Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: A Postcolonial Critique

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Pluto Press, May 20, 2002 - Social Science - 136 pages
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Anthropology, the study of societies and cultures different to our own, is based on the humanist assumption that difference does not mean otherness and inferiority. In this book, Vassos Argyrou puts forward a powerful critique of both modern and postmodern anthropology that reveals the self-centered logic of anthropological humanism, offering the controversial conclusion that the anthropological project is forever doomed to failure. At the heart of the book is the idea that anthropologists are driven to produce knowledge not by a desire for power, as it is often assumed, but a by desire for meaning. Interpretation of Other societies and cultures allows them to construct an image of a symbolically unified, ethically ordered and hence meaningful world. Vassos Argyrou shows this assumption to be untenable because differentiation and distinction are in the nature of human being. He further argues that, paradoxically, by trying to uphold Sameness, anthropologists reproduce, inadvertently but inevitably, its contrary.

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About the author (2002)

Vassos Argyrou lectures in social anthropology at the University of Hull. He has also taught at Intercollege in Nicosia and several universities in the US, including Indiana State University, Reed College, Holy Cross College and Colgate University. Research interests include social and cultural theory, postcolonialism, ritual and myth, southern Europe.

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