Afterword to “Cruelty, Suffering, Imagination: The Lessons of J. M. Coetzee”: Anthropologists as Public Intellectuals, Again



Anthropologists' interest in literature and novelists' interest in cultural criticism converge in J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello (2003) and in these four “In Focus” responses to the book. Recent discussions of ethnographic writing seem to have prepared anthropologists for the generic innovations of the novel, leaving us free to take up the pressing moral problems that Coetzee rehearses. To speak to a broad public about such issues remains a challenge for anthropologists, who would do well to study the ways novelists have found to make their political voices heard.