The End of Anthropology, Again: On the Future of an In/Discipline


  • John Comaroff

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637; American Bar Foundation, Chicago, IL 60611; Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town 7701, South Africa
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ABSTRACT  The “End of Anthropology” has been predicted many times and for many different reasons—among them, its disappearing object of study, its political imbrication in colonialism, the loss of its distinctive concepts, and the effects of globalization in diffusing its received subject matter. And yet, both institutionally and discursively, the discipline is very much alive, producing new species of knowledge, new theoretical discourses, new empirical interests, new arguments. How, in light of this, do we read the history of its present? By what means is its “end” to be avoided, its future(s) assured? Where should it go from here, empirically, methodologically, theoretically? One answer lies in a new indiscipline, a discourse that, in dialectic tension with the contemporary world in which it is embedded, redefines the scale, the conceptual foundations, and the techniques of knowledge production of anthropology.