hear is, "It's ell ritten," or "It's lousily ritten," or "It's obscure," but no real sense of ho the boo# is put together. 6ou almost never get anything about ho composition occurs, ho the te+t is constructed, ho the

argument is developed, and hy it is or isn't persuasive. /here's very little about " riting" in that sense. 2o eCre operating in the dar#. 6et at the same time, and this is hat started me ith the #inds >f concerns addressed in Works and Lives, there's a fair consensus in the field about hat the canonical boo#s are. 5e aren't in that much of a debate about them. 5e may li#e or not li#e hat & or 3 says, but nobody is going to say that Bevi!2trauss is not an important anthropologist or that $vans! "ritchard or 1alino s#i asn't influential. 1ost people ould say that these are significant people. 3ut e %ust don't #no hy their or#s are persuasive. :. 2o you'd li#e to see more self!reflection on the part of anthropologists, especially about ho anthropological te+ts are constructed. &. 6es, that's the point of "literary criticism" or "rhetorical analysis" in anthropology!not to replace research, but to find out ho it is that e are persuasive. It is odd in anthropology, because if you read a boo# by me on =ava or some other place, you either ta#e it or leave it. 6ou don't #no anything about the place. 6ou could read another couple of boo#s and probably get more confused, but there's no ay of matching it to "reality." $if the correspondence theory of truth ever does or#, it doesn't or# here., If I rite about the 3alinese coc#fight, ho #no s hat's hat; & fe readers might be able to ma#e some comparisons, but the average reader is %ust left ith the te+t and hat ICm saying about the sub%ect. 2o hy the coc#fight piece has been popular, hy that too# hold, is interesting to me. 5hy certain papers, certain articles, certain pieces, certain boo#s, certain riters have a #ind of persuasiveness, hy e believe them, is curious. &gain, e don't #no anything about the 0uer, the people $vans!"ritchard rote about. I've never seen a 0uer, and I never ill probably, and ninety percent of the students on't. 1aybe a fe ill, but even they ill go at a different time from the original investigator!$!". If there's ever a place here you can%t argue that you can put the facts over here and the te+t over there and see if they fit, it is surely in anthropology. &lso, a lot of boo#s that have been influential don't meet the usual stereotypes of hy e believe them. /hey're not very factual. I gave an e+ample of Beach's &ighland ' rma boo#, hich I do thin# is very good, but he doesn't have much in the ay of facts in it. &nd there are lots of others. 5hy do e believe Beach, or at least more so than e do other people; It isn't really theory, because anthropological theory is not that impressive, in my vie . I don't thin# e #no , and I thin# the ay to #no is hat I at least as trying to do and hat some other people are trying to do: to loo# at the te+ts as a close reader. I as trained in the fifties, so I as trained as a 0e Critic. Close reading is important to me. /hough I agree ith many of the criti-ues of the 0e Critics, I often remember hat literature as li#e before the 0e Critics, hen people stood up and tal#ed about 2helley's "soul" and such things. I still have a fair amount of nostalgia for 0e Critical discipline and for close reading, and there hasn't been that in anthropology. It's beginning a bit, but it's still minuscule. 2o, close reading is hat I ant to happen, and if it happens enough, perhaps in t enty years I could ans er your -uestion! though, of course, I on't be around then. &t the moment I can't ans er it because I don't thin# e have a body of #no ledge yet. :. Certainly, a feasible #ind of pro%ect for someone in rhetoric and composition ould be to loo# at various anthropological te+ts and apply a #ind of rhetorical analysis to in.

&. /hat's the #ind of thing I anted to do. I anted to get other people interested in doing this because, li#e practitioner history, practitioner criticism isn't al ays the best sort of thing. &nthropologists have certain commitments to hat they're doing and they have certain distortions. I ould hope that one of the results of Works and Lives, hether anybody li#es the readings given there or not, is that those outside the field ould be stimulated to loo# at anthropology as te+tual construction. :. In discussing te+tual construction, you've dra n on the or# of Foucault and especially 3arthes to distinguish bet een an "author" *and a " or#", and a " riter" *and a "te+t",. 5hat crucial distinctions do yo see bet een the t o concepts; & /he 3arthes piece actually impresses me more than Foucault's. 3arthes' distinction, and I thin# it means something to me, is that for him, if I remember correctly, a riter is someone ho ants to convey information. that is, language or riting is a code: I ant to tell you ho many days a ee# the 3alinese have rituals, and I'm %ust trying to convey in formation. /he other image is that it's a theater of language. that is, you're trying to convey a sense of hat things are li#e, and you ant to use language itself as a mode of construction. &gain, this is hat's interesting about anthropology in this regard: anthropologists can't really opt for either of these. >bviously, I can't give up telling you ho many 3alinese there are and hat they do and getting it right. >n the other hand, I do ant to convey something of the inner significance of 3alinese culture, and that demands a theater!of!language #ind of authorship. /here, all #inds of other things come into play because voice and signature and things li#e that really play a role that they perhaps don't to the same e+tent in communicative riting. '1at is the a+is upon hich I anted to try to see hat an author in anthropology is. I thin# the -uestion of hat the relationship bet een author and te+t is has never really been raised before in anthropology. :. "erhaps this is the distinction you ere searching for before about really ma#es a te+t persuasive. >f course, it's still a vague distinction. hat

&. &nd it on't be persuasive if the riter's side is missing either. '1ere are lots of "literary" boo#s *in the bad sense, in anthropology that nobody believes because readers %ust don't feel the riter really understands hat the ? indians or the 6 natives are all about, and they feel, therefore, that the te+t is in the bad sense a "fiction." >n the other hand, it has to !e something of a fiction: it has to be made( it has to be constr cted. #hat%s the mule image that I gave. 5e have to be both of those things. /hat's hat interests me about the 3arthes distinction. he as concerned at least some hat ith this problem. @In Works and Lives, Geertz spea#s of "the 0orth &frican mule ho tal#s al ays of his mother's brother, the horse, but never of his father, the don#ey" as an e+ample of ho e suppress parts of our heritage "in favor of others supposedly more reputable."A :. In the preface to Works and Lives, yo say that the or# of Denneth 3ur#e as that boo#'s "governing inspiration at almost every point," and often in the past you've cited his or#. In hat ays has 3ur#e's scholarship been an influence on yours; &. 3ur#e is important to me. I first encountered his or# as an undergraduate in literature. /here are lots of things about 3ur#e that I li#e. I guess the main thing is the notion of symbolic action!the notion that riting is a form of action and that action is a form of riting or a form of symbolic behavior. that you can ta#e *and I've

done this. the 3alinese coc#fight pieE is an e+ample, a ritual or a repetitive event as a te+t, even ta#e the state as a te+t, to "read" action in symbolical terms as 3ur#e as one of the first to do *at least that I ever ran into,. that riting, on the other hand, is itself a form of action, that it has a pragmaticalFpractice dimension and that's hat it's about. 3ur#e healed the division bet een hat goes on in the "real" orld *activity, and hat goes on in the "unreal" orld *that is, riting about it, ithout fusing them. /here's a marvelous line of his that often gets -uoted, "8aving children by marriage is not the same as riting a poem about having children by marriage." 6ou can see that both having children by marriage and riting a poem about having children by marriage are forms of action and forms of symbolic action. #hat%s hat I get out of it, and the hole emphasis is on rhetoric. / o people have been really liberating in my mind for hat I as doing. one is 5ittgenstein and the other is 3ur#e. &s a very young man in college, I read 3ur#e!before he as a secular saint, before everyone as reading him. $ven then I thought this is hat literary criticism ought to be. :. In "Ideology as a Cultural 2ystem," you ma#e a case for "the study of symbolic action" *in 3ur#e's sense, as an important interpretive, analytical tool of sociologists, especially those e+amining ideology. and you sho ho ideology dra s on metaphor and other tropes to socially construct a comple+ eb of interrelated meanings. In the decades since you rote that essay, there has been, of course, intense interest in tropology, especially among poststructuralists. <o recent discussions of tropology shed ne light on the pro%ect that you ere articulating bac# then; &. 2ure. I thin# hat is true is that hat seemed then a rather odd thing to say no seems a rather banal thing to say. /hat's happened. "eople have begun to do more of this, even in anthropology!I'm not %ust tal#ing about literature. Certainly, the hole notion of tropology has become more and more important, but hat I see is that hen I rote "Ideology as a Cultural 2ystem," as far as anthropology or social science in general as concerned, even the stuff that did e+ist, li#e 3ur#e and the beginnings of hat later became deconstruction, had no effect. 2o I don't see myself as being ahead of the orld in doing this but as mediating to anthropology or the social sciences. I'm not even alone in that, but if I as ahead of the game at all, it as in saying that e ought to loo# this ay. Bater on I rote specifically about loo#ing to ard literature and these #inds of matters, saying that e should stop loo#ing at levers and hydraulics and such things and start thin#ing in that symbolical ay. 5hat has come along, of course, is hermeneutics, hich has enriched this stuff immensely because it encouraged us to study it. I %ust called for it and others have begun to organize the discussion of it. I find some of this scholarship useful, even though I have some reservations about far!out versions of it. :. 2o do you see yourself as a poststructuralist; &. 0o, I don't. I'm certainly not a structuralist, as I early on structuralism. it's a #ind of hyper rationalism that I oppose. as hostile to

:. 3ut you don't see yourself as involved in the same pro%ect as the poststructuralists; &. I don't see myself as a poststructuralist. 2omeone recently rote about me, saying I as a late modernist in e)tremes, hich may not be too far off. 1aybe in e)tremes is a little e+treme, but I'm certainly a late modernist under pressure. I still regard myself as that. I'm not sure hat I mean by all this, e+cept that I'm un illing to let signifiers float entirely freely, and I'm un illing to have a scrapboo# approach to

the composition of te+ts, and so on. 2o hile I've learned an enormous amount from the poststructuralists, I'm not illing to be categorized as one. :. 6ou've said, "8uman thought is consummately social: social in its origins, social in its functions, social in its form, social in its applications." 2uch comments and your or# in general have led some compositionists to call you a leading "social constructionist." <o you consider yourself a social constructionist; &. 6es, that one I'll buy. In fact, I'm riting a revie right no of three boo#s on feminism and science, and it's about social constructionism. 6es, I ould say I'm a social constructionist, hatever that means. Bi#e most people I hate to adopt labels, but the hole business about the social construction of meaning seems to me to be right. 6our -uestion about hat's happened since I rote "Ideology"!all that has happened. &gain, I thin# it as there in 3ur#e and in all #inds of things, but it has been thematized, analyzed, brought for ard. and I do thin# that meaning is socially, historically, and rhetorically constructed. If you ant to call me anything, call me that. I don't thin# there is a field or a movement called social constructionism that " !elong to, but I'm sympathetic to that notion. :. /he concept of social construction is -uite important in rhetoric and composition right no since language is, of course, central to anything that's being socially constructed. &. /hat's hat I anted to see in Works and Lives. " anted to see ho anthropologists socially constructed people, hich doesn't mean that they're all rong, or they' re all made up ! that's part of a very advanced sort of poststructuralism I don't ant to buy. I'm not illing to say they %ust made it up. I %ust gave some lectures, the 8arvard =erusalem Bectures, that ill be compiled in a boo# called After the Fact, and it's essentially an argument for a social constructionist vie of anthropology!in fact, e+plicitly so. It's sort of a loo#ing bac# at my or# over forty years and figuring out ho I constructed the images of 1orocco and 3ali!ho I constructed them and hat foundations I had for doing so. 2o I'm trying to do that. *I guess it's an attempt at self!historicizing or something of that sort., 2o yes, I don't mind the term social constmctionist, e+cept that I don't li#e labels in general. :. In Local *nowledge you discuss 7ichard 7orty's concept of normal and a!normal discourse, and you suggest that the terms standard and nonstandard discourse ould be more appropriate. 6ou e+plain that your "preference for standardFnonstandard stems from a disli#e of the pathology overtones of normalFabnormal *itself a revision of Duhn's rather too political!sounding normalFrevolutionary, and from a disli#e of pure types, dichotomous dualisms, and absolute contrasts." 6our sense of the concept of nonstandard discourse seems more useful than 7orty's grander notion of abnormal discourse *in =&C he said abnormal discourse is a "gift of God", and seems more in line ith ho compositionists use it. 5ould you elaborate on your understanding of standard and nonstandard discourse; &. /he main reason I didn't li#e the normalFabnormal business is that both in my field and in general it has all the overtones of abnormal as sick. " don't li#e the medical model applied in general, so I anted to get a ay from that. It's amusing that 7ichard, ho is a diehard atheist, is tal#ing about "gifts of God." 0onstandard discourse is something that reaches beyond the conventionalities of ongoing discourse, and in anthropology you almost al ays have to do that. 5e al ays have t o problems hen e rite about others! the =avanese, for e+ample. >ne is ma#ing

