Det autentiska Andra : Om etnografi, etik och existens
Sammanfattning: The point of departure for the dissertation is the problem of representing other people and other cultures from a modern scientific and ethnographic standpoint. This concerns, above all, a problem based on a power relationship, on various forms of subordination and marginalization of the Other(s), who are contrasted with normality and a modern "us". This leads to what I call the question of the Other, that is, how it might be possible for a researcher to talk beyond prevailing power relations, to talk about what exists outside the scholarly representations. It is thus ultimately an ethical and existential question; that is to say, a question of an Other which cannot merely be boiled down to knowledge, but which nevertheless can carry meaning, as a matter of relating to another person, not as an object of knowledge, but in a way that allows that person to speak and to be on his or her own premises. This leads, then, to the main aim of this dissertation, namely to analyse how scholars have related in various ways to this Other in ethnographic descriptions, neutralizing it or emphasizing it. The examples I have used in my examinations consist of a series of ethnographic texts describing one and the same field, Norrland, northern part of Sweden. The material primarily consists of texts describing different, supposedly non-modern conditions and may therefore be said to exemplify the general relationship between the modern and this Other.As a whole, then, I have tried to focus on the modern and the non-modern, thereby trying to find out how these approaches relate to each other, and particularly to bring out ambivalent and contradictory features. The emphasis is thus, on the one hand, on how scholars have distinguished, separated, and subordinated the Other, and on the other hand, on the deviations, the resistance and the inertia, on the cracks and the critical points where the modern and discursive give way to something else. The result of this is not that I have found new facts or any real new knowledge; what I have found is a different perspective on the existing descriptions of the field. It has thus been a matter of arriving at ethical insights rather than any definite result. As I have tried to show, the "free", modern approach virtually always leads to some form of denial or ignoring of the Other, that is, the removal of people from the domain of ethical and existential consideration. In my opinion, the ethical and dialogic points of departure presupposes, on the contrary, involvement and participation, which in practice turns out to counteract the modern premises and offers an opportunity to acknowledge the Other, by letting individuals appear outside their given categories. Finally, I want to ask to what extent it is at all possible to envisage an inverted agenda in ethnology and scholarship as a whole, with the ethical and dialogic standpoint as the primary starting point instead of the other way around.
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