They lie, we lie: getting on with anthropology

Peter Metcalf, 2002, Routledge
1
They Lie, We Lie is an attempt by an experienced fieldworker to engage recent critiques in ethnography, that is the writing of culture, made both from within anthropology and from such disciplines as cultural studies and post-colonial theory. This is necessary because there has been a polarization within anthropology between those who react dismissively to what Marshall Sahlins calls ‘afterology’ and those who find the critiques so crippling as to make it hard to get on with anthropology at all. Metcalf bridges this divide by analyzing the contradictions of fieldwork in connection with a particular ‘informant’, a formidable old lady who tried for twenty years to control what he would and would not learn. At each stage, the author draws out the general implications of his predicament by making comparisions to the most famous of all fieldwork relationships, that between Victor Turner and Muchona.The result is an account that is accessible to those unfamiliar with the current critiques of ethnography, and helpful to those who are only too familiar to them. His discussion shows, not how to evade the critiques, but how in fact anthropologists have coped with the existential dilemmas of fieldwork.

Table of contents :

[Cover]……Page 1
[Title]……Page 2
[Copyrights]……Page 3
Contents……Page 8
How am I to read this gesture?……Page 6
List of illustrations……Page 10
1. Lies……Page 12
“Something spoken which is not true”……Page 13
They lie, we lie……Page 16
Getting on with anthropology……Page 20
Learning experiences……Page 28
Kasi’s preemtive strike……Page 34
The polite fictions of research proposals……Page 40
Kasi throws up her defenses……Page 43
The siege……Page 46
My fifth column……Page 50
3. Power……Page 54
Hearts and minds……Page 55
Colonial involments……Page 62
Going into the villages……Page 66
People invisible to the state……Page 80
Ethnicity……Page 88
Lelakness……Page 89
The vanishing point……Page 94
Foregrounding the Berawan……Page 103
Lost tribes……Page 108
The true Berawan……Page 110
Keeping things in perspective……Page 115
“Lelak”……Page 120
Throwing away the old way……Page 123
Kasi’s vanishing……Page 126
Cultural obituaries……Page 128
Indignities……Page 131
Demolishing “Upriver”……Page 136
Constructing “Upriver People”……Page 138
No closure……Page 146
Notes……Page 150
References……Page 154
Index……Page 164
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