them sound li#e 1artians, li#e they're %ust ired so differently that e can't understand them. the other is ma#ing them sound %ust li#e ourselves. If you use standard discourse, you do end up ma#ing them sound %ust li#e ourselves!or li#e 1artians!because those are the only alternatives. 2o you need to develop some sort of mode of description or argument that mediates bet een the t o e+tremes. and this mode is nonstandard. Generally, I'm not ildly e+perimental, but my o n ritings in anthropology are certainly nonstandard. /hey're not ild or off the edge of the map or anything, but they aren't the ay most anthropologists rite. &nd certainly hen I started they eren't. /here are more people doing it no . :. 6our ritings are nonstandard because they're not part of the conventional discourse of the discipline; &. 6es, there's been mimicry of the sciences in an attempt to sort of be fashioned after them!you rite an introduction, then the findings, then the conclusions. I've ritten!not only me but more and more other people have ritten!in a much more off!the! all sort of ay in an attempt, among other things, to cope ith that end in dilemma of not ma#ing the 3alinese or the 1oroccans or the =avanese sound li#e they live on the moon but also not ma#ing them sound li#e they live ne+t door. '1ey don't do either of those things. /o cope ith that dilemma I thin# some sort of e+periments in prose are necessary, some sort of departure from received canons of description. :. 2o you don't see abnormal discourse as something that happens only once every fe decades or so ith some sort of ma%or find, but as something that happens all the time ith certain people in certain circumstances. &. 1ore so. >ne thing about terms li#e standard and nonstandard is they come in degrees. /here are people ho rite much less standard discourse than I do. 2ome of the people to the intellectual left feel that I'm still riting linear prose, hich they see as a big mista#e. *I should be putting things in all capital letters and that #ind of thing., I don't thin# necessarily that nonstandard prose is al ays better than standard prose or standard riting. I %ust thin# that in anthropology and the social sciences the received canons are limiting. 2o yes, I do thin# it's something that goes on all the time, and it goes on in degrees. $very once in a hile, somebody really revolutionizes the ay things are done. most of the time, they inch up on it and after a hile you notice that it's really done in -uite a different ay than it as before. It's al ays amusing to loo# at ho something early in the t entieth century as ritten in anthropology and ho it's ritten no . 6ou can see that someho there's been an enormous shift in ho it's done, but yet you can't put your finger on someone ho actually did this!there's no =oyce, for e+ample. 3ut that can happen, too. >ne of the small problems ith /om Duhn's or# * hich I li#e very much. /om's a good friend of mine, is that because he dealt ith physics and ith particular events in physics, he did tend to have a normalFabnormal radical distinction. I don't thin# that model fits so ell in biology, for e+ample. 3ut shifts can be more gradual, and the concept of standardFnonstandard has to be relativized that ay. :. In "/he Gro th of Culture and the $volution of 1ind," you discuss some of the difficulties in studying the concept of mind. 7ecently in =&C 0oam Choms#y complained of a "pernicious epistemological dualism," in that "-uestions of mind are %ust studied differently than -uestions of body." <o you agree that in studying the

mind scholars have tended to ignore the role of biology and "innate structures";

hat Choms#y calls

& I agree ith Choms#y in almost nothing. /hat's too strong!he's made ma%or contributions in studies in synta+ and so >n, but in "hilosophy and in "hilosophy of mind I certainly don't agree ith him, for the sameA reasons I don't agree ith Bevi! 2trauss. /hey share the same #ind of hyperrationalism that I don't. 5hen it comes to innate structures and so on, ICm very s#eptical. :. 8e apparently feels -uite frustrated ith this 1ovement a ay from biology to ard social forces. Fie said, "Boo#, if you're going to study puberty, you don't study peer pressure. 5hen I chuc#led, he said, "6ou're laughing. 5hy do people laugh no adays hen I say that; 6ou ould automatically go, for something li#e puberty, to biology. 2o hy don't you do the same for the study of the mind;" & I don't disagree ith the notion that e need to consider the body as ell as the brain. /hat's hat I argued for years ago in the "$volution of 1ind" article, and I still argue for that. I recently gave a tal# in hich I said that I thin# advances in neurology are going to ma#e an enormous difference in the ay e thin# about mind. 2o there Choms#y and I don't disagree. 5here he and I ould disagree is that he has an intensely nativist vie of the structure of the brain and mind hich I thin# ildly over simple. &lso, he's an odd man to be ma#ing that point, because he doesn't study the brain. he studies computers and language. 8e's been criticized by a lot of people on the grounds that if you really ant to study the brain, you need to study the brain and not pro%ect your theories into it in a deductive ay, hich is hat I thin# Choms#y does. I thin# hat's #no n about neurology is still scattered and uncertain, but, yes, I thin# e need to #no about the body. &s you say, I've ritten about it, though I haven't ritten about it recently. Certainly, I'm not a dualist in that sense. I thin# genuine investigations into the structure of the brain or the structure of the nervous system should help us understand thought. 5hat I am opposed to is t o ays of approaching the sub%ect. >ne is Choms#y's #ind of immatism, here you postulates central processing mechanism!the problems ith that are enormous. /he hole central processing vie of psychology, I thin#, is -uite un or#able. /hat' s one ay to do it. /he other ay is sociobiology, hich is highly adaptationist. &nd hen you protest, as I have on a number of occasions, against one or both of these ith some vigor, the countercharge is that you don't care about the body or biology, hich is false. It's %ust that I thin# that neither neo<ar inism nor neo! rationalism is the ay to go. :. 2o obviously you also ouldn't agree epistemologists, such as Darl "opper; &. 0o, I ouldn't. :. <o you thin# they're having much influence; & 5ell, Choms#y, of course, at one time did. 8e isn't as influential as he as, at least in social psychology and certainly in anthropology. 2ociobiology is a tric#ier business. "opper!no. I <on't thin# he's had much influence in &merica. :. 6ou mentioned that you're riting a revie of some boo#s on feminism and science. <o you believe that 5estern culture in general and 4.2. society in particular have made substantial progress to ard gender e-uity; ith the evolutionary

