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ANOTHER LITERARY SKELETON IN THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL CLOSET?

THE ETHNOGRAPHIC NOVEL


VITO LATERZA

ABSTRACT

A number of anthropologists are now engaging in a radical appropriation of literary formats in ethnographic production, though it is a relationship which still lacks systematic theorisation. is paper deals with a subset of these relations, namely anthropologists interest in the novel as a format for ethnography. An analysis of the ethnographic novel Madumo, a Man Bewitched (Ashforth 2000) demonstrates that the format allows for a sophisticated approach to the description of context-specic subjectivities, a multi-layered emphasis on reexivity and an innovative manipulation of literary elements for the purposes of theory making. However, incorrect usage of direct introspection and the impossibility of establishing with certainty the relationship between text and reality can pose serious challenges to its success. ese problems are not insurmountable and further experimentation with the ethnographic novel is likely to benet the ethnographic enterprise and advance theoretical understanding in this under-researched area. Anthropologists and literature: speaking through the neighbours window2 Anthropologists fascination with literary artefacts has a long history. Since the birth of the discipline, a great number have published literary works alongside their ethnographic works (Schmidt 1984). Many have engaged in the writing of short stories or novels meant to convey some sense of the way of life of their ethnographic subjects (Langness & Frank 1978). For others, novelistic accounts constituted a suitable format for the expression of the personal component of the eldwork experience usually repressed in their conventional ethnographies (Tedlock 1991).3 However it was not until the 1980s that the discipline recognized the potential overlap between ethnographic writing and literary artefacts as falling within its legitimate sphere of inquiry. In the midst of epistemological and political turmoil within anthropology, arguments espoused in Writing Culture (Cliord & Marcus 1986) posed a challenge to the established boundaries between ethnography and ction. e main contentions of the authors should not be taken lightly: ethnographies are texts and as texts they are crafted in a particular style; style determines content at least as much as the experience of eldwork does. It aects the reception of ethnographic data and theoretical conclusions. Ethnographies, therefore, should be read as specic forms of ction. More recently anthropologists acknowledged that the reverse is also possible: popular ction could be studied as a form of ethnography (e.g. Banks 1990; Ortner 1991; Tallman 2002). Novels often contain detailed ethnographic descriptions and analytical statements about social realities. Ortner (1991) goes so far as to claim that American novelists

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are ethnographers and their readers assess the sociological validity of their novels just as much as their aesthetic value. Parallel to these developments an increasing number of anthropologists are now engaging with a radical appropriation of literary formats in ethnographic production (e.g. Perey 2005; Rose 1996; Taussig 1997). is particular relationship between anthropology and literature still lacks systematic theorisation. A subset of this relationship concerns the anthropologists interest in the novel as a format for ethnography. Is it possible to have truly ethnographic novels, written by anthropologists for anthropologists as ethnographic monographs? Would the novel bring any added value to the ethnographic enterprise? What are the pros and cons of anthropologists engagement with the novel? is paper is an attempt to provide some answers to these under-researched questions. e ethnographic novel: preliminary observations On initial consideration two criticisms come to mind. e rst concerns the apparent contradiction between the ctional nature of the novel and the truth principle which is supposed to guide the work of the ethnographer. It is true that common denitions imply that the novel is a work of the imagination of the author, or, in any case, contains ctional elements where ctional means made up or imagined. Yet the distinction between fact and ction is not unproblematic. In practice fact and ction blur into one another and there is no clear-cut divide between the two (Crittenden 1991; Hempfer 2004; omasson 1999). Any written representation of reality will involve some degree of ctionalisation. e ethnographer selects the relevant facts from reality by employing specic theoretical frameworks and by ltering data through her own particular history. She also chooses from amongst a variety of literary devices the ones that are most appropriate to convey the essential elements of the reality to be represented. ese devices pervade ethnographic writing and are used in the construction of all aspects of ethnographic texts (Marcus & Cushman 1982). e issue of commitment to the truth principle is cogent here. Eriksen (1994) argues that novelists are not committed to the provision of truthful representations. While this applies to most novels, it need not be a dening feature of the novel. e classic denitions of the novel do not take into account some of the developments that have taken place in the second half of the twentieth century. e so-called non-ction novel has since become a legitimate subgenre of the novel (Hollowell 1977; Zavarzadeh 1976). A good example is Truman Capotes In Cold Blood (1966): Capote is explicitly committed to a truthful representation of events, characters and social settings. In the same way, anthropologists who write ethnographic novels need not forgo their commitment to truth. Another objection raises the issue of ethnocentricity. e novel was born in the West and its rise is the product of an intellectual trajectory that is rooted in the cultural revolution of the Renaissance and extends through the Enlightenment (Watt 1957). One could argue, then, that it is intrinsically ethnocentric. However the novel has since become a popular format in many countries well beyond Western frontiers. Writers worldwide have appropriated it and adapted it to suit their voices and the socio-cultural contexts in which they are embedded. In post-colonial literature, for instance, novels have often performed

