Anthropology of Fiction


Anthropology of Fiction

Reading, or writing a good fiction book can be culturally and politically immersive. Authors like Ursula K. Le Guin have literally created entire civilizations through the written word, and used them to explore many anthropological themes.

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Worlds of fiction 23 Replies

Started by Keith Hart. Last reply by Philip Swift Aug 26, 2010.

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Comment by Tony VanWinkle on May 2, 2014 at 3:31pm

Has anyone here ever used Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians in cultural anthropology classes?

Comment by K. Zeynep Sarıaslan on April 3, 2010 at 5:45pm
Hello everybody,
I am more than happy to see that such a group exists and I wonder whether there is anybody who studies anthropology of use/consumption of fiction (i mean not use of fiction by anthropologists but use of fiction by "ordinary people" in their "everyday lifes") regardless the content.
Comment by Maria Graciela Campos on February 22, 2010 at 5:28am
Really interesting anecdote! Well if everything is fiction, which part of the anthropolgy studies that we devote to, might be real? I keep thinking that, fiction is only surpassed by the reality, so I think that maybe fiction is a way to represent something that we already know or can possibly create...
Comment by matt m on February 18, 2010 at 1:43pm
Gene Berlyn was the master of spontaneous conversations, the best out of everyone I knew back then. He was extraverted and knowledgeable, with a face heavily carved with the grooves of a rebel. His pale grey eyes were quick, they honed into your psyche as his words either danced for your entertainment or shot you to pieces. He was above average height which more than made up for his slender build. His shoulder length blond hair framed him. It added weight to his influence that was magnified by the finely-carved wooden amulet that hung around his neck.
The first time we met was he was making himself busy, saying g’day to everyone and being at home in the new surroundings. When his eyes fell on me I felt emboldened. Like he was the leader and I was his aide.
‘You look pretty devoted there, mate.’ He said. ‘What’s your major?’
‘Anthropology.’ I said. ‘What’s yours?’
‘The same, about people, about the ways we think and live.’ He winked as he grinned. It was tongue in cheek and bravado in equal measures. Then he turned to the rest of the group in the tute room. ‘But hey, what does anything mean any more, now that we’re being deconstructed?’
‘How would you know?’ I said, unperturbed by the silence in the room. It was something I wouldn’t normally have said but I felt encouraged to speak up. It was as if playing with reality was actually the point.
‘Well exactly, mate.’ He said slowly, looking at me with a mock serious face. ‘You wouldn’t really, would you?’ A few of the others sniggered.
‘What do you mean deconstructed?’ Asked Henry which made Gene grin.
‘I mean exposed and pulled apart.’ Analysed until your psyche lays scattered over the place in tiny little pieces.’
Henry leant down and picked through his canvas bag that was loosely sprawled across the floor. As he bent his great swath of matted brown and grey hair emerged for all to notice. A couple of younger students sniggered. Wily old Henry forage for ages before finally pulling out a tattered book. He held it up for the others to see, stood up slowly and walked across the room to hand it to Gene.
‘Here. Read this. It’s one of the novels Derrida referred to before he died. But don’t read too much into it. It might be a hoax.’
‘What’s the gist?’ I asked. All eyes flicked from me to Henry.
‘Everything is fiction.’
Comment by Maria Graciela Campos on September 16, 2009 at 1:41am
I think that most of the fiction books are like mirrors of the society, specially in the one we live now. For example one gender I like very much is called "magic realism" wich refers mostly to daily life and how supernatural phenomena get involved in it.
Comment by Anne Gilbert on August 27, 2009 at 4:01am

Glad you joined! One of the first things I learned about Ursula le Guin was that she was the daughter of Alfred Kroeber. I found this quite impressive.
Comment by Galya Oustinova on August 26, 2009 at 7:08pm
hello everybody, I have just joined the group drawn by the cover of Ursula Le Guin's book. Do you know that she was a daughter of the Kroebers?
Comment by Nathan Jarred Jones on August 25, 2009 at 11:41pm
NIKOS, that's very interesting. I've always enjoyed his stories when I was younger, but haven't paid much attention to them as an adult. I believe I'm going to have to go back and read further. An interesting point is that he was "cryptic author for adults with texts full of symbols and myths." I've got to read into that more.
Comment by Nathan Jarred Jones on August 25, 2009 at 10:26pm
I am very interested in reading the comments regarding anthopology in literature. I, myself, am often intrigued by the author Octavia Butler, whose young, black, female heroine is placed into future science fiction settings, and made to create a socialized and cultural system following some apocalyptic crisis. It's such a strange heroine to find in science fiction stories, but her characters are very thought provoking.

Anyway, I look very forward to conversations about the anthropological aspect of literature and reading of others interests.
Comment by Anne Gilbert on July 22, 2009 at 4:15am

NOthing wrong with studying both kinds of literature, in an "anthropological" sense! Bring it on!

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