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James Clifford, The Predicament Of Culture, Paperback Book, 1988 Harvard, Primitive, Ethnographic, Art, History.

The Predicament Of Culture - Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, And Art
by James Clifford.
Introduction and Four Parts.

As part of the introduction:
From a poem by William Carlos Williams' dada treatise on the imagination, Spring & All (1923), which is in the Introduction to this book.

The Pure Products Go Crazy --

The pure products of America go crazy -
mountain folk from Kentucky
or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and
valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
and promiscuity between

and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday

to be tricked out that night
with gauds
from imaginations which have no

peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt

sheer rags -- succumbing without
save numbed terror

...and it continues.......

addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes

as if the earth under our feet
an excrement of some sky

Williams finds himself off center among scattered traditions; modernity since the condition of rootlessness and mobility he confronts is an increasingly common fate. Looking at the "great/ungainly hips and flopping breasts" of Elsie, he feels things falling apart, everywhere.
All the beautiful, primitive places are ruined.
A kind of cultural incest, a sense of runaway history pervades, drives the rush of associations.
....as he continues:

and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth

In the opening chapter of his influential book on the practices of anthropology, James Clifford claims that the modernist age is marked by a sense that "all the beautiful, primitive places are ruined," that there is a kind of "cultural incest, a sense of runaway history" haunting us, and giving us the feeling that cultural authenticity has been lost.

The Predicament of Culture is a critical ethnography of the West in its changing relations with other societies. Analyzing cultural practices such as anthropology, travel writing, collecting, and museum displays of tribal art, Clifford shows authoritative accounts of other ways of life to be contingent fictions, now actively contested in postcolonial contexts. His critique raises questions of global significance: Who has the authority to speak for any group's identity and authenticity? What are the essential elements and boundaries of a culture? How do self and "the other" clash in the encounters of ethnography, travel, and modern interethnic relations?
In discussions of ethnography, surrealism, museums, and emergent tribal arts, Clifford probes a complex global modernity. He argues that culture is now less a site of origins and rooting than of translation and transplanting. In his discussions, of polycultural Joseph Conrad, the surrealist Martiniquan Aime' Cesaire, the Palestinian critic Edward Said, and so much more, he probes the late twewntieth century predicament of living SIMULTANEOUSLY within, between and after culture.

Third Printing, 1988, Harvard University Press.
381 Pages.
With black & white illustrations.

Condition: In excellent or better condition, tight binding of the book cover to pages, tight spine, tight pages to each other and to the spine, squared corners, just small light amount of vintage wear with the patina of age and time, and slight sunfading at the spine and to the front left edge of the cover..

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The Past Meets The Present enveloped into the culPOPture Future.

* mashpee
* ethnographic
* Wampanoag
* ethnographic
* Michel Leiris
* negritude
* Native American
* Heart of Darkness
* Marcel Griaule
* surrealist
* surrealism
* Russell Peters
* participant observation
* Aime Cesaire
* Nuer
* Igbo
* Orientalist
* primitivism

The Predicament Of Culture James Clifford 1988 20th Century primitivism ethnographi art History surrealist


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  • Vintage item from the 1980s
  • Material: paper
  • Ships worldwide from United States
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