Contextualizing a Vision: Psalmanaazaar, Formosa and Anthropology Georg Stauth Faculty of Sociology University of Bielefeld This paper takes off on Rodney Needham's exemplar of Psalmanaazaar to compare fake ethnography with theory construction. Needham claims that Psalmanaazaar's exotic ethnography of Formosa was initially not discovered as fake because it was based on factual description and avoided theory. The writer argues that in exploring anthropological theorizing on Bali, that similar to fake ethnography, theory needs an indissolvable core of the all-too-human reality. Engaged with deep issues of civilizing processes, anthropological theory necessarily panders to human existence as such, exoticizing it into a type of "counter-culture". From Bateson to Geertz to Wikan and Barth, the case of Bali is worked out with respect to the intricacies of human existence, exploring ever deeper forms of everydayness which we all share. Introduction The somewhat strange subject and title of this paper need explanation. I was intrigued by the rather paradoxical phenomenon which occurred with the globalization of the scientific discourse on "otherness", namely, forged description and scientific ethnography turning into comparable types of modelling the exotic. My "encounter" with Psalmanaazaar through Needham's "Psalmanaazaar, Confidence Man" in Exemplars (1985:75-116) triggered an interest in the
Asian Journal of Social Science – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1998
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