By Renato Rosaldo

Exposing the inadequacies of previous conceptions of static cultures and indifferent observers, the ebook argues in its place for social technology to recognize and rejoice variety, narrative, emotion, and subjectivity.

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All too often, however, this view is extended until certain prerequisites of field research appear to guarantee an authoritative ethnography. Eclectic book knowledge and a range of life experiences, along with edifying reading and selfawareness, supposedly vanquish the twin vices of ignorance and insensitivity. Although the doctrine of preparation, knowledge, and sensibility contains much to admire, one should work to undermine the false comfort that it can convey. At what point can people say that they have completed their learning or their life experience?

True to anthropological theory, they will feel diminished and may in certain cases find themselves drawn to nativistic movements, perhaps to the National Association of Scholars or other groups bent on practicing curricular apartheid. When people become accustomed to privilege, it appears to be a vested right, a status that is natural and well deserved, a part of the order of things. In the short run, the transition to diversity can be traumatic; in the long run, it promises a great deal. Consider the following representative yet hypothetical case.

Culture and Truth argues that anthropology has undergone a sea change since the late 1960s. This shift has been stimulated by changes in the world, notably decolonization, the civil rights movement, the fuller emergence of a global economy, and the massive interventions of development. The emergent research program for ethnography has placed increased emphasis on history and politics in contexts of inequality and oppression based on such factors as Westernization, media imperialism, invasions of commodity culture, and differences of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

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