UPDATING THE CLASSICS
i of the Anthropological Society of Oxford
Volume XXX, no.2, Trinity 1999
(Published in October 2002)
UPDATING THE CLASSICS1
In the 1970s and the 1980s, under the rubric of postmodernism, one of major questions raised in anthropology in particular was the status of Western representation of other cultures [Clifford 1986: 10]. To both Western and native anthropologists, dialogue appeared to offer a powerful and promising answer to this question. Active inclusion of native opinions and epistemologies was seen as a way to fill the gaps experienced in the field between the observer and the observed. Dialogue was to be ga communication within and between culturesh [Marcus & Fischer 1986: 34]. Construction of the common ground in dialogue between them became an ethical issue especially in liberal, American anthropology. The emphasis was on the inclusion of the observed, either gwithinh or gbetween,h through their participation, cooperation or even collaboration in producing ethnography. Dialogue was sought as a method of inclusion [Michrina & Richards 1996: 31]. In doing so, however, it is often forgotten that dialogue is a gcultural critiqueh in the sense discussed by Marcus and Fischer [1986: ix-x]. It is an attitude, not a technology. More precisely, dialogue is a particular mode of engagement with the other. It takes its unique strength from going beyond the given through experiencing the other. In this effort of reaching out of themselves, anthropologists are cultural mediators; in them cultures meet and are interpreted. In this context, the reflexivity2 of anthropologists may also make sense. It is the ability to construct consistency in the gI,h the subject of this engagement with others. The frequent use of the subjective voice, the gI,h is indicative of the necessity for consistent engagement in this act of self-expansion through others.
Concerning this significantly postmodern problem, this article aims to show that among our classic texts E.E. Evans-Pritchard has a particular relevance. In his Marett lecture in 1950, he implicitly captures the genesis of dialogue, when he puts forth his thesis, and ginterpretsh his observations in the field.
The thesis I put before you, that social anthropology is a kind of historiography or art, implies that it studies societies as moral systems and not as natural systems, that it is interested in design rather than in process, and that it therefore seeks patterns and not scientific laws, and interprets rather than explains. [Evans-Pritchard 1950:152]
By defining anthropology in terms of historiography or art, Evans-Pritchard implicitly captured the importance and the difficulty of identifying exceptions, a task, in fact, far more valued in natural science3 than in the social sciences. In anthropology and in social science in general, this had been overlooked too long. In an attempt to add a new dimension to Evans-Pritchardfs historiography, Kenelm Burridge proposes a dialectical perspective between events and rationalizations [Burridge 1979: 32-33]. The following experiment with the red spades and the black hearts introduced by Thomas Kuhn actually illustrates the same point:
In a psychological experiment that deserves to be far better known outside the trade, Bruner and Postman asked experimental subjects to identify on short and controlled exposure a series of playing cards. Many of the cards were normal, but some were made anomalous, e.g., a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. Each experimental run was constituted by the display of a single card to a single subject in a series of gradually increased exposures. After each exposure the subject was asked what he had seen, and the run was terminated by two successive correct identifications. [Kuhn 1970: 62-63]
The experiment reveals a common epistemological difficulty to capture exceptions or unexpected events, as follows:
Even on the shortest exposures many subjects identified most of the cards, and after a small increase all the subjects identified them all. For the normal cards these identifications were usually correct, but the anomalous cards were almost always identified, without apparent hesitation or puzzlement, as normal. The black four of hearts might, for example, be identified as the four of either spades or hearts. Without any awareness of trouble, it was immediately fitted to one of the conceptual categories prepared by prior experience. One would not even like to say that the subjects had seen something different from what they identified. With a further increase of exposure to the anomalous cards, subjects did begin to hesitate and to display awareness of anomaly. Exposed, for example, to the red six of spades, some would say: Thatfs the six of spades, but therefs something wrong with it -- the black has a red border. Further increase of exposure resulted in still more hesitation and confusion until finally, and sometimes quite suddenly, most subjects would produce the correct identification without hesitation. Moreover, after doing this with two or three of the anomalous cards, they would have little further difficulty with the others. [Kuhn 1970: 63]
The experiment continues to show that capturing events is a personal engagement:
A few subjects, however, were never able to make the requisite adjustment of their categories. Even at forty times the average exposure required to recognize normal cards for what they were, more than 10 percent of the anomalous cards were not correctly identified. And the subjects who then failed often experienced acute personal distress. One of them exclaimed: hI canft make the suit out, whatever it is. It didnft even look like a card that time. I donft know what color it is now or whether itfs a spade or a heart. Ifm not even sure now what a spade looks like. My God!h [Kuhn1970: 63-64]
As Kuhn says, natural scientists show the same response to exceptions, although they have been actively engaged in the search for events which might falsify established laws. Identifying events depends on the observerfs personal effort and ability. In this effort, postmodern anthropology brought an epoch, with regard to the affirmation of the presence of the observer, and the emphasis on how he reads the field. [Dumont 1986: 3; Turner 1992:162] The g-graphyh of historiography indicates the engagement in events. It describes dialectics between events and rationalization. Because events may suddenly appear and disappear or cut into a process of law, description or a narrative is the only way to relate the randomness and fragmentation by which human perception recognizes them. Or, simply, we capture events by way of a linguistic style such as description or narrative. Further rationalization may be possible through the interpretation and analysis of events that it captures.
