A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and by Margery Wolf

By Margery Wolf

A Thrice-Told story is one ethnographer's imaginitive and strong reaction to the methodological concerns raised by way of feminist and postmodernist critics of conventional ethnography. the writer, a feminist anthropologist, makes use of 3 texts constructed out of her examine in Taiwan—a piece of fiction, anthropological fieldnotes, and a social technological know-how article—to discover a few of those criticisms.Each textual content takes a special viewpoint, is written in a unique kind, and has assorted "outcomes," but all 3 contain a similar attention-grabbing set of occasions. a tender mom started to behave in a decidedly abherrant, might be suicidal demeanour, and opinion in her village used to be sharply divided over the explanation. used to be she changing into a shaman, posessed through a god? was once she deranged, short of actual restraint, medicinal drugs, and hospitalization? Or was once she being cynically manipulated via her ne'er-do-well husband to elicit sympathy and funds from her associates? in spite of everything, the girl was once taken clear of the realm to her mother's residence. For a few villagers, this settled the problem; for others the talk over her habit used to be most likely by no means really resolved.The first textual content is a brief tale written presently after the incident, which happened virtually thrity years in the past; the second one textual content is a replica of the fieldnotes accrued in regards to the occasions lined within the brief tale; the 3rd textual content is an editorial released in 1990 in American Ethnologist that analyzes the incident from the author's present viewpoint. Following every one textual content is a remark within which the writer discusses such themes as experimental ethnography, polyvocality, authorial presence and keep watch over, reflexivity, and a few of the diversities among fiction and ethnography.The 3 texts are framed by way of chapters within which the writer discusses the genereal difficulties posed by way of feminist and postmodernist critics of ethnography and provides her own exploration of those matters in an issue that's strongly self-reflexive and theoretically rigorous. She considers a few feminist matters over colonial study tools and takes concerns with the insistence of a few feminists tha the subjects of ethnographic examine be set by means of people who are studied. The publication concludes with a plea for ethnographic accountability according to a much less educational and more effective standpoint.

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Additional info for A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Ethnographic Responsibility

Example text

The women said that when a person is like this, you shouldn't let them worry and should encourage them to sleep a lot. March II, 1960 Wu Chieh talked with 48'S mother who lives in Keelung. Mother: "Before she was married, this happened to her once. I gave her to another family to be an adopted daughter, but they didn't treat her very well and sent her out to be a cook or servant for another family. She didn't like this and something else happened [the family she worked for scolded her or there was something of a sexual nature involved], and so she came running back to me.

I'm going to go take a nap. " "Best thing you could do. " She shook her head and left. The Hot Spell 49 Wu Chieh slept until dinnertime, announced that she was going into Tapu to see a movie with a couple of the other unmarried women in the village, and hurried out. I was vaguely aware of her return in the late evening, but decided not to talk with her until the next day. About midnight, the wind began, and by two o'clock rain so heavy I thought it would surely crush the roof began to pour from the sky.

19 88b : 47) Later in this paragraph, it becomes clear that the "subjective states" of which he writes are not really ascribed to "cultures" but ascribed to the Nuer as a people. In other words, the anthropologist makes generalizations about, say, the Nuer sense of time-a somewhat different matter, I would think, and in fact part of our analytic responsibility. One of the things that troubles me most about the postmodernist stance is the retreat it promotes from the admittedly messy stuff of experience.

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