Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 21


Depending from which direction you looked at it, the building in which I lived had a considerably varying prospect. From the front, facing onto the road, it looked like a neat, white-washed, single story house with a patio, a veranda behind a grilled entrance and a line for the washing. However, Aunt Erica's house was built on the side of the valley descending into the ghetto and, viewed from the back, what you saw was rather different: a building of unpainted, grey pebble dash, three stories high, towering over a group of small dwellings in the tenement yard below, all of which were owned by my landlady. Two thirds of the people living here were migrants from outside Kingston, but they ranged in status from Miss Vandy, a housewife married to a school-teacher, to Dunjee, an illiterate youth who lived in a tiny, unlit chamber directly under Aunt Erica's veranda. My own room in this house was below the road level and looked out onto the yard at the rear; under my window people scrubbed their clothes, bathed in the communal shed and three young brothers, who seemed to be the first citizens of this place, played their sound system, sang the latest lyrics to their girl-friends ('an' now I livin' on the street side, I feel so all alone!') and helped their mother take in the washing. When, that is, they were not involved in one of the numerous arguments that lit up the place, usually over bills. Hyper-inflation in the period 1991 to 1993 meant that not only were bills continuously rising, but they preempted further increases and went up in advance of them. Relations between the tenants and their landlady, and between the tenants and each other, were violently strained. For many of the people in the yard the trouble lay in the fact that Aunt Erica

and her agent wanted too much. She 'wouldn't satisfied' until she had 'build up to the sky' as a neighbour observed, to which statement Aunt Erica responded 'I can't waste my time talking to small fry'. If, in the evening, I spoke to Jeanette, Aunt Erica's adopted daughter, I would usually be regaled with the news that 'such-and-such' had 'backed up' 'so-and-so' with a 'cutlass' (machete). However, when I mentioned these events to Dave the Monserratian student who lived upstairs, he would quote a song of the moment'Rasta not fi mix up in a bangarang'which detailed why Rastafarians (and by analogy myself) should avoid getting involved in other people's affrays. This continuous bargaining for social significance threw up powerful personal narratives which served (if only temporarily) to totalise experience here. And, unsurprisingly, it was Aunt Erica's voice that dominated dialogue in the yard. My landlady was a large woman in her mid-fifties, and as she sat in her veranda having shared out food for the family and whichever guests were present, she liked to talk about her life. These stories were sharp, funny (usually calamitous) and full of personal observation. She had lived on this road since she was a child. Her father had been one of the chief guides at the botanical gardens during and after the Second World War and survived to old age, but her mother had died early, and her father had taken up with a number of other girl-friends. At twelve she had left school and become a seamstress. Aunt Erica said that it was around this age that she had written all the things she wanted to do in life down in a book and, over the course of time, had succeeded in doing them all. A few years later she met her future husband Vernal. The relationship was a very chaste business, Aunt Erica made clear, and she had waited until she was twenty one and managing a little bar overrun by Canadian sailors before getting married. That was in the

early 1960s. The two had gone to London in a banana boat on which all the Jamaicans (especially the Jamaican cook) and the 'small island' people were at war with each other. In London she worked as an auxiliary nurse and ran a bar in a top floor flat. Some of her friends had trouble with the Teddy boy gangs: Solomon, a boy from Tavern, had split open the belly of one with his ratchet knife one evening, but the police had arrested the Teddy boys, not him. There were other hazards:

The English girls will take 'way your husband you know. I don't know if you heard about Taylorhe was one man live near us and he love this Scottish girl bad and even make her sleep on the same bed with him. So he wanted to buy her a mink coat and he tell his wife to give him the 800 she have in the bank, but she wouldn't do it. Anyway he want to buy the coat, so he beat up 'pon her and gave her one smack across the face, boom!so hard she never knewand she went all the way to Camberwell and took out the money and give it to him. And he bought the mink coat and then he bought a pony. But he have to tell the girl to go back to Scotland and wait 'til things cool down: Oh that Taylor was a bitch you see man!

