My dissertation, "Michel Leiris's Writing: From Heretic Ethnography to literary Anthropology," recaptures the debate between anthropology and literature in light of the unprecedented upsurge of interest in primitive and non-industrialized societies by Parisian Avant-garde writers such as André Breton, Michel Leiris, Georges Bataille, and Roger Caillois. Rather than two separate fields governed by distinct rules, I argue that literature and anthropology share the same narrative protocols and, to a certain extent, similar objectives. I believe that there is an anthropological dimension within literature in the sense that the aim of anthropology, especially cultural anthropology, is to describe social behaviors and to examine what shapes civilizations. Building on James Clifford's Predicament of Culture (1988) and Michael Tausig's Mimesis and Alterity (1993) among others, I inscribe Leiris' work within the concept of reflexive anthropology, which increasingly acknowledges the validity of literary self-representation as an anthropological form. In addition, I propose to theorize literature as a system that could constitute an alternative way to address social issues. Therefore, my dissertation questions the hierarchical labels that are imposed on Leiris' writing and which suggest that the writer's ethnographic vocation remains distinct from and marginal to his autobiographical project. In other words, my work deconstructs the binary opposition literature/ethnography, redefining both concepts and suggesting that, on the contrary, epistemological complementarities are essential to the production of knowledge.
University of Minnesota Ph.D dissertation. May 2013. Major: French. Advisor: Bruno Chaouat. 1 computer file (PDF);
ii, 190 pages.
Samb, Mamadou M..
Regard croisé sur l'anthropologie et la littérature dans l'oeuvre de Michel Leiris.
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