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Living in the Stone AgeReflections on the Origins of a Colonial Fantasy$
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Danilyn Rutherford

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226570105

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570389.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 March 2020

The Ethics of Kinky Empiricism

The Ethics of Kinky Empiricism

(p.149) 6 The Ethics of Kinky Empiricism
Living in the Stone Age

Danilyn Rutherford

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 6 is a manifesto. The first part of the chapter consists of a close reading of James Clifford and George Marcus’s Writing Culture. It is suggested that rather than leading anthropologists away from empirical questions, the contributors taught anthropologists to be empirical in new and more rigorous ways. This new version of empiricism is “kinky” in the sense that it is both perverse and reflexive: it reveals the limits of mainstream social-scientific approaches by reflecting back on the conditions under which researchers make claims. The next section uses Hume’s epistemology as a framework for identifying elements of the best work in this tradition. The final section analyzes the relationship between the ethical and the empirical in colonialism and anthropology. Returning to Dutch New Guinea, it begins with a passage from Jan Victor de de Bruijn’s biography that describes how the official used photography to overcome the sympathy he felt for a man condemned to death. It ends with discussion of Philippe Bourgois and Jeffrey Schonberg’s Righteous Dopefiend, which uses photography in the service of an ethnography that brings together the ethical and the empirical in promising new ways. The chapter concludes by summarizing the book’s lessons for the discipline.

Keywords:   kinky empiricism, ethics, reflexivity, ethnography, colonialism, anthropology, David Hume’s epistemology, Jan Victor de Bruijn, Writing Culture, Righteous Dopefiend

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