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the highly political function of vindicating the distorted representations of colonised subjects coined by outsiders (Ngara 1985). A closer look at the constitutive elements of the novel raises further questions. A more rened version of the ethnocentricity argument would centre around the primacy of characters. Novels usually place a huge emphasis on characters. e critics would argue that this is a legacy of the Western mind that sees individuals as autonomous agents provided with free will. A focus on characters forces the ethnographer-novelist into cultural bias about crucial issues such as subject constitution and the relationship between individuals and society.4 Also, if direct introspection is used to render the voice of the informantscharacters, this will pose another challenge to the truth value of the ethnographic novel (Eriksen 1994). Clearly the ethnographer cannot read other minds. How does she then embark on rendering characters inner thoughts? While the employment of characters would allow the ethnographer to express multiple voices (Handler & Segal 1990), it might become an obstacle when the need to establish ethnographic authority arises. How will she position herself in the text? Some would argue that if the ethnographer appears in the text as a character, the risk of producing yet another confessional account exists. Finally, it is also undeniable that novels were never really meant to convey theory. One could argue that the aesthetics of the novel genre do not leave space for rigorous theoretical production. Plot and story are good devices to present empirical data one might say but certainly they do not lend themselves to theoretical argumentation.5 ese objections are a good starting point for a more detailed discussion about the feasibility of writing ethnographic novels. e following analysis of the ethnographic novel Madumo, a Man Bewitched (Ashforth 2000) is an attempt to elucidate some of these issues. ree structural elements of the novel will be considered: character construction, authors voice and plot. A discussion of character will unveil the possibilities for the nuanced construction of context-specic subjectivities in literary form. A focus on the authors voice will show the reexive potential of the ethnographic novel. Finally, an evaluation of plot will throw some light on the contentious question of theory. Madumo, a Man Bewitched: displacing literature, reconguring ethnography Adam Ashforths Madumo, a Man Bewitched (2000) 6 is the story of Madumo, a bewitched Sowetan man struggling to rid himself of a potentially lethal curse. Madumos troubles provide an excellent case study of the cosmological basis of local witchcraft beliefs and of the social, political and economic reasons for the rise in witchcraft accusations in postapartheid South Africa. e book is a good example of an ethnographic novel. It oers the reader a reexive ethnography (James 2001; Salamone 2001), in that it is a true story, as Ashforth himself claims in the preface, and in that the authors intention is to make sense of the storys data in a theoretical fashion. Yet Madumo is a novel insofar as a wide variety of literary techniques are used (characters points of view, plot, stream of consciousness, dialogues), and the academic and the literary7 are blended into one seamless narrative. e traditional markers of the academic monograph, namely introduction and conclusion, are here replaced by an opening and a closing scene. e aesthetically rendered I remains, with some exceptions, the dominant narrative mode throughout.
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e main subject of the narration, however, is Madumo. He is accused by his siblings of having bewitched his mother and caused her death, as a result of which he is chased away from home. Madumos personal trials are further exacerbated by his lack of nancial means in a harsh economic environment where jobs are very scarce. Finally, helped by Adam Ashforth, he is able to pay for the cures of Mr Zondi, his trusted traditional healer. Madumos journey through healing and his struggle against witchcraft constitute the basic scaold upon which the other parts of the plot are built. On the one hand, Madumo is constructed very much like a classic character in the psychological fashion of AngloEuropean novels. e reader comes to know his life story, the struggling socio-economic conditions he faces, the psychological changes that have aected him since he has been bewitched, the clothes he wears and the food he eats. e author wants to make the character familiar to the Western reader. A good example of this is contained in the following passage, where Madumo realises that he has been expelled from the family home:
Madumo returned from a day of study to nd his blankets burnt and his clothes, books, and belongings dumped in a heap in the yard behind the house. e door was locked. He tapped on his sisters window. No answer. He sank on his arse on the cold concrete stoep, leant against the door, and wept like a baby. No one answered his cries. He rapped on the door again, hard, and then harder. No one answered. He staggered to his feet and kicked the resonant metal door with enough force to buckle it in at the bottom and leave him hopping and cursing with bruised toes. Vagrant wisps of acrid smoke from the pile of blankets still smoldering in the corner of the yard burnt into his eyes, blinding him with anger and anguish (Ashforth 2000, 28-29).