&. I thin# there have been some advances, but hat I thin# has happened in a rather short period *5hen as 3etty Friedan's boo# published; >ne al ays tends to date it from that, is an enormous development of thought and self!reflection about gender, and not only among feminists *though particularly among them, but among everybody. $veryone, I thin#, is much more conscious of these matters than they ere, and that's certainly an advance. &nd gender consciousness has become involved in almost every intellectual field: history, literature, science, anthropology. 2o in that sense, I thin# there's been an e+traordinary advance. I suppose there's also been some progress in the mar#etplace because there are many more omen or#ing. so there has been some correction, I suppose, of gross ine-uality!but there are also many gross ine-ualities still left. 5hat is different!I guess because I'm an anthropologist I thin# about culture!is that the culture has changed. I do thin# the attempt to raise consciousness has in that sense succeeded. "eople are very a are of gender concerns no . /here is much greater legitimacy of investigations from the point of vie of gender concerns in everything, again, from literature to science. &lso, there has been more consciousness about se+ual harassment in the or#place. 3ut hether or not things have gotten radically better there is not something I'm really able to say. :. 2o it's both yes and no: our consciousness has been raised some hat, but e still have -uite a ay to go. &. 5ell, again, I live in a university environment and there it's changed. /here are many, many more omen present. /hat's not to say that e-uity has occurred, %ust that it has compared to hat it as. 5hen I first came here t enty years ago, there as only one oman professor at "rinceton. 0o there are a lot. there's a critical mass. /he omen are there and they're influential. 5hether it's li#e that in the ban#ing industry, I honestly don't #no . :. Choms#y said that "for cultural reasons, the move a ay from patriarchy is a step up ards. It's a step to ard understanding our true nature." <o you agree that the elimination of se+ism is an "evolutionary" step, and that there's a "true" human nature that e can approach; &. I certainly thin# that it's an advance. it's a moral advance of ma%or proportions that needs to be sustained. I ould not myself formulate it in terms of "human nature" or evolution to ard some intrinsic essence of man!generic man. I %ust don't thin# that ay. 3ut I don't have any disagreement ith the notion that it's a moral advance. I can't briefly say hy, but it ouldn't have to do ith the fact that e're getting closer to our nature. 1y arguments ould all be from arguments of moral %ustice and e-uity and things of that sort, not from someho approaching some pree+istent inner essence that e are evolving to ard. '1at sort of language al ays bothers me because everybody has his or her o n notion of hat that essence might be. 6ou've got people peddling this stuff on every street corner *and I'm not spea#ing of Choms#y here,. 2o I certainly don't disagree ith the ethos of the statement, but I ouldn't put it the ay Choms#y did. that's not the ay I ould argue for it. :. 8as feminism had an effect in anthropology itself; 8as feminist in-uiry, for e+ample, changed ho you do things or ho anthropologists do things; &. 6es, very much so. It's had an enormous influence. &nthropology in general has al ays been fairly hospitable to female scholars, and even to feminist scholars. /here's al ays been a number of omen ho have been really -uite influential in the field!! not only 1ead and so on. /hey eren't al ays feminists in the modern sense of the

ord, but some of them ere. /here have been enormous advances in the number of omen ho are teaching!though, again, the process is far from complete. 8as feminism made us all more conscious; 6es, I thin# it has. Feminist criti-ues of anthropological masculine bias and so on have been -uite important, and they certainly have increased my sensitivity to that #ind of issue. I thin# feminism has had a ma%or impact on anthropology. 5e ere tal#ing before about ma#ing discourse less scientistical. feminism has been something of an assistance in all that: some of the support for that has come from feminism. :. 3ecause rhetoric and composition is a highly interdisciplinary field, dra ing on or# in anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and so on, the hole range of modes of scholarly in-uiry!from e+periment to ethnography to theoretical speculation!is available to us. Currently, compositionists are engaged in an important debate over hich modes of in-uiry are most appropriate for the ma#ing of #no ledge in our field. <o you feel that it ould be advantageous for a discipline li#e composition to use a multiplicity of modes of in-uiry, or should it rely primarily on one or t o modes that seem especially productive; &. It's hard to give advice to a discipline I have so little #no ledge of, but I'm an inveterate fo+ and not a hedgehog, so I al ays thin# you should try everything. 1y intuition ould be yes, try multiple approaches to these matters. I'm a little at a loss because I don't -uite #no hat they are and hat the problems are and hat ones, if you ere a hedgehog, you ould cling to. :. 5ell, let me give you an e+ample. 2ome thin# that since our roots are in the humanities, e really ought to or# ith our strengths and do theoretical, speculative #inds of scholarship. 3ut e do have a very strong science orientation in the discipline, and so others argue that e should conduct empirical research, even e+periments ith control and e+perimental groups and randomized selection of student riters, and so on. /hen there are all the different modes in bet een, many dra n from the social sciences, including, and especially, ethnography, hich has emerged as one of our ma%or modes of in-uiry. I'm not trying to get you to ta#e sides in o r debate. I'm %ust curious about hat your intuition tells you about these matters. &. It's hard for me to believe that a field li#e rhetoric and composition has arrived at such a state of paradigm consolidation that it ould #no hich ay to go ith some certainty. >ne has to be some hat critical and not %ust do any silly thing, but I ould thin#, especially since it seems to be a discipline still very much in the process of formation, that it ould be un ise to have premature closure on anything! certainly not ethnography, or even e+perimental research. I myself thin# that e+perimental research ould probably not be of much use, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It %ust means that if it ere me, I ould find that a step in the rong direction. I also thin# that e ought to brea# do n these #inds of large!scale distinctions bet een the humanities and social sciences, not in the sense of absolutely having no differences, but e at least ought to ma#e them permeable. Certainly, there is a difference bet een doing literary criticism and doing chemistry. I'm not trying to say it's all together in one great big mishmash, but the notion that these fields don't have anything to say to each other or offer to each other stri#es me as odd. For a field that loo#s to be some hat interstitial li#e rhetoric and composition *it seems some hat li#e anthropology: a bit of a mule, a bit of everything,, it ould seem very un ise to

