Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 12 (1995-1996). Copyright © Elisabeth R. Gaines; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


Postmodem anthropology questions the authority of the objective participant observer, yet eludes a precise definition. Many different experimental approaches comprise the postmodern stand, and represents a diversion from interpretive anthropology. Deconstructionists peel away the layers of subjectivity from written text derived from observation. The movement presently resides in a whirlwind of conflicting opinions conceming the postmodem style of ethnography. One of these styles, inclusive of anything and everything, conveys a chaotic message, but lacks a truly holistic quality. Some postmodem critics believe the key to fundamental meaning lies in a historical perspective where the subtleties of interpretation and writing are analyzed. It is suggested that linguistic analysis is imperative to the postmodemism movement. It can serve as the starting point for identifying symbols, thereby offering a more penetrating look into ourselves and the world around us.

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