Madumos mix of rage and despair are caused by experiences that the Western reader can easily relate to, namely homelessness and the brutal severance of ties with close kin. On the other hand, the author wishes to expose the intricate workings of local witchcraft beliefs in the process of subject constitution. Madumos troubling psychological state is caused rst and foremost by the association of negative external events (such as being barred from home and his adverse nancial situation) with the workings of invisible forces in a supernatural dimension populated by witches and ancestors. e following excerpt clearly shows the authors particularising drive:
Madumo returned to his room [] in Mapetla East depressed and dispirited. Of course it would be better for him if everything could be done according to protocol procedurally, he said but such was not his situation. He had no choice but to follow Mr. Zondis guidance. Im an orphan, he said. An outcast. And I dont even know how to kill this fucken chicken in a right way. How can I call my ancestors without him helping me? Even if its not procedural, I have to. MaMfete [Ashworths elderly Sowetan host] wont understand that. She wont. But I have to do this if everything is going to come clear (ibid., 199).

Madumos distress follows MaMfetes refusal to brew beer for his ancestors. e old lady gravely remarks that this is not the right way to do things: her ancestors might get angry seeing that the beer is not for them and so might Madumos, due to the neglect of the proper procedures (in this case, Madumos elders should be consulted rst). Madumos personal drama can only be understood in the context of local cosmology. e psychological eects of upsetting this cultural order are no less devastating than those caused by the more familiar experiences of homelessness and loneliness.