hedgehog and to say you're not going to do certain things. &t the same time *I guess I'm getting into the "on the one hand and on the other hand" about this, if you have some things that are vital, you need to support them. &s I say, it's a field I don't #no much about. :. >ne reason I as# this -uestion is that some people!for e+ample, many of my graduate students and also ell!#no n scholars in the field!feel some hat in secure hen they see all the bic#ering!some arguing e need hard "fact," others urging us to go ith our strengths, to stay ith theory because "e+periments aren't going to tell us anything orth #no ing." &s a result, many in the field often become dismayed over this seeming chaos. &. /hat resonates. &nthropology is li#e that. 2ome professors and especially younger anthropologists have the notion that anthropology is too diverse. /he number of things done under the name of anthropology is %ust infinite. you can do anything and call it anthropology. */hat's perhaps a little e+treme., In my field I have al ays argued for the pluralistic approach to things rather than solidification into some particular line *even my o n line, of or#. 3ut there is a great deal of an+iety. I thin# it is true that scholars, both young and old, are overly an+ious about pluralism, diversity, conflict!younger ones especially because hen they're first getting into a field they ant to #no hat it is they're supposed to #no , but older ones, too, because they someho yearn for a lost paradise hen everyone #ne hat they ere doing. I thin# that's the nature of things, and I don't thin# things are moving to ard an omega point. I thin# they're moving to ard more diversity any ay. 2o being an inveterate pluralist *of course, I don't #no anything about rhetoric and composition,, my instincts are al ays against people ho ant to fasten some sort of hegemony onto things. I myself don't feel that an atmosphere of debate and total disagreement and argument is such a bad thing. I thin# it's a good thing. it ma#es for a vital and alive field. /here may be a similarity bet een rhetoric and composition and anthropology. B #no this is true for anthropology, and I as# you hether this is true for rhetoric and composition: because anthropology never has had a distinct sub%ect matter *of course, primitives and so on, but that doesn't really give you much to go on, and because it doesn't have a real method, there's a great deal of an+iety over hat it is. "eople #eep as#ing ho anthropology is different from sociology, and everybody gets nervous about that. /here's a sense that someho e don't have an identity, that someho the field doesn't hold together internally. /hat leads to the rise of ideology as a ay of unifying it. >ne of my former teachers said anthropology is a poaching license. it's %ust, everything and anything. "eople for hom that produces an+iety ant to close it up, and I thin# it's often true of fields that don't trac# something in the real orld very closely or that have a long theoretical tradition. I thin# that if you don't li#e that #ind of an+iety, you should go into organic chemistry. I don't ant to pic# on chemists. I'm sure there are lots of disputes in organic chemistry, and real fights, but at least you #no hat organic chemistry is. 6ou #no ho the old organic chemists are, and you #no ho the ne ones are. you #no hat the traditions are, and you #no hat the methods are. If you ant that certainty, and if obbling around in the ater bothers you, then you should go into chemistry, not anthropology!and, I have a feeling, not into rhetoric and composition either. :. I've never thought of these similarities bet een anthropology and rhetoric and composition, but l thin# you're right. & colleague of mine %ust read Works and Lives and said to me, "I must confess that I'm really a closet anthropologist. I'd much rather be doing hat Geertz is doing in this boo#."

