Review: Klaus-Peter Köpping (2002). Shattering Frames: Transgressions and Transformations in Anthropological Discourse and Practice

Lawrence J. Hammar


This interesting, sometimes difficult, text assembles essays originally published between 1976 and 2000, some of which were substantially revised for this publication. The author's interests range between sociology of religion, Australian ab­origines, phenomenology, ritual, Japan, history of anthropology and critical theory. KÖPPING aims to make explicit "the processes of change and trans­formation that are brought about through com­mu­ni­cative encounters of many different type[s]" (p.13). The author suggests an earlier origin of "field­work" in the work of the 19th-century German ethnologist, Adolf BASTIAN, whose initiatives he traces from the work of Johann Gottfried HERDER and Alexander von HUMBOLDT, and scolds am­ne­siac post-modernists by rehabilitating the works of neglected French theorists such as Michel LEIRIS and George BATAILLE. He reads various "crises" of representation and "predicaments" of culture in the field (where research is conducted) and in the field of anthropology (where debates are carried out) as meaning that ethnographic anthropology is still, somewhat paradoxically, only conservatively transgressive. Our crises, in other words, are writerly, not political, and our predic­a­ments are felt most acutely in the armchair, not in the tent or nearby. The author reminds us of our ludic impulses, and of the transgressive nature of life itself over death, misfortune and circumstance. He seems to wish to prod theory and fieldwork ahead accordingly, not so much browbeating and haranguing us as imploring and encouraging us to fulfill our potential.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0403251


history of anthropology; phenom­en­ology; qualitative research; participant-obser­vation

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Copyright (c) 2004 Lawrence J. Hammar

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