The Problem of Context

Front Cover
Roy Dilley
Berghahn Books, 1999 - Social Science - 242 pages

The apparently simple notion that it is contextualization and invocation of context that give form to our interpretations raises important questions about context definition. Moreover, different disciplines involved in the elucidation and interpretation of meanings construe context indifferent ways. How do these ways differ? And what analytical strategies are adopted in order to suggest that the relevant context is self-evident? The notion of context has received less attention than is due such a central, key concept in social anthropology, as well as in other related disciplines.

This collection of contributions from a group of leading social anthropologists and anthropological linguists addresses the question of how the idea of context is constructed, invoked, and deployed in the interpretations put forward by social anthropologists. The ethnographic focus embraces peoples from regions such as Bali, Europe, Malawi, and Zaire. Primarily theoretical in its aims, the work also draws on expertise from anthropological linguistics and philosophy in order to set the issue as much in a comparative disciplinary perspective as in a comparative cross-cultural one.


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Contextualisation and Paradigm Shifts
Context the Ghost in the Machine
Ethnographic Misunderstanding and the Perils of Context
Overinterpretation and Hyporeality in Bali
Reflections on Nyau Rituals
Context as Political Process in
The Effects of Visibility

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About the author (1999)

R.M. Dilley is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

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