Treball / Mètode


Roger Sansi

Most of the literature on the relationship between art and anthropology has engaged with the use of ethnographic methods, and how both disciplines could learn and exchange ideas about the uses of methods – visual and artistic methods in the case of anthropology, and ethnographic methods in the case of art. In this workshop however we extended the discussion beyond the ¨method¨ of research towards its outcomes: what is achieved in anthropological and artistic research? What are the outcomes and forms of objectification of this research? Contemporary art practice often experiments with transitive processes that do not result in definitive outcomes, as opposed to anthropological research, which is objectified in clear research outputs, articles and monographs. In recent years some authors have argued for the experimentation with processual forms of production in Anthropology, that do not result in formal academic outputs. But in more general terms, this experimentation questions the very definition of what constitutes academic work: to withdraw from academic production is to question the academy as a mode of production. In these terms, it was pointed out how in art practice, the discussion on what constitutes artistic work has been much wider and critical than in Anthropology, and how it has been linked to wider discussions in political economy about precarious labor. An interesting discussion emerged on the differences in the mode of production in different regional traditions in Anthropology: how soviet anthropology was always designed as a collective work of gathering an cultural archive, as opposed to Anglo-American Anthropology, that has always been more individualistic, based on the model of the single ethnographer going to the field and producing a monograph. In these terms, Anglo-American Anthropology can also be more easily assimilated the romantic ideal of the individual artist. Within western schools of anthropology, the French distinction between “ethnologue¨ and “anthropologue” was also remarked, as a hierarchical system of production in which the collective of “ethnologists” produces the archive that the single “anthropologue” will transform then in theory, through systematic comparison. The discussion of all these variations made us aware of the need for further discussion on the conditions of knowledge production in Anthropology, beyond the good intentions of proposing more experimental methods.

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