Planet M: The intense abstraction of Marilyn Strathern

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Martin Holbraad, Morten Axel Pedersen

This article examines the peculiar nature of comparison in the work of Marilyn Strathern. Contrasting her approach to more familiar arguments regarding the role of reflexivity and multi-sited ethnography in the comparative agenda of contemporary anthropology, we elucidate the logical and metaphysical tenets that underlie the particular manner in which Strathern connects and disconnects ethnographic materials (not least her juxtapositions of Melanesian and European ethnography). Focusing on her abiding distinction between 'plural' and 'postplural' approaches to analysis, we explore the role of 'scaling' in her anthropological project, and argue that this allows for a characteristically intense form of abstraction, which, among other things, enables her to make trans-temporal comparisons between 'ethnographic moments' otherwise separated by history.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnthropological Theory
Volume9
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)371-394
Number of pages24
ISSN1463-4996
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009

    Research areas

  • Abstraction, Comparison, Ethnography, Post-plural anthropology, Representation, Temporality

ID: 209836464