By John Hutnyk
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Additional info for Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies
Why Clifford in the 1990s? Why travelling theory now? Should a critique of anthropology explore the role of ideology in reinforcing the ‘New World Order’ in an era of escalating chaotic conflict by pointing to the vicissitudes of new world ordering, and the textual strategies that might be recruited to facilitate this? In emphasising that the travel metaphor organises Malinowski’s anthropology as it does Clifford’s work, I am not suggesting there are no differences between the two, nor would I want to suggest that postmodernists are secret functionalists (but uncertain ones), or that nothing important is contained in the reflexivity and selfquestioning Clifford displays.
Qxd 5/8/04 10:45 PM Page 27 Clifford and Malinowski 27 as other eruptions of matters Trobriand into anthropological discourse. ‘It is I who will describe or create them’ Malinowski says (1967:140), and still in 1935, 20 years after his first visit, he was writing: ‘Once again I have to make my appearance as the chronicler and spokesman of the Trobrianders’ (Malinowski 1935:v). It would be impossible comprehensively to track the extent to which these texts have now travelled through the various global circuits of discipline, publishing, libraries and gossip.
But more than 60 years later why is this still ‘experimental’? Hasn’t the convention of travel writing invaded creative ethnography as well, introducing predictable and pedestrian routine to what once were curious or exotic revelations? Is it too demanding to wonder if both travel writing and ethnography need sometimes to be rendered more seriously? Clifford visits the ‘jungle walk’ at the ‘Temple of Inscriptions’ and his text documents, in 15-minute segments, his ‘trip’. Why should we care? (And although his dropped camera jams up, he still manages to take a photograph, it is included in his book, how?
Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies by John Hutnyk