book and media reviews The Network Inside Out, by Annelise Riles. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. isbn 0-47208832-7, xxiii + 242 pages, tables, figures, maps, photographs, orthography and abbrevations, notes, bibliography, index. Paper, us$26.95. It feels terribly redundant trying to review a book that concludes that the present conditions of globalization and transnationalism have left no further room for analysis to expand (184). To whit: "The insights of anthropological studies of globalization often seem oddly anticipated by the subjects of transnational ethnographic enquiry themselves. . . . Anthropological analysis is reduced to restatement, to repetition, to generating reflexive modernity's `doubles'" (5). This award-winning ethnography attempts to resist the temptations of an anthropology struggling to come to terms with familiar, almost universal phenomena (such as bureaucratic and institutional practices) and subjects that are themselves engaged in analysis that mirrors that of social scientists. "Thick description" then becomes appropriate only in ethnographies of the unfamiliar (an increasingly scarce commodity). For author Annelise Riles, "when phenomena are too well known to be described, what is needed is not greater detail but a selective erasure thereof, as, for example, the abstractions of modern art have brought modernity itself into view"
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 31, 2004