This is the first book to explore the relationship between Martin Heidegger's work and modern anthropology. Heidegger attracts much scholarly interest among social scientists, but few have explored his ideas in relation to current anthropological debates. The discipline's modernist foundations, the nature of cultural constructionism and of art ñ even what an anthropology of art must include ñ are all informed and illuminated by Heidegger's work. The author argues that many contemporary anthropologists, in their concern to return subjectivity and 'voice' to their interlocutors, neglect to recognize that language and other representational practices conceal the world and human subjectivity as much as reveal it. The author also suggests that Heidegger's critique of western technology provides the basis for a return to anthropology's sociological foundations.
Emerging from over ten years of original research, and drawing on a rich knowledge of Australian and Melanesian ethnography, this book reassesses the underlying framework of modern and, particularly, visual anthropology. Innovative and provocative, it will be of interest to all anthropologists, philosophers and students of art and culture.
'What are the limits of relationship? What bounds the scope of imagination? Blending his ethnographic experience among the Foi of Papua New Guinea with his personal reading of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, Weiner seeks the wellsprings of art and social life in the tension between revelation and concealment. In a world bedazzled by the glitz and speed of telecommunications, bathed in a phantasmagoria of ephemeral images, it is easy to think that reality can be whatever we choose to make of it. In the fashionable doctrine of social constructionism, anthropology has succumbed to this temptation. Tree Leaf Talk bursts the constructionist bubble. The book is a passionate appeal for a rigorously down-to-earth anthropology, rooted in the slow, pedestrian rhythms of day-to-day activity through which experience, history and meaning are sedimented in the land.' Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen 'Freed from the descriptor, 'A heideggerian Anthropology', Tree leaf talk can then be read as a careful demonstration of the power of something like 'an allegorical anthropology'. University of Technology Sydney 'A powerful, dense and vital contribution to anthropology.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 'Weiner's questions, his ethnographic approach, and his particular synthesis of others make this book central to all concerned with symbolic analysis, with the process whereby human lifeworlds are constituted, and with what this tells us about what it is to be humans in different historical and cultural moments.' James Leach, Department of Social Anthropology