London was cold and Erica was making less money there than back in Jamaica, so the following years were spent finding work in the US. Her first visits were to the south where, in an airport you could not find a bathroom that black people could use and the Hispanics misunderstood you when you asked for 'chocho' 1 in the grocers. Finally she had taken a nurses exam and

settled in Brooklyn with Vernal who was employed as a hospital porter. This place had become something like home from home. A great friend was Saul, a Jewish American who had married an African woman:

Saul mother now, she never want Saul to marry a 'nigger'. And they went to a party and some of the people there say how much they hate 'niggers'. But Saul' wife just tell them Why must they hate black people?, Why don't they hate German people? It is German people kill the Jews. And she took Saul away from there. Saul, now, tell his mother 'You always saying African people are savages, but when your father came to America he couldn't even write his own name: our name, Rubenthe immigration officer just write down that name because your father never even know how to write for himself'. And he showed his mother how he ate with his hands like black people, and he tell her that he prefer black people' company. And, Oh Lord, Saul' wife love that man everlasting: she made a man out of that Saul.

Brooklyn was a source of never ending novelty: the transvestites, the different stores and the multiplicity of different races. She loved listening to the phone-in shows where the different people 'cuss each other out' and the black Americans called the Jamaicans 'banana eating bitches'. The last six years she had spent working for an agency which supplied nurses to look after elderly (mainly Jewish) people. Erica and Vernal had bought a flat and now she was living six months in America and six months in Jamaica, surrounded in both places by her extended family of adopted children and grandchildren, and the money they had saved over the years went into

building up her own yardfirst her own house, then the houses below it. Aunt Erica was proud of the extended family of adopted children she had created since the 1960s and her children figured large in her stories. Her latest adoptee was a seven year old, Sindy, who had been 'running wild' since her father was shot dead by the police escaping over a roof in Standpipe. Sindy had a habit of chasing butterflies round the house whispering 'fader, fader', of which her elder adoptive sister Racquel would explain scornfully: 'she feel say her father gone into the moth'. For the family in Jamaica, Aunt Erica's arrival was always a grand affair, meaning full meals, new dresses and kitchen fittings, accounts of how 'Aunty' had beguiled the customs officials, and the latest tales 'from foreign'. For each of them Aunt Erica, with her sharp tongue and her generosity and the influence she had on this street, was the bulwark against all the angry tenants and disrespectful relatives that they had to put up with while she was away. Nor could there be any doubt that she took to this role with distinct fervour. Even for the tenants there was a hope of better things when Aunt Erica was there: as Miss Vandy who lived next door would say, 'If Miss Erica ever know what are go on while she never did there things wouldn' go so'. For her part, arriving in Jamaica with the newest fridge freezer, Aunt Erica would set about the yard in architectural and social termsinspecting her latest building work, inviting the more quarrelsome tenants to her veranda for a drink and interceding on behalf of Jeanette's daughter, Racquel, against her mother's worse beatings. Sitting on the veranda in the evening she would aver that noone had done as much as she had to help people around here. And it seemed to me that noone would openly have disagreed. As to myself, I became a regular visitor at my landlady's house and used to listen avidly to her comical stories of

New York and London and, in turn, had to respond to an inquisition concerning my racial and other beliefs. Erica enjoyed the fact that she had travelled in two continents and that her shrewdness had allowed her to outwit prejudice in both places. And she was easily able to shrug off simplistic attempts to assign her an identity. When I complained to her about aspects of Jamaican life she replied: 'look, I am not a Jamaican. Twenty years ago I have a passport that say that I am a citizen of Britain and the Commonwealth. Now I have a green card. When I am in America they call me an American, when I am in Jamaica I am a JamaicanI don't let those things worry me at all'. Aunt Erica's comical overview of migrant life mirrored back to me some of the characteristics of my own anthropological enquiries: it seemed that her nomadic existence had allowed Aunt Erica a certain contextual freedom

regarding the social frameworks she encountered and the narratives she created around them. She died shortly after I left Jamaica in 1993 and I was told that relations in the tenement had rapidly disintegrated. Returning in 1997, I discovered that the whole make-up of the yard had changed: only two of the original family groups remained.