Anthropology defined as historiography reaches the other as an event. Anthropologists go out of their own rationalizations or cultural paradigms. Defining dialogue in terms of inclusion presupposes events to readily fit in the given framework of rationalization, such as gthe conceptual categories prepared by the prior experience in their own cultures.h Applying established methods accelerates this process. Others lose a momentum for dialogue, which could have been otherwise captured in events. Instead, taking advantage of events, anthropologists move on beyond their initial rationalizations. Anthropology is art, because reflexivity is nowhere to be ensured. Going out of the given paradigm is always a test on creativity, as it has been suggested throughout the history of natural science.
II. Events and Rationalizations
A latent but essential act of going out of onefs own society in quest for events or exceptions has produced the impact of modern anthropology, which began with Malinowski. Although he has been unfairly criticized, even so far as to be called backward, for example, because of his use of the term gsavage,h what he actually did was to refute the very notion in his time of the gsavageh:
. . . we called the Kula a gform of trade,h and we ranged it alongside other systems of barter. This is quite correct, if we give the word gtradeh a sufficiently wide interpretation, and mean by it any exchange of goods. But the word gtradeh is used in current Ethnography and economic literature with so many different implications that a whole lot of misleading, preconceived ideas have to be brushed aside in order to grasp the facts correctly. Thus the a priori current notion of primitive trade would be that of an exchange of indispensable or useful articles, done without much ceremony or regulation, under stress or death or need, in spasmodic, irregular intervals -- and this done either by direct barter, everyone looking out sharply not to be done out of his due, or, if the savages were too timid and distrustful to face one another, by some customary arrangement, securing by means of heavy penalties compliance in the obligations incurred or imposed. Waiving for the present the question how far this conception is valid or not in general -- in my opinion it is quite misleading -- we have to realize clearly that the Kula contradicts in almost every point the above definition of gsavage trade.h It shows us primitive exchange in an entirely different light. [Malinowski 1922: 84-85]
By going out of his own society, in such a new event as the Kula, he negated or falsified the existing notion of the gsavage.h He observed and described a gsavageh trading system which in fact was not primitive or savage or unsophisticated. The social organization of the Kula itself, under his meticulous observation, served as hard evidence, negating the popular notion of the Kula and other similar cultures as being made up of gsavages.h Although Malinowski successfully gave only this one example for the purpose of negation, the effect it had was a wide-ranging and influential one .
Evans-Pritchard, after Malinowski, according to his students/friends whom I have interviewed, was even more aware of this mission. In spite of some institutional restrictions, he was aware of the reason for his choosing specific examples. They needed to stand antithetical to his own society, especially the Nuers, a society not built on the class system .5 A common notion in Britain at that time, although not uncontested, endorsed the class system, as a necessary evil at its worst, for holding the society together. The Nuer example, however, was a powerful one, because their social system in reality was totally different from what was expected to be found in non-class societies. Examples presented by Evans-Pritchard and Malinowski served to challenge a popular notion about society. The Kula and the Nuers meant gred spadesh to such Westerners as exemplified by the economists who at the time were playing a game of West-centrism and who were criticized by Malinowski. They were pressed to change the rules of the game.
Postmodern anthropology, if it is meant to be more than a stylistic variant of earlier anthropological practices, should give credit to such classic figures as Malinowski and Evans-Pritchard .6 They gobjectifiedh themselves, by going out of their own systems and by going into other systems. Here, we must note that the anthropologistfs physical presence in another social system does not automatically release him from his own epistemological system. Nor, does active engagement in conversation with natives ensure dialogue. Some students in postmodern anthropology claim that they empty their mind before going to the field. Or knowing that this is impossible, some attempt to achieve one-ness with natives, becoming their self-proclaimed representatives. Both wish to claim that they would not be biased in their observation. Neither Malinowski nor Evans-Pritchard claimed to be this kind of innocent observers. They were aware of the falsifiability of their rationalizations through epistemological confrontations with events in their observations and actively took advantage of this awareness. Postmodern students today often mistake this fine point. They assume that, unlike their classic predecessors, they can carry into the field what they believe that they can be, as much as what they believe they already know about other ethnocentric members of their own society. Such assumptions, against their expectations, invariably lead them to a reproduction of the rationalization of their given thoughts and, perhaps, to further strengthen theories in todayfs anthropology as opposed to truly validating them. Ironically, native anthropologists today are finding out, as they go out of their own systems of rationalization, that they do not always share the views or the opinions of those under their observation in their own society.