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e emphasis on Madumo does not mean that the author hides behind the words of an omniscient narrator. rough a pro-active rst person narrative, he inserts himself into the text as a fully rounded character in a number of multiple roles. His novelistic interaction with Madumo is at once part of the story and a particular way to characterise the protagonist. e extensive passages dedicated to Madumos personal narrative, rendered mostly in conversation with the author-character, are constantly punctuated by Ashforths comments, explanations and doubts. Madumos insider perspective is shown as the product of the authors continuously evolving understanding of him. e presence of the author-character has important implications for the types of reexivity found in the text. On an immediate level, the ethnographers personal bias (e.g. emotions, personal beliefs, prejudices) is exposed and its inuence on data collection and theory production is made visible. is brand of personal reexivity unveils the ction of the neutral observer who smoothly progresses from the exposition of empirical data to the argumentation of rened theories (Favret-Saada 1980). It also shows that it is not possible in practice to separate the neutral observer from the moral subject. e observer shares some fundamental characteristics with the observed (Crapanzano 1995). A recognition of this common ground between Self and Other is essential to the establishment of fruitful eldwork relationships. In Madumo, Ashforths ties of friendship with his protagonist are what motivate him to help Madumo with his journey towards healing. In practice, this personal component cannot be separated from Ashforths attempts to make sense of Madumo as a rational human being. Rather, the second is a derivative of the rst. Ashforths theoretical interest in Madumos drama is a side product of a personal obsession about understanding his friends way of thinking. Personal issues and theoretical production go hand in hand. At one point, Ashforth is worried about the health of his friend, which seems to worsen as a result of Mr. Zondis prescribed treatment. His worries are further heightened by a chat with a doctor about the potentially harmful physical eects of many of the herbs administered by traditional healers to their clients:
As I absorbed this information [from the doctor] on the way back to Soweto, I worried that Id been too simple-minded in endorsing Madumos cure with Mr. Zondi; Id been too ready to dismiss the physical procedures and substances administered as merely innocuous symbolic and ritual accoutrements of an essentially psychological cure. After all, Id told myself, Madumo felt his curse to be real enough, and so long as he wasnt suering any physical illness, it was clear that he stood no chance of getting his life back on track until he considered himself free of the curse. If these operations and emetics made him feel condent about that, they couldnt do any harm (Ashforth 2000, 184-185).

Personal concerns about Madumos health become the basis for the theoretical development of alternative explanations of context-specic rationalities. Literary narrative, with its simultaneous encapsulation of abstract thinking and psychological considerations, proves itself an apt tool for the rendering of the process of knowledge production in the eld. e focus on the reality of eldwork also allows for the emergence of details about methods of data collection and the conditions under which research is carried out. Here, again, literary formats borrowed from ction novels can be of assistance. A clear example

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of this is the literary account of an ethnographic interview with Madumo about witchcraft:
ere was nowhere to put my glass. I couldnt get comfortable. My shoulder was cramping from sitting too long in the broken seat of the [car] while battling through throngs of commuters on the Old Potch Road from Southgate back to Soweto. I felt cramped, too, by the idea of being ON AIR and would much rather have stretched my legs out to where the microphone sat at the end of the bed and enjoyed my glass in peace. Madumo [...] squatted in readiness on a beer crate beside the bed, focusing intently upon the microphone like a boxer in training setting up a rhythm on his speed ball. is witchcraft? he said. I would reckon from 95 January, January 95 around that time, after the elections at was when we Africans, South Africans, Black South Africans we just thought generally like, we thought that now we are free. Free at last. Free from the hands of the White Man (ibid., 99). While Madumo was speaking, his landladys boyfriend, BraJohnny, appeared in the yard outside, stacking beer crates. [] Madumo greeted him and called him into the room. He showed him the bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey Id found in [the shop]. BraJohnnys eyes lit up. I switched o the tape and waited (ibid., 100).

e ethnographers diculty in focusing on the interview right from the start, Madumos change of tone once the tape recorder is switched on, the disruptions of everyday life, allow the reader to visualise the reality of data collection. ese last two examples show yet another form of reexivity found in Madumo, namely conceptual reexivity (Strathern 1987) the objectication of the relationship between ethnographer and informants. e following passage constitutes a good specimen of this in its most literal form:
Although he didnt specically mention umlungu, the white man, it was clear that Mr. Zondi was referring to me as the cause of Madumos family discord. Its possible, I thought to myself. ey could be resentful of me. [] In years past, my friends in Soweto occasionally had to weather political storms for associating with a white man. Now the resentment is purely nancial and the danger greatly increased for all. In post-apartheid Soweto, a white persons black friends will be scrutinized intensely by their peers for signs of pride. Should they do anything, especially in the company of young men, that might give a legitimate pretext for anger such as look at someone in the wrong way or speak with the wrong tone of voice they can nd themselves being set upon mercilessly and have few defenders (Ashforth 2000, 207-208).

