The ethnography of James Agee: the moral and existential accountability of knowledge

Authors


  • *An earlier and shorter version of this paper was read at the session for “The Relationship of Literature to Ethnography” at the Annual Meetings of the Canadian Ethnological Society, London, Ontario, February 1978. I wish to thank Lucy Turner and David Whittaker for their suggestions. A special debt is due to Gerald Berreman.

Abstract

Le souci de transmettre des connaissances moralement et existentiellement bien fondées, fidèles à l'expérience de la vie de tous les jours, est sous-jacent aux écrits “ethnographiques”de James Agee. Les thèmes évoqués sont la traduction de la réalité sociale, la sociologie de la description, la création et la découverte de la signification, la dialectique entre le chercheur et le répondant, et la portée de l'anthropologie “d'action.”

Underlying the “ethnographic” writings of James Agee is the production of morally and existentially reliable knowledge, true to experience of the everyday world. Some themes evoked are the translation of social reality, the sociology of description, the creation and discovery of meaning, the dialectic between researcher and respondent, and the import of “action” anthropology.

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