Journal article

Value, audit culture, and the political ethics of comparison in anthropology

Michael Herzfeld

Etnografia e ricerca qualitativa | Società Editrice il Mulino | Published : 2019


In contrast with (and opposition to) legalistic models of field ethics, anthropologists must operate with a «weak version» of cultural relativism that recognizes the importance of context in determining appropriate action and thereby also repudiates the universalistic claims of audit culture. This stance, a consequence of social anthropology’s comparative epistemology, entails a strong commitment to comparison’s critical potential. Despite its ambiguities and political biases, translation is the commonest form of comparison in anthropological practice, and itself provides a field for reflection on scholars’ ideological and epistemological preferences. A brief discussion of how to phr..

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