Claude dit:

I hate traveling and explorers . . . The fact that so much effort and expenditure has to be wasted on reaching the object of our studies bestows no value on that aspect of our profession, and should be seen rather as its negative side.  The truths which we seek so far afield only become valid when they have been separated from this dross.

From Tristes Tropiques, 1961 [1955].

One thought on “Claude dit:

  1. Here’s what I like about this quote: it strips away the mere distance of the field as a kind of measure of importance. Forget it. CLS is saying that what matters most is not the fact that an ethnographer had to travel to some distant place; what matters most is what is learned or discovered (those elusive “truths”). Funny how he even calls the distance a “negative” aspect. Very much against the tradition of anthropology that calls (or used to) for distant fieldwork as a kind of ritual ordeal for turning oneself into a “real” anthropologist.

    Maybe this is an early argument for turning the anthropological lens inward? Or maybe he was just feeling a little grumpy when he started that book…

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