Skip to main content



1. Introduction

This chapter introduces the book as an essay that calls for uninhibited methods in anthropology. Such methods attempt to turn the inhibitions of Western writers, which originate from the guilt they experience in their relationships with the people they study, into a creative force rather than a burden.The first chapter of the book will analyse methodological failures in which issues of reflexivity, reciprocity, sincerity, respect, and integration are at stake. The second chapter will build on this critique through the concept of “ethnogastritis” and outline strategies for integrating and writing the field.In this introduction, the exoticism of Taiwan hints at the emotional kind of anthropology that the book intends to dwell on, and promote.

2. Fire

This chapter analyses relationships between the researchers and the researched. Guilt affects such relationships in essential, structural ways—postmodern reactions to the excesses of classic anthropology deliver new practices and writing styles, but the discipline still relies on autobiographical techniques that do not free it from guilt.Reflexivity is a strategic device through which anthropologists cope with their guilt regarding integration. Integration is both lacking (as reflected in boredom and loneliness in the field, and disappointing descriptions) and intrusive (as reflected in spying and camouflage games in the field, and disappointing reciprocity).The chapter concludes that relationships cannot be sincere enough and respectful enough to make the idealism of populist ethnography come true.

3. Water

Taking its cue from the conclusions of Chapter 2, this chapter reverts to the autobiographical style of Chapter 1. After arguing for an anthropology of sensual experience, which must strive to transcribe passions, it links Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea to my own experience of fieldwork in an advertising agency.Along with this experience, characterised by miscommunication and abjection (or the intrusive integrations of Chapter 2), other fields shape comparably passionate feelings—hatred in Burkina Faso and the United Kingdom; love in South Korea.Eroticism emerges from abjection, which may develop from a lack of cultural knowledge, but it is also the true form of communication and inspiration of emotional anthropology—whether in France, in Greece, or somewhere in the sky above Asia, light as a feather.

4. Conclusion

This chapter recapitulates the main argument and points at directions for reintroducing emotions into anthropological writing. Through the parable of the “Wild Boy” that medicine endeavoured, in vain, to civilise, this conclusion restates that science builds on dreams, fantasies, myths, and the frustrations they result in. Furthermore, violent and erotic tensions condition knowledge about others.Anthropology can therefore move away from the guilt that paralyses it. It can gain impetus from the passions that make us human. It can turn guilt and abjection into creative erotic writing. It can escape politically correct legitimisations. It can describe everything, borrowing from the narrative techniques of masterly writing in world literature.It can do all that, and it probably should.


Weitere Informationen