By James Clifford
The quandary of tradition is a serious ethnography of the West in its altering kinfolk with different societies. reading cultural practices corresponding to anthropology, trip writing, gathering, and museum monitors of tribal paintings, Clifford exhibits authoritative debts of alternative methods of lifestyles to be contingent fictions, now actively contested in postcolonial contexts. His critique increases questions of world value: Who has the authority to talk for any group's identification and authenticity? What are the basic components and bounds of a tradition? How do self and "the other" conflict within the encounters of ethnography, trip, and glossy interethnic relatives? In discussions of ethnography, surrealism, museums, and emergent tribal arts, Clifford probes the late-twentieth century concern of residing concurrently inside, among, and after tradition.
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Extra info for The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art
Yet a grasp of meter was not the only criterion of lyrical ﬁtness. Writers also had to consider how ﬁtting were their allusions, vocabulary, sentiment, or tone to the audience and the likely performative context. No song may be imposed on unwilling listeners – it might be shouted down, laughed at, or simply ignored – and thus even the most topical political message had to be couched in terms appropriate to its audience. 38 But it should help inform our judgements as to the ﬁtness of Napoleonic productions: only the craftiest of Trojan horses are likely to have passed through the gates of popular culture.
Such were the persons responsible for mediating, even recreating, popular song, in public performance. As observed with regard to singers’ self-fashioning as crippled veterans or war widows, even the material properties of a performance could subvert a song’s message. Mather ‘used to “raise the wind” by vending his songs in the streets, seated on a grinder’s donkey, or on the back of Ben Sharp’s bull . . 152 This revelry was rendered anti-authoritarian by the preceding declaration, in the song’s ﬁnal verse, that ‘I’d sooner dance to the ﬁddle than march to the drum’: the singer’s unrestrained gaiety contrasts with the clumsy drilling forced upon volunteers.
Yet singers could also use physical properties to construct a loyalist persona. 153 The performative act also offered scope for musical licence. 155 This highly individualistic agency should be added to the historical record: on some level, the singer was always an artist, if not necessarily a very good one. This enabled singers consciously or inadvertently to subvert songwriters’ intended meanings through ironic or bathetic delivery. Yet it should be noted (and set against evidence of singers’ tendency to subversion) that their performative importance could also represent a great strength of the loyalist campaign.
The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art by James Clifford