It can be dangerous, though more typically it is simply glib, to make comparisons between the structure of experience of the anthropologist and that of his or her informants. However, at this stage in this book I want to make some cautious crab-like movements in the direction of such a comparison, and I will use Simmel again as my route map. I intend to deploy Simmel's essay 'The Stranger' in order to establish a reflexive analogy between the migrant experience of Jamaicans like Aunt Erica and of ethnologists like myself. Simmel's 'Stranger', like Aunt Erica's house, like

Aunt Erica's life and like my position as an anthropologist, is made up of complexes of simultaneous 'nearness' and 'farness'. My argument is not that the structure of these experiences is the same it is that the act of comparison is revealing methodologically and intellectually. The analogy I am developing has already received some attention. Lieber comments on the 'hanging out' activities of Trinidadians:

I find it particularly striking how liming strategies resemble the work of the ethnographer. For limers always see the world as problematic. Not very embedded in exact routines, and

constantly reexamining the texture of the terrain they occupy to assess its potential for themselves, they tend to be very keen observers of social scenes. The standard proletarian greeting in Port-of-Spain, Yo! Wha'appenin, tends to be much more than an empty formality. It is a call for information, a signal to expand perspectives jointly and to match assessments of commonly encountered situations'. 2

Lieber points to the ethnographic self-awareness evident in the relationship of Caribbean people to their social experience. I want to extend his observation further analytically, contextualising it within the cosmopolitan conceptual organisation that both Caribbeans and anthropologists in different ways share. Simmel's essay 'The Stranger' is one of his most well known works. Refined (perhaps brutally) to a key sentence it argues that the 'stranger is... so to speak, the potential wanderer: although he has not yet moved on, he has not quite overcome the freedom of coming and going. 3 I am not, however,

going to detail Simmel's essay any further: that has been done repeatedly and in many different ways. Instead I am going to take two classic accounts, one from the 1920s, Robert Park's article, 'Human Migration and the Marginal Man.', and the other from the 1960s, Dennison Nash's study, 'The Ethnologist as Stranger: An Essay in the Sociology of Knowledge'; and I will combine these accounts to initiate the reflexive trajectory that interests me.

The melting pot.

Robert Park, the Chicago sociologist, was one of the first to translate Simmel's work into the concerns of anglophone social science. The crux of Park's4 essay is a re-envisaging of the cultural significance of marginality; namely that, in our time, cultural processes which were once brought about by mass migration, invasion, diffusion of ideas, are now instantiated, in a distinctive way, in a social type Park names 'Marginal Man'. Reviewing the history of social thought he ranges theorists, like Gobineau and

Montesquieu, who articulate the progress of civilisation on a basis of bounded racial difference against those, like Hume and Turgot, who understand history in terms of constant cultural inter-mixing. In the present epoch, the same processes that show themselves on the grand-scale as cultural history now need to be understood at the individual level: 'migration must be studied not merely in its grosser effects, as manifested in changes in custom and in the mores, but it must be envisaged in its subjective aspects as manifested in the changed type of personality it produces'. 5 This is where Simmel's Stranger comes into play. Park summarises aspects of Simmel's essay: the characteristic of the stranger is that he stays but is

not settled, is not tied down by local priorities, surveys the world with a particular kind of bias, namely 'detachment'. He is also, as Simmel specifies, always 'a trader'. The archetypal stranger in the modern West is, of course, the Jew: 'his preeminence as a trader and his keen intellectual interest, his sophistication and his lack of historic sense are the characteristics of the city man, the man who ranges widely... in short the cosmopolite'. 6 But the

stranger or marginal man could as easily be a mulatto or Eurasian, or anyone else who lives 'in two worlds' neither of which is fully his own. 7 Park would no doubt have been intrigued by Aunt Erica's Jamaican perspective on the dilemmas of third generation Jewishness in America. There is no doubt that Park's commentary crystallises a contemporary (1920s) American concern and beliefa story, as Geertz would put it, that Americans would like to tell themselves about themselves. 8 As Park has it 'every nation, upon examination, turns out to have been a more or less successful melting pot' 9 The characteristic figure of the twentieth century, Park impliesthe stranger, advanced culture. marginal manis also metonymic of its most

A story about anthropologists.