In the following example, a common failure is typified. In his response in frustration similar to the example quoted by Kuhn, a young fieldworker refuses to go beyond the given rationalization. The stage is an isolated village in highland New Guinea. The only communication with the outside world takes place by way of a small airplane which arrives from the capital of Port Moresby once a month or less frequently, delivering mail to the villagers. Besides the main actor, an anthropologist, Mr. X, the other actors are the male and the female villagers and a Christian missionary who arrives much later than him.
In this village, the men spend nights in the longhouse in the center of the village plaza, and each member keeps his family in one of the small huts distributed individually around the plaza. Mr. X is eventually invited to share nights with the men in the longhouse. There, he finds that the men are so competitive that they lie as far apart from each other as possible and that they try not to speak to each other. If one even says hello to another, it is an indication that they are close friends. Some young men have difficulty in sleeping in the longhouse because of the tension and, as he observes, they take long naps at their wivesf huts in the daytime to make up for it. Creating a sharp contrast to the men, the women share everything among themselves. Their primary activities are the nurturing of their children and the raising of pigs; they cherish their children and their pigs with equal care. Women, children, and the pigs are all intimate. In spite of this fact, in this village, women are held inferior to men, because, according to the men, women have no experience or understanding of friendship.
After Mr. X has been in the village for some time, a Christian missionary arrives at the village on one of the regular air flights. He introduces a gcivilizedh game, basketball, to the villagers. He first tries to organize the men into two teams. But they are too competitive to absorb the concept of gteam.h Once a man gets the ball, he refuses to pass it to another. After a good try, the missionary gives up with the men and goes to the women. Once again, he fails to form them into teams. The women do not understand why they have to stand against each other. They spontaneously line up before the goal and take turns shooting the ball at it. If one person misses, others go and get the ball and return it to her until she succeeds. This time, the reality is more than obvious to him. But nothing changes for the villagers. The presentation of a new fact does not falsify the logic of the given situation.
This situation makes Mr.X, a young liberal from the West coast of North America, angry. It is obvious to him that the ideology of friendship held by the villagers serves only to strengthen a male supremacy. To him, it is unacceptable that women are demoted by way of such a false ideology. He protests, gThe pigs are like their own children to the women. It is as if the men are eating their own children!h To him, this ideology does not reflect the reality between the men and women in the village, as he sees it, and it is impossible for him to accept it.
He incorporated his observations and interviews into such gconceptual categories prepared by the prior experienceh in his own culture as friendship in his North American sense. The male villagers did not have a further explanation for him about their institutionalized friendship, except in their practice; it is, as is actually well known, committed loyalty on which a permanent network can be built between persons from mutually hostile villages. New Guinean men travel from his village into a hostile land, trusting in loyalty of his friends in remote villages. In contrast, women are intimate among themselves within their village, sharing a feeling similar to what is commonly experienced in terms of friendship in North America. Once the difference in the nature of friendship between New Guinea and North America is understood, the response from the villagers would be more comprehensible. Being entrapped in anger, his rationalization of events unfortunately dictates a myth in Evans-Pritchardfs sense, as it is defined as a system of thought which is designed to reproduce itself by failing or refusing to go beyond itself. Mr. Xfs example shows that the issue is not in the inclusion of the native opinions and perspectives, but how the observer theorizes events under his observation, in relation to their explanations and his own knowledge and rationalization about them. He became very close to women rather quickly, when he arrived in the village, and then to men, when he was invited to their longhouse. He certainly was open to their opinions and willing to include their perspectives. Several years later, this time on their invitation, He went back to the village and recorded their secret rites.
III. Grammar of Culture
The failure of Mr. X is paradigmatic. However, similar experiences are more than common among fieldworkers. In viewing them, the typical postmodern claim of reaching otherness through establishing communication in dialogue appears to be meaningless, and the Levi-Straussian scientific explanation appears to gain more validity. According to Levi-Strauss, the social actor acts unconsciously and does not know the reason for his actions. All that this actor demonstrates is a justification for his actions (not an explanation). There is a wide gap between his act of justification at the level of consciousness, and the level of his unconscious which determines his actions. Only a scientific methodology can provide a structural analysis by which to reach this unconscious level of determinants. In this account, interestingly enough, Levi-Straussian structuralism gives equal status to the anthropological observer (like Mr. X) and those under his observation (like the villagers). Because they both lack the grasp of a structural methodology, neither can understand the territory in their minds which determines and produces the social reality (such as the relationships among the villagers). As a result, the anthropological observer (like Mr. X) ends up justifying his own liberal ideology with anger. It is an attempt to dismiss a social reality which does not fit his given rationalization (i.e. his liberalism). Thus, his further inquiry into the source of what he apparently considers a false notion of friendship in the village friendship is inhibited.
In the examples given in gDo Dual Organizations Exist?h in Levi-Straussf Structural Anthropology, the observed villagers also tend to see what they wish to see. Levi-Strauss chooses villages divided into moieties as an example. By their own villagers, some of those villages are perceived to have a diametric division, while other villagers perceive a concentric division. Levi-Strauss focuses on a case (the Winnebago as described by Paul Radin) in which the villagers in the same village show disagreements among themselves on whether their basic village structure is diametric or concentric. [Levi-Strauss 1963: 133-134] Both plans are geographically projected onto the village and, in this sense, they are more than simply imagined; they are actually concrete. The villagers have no answers as to why the same village appears in two different ways.
