"Epistemological eclecticism": Article by Čarna Brković

20.11.2017 (15:10)

"Anthropological Theory" features a contribution on ethnographic knowledge production

The international journal "Anthropological Theory" has published an article by Dr. Čarna Brković in its online first section. The Regensburg Postdoc of the Graduate School explores in her paper "Epistemological eclecticism: Difference and the ‘Other’ in the Balkans and beyond" the nature of ethnographic knowledge production.

Abstract

This article's concern is epistemological in that it seeks understanding of the nature of ethnographic knowledge production. Its background assumption is that decolonization of anthropology requires decolonization of anthropological epistemology. The article argues that anthropology is not so much a study of the ‘Other', but an effort to acquire knowledge by translating across some sort of socio-historically established difference. Its background assumption is that decolonization of anthropology requires decolonization of anthropological epistemology. The article argues that anthropology is not so much a study of the ‘Other’, but an effort to acquire knowledge by translating across some sort of socio-historically established difference. Anthropologists do not acquire knowledge necessarily by translating between modern, Western European, and non-modern, ‘Other’ conceptual arrangements. Instead, the anthropological production of knowledge requires an effort to figure out the relevant differences and similarities between an anthropologist, their interlocutors, and their audiences, as well as a translation across these differences and similarities. In order to demonstrate this point, the article focuses on 19th- and 20th-century ethnographic discussions of rural joint families called zadruga in the Balkans. Through a critical reading of two works on zadruga, it demonstrates that anthropologists in the Balkans were epistemologically eclectic, in that they could make use of strategies of both ‘anthropology abroad’ and ‘auto-anthropology’, or combine and reverse them. While this instance of epistemological eclecticism is the result of widespread uncertainties concerning the status of the ‘modern’ and the ‘non-modern’ as organizational categories in the Balkans, it has direct implications for the production of anthropological knowledge generally.

Čarna Brković: Epistemological eclecticism: Difference and the ‘Other’ in the Balkans and beyond. In: Anthropological Theory, online first, November 2017. URL: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1463499617741063.

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