Taking heads

Andrew Strathern

  • Knowledge and Passion: Ilongot Notions of Self and Social Life by Michelle Rosaldo
    Cambridge, 286 pp, £17.50, April 1980, ISBN 0 521 22582 5

In the last twenty years social anthropologists, dissatisfied with the formulations of their seniors, have experimented with a number of approaches, some of which, such as structuralism, have achieved notoriety while remaining obscure and contentious. Michelle Rosaldo is in search of meaning in culture, taking as her object of analysis the ‘text’ of what people say and do and constructing her work essentially as a translation of that text. No ‘ism’ attaches as a label to this enterprise, but it belongs to a trend in which Clifford Geertz, editor of the series to which this book belongs, has been prominent, and which Paul Rabinow has summarised in the maxim: ‘All culture is interpretation.’

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