My chapter, focalizes on one of the most famous book written by an Italian anthropologist (Vittorio Lanternari, The Religions of the Oppressed. A Study of Modern Messianic Cults) and translated outside Italy. When Lanternari's book was published in the American edition, a great deal of criticism was directed at it. Among these, those made by specialists in particular areas on the risks of large generalizations emerged. In my reading of this debate, which is significant of the link between cultural anthropology and ethnography that was prevalent in the immediate post-war period, I would like to point out that not always some omission of ethnographic details, some misunderstanding of the cultural significance of a specific element, undermine the theoretical, analytical, heuristic relevance of the reading of such a large phenomenon as the one at the centre of Lanternari's analysis. And vice versa we must also see how much, I would add, the ethnographic precision, even maniacal, reached after years of specific in-depth study in the same "field", does not prove in the end to be devoid of any theoretical significance, a "missionary knowledge", in short, of very little use for the purposes of anthropological theory.

La politica dentro l’antropologia / V. Matera (STUDI SUPERIORI). - In: Storia dell'etnografia : autori, teorie, pratiche / [a cura di] V. Matera. - Prima edizione. - [s.l] : Carocci, 2020. - ISBN 978-88-290-0310-5. - pp. 414-439

La politica dentro l’antropologia

V. Matera
2020

Abstract

My chapter, focalizes on one of the most famous book written by an Italian anthropologist (Vittorio Lanternari, The Religions of the Oppressed. A Study of Modern Messianic Cults) and translated outside Italy. When Lanternari's book was published in the American edition, a great deal of criticism was directed at it. Among these, those made by specialists in particular areas on the risks of large generalizations emerged. In my reading of this debate, which is significant of the link between cultural anthropology and ethnography that was prevalent in the immediate post-war period, I would like to point out that not always some omission of ethnographic details, some misunderstanding of the cultural significance of a specific element, undermine the theoretical, analytical, heuristic relevance of the reading of such a large phenomenon as the one at the centre of Lanternari's analysis. And vice versa we must also see how much, I would add, the ethnographic precision, even maniacal, reached after years of specific in-depth study in the same "field", does not prove in the end to be devoid of any theoretical significance, a "missionary knowledge", in short, of very little use for the purposes of anthropological theory.
anthropology; politics; representation; ethnography; cultural critique
Settore M-DEA/01 - Discipline Demoetnoantropologiche
Book Part (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/882920
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