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Phenomenological Sensualism and the Ethnographic Field: the Consequences of Applying Phenomenological Concepts to Anthropological Knowledge

Petar Bagarić orcid id ; Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 189 Kb

str. 33-45

preuzimanja: 609



The sensory turn in anthropology, along with its predecessor, the corporeal turn, has greatly contributed to the criticism of the Cartesian notion of the mind as the subject of knowledge separated from the body, and a general criticism of knowledge based in such a subject. The anthropology of the senses has recognized that firm belief in the decisive importance of abstract models in anthropology at the expense of bodily sensual aspects of everyday life is a crucial part of such notions of knowledge. The criticism of the concept of culture in anthropology, which has a lot in common with the ending of “grand narratives”, has undermined the presumed importance of abstract superstructures as a key element of social life, and has also sanctioned further fragmentation of the anthropological disciplines. The anthropology of the senses tends to accept the embodied subject defined in the philosophy of Merleau-Ponty as an alternative to the Cartesian ego. This text studies the consequences of such an approach for anthropological knowledge. The main thesis is that, due to a reduced potential of abstract concepts to guarantee adequate comprehension, anthropologists are encouraged to rely on their physical “self” as a guarantee of anthropological knowledge, which means that the phenomenon they are studying cannot be grasped through abstraction but through achieving certain physical modes of perception.

Ključne riječi

anthropology of the senses, phenomenology, the embodied subject, ethnography

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