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Hermeneutics and Ethnography: An Interpretation of Two Texts

Author: Daniel M. Goldstein (University of Arizona)

  • Hermeneutics and Ethnography: An Interpretation of Two Texts

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    Hermeneutics and Ethnography: An Interpretation of Two Texts

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Abstract

The postmodern approach to the writing of ethnographic texts is characterized by authorial self-reflection and a "dialogic" approach to anthropological fieldwork, techniques derived from the philosophical method of hermeneutics. But this method is problematic when confronting issues of political economy in ethnography. This paper presents an analysis of ethnographic works by Jean Comaroff and Michael Taussig, two texts that attempt to incorporate both an interpretive and a world-systems perspective. The paper examines the value of a hermeneutic method for anthropology, suggesting that while self-reflection is useful in cultural analysis, the hermeneutic method cannot be applied wholesale to the practice of anthropology.

Keywords: Hermeneutics, Ethnography

How to Cite: Goldstein D.M., (1991) “Hermeneutics and Ethnography: An Interpretation of Two Texts”, Arizona Anthropologist 7.

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Published on
01 Jan 1991
Peer Reviewed