Nash's article10 is primarily engaged with sources of objective bias in ethnographic fieldwork. He employs Simmel to tease out why such wide variations exist between anthropological accounts, even between accounts of the same people (studies of the Pueblo for instance). At the heart of these differences, he argues, lies a problem of adaptation to the 'field role' 11this is where Simmel's Stranger enters the picture. His account of Simmel's essay dwells on some of the more abstract elements in its argument, particularly

the relation of 'farness and nearness' at its core. 12 Nash proposes that the capacity for objectivity in fieldwork is a correlate of the capacity to adapt to a new context of relationships. While all ethnographic accounts are biased, the degree of bias may be lessened or increased in so far as the ethnographer is aware of the psychological mechanism of bias entailed in the experience of fieldwork. The quality of the stranger is to be near and far at the same time and as such is a transitory phase and one which will inevitably bring with it a sense of anomie: 'As the stranger discerns that the hosts with whom he deals are acting with the weight of a cultural heritage behind them, he begins to pass consciously into the limbo of marginality which will prevail until he either becomes a fully fledged member of the host group or departs'. 13 The average citizen (as Nash puts it), faced with becoming a stranger in another normative context, will react intolerantly to the ambiguity that this situation imposes, experiencing 'perceptual sensitivity' and 'perceptual defence' 14 as part of their reaction. The anthropologist, however, is not the average citizen. Nash tries to approximate the type of the anthropologist. He marshals evidence to suggest that ethnographers tend to be 'romantic cultural pluralists',15 non-authoritarian personalities, who are also scientists. He cites a study by Roe which subjected a number of leading ethnographers to Rorschach testing. One of her findings was that ethnographers were unlikely to make good 'hard' scientists due to their 'haphazard use of rational controls'.16 By association however, they tended to show a striking lack of sensitivity for 'shading shock' a perceptual reaction which indicates basic anxiety, consciousness of danger and, in its absence, a capacity for accepting 'ambiguity, inconsistency and unpredictable flux'. 17

In other words, the anthropologists were loose enough in their perceptual set to survive their fieldwork experience and intelligent enough to reorganise it in their own minds. Some of the predispositions that contributed to the success of ethnographers in their field included a mildly heroic propensity for danger, autonomy, laissez faire, rapport with others and general unconventionality. But Roe also pointed to the fact that most of her subjects came from upper-status families and that being an

anthropologist seemed to provide them with a somewhat Olympian position from which to survey both other societies and their own simply because their professional role allowed them to do so. 18 For Nash the ethnologist is then a psychological type, not the stranger, but capable of being the stranger, able to cope with the conceptual ambiguity of simultaneous nearness and farness. Again, like Park, Nash produces a striking imagesomething, no doubt, that ethnographers would like to say to themselves about themselves. For my part, I doubt that he answers his own query as to why different ethnographic accounts vary in their degree of objectivity or whether, in truth, the questions he raises are necessarily the most relevant ones. His assumption that to be ethnographically objective is to recognise the whole that is another culture is to introduce an a priori assumption that prejudges the issues it seeks to elucidate. What if no such holistic-objective entity exists? These are concerns that are now well established of course. A forty year old discussion of the psychology of anthropologists and its methodological ramifications presents us with little more than a storybut a revealing story nonetheless. Park discusses the experience of the stranger on the grand scale. Nash talks about the stranger-like qualities of the ethnologist. Park's views reemerge in current theorising concerning cultural creolisation 19the most

recent version of the tradition of civilization-as-intermixture that Park ascribes to Hume and Turgot. But comparing Park's 'stranger' with Nash's raises new issues for the cosmopolitan framing of the relationship between ethnographer and informant: the framing, in my specific case, of the relationship between myself and Aunt Erica.

A story about Jamaicans.

