Postmodernism and the works of Rosaldo, Dumont, and Derrida describing the theory of postmodernism in cultural change.

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With the end of colonialism and the emergence of a seemingly new world order, there raised a demand that research be useful and relevant, indicating that knowledge for its own sake was insufficient. As a result of this, what emerged was a new focus on 'development' and 'modernization' in the form of postmodernism. In these changing times, anthropology has come into contact with a variety of evolving concepts, including hybridity, montage, fluidity, and deconstruction. The question remains, how these concepts reflect the social, cultural and political changes that are occurring in study of anthropology today.

Postmodernism, as theoretical school of thought, is an intellectual movement that promotes itself as the 'antithesis' of modernism, rejecting the traditional theories that culture can be accurately described in certain situations. The term was introduced in the late 1940's, as anthropologists were forced to contend with the changes created by postmodernism in a variety of ways, beginning with the challenge to anthropological authority. It is felt by many that it is incredibly arrogant for anthropologists to assume that they have both the capacity and mandate to dissect, interpret and describe the lives of people in other cultures, given the power and wealth imbalance of the colonial past, leaving the 'other' unable to speak for him/herself. Today, despite the multicultural and ethnically aware world that we live in, anthropologists are not capable of an unbiased and accurate ethnographic work. In part, there concern is founded. To my knowledge, there rests no undocumented peoples on the planet, as such, ethnologies today focus on sub-group structure and societal dynamics always influenced by the Western world.

Depending on the position that one takes the results can be very different. An example of this is an anthropologist that used the reflexive technique to understand the culture in which he studied. Renato Rosaldo was not able to identify with them until the death of his wife occurred. Rosaldo studied the Ilonget, who used headhunting as a way to cope with death and bereavement. Rosaldo was not able to explain the eccentric act of headhunting, because he did not know the true pain that the Ilonget were forced to endure. Rosaldo uses the personal example of his brother's death to show the levels of grief that were displayed by both himself and his parents. Rosaldo explained, "my bereavement was so much less than that of my parents that I could not then imagine the overwhelming force of rage possible in such grief" (Rosaldo, 487). Rosaldo's lack of grief was probably less because he was not very close to his brother in the same respects as his parents. Generally, the closest relationship that an individual can have occurs between a parent and child, then a husband and wife. It was not until a hiking accident caused the death of his wife, Michelle in 1981, that he was able to identify personally with the rage and grief felt by the Ilonget. It was very hard for Rosaldo to cope with the fact that his wife was gone, but he expressed the idea that "bereavement should not be reduced to anger, neither for myself nor for anyone else" (Rosaldo,490). There are some anthropologists that think this reflexive technique is not beneficial and that it does not accurately represent the subjects because it is too personal and not objective.

One of the more significant developments of postmodernism has been the focus on ethnography as a product of writing, which should be looked at as fictional, not in the sense of make believe or fairytale, but in the sense created or fabricated. Thus, a result of being written from the perspective of the ethnologist, perception takes away from reality and fact, leaving interpretation and in some case, fictitious misrepresentations. There has also been the increase in dialogical and polyvocal approaches, insisting that ethnologies become a joint venture, with the anthropologist relinquishing...
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