Beyond Malinowski and After Writing Culture: On the Future of Cultural Anthropology and the Predicament of Ethnography



Following out certain implications of the 1980s Writing Culture critique, this paper envisions a future for anthropology that remains focused on innovations in the ethnographic research process. A sense of change in the world, conceived in the 1980s as postmodernity and now widely discussed as globalisation, suggests the need for an alternative paradigm of ethnographic practice, different in significant ways from that which shaped social-cultural anthropology over the previous eighty years. Based on working through the implications for the norms and forms of both fieldwork and ethnographic writing of the multi-sited design of many current research projects, this paper outlines such an alternative paradigm. Further, the paper argues that the explicit disciplinary dynamic driving such innovation in ethnography is, in contrast to the so-called crisis of representation of the 1980s, a more urgent crisis of reception for anthropology.