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Durham University

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Publication details

Carrithers, M. (2014). Anthropology as irony and philosophy, or the knots in simple ethnographic projects. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4(3): 117-142.

Author(s) from Durham


In this essay on the idea of "anthropological knots" I lay out three closely related ideas. One is that the practice of ethnography may be regarded as being also the practice of philosophy, insofar as philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge about ourselves. The second is that this pursuit of ethnography/philosophy is in its nature ironical, which means roughly that it is woven, or knotted, in the encounter of differing viewpoints, just as Socrates' philosophical work was created in ironizing conversation between different persons and their different viewpoints. The third is that our philosophical, ironical ethnography is a performance to be celebrated; and, again, it is a performance that is woven, knotted together.