&. 5ell, I'm probably a closet rhetorician, although I'm coming out of the closet a bit. :. /he or# of 2hirley 3rice 8eath has served as a model for many compositionists interested in conducting ethnographic research. &re you familiar ith her or#; &. 6es, but not as ell as I should be. I read Ways with Words, and it's e+traordinarily good. I thin# hat she's doing is very very good, very very interesting. :. <o you thin# this is the #ind of research compositionists should pursue; &. 6es, I ould li#e to see more of that sort of thing being done. I certainly ould not li#e to see it being closed off by people ho thin# you should have control groups and so on. /hey can do that type of research, too. but yes, I do thin# that this is the #ind of research that should go on. :. For e+ample, compositionists might *and do, study ho people ho are gro ing up in ghettos are riting in their o n environments, or they might study riters in corporate environments, and so on! riters in their o n environments. &. I certainly ould li#e to see somebody do that, hether it's rhetoric and compositionists or not, but somebody ought to be doing it. *>f course, 2hirley 3rice 8eath is an anthropologist., Indeed, I call for something li#e that in a paper called "/he 5ay 5e /hin# 0o ," hich is an attempt to say e should have an ethnography of the disciplines and begin to thin# about that sort of thing. It addresses some of the issues e tal#ed about in relation to Choms#y: about different notions of ho to study mind and ho to study intelligence. Its main argument is that e need to get some understanding of representations and of the ays te+ts are put together and of the ays thought patterns go in the disciplines. I as brought to the sub%ect by being here at "rinceton, because after a hile I realized that the ay in hich mathematicians and physicists and historians tal# is -uite different, and hat a physicist means by physical intuition and hat a mathematician means by beauty or elegance are things orth thin#ing about. I'm interested in trying to thin# about those things in a cultural anthropological ay. 6ou also find in tal#ing to mathematicians and physicists that they're really conscious of riting differences. even though they ould all claim that truth is truth and riting doesn't really matter, they also are a are of the fact that there are different styles and that rhetoric is important. :. 6ou rite that the "establishment of an authorial presence ithin a te+t has haunted ethnography from very early on.... Finding some here to stand in a te+t that is supposed to be at one and the same time an intimate vie and a cool assessment is almost as much of a challenge as gaining the vie and ma#ing the assessment in the first place." 2ince ethnography is emerging as probably our #ey scholarly mode of in-uiry, hat steps can an ethnographer ta#e to achieve this balance bet een being in the te+t and being perceived by readers *given the typical e+pectations of readers of research, as sufficiently detached so as to have authorial credibility; &. &ctually, most of that #ind of problem has centered on the -uestion e usually refer to as "refle+ivity." In Works and Lives " have some sardonic things to say about some attempts in that direction, though I thin# it's the direction to move. It's very hard to do this. >n the other hand, a recent boo# by 7enato 7osaido tal#s, in

terms that I thin# are better than refle+ivity, of the "positioned observer." &t least in the #ind of anthropology that I and people li#e 7enato and others do!as I've said, there are lots of #inds of anthropology! e are part of hat e study, in a ay. e're there. &nd it seems to me almost in a #ind of positivist sense false not to represent ourselves as being so!false, or at least an imperfect representation. 0o , I've never done it. 5ell, in the piece on religion in =ava and in the coc#fight piece and in a fe other pieces I'm there, I'm self!represented. once in a hile I've done it. 3ut I've never really thoroughly done it, and I've ritten a lot of boo#s hich are ritten from the moon!the vie from no here. I am persuaded that at least for some or#s, for a lot of or#s, e've really got to get ourselves bac# into the te+t, to have ourselves truly represented in the te+t. I've al ays argued that in part I'm represented in my te+ts by my style, that at least people on't thin# my boo#s ere ritten by anybody else, that there's a #ind of signature in them. 3ut I thin# 7enato is right: e have to go further than that. e have to situate our selves ithin the te+t. In the boo# I'm riting no , After the Fact, that's hat I'm trying to do. It's not confessional anthropology, and it's not about hat I as feeling or something of that sort. it's trying to describe the or# I've been doing ith myself in the picture. :. 2o you're going bac# to your earlier pieces and analyzing them; &. I'm going bac# to my hole career!not the pieces so much, %ust to the or#!and trying to reconceptualize it in these terms. I'm trying to restate it as or# that as done by human hands!that is, mine. As I say, I thin# in my earlier or# there are places here this occurs, and in my riting style even more so. but I thin# one needs to go further, and the hole problem is that it's very difficult to do. 0o , I don't li#e confessional anthropology. "art of the confessional anthropology came out of the si+ties hen, for e+ample, I had a hard time convincing students that they ere going to 0orth &frica or someplace to understand the 0orth &fricans, not to understand themselves. I'm in favor of people understanding themselves, and that's in a certain ay hat anthropology's about. but you really ant to #no hat the +oroccans are li#e, and I still do that. /hat's hat my vocation seems to be to me. 3ut these people are right*as I say, thin#ing on these lines has advanced a bit, that you can't do that as though you ere, again, on the moon. 5e need to find ays of bringing ourselves in. /here are different ays to do it, and there are some silly ays to do it. "eople ta#e photographs ith their o n shado in them. that doesn't seem to me to be a particularly marvelous solution. /he hole -uestion is ho to do this ithout being a # ard. /a#e ethnographic cinema. & friend of mine did a movie on 0epal and is inclined as I am to ard this line of thought, but she finally #ept herself out of the film because the other ones in the series here the anthropologists tried to get themselves literally in the picture ere a # ard and silly. It's a very hard thing to do, and I thin# it's something, getting bac# to riting, that e don't #no ho to do rhetorically. 5e don't #no ho to do it effectively. 5e're getting better, perhaps, and there are some successes and some failures and some semi!successes. In any case, hat I'm doing no is that I'm really trying to see hether I can do it una # ardly. 3ut it's a riting tas#, as far as I'm concerned. :. &ssuming that e can get to a point here e can do it smoothly, ould you say that hat really needs to change, perhaps, is the e+pectation that an ethnographer must be someho detached; &. 5ell, these e+pectations are rong. $vans!"ritchard is a good e+ample. /hereCs very little of $!" as a person in hat he does. &nd Bevi!2trauss either. 0one