Scientific methodology gives a structural analysis as an answer. Such an epistemological discrepancy constitutes, according to Levi-Strauss, gthe apparent manifestations of dualism as superficial distortions of structures whose real nature is quite different and vastly more complex [Levi-Strauss 1963: 161].h The answer will be found in identifying the triadic structure of the village, which is reduced to two kinds of dualisms, each of which appears according to the villagersf own identity within the village social organization. In this village, dialogue, if it means a method to include native perspectives, will lead to no answer.
The triadic structure of the village social organization may be understood as a grammar of culture. Levi-Strauss argues that cultures are structured in the same way as languages are structured. Just as every language has a grammar, so does every culture have something equivalent to it. Such linguistic grammars and their cultural equivalents are characterized as possessing within their own contexts a gzero value,h defined by the fact that gtheir presence ? in itself devoid of significance ? enables the social system to exist as a whole.h [Levi-Strauss 1963: 159]. Humankind speaks a language which has a grammar, although the speaker does not consciously recognize the grammar. In the same way, the actor does not recognize the grammar of culture. Such recognition may be attained through a dialectical analysis of the surface distortions [Rossi 1974: 7-30]. Scientific methodology provides the observer and the actor with a proper procedure (or a process in Evans-Pritchardfs sense) by which to identify the underlying grammar in either a language or a culture. Hence, it appears that structuralism dissolves the difference between the observer and the actor, with the latter under the observation of the former. Both of them are actors and observers at the same time, but are ruled by their unconscious grammar. They are equally ignorant until they employ the scientific methodology which structuralism provides.
Although it is nothing new to say today, however, this very orientation, in turn, rather than dissolving the epistemological status difference among actor-observers, as described above, accentuates such status difference. Through its very methodology, structuralism positions a social scientist in an absolutely discriminatory stance against others. In his methodology, the social scientist is the only one who can understand the basic determinants in the culture. Because the social scientist alone has access to the methodology, there is no opportunity for intervention by non-scientists, in the form of events in the process of his analysis, which might threaten the foundations of the social scientistfs methodology [Strenski 1974: 574]. Thus the scientist within the structuralism methodology may remain gtranquil in his axiomsh[Needham 1983: 2-3].
Exactly here, in questioning the tranquility of axioms, Evans-Prichardfs approach to others may gain validity. It is an garth to identify a gred spade.h And, it is another art to question his own axioms, through which he rationalizes the world. Yet these two arts are inseparable, because one comes through the other. However, as Israel Scheffler insists, this sense of art is profoundly scientific in natural science [Scheffler 1997:110-126]. Evans-Pritchard mentioned it emphatically as art as opposed to the deterministic tradition of the social sciences. Questioning rationalization necessarily creates a new way of rationalizing the person himself, although, this time, rationalization is wider, containing gred spades.7 h In this active recognition of others, Evans-Pritchard shares his basic stance with postmodern anthropologists. Here, Burridge adds that such postmodern anthropologists may gain in themselves a momentum to transcend a given paradigm, through active recognition of others [Burridge 1979: 74-75] .8 This suggestion further suggests that an anthropologist might become a gred spadeh himself in his own society, as he sees what others do not see, or what they refuse to see. This epistemological isolation urges him to create a new theory in order to bridge the gap. Furthermore, in this effort, he develops his own personality beyond given paradigms either from his own society or from his field. In this gtranscendentalh personality he endures observing anomalies, which possibly invalidate his present epistemology, ontology and ultimately his whole being.
Falsifiability in this sense, which is essential to Evans-Prichardfs approach, is contained in his definition of structure. Here we should take note of Evans-Pritchard:
He [the social anthropologist] seeks also to discover the structural order of the society, the patterns which, once established, enable him to see it as a whole, as a set of interrelated abstractions. [Evans-Pritchard 1962: 148]
The gstructureh by Evans-Prichard is not a determinant, but signifies a gdesign,h or a fact that gsocietyh can be understood as ga set of interrelated abstractions.h In terms of structure, he simply claims that we may be able to capture our social reality in our own theories. This definition of structure is widely shared in the British trend of anthropology. When Rodney Needham insisted in his Structure and Sentiment, for example, that the psychological approach by Homans and Schneider was a kind of reductionism, he pinpointed the lack of falsifiability in their interpretation of Levi-Strauss. Towards the end of the book, Needham actually showed how Levi-Strauss should be falsified, although this second point unfortunately has been received as a total denial of Levi-Strauss rather than as a suggestion to go beyond through falsifiability.
