When culture makes itself at home in motion, where does an anthropologist stand? This collection of works aims to be a moving picture of a world that doesn't stand still, that reveals itself in airport lounges and car parks. Travel and its difficult companion, translation, are taken as openings into a complex modernity. The author contemplates a world ever more connected, yet not homogeneous, expanding across colonization, capitalist expansion, immigration, labour mobility and tourism. The author's concerns are with struggles to displace stereotypes, to recognize divergent histories, and to sustain "postcolonial" and "tribal" identities in contexts of domination and globalization.
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(235mm x 162mm x 25mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A noted anthropologist examines the complexities of human interaction across cultures and continents in a densely academic but revelatory collection of essays. "How do groups negotiate themselves in external relationships, and how is a culture also a site of travel for others?" These are two of the broad questions raised by Clifford (History of Consciousness/Univ. of Calif., Santa Clara) in pursuit of his admonition that "new representational strategies are needed, and are, under pressure, emerging." Thus does Clifford discuss diasporic and migratory peoples, unexplored Western influences on indigenous peoples, and the effects of new communication technologies on the global movement of people. Writing on the changing nature of ethnographic fieldwork, Clifford notes that such work was customarily centered on a "localization" of natives under the erroneous belief that while Western cultures were "restless and expansive," the rest of humanity was "rooted and immobile." Clifford points to the ways an indigenous culture's artifacts are displayed by former colonial powers; a "contact zone" in the basement of the Portland Art Museum brings together Tlingit elders and museum staff while continuing "the ongoing power imbalances of contact relation." Other "contacts" Clifford chronicles are fleeting snippets: his own recollections of traveling by subway from one New York City cultural outpost to another; his family's Barbadian cleaning woman; a day in Honolulu in 1991 encompassing impressions of the Chinese New Year and the Persian Gulf War. Elsewhere, Clifford focuses on the political and economic consequences of recent transnational movements; he warns against construing an "ideal type" of diasporic people, particularly in light of modern communication and travel technology and changing economies. Nearly all peoples, he maintains, are travelers in one way or another. Controversial in places, self-evident in others - and slow going for the casual reader - but overall a fresh and well-documented perspective on human global movement. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - James Clifford
James Clifford is Professor, Board of Studies in the History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz.