The endurance of critique
In a time when critique is considered by some to be running out of steam and is disqualified by others in the name of a triumphant positivism, anthropology may have to reclaim its various critical traditions, including that of self-critique, to apprehend a world in which weak social and political consensus too often serves to elude the tensions, contradictions and even aporia of contemporary society. This implies resisting both the various manifestations of disenchantment regarding the supposed decline of the discipline and the recurrent tendency to proclaim so-called turns in an incessant race to innovation. Although not a privilege of the anthropologists, ethnography – as they practice it – is of particular relevance for this endeavour. But rather than being programmatic, the lecture will be analytic, discussing the issues raised by the practice of critical ethnography. Based on present case studies, it will be an attempt to bridge anthropological legacies and futures.
Didier Fassin, professor of sociology at EHESS, has given this lecture at University of Milano-Bicocca on 20th July 2016.