Initially, however, from the end of World War II until the 1960s9 , todayfs globalization appeared to discredit Evans-Prichardfs approach. Until the 1960s, globalization appeared to be a sweeping diffusion of the modern Western industrial society throughout the world. The whole world@was thought to evolve from various local traditions to modern industrial society, in which language was more essential for social cohesion than behavior. Levi-Straussf structuralism predicated this global situation in the theory of linguistic representation of culture. It proposed that the huge cultural diversity of humankind should cohere in the gzero valueh as a whole. The European Economic Community was forming, and, in the same rationalization, the world was assumed to be evolving towards the world community of individuals. His Structuralism was theoretically to sponsor the global formation of unified civilization under which local varieties were to be certified. Behavior was now considered a vague reflection of thought. All humankind appeared to evolve toward this sort of modern person, following the Western model of social and cultural evolution. Marcel Maussf classic article, gA Category of the Human Mindh published in 1938, represents this view of a modern person. Human beings evolve from personages to persons, or from primitive man to modern man. It is suggested here that their society also evolves from socio-centric one to ego-centric one.
In the 1970s and the 1980s, the world began to evolve in an unexpected direction. In the West, Deconstructionism, which drastically emerged especially against Levi-Straussian Structuralism, aimed to deconstruct society by deconstructing a person through dissolving integration in his language. In the non-West, although the diffusion of Deconstructionism was limited, it overlapped with even more complex features of globalization. In 1997, H. Tomoeda, representing a common feeling of the time, remarked on his thirty years of fieldwork in the Andes area since 1963:
Looking back these thirty years now in this way, after all, I do not think that the life of the Indio has changed so greatly. However, I still have a feeling that it has changed drastically. And, various articles written by people at the Institute of Peruvian Studies report how drastically changes took place. I think that the reason for this feeling of gchangeh is not that Indio society itself has been greatly changed, but that social situations or social environments surrounding the Indio have very greatly changedc.[Tomoeda 1997: 7] 10
Tomoeda sees that society under his observation has drastically changed and also remained unchanged at the same time. He captures a two-fold definition imposed by the nation state over the Indio especially since the Land Reform in 1968. Although their life style itself did not change, they, like everyone else in the country, had to become the members of the nation state, Peru. This situation is also typical of globalization, under which nation states play a tricky role. Their legitimacy depends on the regional tradition, but, at the same time, it is their imperative to join the world economic integration to improve their domestic economy. Local traditions must be respected, but must also be re-defined in a new economic and political perspective. The trouble is that the world economic integration disembeds local, traditional cultures, and renders them as a tremendous fragmentation to the rest of the world. Todayfs information society generates a multi-dimensional flow of information worldwide rather than promoting unity or integration. Thus, globalization is gfracturing as well as unifyingh [Giddens 1994: 81], in which everyone is exposed to a danger of some form of gdouble-bindh; invalidation of rules may cause severe pain and maladjustment; however, it may also promote creativity [Bateson 1972: 278]. Here, every level of society is urged to be dialectically creative, or to be engaged in greflexive modernization ,11h towards its own synthesis between a local tradition and the world economic integration. In this context, there emerge such social movements that offer a synthesis between them, and, accordingly, provide their members with self-identity: Fundamentalists, either militant or simply cultural, so-called cults also either militant or cultural, Pentecostal movements, Charismatic renewals in Catholic and Anglican Churches, counter-culture groups and conscious raising seminars, either spiritual or secular. In non-Western villages, numerous cases of such local responses to and against global homogenization have been reported [Miyanaga 2000: Chapter I; Miyanaga 1999]. As I discuss later in this article, prosperity of Japanese business corporations under the nation state, Japan, illustrates this very point [Miyanaga 2000: Chapter II; Miyanaga 1999]. Although some of them may simply appear weird or may function destructively in the end, they are intended to be constructive attempts to predicate a chaotic world situation in their own versions of reflexive modernization.
Postmodern anthropology, in fact, has been an attempt to capture this complex reality of globalization experienced by fieldworkers. Efforts of reaching other-ness, a committed encounter with others, an active recognition of gred spades,h and ultimately a dialogue between the observer and the observed 12 are the major features of the postmodern attempt. The recognition of gred spadesh urges observers to renew their theories or methods. Although it is painful to acknowledge the force of this position, postmodern anthropology has developed the awareness that the application of a given epistemology simply helps observers to ignore such exceptions. Seeking a solution, at one extreme, some postmodern anthropologists have sought to eradicate their biases or have even tried to disown their own epistemology, before they enter their fields of inquiry. While this unrealistic claim that one may hold a disinterested position still persists, realistic anthropologists, in contrast, have been becoming more aware that they have to begin with their given epistemological positions, and may then have to identify possible dialectics between events and rationalizations in their fields concretely applicable to others and themselves. In this view, these dialectics allow them to advance, even if through possibly painful observations, and let them discover in themselves an epistemological potential, in the same way as some classic predecessors did. Under globalization today, through a similar process, anthropologists may accomplish more than their predecessors, when they identify some patterns in the apparent chaos of globalization, or when they show that painful double binds can be turned into a gcreative destructionh in Urich Beckfs sense [Beck 1986: 14] through identifying dialectics between others and themselves. Active risk-taking in such an epistemological endeavor individuates anthropologists, because they must go out of their own systems. Here the language of an gelaborated codeh in Basil Bernsteinfs sense [1964: 62-63] contributes to their mission.
