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After Culture: Anthropology as Radical Metaphysical Critique by Mark Hobart

By Mark Hobart

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1. Language (dance, crafts) as culture – This kind of metonymic link was clearest in educational broadcasts on Balinese language, culture being at once communication and the product of communication. There were other metonymic links, most obviously Balinese culture being identified with dance and crafts. The New Order régime plugged its cultural credentials (in part to distract attention from some of its nastier military activities) by promoting Bali as culture and sending Balinese dance troupes overseas, to the point that Balinese dancers have probably become the best known icon of Indonesia.

It has roots. Villages, rather than towns, are often referred to as the points where it grows and flourishes. 5. Culture as potential – On a number of occasions, culture was listed as a potential (potensi) along with the natural beauty and skill at carving. 6. Culture as capital – This was perhaps the most frequently used image. Actors in plays spoke of the king’s duty being to increase culture, the richness of tradition, the basis of cultural tourism, the need to increase the creativity of Balinese culture or to produce more of it and something to enjoy.

Cultural analysis as a set of intellectual practices starts to look then as if it is more closely linked than its promotional claims suggest with perpetuating (an increasingly American) hegemony. It also helps to bring about closure around the familiar and the disarticulation of a whole range of alternative ways of thinking, which cultural analysis ensures we shall never know about. What then are the politics of cultural analysis? This is too large a topic to explore in detail here. I would simply note that, in his analysis of the political presuppositions of Geertz’s work, Pecora should conclude that, for all the seeming liberalness of Geertz’s stance, in fact it presupposed a surprisingly conservative right-wing political position (1989).

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