Anthropology traditionally looked for the qualities that were most opposite to the ethnographer's personality traits (if Nash describes them correctly) that is to say clear boundaries, defined norms, or as Nash puts it 'the weight of a cultural heritage'. However a conjunction gives me pause for thought when I think of the 'haphazard... rational controls' of anthropologists'. 20 Within a year of the publication of Roe's psycho-metric analysis of anthropologists, another psychologist had published her own account of Jamaican mental life. Unlike Roe's description of the amiable, if eccentric anthropologists, this was account was significantly more pessimistic. Discussing the reasons for what she considered to be Jamaican social dysfunction, the social psychologist Madeleine Kerr drew on the evidence of Rorschach tests to show that working class Jamaicans were not only socially but perceptually disorganised. It is worth considering the following quote from Kerr's study: 'the culture conflict is such that personality configurations are not clustered around any particular focus or even distinct foci. The result is an atmosphere of haphazardness in the personality which is reflected again and again in the social institutions.21 Perhaps it should not surprise us that the weak consciousness of boundaries which was a positive feature of the mental life

of an elite group, anthropologists, should be understood as dangerously dysfunctional for an imperially subaltern population such as the Jamaicans. Reframed though, perhaps we can see this 'haphazardness' as a facet of being open to cultural experience in a open-ended arena of relations; something necessary both for the anthropologist and the Jamaican; something necessary, as Aunt Erica's stories suggested to me, in order to live in a cosmopolitan field of culture.

The narcissism of the academic nomad.

Pelshas written sarcastically about the recent espousal (by salaried-andtenured intellectuals) of a romantic nomadology wherein the academics emphasise the cultural displacement of the world's dispossessed, and claim special insight into this rootlessness by reference to their own intellectually displaced condition. 22 Analysts of culture now delight in projecting a (fallacious) sense of their own freedom from cultural constraint onto the experience of (usually underprivileged) others. Of course, Pels argues, the idea of self-as-nomad, recently resurgent as an elitist plaything, has a longer history dating back to the turn-of-the-century Kantianism of Simmel and others. At that time intellectuals espousing a humanist universalism confronted those for whom mental activity was always embedded in, and emergent from, a national cultural tradition. 23 The new nomadologists are the somewhat spoilt inheritors of this tradition. They remain unaware of the differences of power and positionality that they efface when they project their ideologies of human unboundedness onto others. In fact, subaltern populations are far from being the cultural entrepreneurs celebrated by

these analysts of culture. Instead they 'tend to embrace an essentialist politics of identity which banks on cultural traditionalism, social closure and ethnic fundamentalism'.24 Pels is probably right to direct his irony at the high idealism of comfortably remunerated academics, but he fails to resolve the contradictions he annotates. His is a historicising argument but it does not explain why the way of thinking he describes should be so prevalent now. In as much as it is historicist his analysis is also relativistic: nonetheless, Pels claims to know as fact that the nomadologists are falsely projecting their concerns onto those of others, however he tells us fairly little about the true reality which analysts are attempting to mould according to their false consciousness. His blanket claim that the global subalterns are for the most part

fundamentalists and cultural conservatives is obviously as much a projective generalisation as the opposite claim that 'they' are conceptually nomadic. If the people that we social and cultural scientists work with and study are not cultural essentialists and traditionalists, but instead tend towards pluralism and universalism then the analogy between intellectual-academic worldviews and pragmatic situational migrant worldviews remains

potentially revealing. Robotham puts it well: 'identities in the Caribbean have never been able to take the form of autochthonous, primordial fundamentalisms. Rather they... formulate themselves... [as] some form of transnationalism... seeking to contest the forces of globalisation and transnationalism on the terrain of globalisation itself, contesting modernity on the terrain of modernity'. 25 To me, this is indeed one way of thinking about Aunt Erica's storiesas contestations of modernity within the field of modernity. Supposing though that we accept Pels' argument, that the new-found

interest in transnationality amongst academics derives primarily from academic concerns and not immediately from the objects of study themselves, then we have to ask why this resurgence has occurred. And we have to return to the type of issues (not quite sufficiently) probed by Nash. The principle I start from derives from Weber: in itself, social reality lacks coherence; it is the analyst who creates that order. However, the kind of coherence established derives from the conceptual apparatus brought to bear on the material singled out: this in turn is a distillation of the analyst's personal-social situation. Analysis is the A of this cognitive-social disposition in an unrelenting struggle with the B of experiential-factual material. Why, then, the current disposition towards a rediscovery of the intermixed and nomadic character of global social life? In the 1950s and 1960s anthropologists, themselves heirs to the romantic pluralism of the Enlightenment, took it almost as a point of faith that the cultures they investigated were totalitiesstructurally much akin to the bureaucratic-industrial nation states for which they as individuals felt so little empathy. There is an odd paradox in this. The anthropologists were, to appropriate Park's duality, Humean pluralists in their individual lives, but Montesquian cultural integrationists with regard to the societies they studied: it seems as if they could not help ordering their object of study according to basic premises shaping their own personal situation. Now culture has become much more of a transitive concept. This transitiveness seems to find an obvious point of affinity with the significantly less certain and privileged place of the academy within national