of the people in that generation!1alino s#i did a bit, but the others didn't!brought themselves into the picture. It as not considered the thing to do. 3ut they of course were in the picture. /hat's the point. 1aybe that's a fair representation of loo#ing through a microscope. I'm not sure. 3ut it isn't a reasonable representation of hat I've been doing for forty years. I really did live among these people. I did tal# to them. /hey did react to me. I did react to them. /his is again 7enato's notion of the positioned scholar. 6ou are somebody: you come out of a certain class. you come out of a certain place. you go into a certain country. you then go home. you do all of these things. /o represent it as though it ere a laboratory study of some sort, in the traditional sense, seems to me to misrepresent it. 2o the e+pectations that have been formed, and that have been formed by ethnographic riters, that the anthropologist is not involved in hat's going on, are false. It's not really a veridical picture, in a very simple sense of veridical, of hat anthropological research is all about. 8o you undo that preoccupation ith a sense of distance and so on is difficult to #no . 1ore and more people are trying, especially the younger group. :. 5hat about those people ho ant to rite off that #ind of ethnographic riting, hether it's in your field or mine, as not being rigorous simply because you are there; &. I don't see hy such research is necessarily less rigorous. I ould agree that a lot of it isn't very rigorous, including my o n, but I don't see any reason hy it can%t be rigorous. /hat's e+actly hat e need to do: to rethin# ho ethnography has been ritten, ho it might be ritten. &nd I thin# the only ay to do that is interpretive. &s I said earlier, that's hat I hoped Works and Lives ouldstimulate, not so much agreement ith my particular readings *though that ould be nice,. It's an interesting boo# because ith my colleagues it provides a #ind of vocational 7orschach test: some love the $vans!"ritchard chapter and don't li#e the Bevi!2trauss, and others have the e+act opposite reaction. I thin# e need to do more of that #ind of reading and more thin#ing about the problems of te+t construction, te+t building, and not start from preconceived notions of hat ethnography ought to be. /hat's hy even my use of 3arthes and Foucault as tentative. it as a ay into the topic, but the real heart of it as to get to a position here I could say something cogent or at least apparently cogent about actual te+ts. :. 6ou describe a "pervasive nervousness" among ethnographers in an atmosphere of "deconstructive attac#s on canonical or#s, and on the very idea of canonicity as such. "deologiekraitik unmas#ings of anthropological ritings as the continuation of imperialism by other means. clarion calls to refle+ivity, dialogue, heteroglossia, linguistic play, rhetorical selfconsciousness," and so on. <oes this poststructural atmosphere undermine ethnography as a mode of scholarly in-uiry or strengthen it by encouraging perpetual self!criti-ue; >r both; &. I thin# the criti-ue has been and is very valuable. It has sha#en up those of us ho ere a little dissatisfied and didn't #no hy and, even more valuably, those ho didn't even #no they ere dissatisfied. /hat's not the same thing as saying I'm al ays happy about the actual criti-ues. /hese people have raised issues that really can't be evaded, that have to be dealt ith. I thin# they've raised them more effectively than they've dealt ith them, but I thin# they've raised issues that you %ust can't laugh off, including refle+ivity and problems of representation and of the relation of po er in representation. /hese are issues that e can no longer pass off ith genuflections to the scientific method. In that sense, such criti-ues have been

immensely valuable. I read something by an $nglish anthropologist!I can't remember ho! ho said that in his vie the life of postmodernism in anthropology ould be short but its effect ould be profound. I thin# that's about right. "oststructuralism has had an enormous influence. 5e can't go bac# to hat e ere, and I thin# those #inds of criti-ues are very valuable. I don't #no hich ay to move entirely either, so I can't be too harsh ith the poststructuralists. 5hat does sometimes happen is a certain #ind of self!indulgence hich I'm not too happy ith *it's easy to sort of ing it,. I guess I'm positive about the criti-ue, less positive about response to the -uestions it raises. 3ut even those are sometimes suggestive, and I find a lot there. :. &re you e-ually satisfied <ell 8ymes; ith the hole ideological a areness agenda of

&. I thin# ideological a areness is very important in anthropology. 5e do come from some here. >ne of the things I'm trying to do in After the Fact is to thin# about ho I function as an anthropologist in a certain time. From the '(GHs to the '((Hs, there as a tremendous change in the ideological frame or# under hich I operated, not so much in my o n ideology *though some in that too, but in the ideological ambiance of '(GH and the cold ar, and '((H and the end of it!not to mention a lot of things in bet een, including changes that have gone on in the /hird 5orld: the hole notions of optimism and pessimism, development and nondevelopment, changes of relations bet een the /hird 5orld and the rest of the orld, internationalization, and so on. 6es, e do have to be conscious of those factors and thin# about them. I'm not -uite sure hat of <ell's you're referring to, but I li#e <ell's or# in general. 5e don't al ays coincide ideologically, but I have no ob%ection to the notion that ideology is important. :. It's a common assumption, e+pressed often in the popular press, that the 4.2. is e+periencing a literacy crisis. 2ome scholars, ho ever, argue that rather than massive illiteracy there are multiple literacies competing against one privileged literacy that helps maintain hite, male culture in general and the militaryFindustrial comple+ in particular. 5hat are your thoughts on this sub%ect; &. I #no very little about the multiple literacies discussion. >ne of the problems is I don't teach anymore so I don't -uite #no . I don't find in the people I do teach, hen I do teach at "rinceton, that they can't read anymore. they do. :. &s ell as they used to; &. 6es, and they may even be better in some ays. I don't feel that e're going to hell in a handcart. 5hat is happening is that this country is becoming much more plural than it as, and e can't ma#e believe that it's the same as hen not only hite males but only a certain class!segment of them ent to college. 0o e've got all #inds of people, and e have to develop a ne ay of educating them. /hat doesn't necessarily mean educating them to our standards either. 2o there are obviously ne problems of ho to teach riting and modes of literacy that %ust didn't appear before no , and I don't thin# they can be evaded. I'm trying to thin# about this business of plural literacies. the rhetoric about the militaryFindustrial comple+ I find to be "rhetoric" in its bad sense. I thin# attention to such matters as registers in language is very important. it's the sort of thing that <ell is interested in, along ith a lot of other people. I'm all in favor of trying to see ho people do put language together! ho they rite, ho they tal#, and so on!and trying to come to ard them in some

