Intersections of Literature and Ethnography in the United States
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This article argues for the need of a rapprochement between scholars who study ethnographic and literary ways of knowing minority communities that have limited access to self-representation. While in the past literary critics and cultural anthropologists tended to emphasize their distinctive methodologies and conventions of writing about such communities, this article draws on the work of postmodernanthropologists, critical theorists, literary critics, and historians to demarcate the common ground between ethnography and literature. Through the efforts of Clifford Geertz, James Clifford, Mary Louise Pratt, George Marcus, Michael Fisher, and many others, cultural anthropology has, at least to some extent, come to terms with the limitations of participant observation and the textuality of its product. However, a parallel reckoning has not taken place within literary studies. It is the goal of this article to push the process a step further by emphasizing the mutual indebtedness of literary and ethnographic writing.
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