V. Evolution towards the Past?
Whereas anthropologists tried to predicate global changes in postmodern theories, the Japanese gpredicatedh them through their systems. Proclaiming a unique combination of the global and the local, Japan brought to itself an epoch of economic prosperity, especially in the 1970s and the 1980s. Japan became a distinctive example of reflexive modernization during the second half of the twentieth century. Indeed, the Japanese example offers an opportunity to explore further the validity of postmodern anthropology. Japanfs collectivism/groupism, exemplified by business corporations became a state ideology, assumed to be a modern expression of the traditional structure inherent to the Japanese as a nation. Since Chie Nakane was the first to make this point [Nakane 1970: viii-ix], the reinforcement of this inherently traditional structure has become the central value in Japanfs state sponsored reflexive modernization.
Japanese society, reflexively modernized, is typically socio-centric, and structured in groups. Each group consists of numerous vertical pairs of one-to-one relationships or chains of dyads. In each paired relationship, the two partners, superior and inferior, are bound to one another both organizationally and psychologically. Organizationally, they are a team, a unit for competition and promotion, typically as in a business corporation. Psychologically, their mutual dependency (amae) is an implicit rule. They attain an unquestionable feeling of one-ness, and, accordingly, organizational cohesion is highly emotional. The strength of a Japanese organization is found where the formal and written system is backed up by this informal, operational system. Externally, the formal side functions to set a boundary against other groups. Internally, the formal side is but nominal, while the informal side controls. New members are incorporated into this informal, given institution, as if it were a matter of their fate. By assuming given roles, they become indispensable within their community. The life of each member becomes meaningful through his role-fulfillment. All his actions are ascribed to the shared ideology of the community. He identifies himself through this communal ideology. Globalization for Japan has worked to create this sort of community, in which the double bind is internally overcome.
gConsensus society,h which is another name given to the Japanese especially in business, illustrates how the Japanese comprehend themselves. This society shows quite a different physiognomy from what we might expect of the English term, "consensus." Consensus building in a group begins with informal conversations between the paired members in a dyad. Their conversations develop into on-going narratives. They offer an emotional common ground, which is an informal, or even private, social space, where one-ness for the paired members is fostered, and also where events are captured and rationalized. Consensus means, then, that rationalization affecting each pair also assures them an active role in the communal ideology. This practical-theory/pure-theory like relationship between the two levels of rationalization functions best when it is applied to the production of concrete goods and materials. Rationalization becomes factual. The energy, spontaneity and emotional expressiveness displayed in a Japanese business community come from the flow of narratives. Members are brought to occasions, such as drinking parties, in order to deposit their feelings and opinions into the so-far established, communal consensus.
The Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan, which constitutes a precise case study of reflexive modernization in the wider perspective of globalization more clearly illustrates how narratives are used to overcome fracturing effects of globalization. It is a revivalist movement, or a religious entrepreneurship which emerged under globalization [Miyanaga 2000: Chapter III]. The ritual space is designed precisely to allow members to develop narratives through theatrical interaction with supernatural figures. Developing narratives, members create their own life stories and identify themselves with the community setting of the movement. The past and the future are securely interpreted within the ongoing, present activity of engaging in narratives with other members. Problems are solved through developing self-identity. In this sense, the movement is therapeutic, and basically passive, in spite of its involvement with spirit possession and hand healing, unlike the militant Oumu Sect in which the end justifies the means.
However, there is another problem for business corporations. Socio-centric society may be well structured yet not rule oriented. Japanese business communities functioned positively in the 1970s and the 1980s, by successfully overcoming the fracturing effects of globalization. Their performance waned in the 1990s, however, as accelerating globalization demanded a more active application of global standards to business communities. Establishing efficient rules to meet them became a crucial issue. To maintain a lack of respect for rules in business could be fatal. Yet the primary concern in business narratives shows an absence of regard either for rules or for an associated, factual orientation in management. In fact, in business narratives, there is no testing ground for the validity of what is said. gHarmony,h the supreme value of naturalism in Japan, prevails over factual orientation. To be harmonious, members must actively join the narratives, manipulate the content, formation, and the flow, and submit themselves to the gconsensus,h which constantly undergoes transformation. Thus, the primary test of members' abilities depends on how skillfully they manipulate the flow of such narratives and consensus, and how well they negotiate in this process that includes an invalidation of given rules, whether formal or informal. Here, language is deliberately reduced to what Basil Bernstein defines as a grestricted codeh [Bernstein 1964: 57-62]. The Japanese form of this code re-enforces the given status differences, directs actions, but does not explain their meanings in the same way as an gelaborated codeh [Bernstein 1964: 62-63] permits. Gestures and signs, incorporated into narratives and shared by group members, become public property. As a result, group members indeed believe that they can read each otherfs minds through acts of a mutual reading of gestures and signs. The code they adhere to is exclusive, uniform among the same community members, and closed against outsiders.
