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Extra resources for [Article] Ethnography in Late Industrialism

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We want to reach beyond established systems of ideality, where Derrida and Levinas locate justice. Philosopher Dawn McCance says it this way: This future anteriority of the mirror stage trope distinguishes Lacan’s specular subject, characterized by “anticipated belatedness” (Weber 1991, 10), from the conscious subject of metaphysical philosophy, Hegel’s Selbst, for example, whose basis is a perfected present ... [It] means that the positioning of oneself as a unified (“phallic”) subject within the Law-of-the-Father is an endeavor which inevitably fails.

Ethnography, at its best, provides a powerful and efficient way to read historical conditions. It produces both situated and comparative insight, is able to see across scale, and leverage different analytic lenses. It can draw out nested and proximate systems, sensitive to their similarities, differences, and synergisms. Postcolonialism and neoliberalism, for example, can be seen as phenomena that cut across space in similar ways, and as phenomena that are exquisitely specific in their instantiations.

Perhaps an ethnographic turn has followed the so-called linguistic turn of the 1980s. The language turn, carried by texts like Writing Culture, directed our attention to the ways discursive and textual forms are constitutive of the real, directing what we see and say, and don’t, and what counts as true, benefiting some, often at great cost to others. Language also came to be understood as a place of play and supplementarity, out of which quite unimaginable things could emerge. So ideas about systems that permit or even provoke play are not new.

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[Article] Ethnography in Late Industrialism by Kim Fortun


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