"The Self" and "The Other" in Disciplinary Anthropology
AbstractIn this paper I argue that fieldwork constitutes a ‘limit-experience’ where self and other encounter and confront one another. I suggest this confrontation provides an opening for what Foucault described as knowing “how and to what extent it might be possible to think differently, instead of legitimating what is already known” (1992). It begins by outlining Foucault’s notion of ‘pastoral power’, and argues that anthropology is an explicitly pastoral discipline, whose pastoral function emerges by interrogating the opposition of ‘Self’ to ‘Other’. Drawing on early and contemporary anthropological writings, I show how the discipline constructs a knowing Self which is opposed to an Other that is actively denied selfhood whilst being simultaneously constructed as a site of instruction. I conclude by exploring how anthropology might forge a radical break with pastoral power by recasting our understanding of fieldwork and recognising that it is primarily a site for a de-centering encounter between self and other selves.