Here is an essential difference between the narratives of the Japanese and the literary narratives/description of anthropologists. In anthropology, as well as in the natural sciences, narratives are not goals in themselves, although they may be also used or even encouraged to capture events. However, they are thought to be the beginning of a process. With the events captured in narratives, anthropologists try to identify patterns and extract principles. This shift from the concrete to the abstract actually takes observers from a particular event to more events outside of it. This shift individuates observers in a discipline such as anthropology, but does not occur in Japan's socio-centric society. This inability to shift is exactly the problem in Japanfs 1990s.
Thus, an attempt to go out of the system often ends up with self-destruction in Japanese society. Shitu-rakuen (Paradise Lost), a best-seller novel by Junichi Watanabe, captures this sanction. In an erotic love affair, he describes how socially unfit Japanese exclude themselves from given, social contexts. The novel is about a man who has become tired of his work, lets himself become apathetic, then falls away from his social group, and ultimately becomes shunned by his community, his business corporation. He takes refuge in a woman, his sexual relationship with her accompanied by her readiness to abandon her social role as a good and faithful housewife, and by her willingness to explore self-fulfillment outside of it. They finally choose to commit a double suicide, a nirvana for them. The basic plot, in fact, follows Chikamatsufs puppet play in the Pre-modern era, showing that a traditional theme continues reflexively under globalization13 . Suicide is a self-fulfilling, as well as socially permitted, sanction given to those who refuse to be integrated into a given community.
Here again, Evans-Pritchardfs classic definition of myth becomes more meaningful to us today. It indicates a sort of reasoning which is designed to reproduce itself. It often gains its validity based on the exclusion of exceptions or incompatible events; thus, myth becomes self-validating, since it ignores exceptions to its own beliefs. It is static and unchallenged by definition. It is tranquil in its own axioms. The evolutionary theories in the social sciences criticized by Evans-Pritchard were self-validating and rigid, because they stressed stages of evolution as static entities and assumed their advancement from one to another as a scientific process which automatically takes place. Evans-Pritchard negated this view of society as an automatic process in the name of science. Instead, he asserted that society is a construct made by human beings. It is a practice enacted by individuals. Accordingly, society is a moral system. As its design involves a time element, the word gprocessh may be applied strictly and only in this sense. Thus, it is a ghuman process,h one made by humans. The consistency of the system is identifiable in its patterns, but not automatically. The ghistorioh of his notion of historiography implies time in this definition. The structure of socio-centric communities in reflexive modernization in todayfs Japan is unchangeable, not because it is gscientificallyh static, but because it is designed to reproduce themselves within a status quo. The Oumu Sect is an extreme example. Its system is rigidly established under its dictatorial leader, and does not allow members to question it, by bringing outside experiences to bear. All events must be interpreted according to the given doctrine. While the Japanese display great difficulty in opening up themselves, the example of Nissan Motor Company under Renaultfs supervision from 1999 suggests, however, that effective change is possible when someone outside enters and redefines the whole framework. It is important that this agent is external to the given system. Here, Renault exemplifies an applied anthropologist, actually in a very classical sense.
VI. Science and Anthropology
When an anthropologist abstracts designs or a set of interrelations, and successfully predicates social reality in theory, in fact, he extracts, in the form of general rules or principles, the logic inherent in the system. Here is a dialectical structure between events and rationalization. This dialectic is a construct that brings outside and inside into dynamic relation. Here also, native anthropologists have a special mission to create a specific, dialectic structure, because they are insiders and outsiders at the same time. They have emerged under globalization with the injunction that they objectify their societies in general terms. Although, in most cases, such attempts have been absorbed into a Nationalist discourse, they none the less represent a universal quest vital to humankind. As an academic endeavor, this quest is nothing new. However, it is new that this endeavor has, under globalization, become a daily necessity for everyone. We may call this endeavor gpostmodernh by using the term gpostmodernh to define its experimental style which aims to capture this inside-outside situation rather than the style itself. We must also affirm, especially in our postmodern approach, that a reliance on the universal, general or abstraction is valid and meaningful, as it predicates how events are structured. If a posited universal seems questionable, it must be put to a test with concrete events, the other. The possibility of global community may emerge through such an endeavor at reaching other-ness. Yet this level of community may be realizable only when we first of all consider society as a moral system and as a kind of human construct. This sense of theory is not a simple discourse between the observer and the observed.
For anthropologists working in a subjective mode, including Evans-Pritchard, are not engaged in seeking an opportunity for naive friendship with the objects of their field study. Rather, they are aware of the critical fact that anthropologists, who also dwell in the world under gfracturing globalization,h are as confused as those under their observation. Anthropology is no longer a discipline practiced in exotic fields but a necessary part of our daily lives. In our daily lives, we encounter immigrants and alien workers as our neighbors, and alien colleagues and bosses in international organizations. Yet an anthropologically astute level of encounter may be possible only when we first of all consider society as a moral system and as a kind of human construct. In this affirmation, we, the gIh to ourselves and events to others, may encounter the others, the gIh to themselves and events to us, through experiencing one another. This experience is a dialectic between events and rationalizations. Dialogue should be correctly defined as a practice of this sense of dialectic. A heavy emphasis on experiencing the others in postmodern anthropology makes sense especially in this context.
