Accepted Paper:

On reactionary reflexivity  


Andrew Dawson (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

In this presentation I review critically the development of the reflexive turn in anthropology, focusing particularly on the ethnographic interview. Its potential for bringing into relief the intersubjectivity of social reality is, all too frequently abused. At one level, I argue, the interviewer is presented as the principal agent in the creating and revealing of social reality. Conversely, I argue, the interviewee is abstracted from the social collectivities (s)he constitutes and is constituted by. Based on readings of recent research on working-class militancy in the UK, anti-nationalist struggle in former-Yugoslavia and state intervention in Aboriginal territories in Australia, I demonstrate that some recent reflexively conscious anthropology shares an uncomfortable relationship with neo-liberal discourse, particularly in its valorisation of individualism and the privatisation of the subject. In contrast, I argue for anthropological methodologies that respect a political commitment to presenting the subaltern collective voice.

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