Magical laments and anthropological reflections

The production and circulation of anthropological text as ritual activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Anthropological writing becomes ritual when its unfolding argument structure parallels and thus its voice resonates with lament or even prayer. Structural features of lament are apparent in some ethnographies of lament, and anthropologists with no interest in traditional lament have nonetheless joined ineffectual modern elegies over modernity's destructiveness. Magical laments achieve their effects by thematically progressing from death to the afterlife by means of heteroglossia or a shift in verb mood from indicative to optative. Some anthropological accounts of lament dwell on their "death" and use metaphors also found in ritual lament. The conclusions of several relevant anthropological writings are marked by shifts in verb forms, though subtler than in laments, evincing perduring contradictions of modernity. Anthropology cannot avoid playing a role in cultural production - but what role? We can and should explore appropriate ways to mourn modernity's destructiveness - bringing the argument about the anthropology of lament full circle and enabling a shift of focus in modernist discourse from past to future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-914
Number of pages24
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Volume47
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2006

Fingerprint

modernity
religious behavior
anthropology
death
mood
ethnography
metaphor
discourse
Lament
Modernity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Cite this

@article{63cc3a3286754c3f93a084e993caeb1b,
title = "Magical laments and anthropological reflections: The production and circulation of anthropological text as ritual activity",
abstract = "Anthropological writing becomes ritual when its unfolding argument structure parallels and thus its voice resonates with lament or even prayer. Structural features of lament are apparent in some ethnographies of lament, and anthropologists with no interest in traditional lament have nonetheless joined ineffectual modern elegies over modernity's destructiveness. Magical laments achieve their effects by thematically progressing from death to the afterlife by means of heteroglossia or a shift in verb mood from indicative to optative. Some anthropological accounts of lament dwell on their {"}death{"} and use metaphors also found in ritual lament. The conclusions of several relevant anthropological writings are marked by shifts in verb forms, though subtler than in laments, evincing perduring contradictions of modernity. Anthropology cannot avoid playing a role in cultural production - but what role? We can and should explore appropriate ways to mourn modernity's destructiveness - bringing the argument about the anthropology of lament full circle and enabling a shift of focus in modernist discourse from past to future.",
author = "{Wilce Jr}, {James M}",
year = "2006",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1086/507195",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "47",
pages = "891--914",
journal = "Current Anthropology",
issn = "0011-3204",
publisher = "University of Chicago",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Magical laments and anthropological reflections

T2 - The production and circulation of anthropological text as ritual activity

AU - Wilce Jr, James M

PY - 2006/12

Y1 - 2006/12

N2 - Anthropological writing becomes ritual when its unfolding argument structure parallels and thus its voice resonates with lament or even prayer. Structural features of lament are apparent in some ethnographies of lament, and anthropologists with no interest in traditional lament have nonetheless joined ineffectual modern elegies over modernity's destructiveness. Magical laments achieve their effects by thematically progressing from death to the afterlife by means of heteroglossia or a shift in verb mood from indicative to optative. Some anthropological accounts of lament dwell on their "death" and use metaphors also found in ritual lament. The conclusions of several relevant anthropological writings are marked by shifts in verb forms, though subtler than in laments, evincing perduring contradictions of modernity. Anthropology cannot avoid playing a role in cultural production - but what role? We can and should explore appropriate ways to mourn modernity's destructiveness - bringing the argument about the anthropology of lament full circle and enabling a shift of focus in modernist discourse from past to future.

AB - Anthropological writing becomes ritual when its unfolding argument structure parallels and thus its voice resonates with lament or even prayer. Structural features of lament are apparent in some ethnographies of lament, and anthropologists with no interest in traditional lament have nonetheless joined ineffectual modern elegies over modernity's destructiveness. Magical laments achieve their effects by thematically progressing from death to the afterlife by means of heteroglossia or a shift in verb mood from indicative to optative. Some anthropological accounts of lament dwell on their "death" and use metaphors also found in ritual lament. The conclusions of several relevant anthropological writings are marked by shifts in verb forms, though subtler than in laments, evincing perduring contradictions of modernity. Anthropology cannot avoid playing a role in cultural production - but what role? We can and should explore appropriate ways to mourn modernity's destructiveness - bringing the argument about the anthropology of lament full circle and enabling a shift of focus in modernist discourse from past to future.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33751506722&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33751506722&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1086/507195

DO - 10.1086/507195

M3 - Article

VL - 47

SP - 891

EP - 914

JO - Current Anthropology

JF - Current Anthropology

SN - 0011-3204

IS - 6

ER -