Hence, capturing encounter in a linguistic representation is art. Under globalization, all humankind is thrown into this sort of experimental research situation, where individuals are pressed to be engaged in a dialectic between events and rationalization. Exactly in this context, Scheffler14 adds that natural science has always been engaged in this kind of dialectic, because science legitimizes questioning itself; it is a kind of system which allows its members to negate it, renew it and go out of its old paradigm; in doing so the system expands and continues. Dialogue enables one to expand oneself by going beyond the present, through questioning oneself and others. Narratives, symbols and living myths, which may be the genesis of the human thought, are effectively tested, only if the participants to go beyond their own systems. Anthropology finds its origin here. It tests society by deliberately going outside traditional practice. Thus, in its very nature, anthropology is comparative. As a matter of fact, historiography as an art for Evans-Prichard in 1950 is also a science in the very sense of natural science.
Globalization, which has brought postmodern anthropology and native anthropologists onto the scene, has also popularized anthropology. The exposure of the anthropologist, or the author, to the actors, or the equal status of the observer in relation to the observed has, unfortunately, not been always the outcome of an academic development for anthropology in itself. Instead, it is largely a product of globalization. gSocio-centrich society under anthropological observation today is no longer a gprimitiveh one, but part of a modern nation state. Dialogues between the observer and the observed are not merely beneficial in some sense, but a necessary condition that anthropologists must assume, where the observer is observed and the observed are also engaged in observation. It is difficult for anthropologists to be constantly observed, greadh and criticized by those who are under their observation. Both parties are gthrown in the worldh in the classical sense of Phenomenology together under globalization, observing, and being observed, one by the other. Our postmodern attitude is that science including anthropology has been a human activity, in which objective reality is sought through the subjective capacities of contemporary scientists. Anthropology may have in its grasp of this basic attitude a reasonable reconciliation between objective and subjective orientations in spite of the long detour taken since 1950.
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This article was initially intended as a translation from my gJijitu to Ninshikih (gFacts and Identificationh) published in Japanese in 1996. However, some ideas did not translate into English, and had to be newly interpreted in the perspective of globalization. I owe Professor Israel Scheffler for my understanding of natural science. I thank Professor@Rodney Needham and Professor David Parkin, who kindly read the translation and drafts of this article, and gave me their opinions and encouragement. I give special thanks to Professor Kenelm Burridge, who read the drafts and advised me especially about Mr. X. I would like to acknowledge Dr. Nick Allen for inviting me to a conference on Marcel Mauss, and the late Dr. Godfrey Lienhardt for guiding me more deeply into anthropology. Also, I would like to thank my colleagues who have kindly sent me their books and articles.
Reflexivity here may be considered one of the gsimplest cultural accountsh which James Clifford attributes to such philosophers as Wilhelm Dilthey, Paul Ricoeur and Heidegger. [Clifford 1986: 10]
Throughout their history, natural scientists have been trying to fill the gap between their human efforts of observation and their objects. Vast efforts and reports have been made on this point, including Israel Scheffler [1997: 163-5] and Butterfield [1950: 80].
David Parkin suggested to me to expand this point that we are all gsavagesh in the sense that we all begin without knowledge, and that as anthropologist we have to learn new ways of processing the information that other peoples already do as a matter of fact.
It is well known that Evans-Prichard notes that he went to the Nuers because he was given grants. But, this situation does not negate his motivation to excurse a society in which the class system is not found. In fact, we are all more or less under the same situation when we apply to a grant or when we serve institutions (including colleges and universities) which encourage us to cooperate in their commercial purposes. Often it is the etiquette to mention the funding organization as a reason for the basic choice.
Peter Riviere emphasizes the importance of this period in anthropology.
This point relates to Butterfield on pp.13-28 in the version published in 1965. The book was originally published in 1948.
Burridge distinguishes individuals from persons. The individuals are transcendental being in his definition. They are creative, can go beyond the given in themselves, may express their novelty in art or language, and might be able to initiate some social changes.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, the emergence of a number of nation states in the Non-West created a unique situation in world history.
- Translated from Japanese by Kuniko Miyanaga.
- gReflexive modernizationh is used by Beck and Giddens to identify a dialectical nature in local reactions to globalization.
Stockingfs Observers Observed presents a variety of views on this point.
This novel has intrigued critics for its explicit description of sexual intercourse whether to rate it as gpure novelh. Rating a cultural product according to authenticity relates to the discussion on the intellectual contribution to the formation of the national culture under globalization. [Miyanaga 2000: 49-54]
This is a recapitulation of his own works, especially Science and Subjectivity, by the author himself, while we were engaged in a dialogue over the concept of science in natural science and anthropology.
copyright 2002, Kuniko Miyanaga. all rights reserved