The problem of context


The problem of context

edited by Roy Dilley

(Methodology and history in anthropology, v. 4)

Berghahn Books, 1999

  • : hbk
  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references and index



The apparently simple notion that it is contextualization and invocation of context that give form to our interpretations raises important questions about context definition. Moreover, different disciplines involved in the elucidation and interpretation of meanings construe context indifferent ways. How do these ways differ? And what analytical strategies are adopted in order to suggest that the relevant context is "self-evident"? The notion of context has received less attention than is due such a central, key concept in social anthropology, as well as in other related disciplines. This collection of contributions from a group of leading social anthropologists and anthropological linguists addresses the question of how the idea of context is constructed, invoked, and deployed in the interpretations put forward by social anthropologists. The ethnographic focus embraces peoples from regions such as Bali, Europe, Malawi, and Zaire. Primarily theoretical in its aims, the work also draws on expertise from anthropological linguistics and philosophy in order to set the issue as much in a comparative disciplinary perspective as in a comparative cross-cultural one.


Notes on Contributors Preface Introduction: The Problem of Context Roy Dilley Chapter 1. Contextualisation and Paradigm Shifts Ladislav Holy Chapter 2. Context, the Ghost in the Machine Sandor G.J. Hervey Chapter 3. New Paradigm Thinking in Linguistics: Meaning is the Context Elzbieta Tabakowska Chapter 4. Ethnographic Misunderstanding and the Perils of Context Johannes Fabian Chapter 5. As They Like It: Overinterpretation and Hyporeality in Bali Mark Hobart Chapter 6. Context and Interpretation: Reflections on Nyau Rituals in Malawi Brian Morris Chapter 7. The Holistic Individual: Context as Political Process in the New Age Movement Ruth Prince and David Riches Chapter 8. Context as an Act of Personal Externalisation: Gregory Bateson and the Harvey Family in the English Village of Wanet Nigel Rapport Chapter 9. Culture and Context: The Effects of Visibility Penelope Harvey Index

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