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Introduction to “Ethnographic Emergences”



This introduction situates the articles in this “In Focus” in terms of the history of anthropological theory. I argue that the objects under ethnographic scrutiny here compel a rethinking of ethnography as a method and a retooling of the theoretical apparatus of the discipline. Such fields as medicine, science, media, law, and environment pose challenges to modernist analytical toolkits because they are always already complex hybrids of nature and culture. They do not stay put inside their own analytical frames. They are also autodocumentary and make use of the shift in perspective between general and particular to generate knowledge—much as anthropology does. This introduction is an argument for an anthropology of emergence that is not content to settle for mere descriptive adequacy but that uses its objects to unsettle anthropological claims to knowledge.

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