bureaucracies as well as the increasing (electronic) integration of the academic enterprise globally. A new story about anthropologists might say that they remain romantic cultural pluralists, but now the conditions of their

academic activity seem to support their cosmopolitan intuitions, and as a result they are able to see finally that other people in the world are on the move too. Another way of putting this is that, for the time being, Hume and Turgot are winning out over Montesquieu and Gobinau (or Kant and Simmel over Herder and Durkheim perhaps). Like all stories, though, this one remains prone to exaggeration.

In the other's shoes.

'Si bis faciunt idem, non est idem', 26 when two people do the same thing it is not the same thinganalogies are inevitably seeded on contradiction. The anthropologist's cosmopolitanism is provided for by a specialised niche status within the national economy and bureaucracy. The cosmopolitanism in Jamaican life emerges out of pressures on an island population that has had few economic and ideological alternatives besides transmigration. Academic networks of collegiality and friendship are unlikely to be as morally and politically urgent as the migrant's linkages of kin and friends. Sometimes the barrier to comparison between anthropologist and informant is glossed as a difference of 'power'. But the premise of a basic differential of power (power is a numinous and hard to define term) 27 masks the question of whether comparisons between the experience-structure of anthropologist and informant can have any appropriate grounding at all. If we understand anthropology to be a humanist discipline then experiential analogies have to be explored because ethnographic enquiry is an exercise in experiential comparison on the grand scale. Kant offers the following maxims for the practice of anthropology: firstly, that we 'think for ourselves'. Secondly, that we think ourselves 'in the place' of every other

human being 'with whom we are communicating'. Finally, he makes a third demand that we think 'consistently with ourselves'. 28 The act of thinking ourselves in the other's place sets up a barrier between me and the other: the more I try to picture the other's self to my self, the more I substantiate the other's externality with respect to me. Attempting to see the other's life as we see our own ends in our seeing how different that life is from ours. However, to think consistently with ourselves is to insist that I and the other are engaging in a shared act of communication and hence our lives cannot ultimately be alien to each other. Thinking for ourselves depends on acknowledging that the communicational efforts of others have a value which is contemporaneous and reciprocal with our own. We cannot then try to hide behind a basic alterity between analyst and informant pretending that differences (such as those of power and positionality) make it impossible to consider our experiences as part of the same world of communication as that of our interlocutors. A self is a self for all that: the fact of communication entails commonness governing

difference. Understanding begins from a subjective-situational starting point: nonetheless, for thinking to be thought it has to acknowledge not only the other's situatedness, but also their commonness with us within the shared process of communication. The story of self as nomad may be a story beloved by certain academics but it takes shape in a world that academics share with other people. It gives the pedagogues too much credit to assign to them so much imaginative singularity. As Kant makes clear, the idea of being human leads to the possibility of a cosmopolitan framework of communication which goes beyond the localisation of ethical, rational and aesthetic experience. Anyone, not just an academic, has the potential to arrive at that realisation because

such a construction lies implicit within the ideologically interpenetrative character of global historical experience. In fact, many religious movements reached that conclusion even before the European universities were established (albeit their image of 'the world' was different). The more extensive human communication becomes, the more imminent the intuition of universal community becomes.

A temporary meeting point.

LEE: That's why me have fi respect youthe way you cooperate how you study the people at the bottom of the ladder. You have to take note of every class of people right through, from the bottom of the ladder going up.

