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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Matei Candea (University of Cambridge)

When Feb 22, 2019
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Matei Candea (University of Cambridge)

Back to the drawing board: diagrams, comparison and anthropological form

This paper focuses on questions of form and formalism in anthropological knowledge production, through a very specific example: that of the various ways in which diagrams and writing have been articulated in anthropological texts. Drawing on historical examples and on an account of my own experience of developing a partly diagrammatic argument about anthropological comparison, I will argue that one key virtue of diagrams and other kinds of formal representation is that they act as a kind of limit on the proliferation of verbal arguments, but that conversely, diagrams and other formalisms can also suggest new possibilities and vistas, to which the accompanying text in turn acts as a productive limit. At the intersection of these visual and verbal channels, the ways they mutually limit and enable one another, lies a particular model of rigour through internal multiplicity, which I argue points to an epistemic form in anthropology more broadly.

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