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I. 6(J) Post- modernism in anthropology

Post- modernism in anthropology


It is theoretical perspective in anthropology.

Due to subjectivity in interpretations of different culture post-modernist have developed methodology in order to reduce subjectivity in the study of culture.

They do not assume that their way of conceptualizing culture is the only way.

Intellectual Movement in reaction to modernism

It attempts to undermine current ideologies and single Truth by critical analysis and scrutiny.

Postmodernism in Anthropology came into being in 1980 as staunch critic of subjectivity.

Postmodernism emerged as reaction against modernism, scientific methods,  single truth, current ideologies,  Western hegemony, ethnocentrism industrialization, capitalism, subjectivity, ethnography, participant observation, Grand theories, cognitive theories, symbolism

It stands for boundary less politics, critical analysis, cultural relativism, literary analysis, deconstruction method, emic view

Modern age  – truth defined  by science  – science controlled by western political intellectual Elite – not the only way to understand world – capitalism is means to control and dominate world  – postmodernism

Basic premises

  1. Eclectic movement originating in aesthetics architecture and philosophy
  2. Cross cultural analysis
  3. elevation of text and language as the fundamental phenomena of existence
  4. literally literary analysis of all phenomenon
  5. cautioning the Representation and reality
  6. presentation of social life in form of text
  7. alignment towards extreme collectivism and nihilism
  8. questioning the human ability and invietable progress
  9. Critical of science
  10. They recommend reflexive ethnography where the writer puts personal feelings and reactions to the field situation right in the text
  11. Reflexive ethnography can be in the form of a. dialogue ethnography b. Poetic/novel ethnography
  12. Self-reflexivity- consciousness of knowledge creation


  1. Heightened sensitivity within Anthropology towords Collection of data
  2. Demystification of anthropological studies
  3. Critical examination of Ethanographic explanation


  1. Skeptical – abolish theory
  2. Affirmative  – transform theory


  1. Deconstruction- negative critical analysis
  2. Intuitive interpretation- introspective interpretation


  1. Andrade- criticizes concept of objectivity
  2. Melford Spiro- scientific methods can not be dismissed
  3. it promotes nihilism, dictatorship, Human Rights violation
  4. Postmodernism can be meaningless, promotes obscurantism and uses relativism (in culture, morality, knowledge) to the extent that it cripples most judgement calls.


1. Jean Francis Lyotard-

Lyotard is a skeptic for modern cultural thought.

According to – The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) (1979), the impact of the postmodern condition was to provoke skepticism about universalizing theories. Lyotard argues that we have outgrown our needs for grand narratives due to the advancement of techniques and technologies since World War II.

A loss of faith in meta-narratives has an effect on how we view science, art, and literature. Little narratives have now become the appropriate way for explaining social transformations and political problems.

2. Jean Baudrillard-

he was post- structuralist and he called modern age mass media age.

signification and meaning are both only understandable in terms of how particular words or “signs” interrelate and meaning is brought about through systems of signs working together

3. Jacques Derida-

known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction

Derrida called his challenge to the assumptions of Western culture “deconstruction”

deconstruction as a radicalization of a certain spirit of Marxism

4. Michel Foucault- power and its shifting patterns

5. Nancy Scheper Hughes- ethics makes culture possible

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