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Far AfieldFrench Anthropology between Science and Literature$
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Vincent Debaene

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226106908

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226107233.001.0001

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The French Exception

The French Exception

Chapter:
(p.51) Chapter Two The French Exception
Source:
Far Afield
Author(s):

Vincent Debaene

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226107233.003.0003

The relationship between anthropology and “literature” writ large in the early history of the French anthropological tradition is the subject of this chapter. Unlike the national traditions of the United States, the United Kingdom, or Germany, France lacked rigorous methodological models for fieldwork and thus many French ethnographers drew from literary themes in order to make sense of lived experience in the field. This chapter explores how the French tradition crossed paths with literature as a discourse that saw itself as a repository for the knowledge of all of humankind, such that French anthropologists like Lévi-Strauss could trace their intellectual lineage back to Montaigne or Montesquieu. An extended case-study of Malinowski serves as a counterexample and highlights the cultural specificity of the French approach to anthropology.

Keywords:   Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bronislaw Malinowski, French anthropology, Fieldwork, Anthropology and literature

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