ay in order to enable them to participate in literate culture. I don't have the notion, though, that everybody has to rite in some single academic style. 1y daughter teaches 0ative &mericans in the 2outh est. 2he teaches on a 0ava%o reservation, so she faces this sort of thing on the firing line. 2he's concerned ith ho to get 0ative &merican #ids to be effective ith the ritten ord. 0either is a solution: %ust trying to ma#e them into hites, or %ust saying they're Indians and so they're intuitive and they understand the orld and that's all e need to do. 2he has to teach them. /hat #ind of pluralism is inevitable. &merican society, insofar as it ever as, has been particularly homogeneous, certainly in the educational class side of things. /here as the 5&2" ascendancy and so on, but that's gone and it's gone for good. 8o many 2panish spea#ers are there no in the nation; /here's no sense in ma#ing believe that such diversity isn't hat e're faced ith. I don't thin# the response to it is to try to construct some #ind of high old tradition, but I also don't thin# e can %ust say that any old ay ill do. 1ost of these things e on't #no ho to do until e or# ith them. >f course, I myself live in a fairly homogeneously literate orld *not that e rite ell or anything,, and I don't come up against illiteracy much. :. 6ou say in the preface to /he Interpretation of Cultures, "&t a time hen the &merican university system is under attac# as irrelevant or orse, I can only say that it has been for me a redemptive gift." <o you still have faith in the university system, especially considering recent reports critical of the -uality of education in the 4.2.; &. 6es, I do. but I'm not mindless. '1ere are problems, and they're serious ones, and it's a continual fight to #eep things going. 4niversities, and schools in general, are being as#ed to do an enormous number of things they never had to do ith a much more comple+ population than they ever had to do it ith. 3ut certainly I'm against the &llan 3loomean sort of business. I really don't find that a reasonable response to hat's going on. I thin# the &merican university system still seems to be the best system in the orld. I haven't done a systematic study, but it still seems to me e+traordinarily good. It has had some blo s, and it ill have more. It does have lots of problems, but I meant that business about it being a redemptive gift. I thought I ought to say that at least once. "erhaps because I'm in a some hat unrepresentative part of academia, it loo#s better here than if I ere teaching in the 3ron+ or some here else. 3ut, I do still thin# e're not doing that bad. :. & great many people in and out of anthropology support your pro%ect. 8o ever, your or# has generated a fair amount of criticism, such as recent criti-ues by "aul 2han#man and others. &re there any important misunderstandings of your or# that you'd li#e to address at this time; &. 6es, but I don't -uite #no hat to say in a fe ell!chosen ords. I thin# the perception of there being a deep gulf bet een science and the humanities is false. /hose ho have that false perception tend to ant to put me on one side or the other! usually on the humanities side, saying that I'm not a reasonable scientist. I resist that. I really don't thin# that's the ay to thin# about it. /he notion of hat science is both varies from discipline to discipline and changes in time, and the attempt to ma#e a simple distinction bet een hat is legitimately rigorous and ob%ective and hat is soft and stupid is a dichotomy or dualism that could stand a little poststructural analysis. I really thin# e should deconstruct this dichotomy and be done ith it. 1uch of the orst misunderstanding of my or# comes from people ho are trapped in that conceptual frame or#. It's every here. *It's perhaps a little stronger in anthropology in 3ritain than it is in the 4nited 2tates, but it is strong in the 4nited 2tates, too., I'm spea#ing of the notion that, for e+ample, literature is one thing and science is another,

that they are eternally different, that they don't change, that they mean the same thing in any field. 5hen I resist these notions, and hen I resist the imposition by anthropologists *not by physicists, of hard science notions on anthropology here I thin# they're inapplicable, or here they don't even or#, I'm often interpreted as being anti!science or unrigorous. &nd I thin# that's %ust rong. >f course, some criticisms are -uite cogent, so don't get me rong. I don't ant to re%ect everything anyone has ever said about me. 3ut hen critics divide the orld into real scientists and real *or "unreal," usually, humanists and decide that this gulf is an absolute!the t o!cultures notion!I thin# that all of hat I do and a good deal of hat other people in the social sciences do %ust drops through the crac#s because it's a third culture, a different sort of thing. 1any of these critics really have yet to grasp that, and hen they don't grasp it then they misread. 3ecause they see a departure from hat they learned, they ma#e distinctions bet een e+planation and understanding that really are not sustainable. /hey ma#e all #inds of distinctions that I thin# are not sustainable and, therefore, misread both the intentions of my or# and, indeed often enough, hat is actually said on the page. :. 5ell, you must get terribly frustrated by the increasing specialization of the university system then. <oesn't it tend to militate against that #ind of broad cross! disciplinary interaction; &.5ell, one thing this social science school here tries to do is go the other ay: to not ma#e those sharp distinctions. 5hen I and a fe others first started ith this #ind of or#, I really did feel peripheral and marginal, or discriminated against. 0o there are a lot of us around, and!this is parallel to the -uestion of feminism!the battle has been %oined in a ay that it didn't used to be. It used to be %ust a ea# protest against a massive establishment. I don't feel that ay no . &s I've said in some other place, "I thin# e're gaining on the bastards." 2o I don't thin# that things are really so frustrating. :. 2o you e+pect this interdisciplinarity to continue; &. 6es, I see it all over. 6our %ournal is full of this very interdisciplinatity. /here's a lot of it. It's not a matter of dissolving, and it's not even a matter of interdisciplinarity. it's a matter of being open to something outside your tradition as strictly defined. $ven economists * ho ere almost al ays the most self!sufficient, are beginning to be more permeable to ards it. >ne e+ample is <on 1cClos#ey's or# in #he ,hetoric of -conomics, in hich he's beginning to loo# at something besides %ust hat he learned at Chicago in microeconomics. <uring my ten years at Chicago, I taught the introductory graduate course in anthropology a number of times. it's a critical course for the ma#ing of anthropologists. I #ept trying to get them, not ithout success, to see that people ho are officially "anthropologists" are not their only ancestors and are not the only people they should be reading. I got them to read a lot of people: Cassirer, 2uzanne Banger in those days!people ho ould not other ise be on anthropology syllabi. It asn't that I as trying to get students out of anthropology, or get them to be amateur philosophers. /oday I find in the field that everybody's read 7ichard 7orty, and some have even read Charles /aylor! hich is even better. I find it much less of a provincial discipline in some ays than it had been. I don't ant to sound too upbeat. it isn't that marvelous. &s you say, there are a lot of people ho react very strongly against all of this and against me for promoting it. I guess I'm aging, but again, if I loo# at'GH and'(H, forty years of it, I thin# things are better. From here I stand, things loo# better.