I have orbited a long way from my original immediate concernthe analogy between the structure of my 'migrant' experience and that of Aunt Erica. We remain different selves with different accounts of situatedness-withinmovement. Finally, all I can offer reflexively is an account of temporarily reciprocal positionality: it happened that I settled on this area for fieldwork. It happened that walking into a bar, Miss Tiny told me that there might be a room in the adjacent yard. It happened that the yard was owned by Aunt Erica. It happened that my stay overlapped with Miss Mill's return from New York. And it happened that Aunt Erica was intrigued by my status (though not my power) as an educated (over-educated) white man from England, and that her wide-ranging and expansive social experience complemented my limited social awareness and my (to her mind flimsy) academic selfjustifications.

We can never completely know other people but, as long as we are communicating with them, we cannot give up on the attempt to know them. I think that for Aunt Erica I was a (temporarily present) condensation of numerous social experiences with middle class whites she had had in her travels, some of which she related in her storieslike the stories about Saul. She made it clear that I was representative in this way and that her courteous treatment of me was quite independent of the kind of treatment she had received in England and the US. I was also a reflection of her migrant life which had crossed so many geographical barriers and established links with people from such diverse cultural worlds. However, it is also true that in the attempt to ascribe these things to me Aunt Erica also had to encounter my resistance, and to accommodate herself to my digressions from her archetypes: she had even had to respond to some alien viewpoints of my own. Whatever I exemplified to Aunt Erica, to me Aunt Erica manifests the struggle in working class Jamaican life for a basis of global cultural reciprocity between peoplea basis of fundamental communicational equality. I argued in the introduction to this book that post-emancipation experience in the Caribbean set up a moral zero position in which people attempted to create new forms of ethical interchange (though not with entirely new cultural materials). The character of Jamaican social and cultural life as a migrant continuum continues to reproduce this process of moral choice as people attempt to establish personality within mutable constellations of relationships. When anthropologists enter this continuum they are not entering as strangers a preformed culture: the nearness-andfarness which they bring with them is already established in the organisation of social relationships.

Concluding Remarks.

Whether we trace Simmel's 'stranger' back to Hume and Turgot as Park does or to the Kantian tradition as Pels does it remains true that his voice belongs both to the arguments for cultural intermixture as the key to global historical change and for a universalisation of moral reciprocity. The ideals embodied in Simmel's work have recently (though incipiently) reemerged within new anthropological engagements in deterritorialisation, translocality and

creolisation. However, Jamaican life has been tied into the moral vision annotated by Park and others for much longer. Jamaican social experience has always confronted modernity within the field of modernity: it has not been able to resort to primordial fundamentalisms. The problem for anthropologists remains whether their understandings of culture can move sufficiently beyond the idea of culture-as-an-entity to begin to understand these variant forms of social experience. Anthropology's special status, straddling the world of the library and the world of lived social reality has always placed it in an ambiguous institutional position. The reaction has often been to codify ethnographic experience as tightly as possible for an academic audience. Moving beyond the idea of closed culture opens new possibilities for communicational reciprocity between the academy and the external world. Having established, in these three chapters, some theoretical groundings my intention in the next section is to return more closely to my record of Jamaican life.

1 2

Popular Jamaican, spiky vegetable. Lieber (1976:333). 3 Simmel (1964:40). 4 Park (1928). 5 Park (1928:887). 6 Park (1928:892). 7 Park (1928:893). 8 Geertz (1993: 448). 9 Park (1928:883). 10 Nash (1963). 11 Nash (1963:149). 12 Nash (1963:150). 13 Nash (1963:152). 14 Nash (1963:154). 15 Nash (1963:158). 16 Nash (1963:161), Roe (1952:43). 17 Nash (1963:161) 18 Nash (1963:160), Roe (1952:50) 19 eg Drummond (1996). 20 Roe (1952:43). 21 Kerr ([1952] 1963:193 my emphasis). 22 Pels (1999). 23 Compare this with Park's analysis. 24 Pels (1999:71). 25 Robotham (1998:308). 26 See Rapport (1994:93) for an extended discussion of this Latin epithet. 27 Those looking to wield power as ethnographers have probably chosen the wrong career path. The ethnologist's status is privileged, but not usually powerful. 28 Kant (1974:96).