Thick Description and the Crisis of Representation – an Anthropological Study


In 1986 two American cultural anthropologists, George E. Marcus and M. J. Fisher, published Anthropology as Cultural Critique. An experimental moment in the human sciences where they reflected on the discipline as it presented itself in the penultimate decade of the 20th century. It appears, they argued, that the field was experiencing a crisis of representation that causes unsettling troubles with narrative depiction of the cultural reality. Empirically driven humanities (including cultural anthropology) apply ”abstract, generalizing frameworks” with specific ”paradigmatic style,” which results in depicting the said reality in an incomplete manner. The problem was, they said, that ”macro” level of generalizing concepts and ”micro” level of cultural phenomena were incommensurate.

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