e author pauses to dwell upon a particular aspect of his relationship with Madumo, the fact that it is a friendship between a white and a black. is is then used as an illustration of a more general point about this type of racial relationships in contemporary South Africa. Although reexivity plays an important role throughout the text, Madumo is not just another account about the research process and the nitty-gritty details of the eldwork experience (cf. Rabinow 1977). It is a book about witchcraft, and it clearly aims at advancing theoretical knowledge on the topic. Ashforth wants to make sense of Madumos drama within its social and cultural context and oers some conclusive statements, while stressing the problematic points that need further research. eoretical arguments are pursued through two dierent routes. One is the usage of an explicitly academic narrative, connected to the novelistic plot through literary devices of one kind or another.
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For instance, at the beginning of the novel, in one of the rst encounters after Ashforths return to Soweto, Madumo refers to one of the academic articles that Ashforth had written. From the direct speech dialogue, the author makes a digression into the academic narrative and exposes some of the insights about witchcraft contained in the article:
[Madumo] turned to run the tap, drinking from a hand cupped under the stream. I wanted to write you the whole story, but I never nished it. I started it after you sent me that article you wrote, the one about witchcraft. I wanted to write it all down, my whole story, so you could use it as a case study in your classes in New York. He glanced at his feet and bent over to retie a shoelace. Ive still got it, he said. He was referring to my paper about witchcraft and power in Soweto, which Id sent to him [] and some other friends, asking for their comments. In it I argue that the political and intellectual imperatives of the struggle against apartheid, coupled with a habitual white derogation of African culture as backward, created a situation in which the fact that most black people in South Africa live in a world where witchcraft as an everyday reality has become an enormous public secret. [] It seemed to me that these matters could not be treated as simply manifestations of ignorance and superstition, as the modernist enlightened disposition would have it. [] In addition to chronic poverty and violence, the context of everyday life in Soweto is marked by more or less acute forms of spiritual insecurity, of which witchcraft is a part. And this insecurity cannot be divorced from the religious, cultural, and political history of the place and its people (Ashforth 2000, 16-17).

Further references to African ethnography and other psychological and anthropological theories of witchcraft appear throughout the text. is is another mark of the authors ethnographic intention. e literary narrative is, in this way, rmly anchored in academic discourse. e other route for theoretical production is the plot itself. e plot is roughly structured around the chronological succession of Madumos witchcraft tragedy, from his expulsion from home until his nal discharge from the healer, coinciding with Ashforths departure. e main plot then intersects at many points with the subplot of Ashforths own life as researcher in Soweto. e events around which these two plots are intertwined provide a literary pretext for illuminating particular aspects of the social reality under analysis. An entire chapter is devoted to the Zionist Christian Church and to Zionist practices of divination and healing, the most preferred South African alternative to traditional healers when dealing with matters of witchcraft. Madumos healing journey with Mr Zondi provides the author with very detailed ethnographic material about anti-witchcraft rituals and the role of traditional healers in urban South Africa. Ashforths conversations with his host, MaMfete (a Sowetan grandma), and with other locals, about witchcraft, and the stories of witchcraft he collects from these informants provide the ethnographic context to Madumos own story. e conclusions proposed by the author in the nal chapter refer to the dierent events of the plot, showing how they are part of a coherent theoretical and epistemological progression. Madumos misadventures intersect with Ashforths attempts to make sense of Madumos rationality and of the rationale for witchcraft in contemporary South Africa. Here plot performs a double function. It organises the sequence of the events for the purposes of storytelling, in other words it eases the readers consumption of Madumos story. It also systematises the dierent events which overtake Madumo and Ashforth into a specic evidentiary order for the purposes of theory making. e narrative sequence is a

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theoretical sequence: step by step, the reader is provided with the empirical data and the theoretical apparatus to make sense of the puzzle of witchcraft. Some implications for the ethnographic novel A few partial truths (Cliord 1986) about what the ethnographic novel can and cannot do have emerged from this analysis. Characters serve a variety of specically ethnographic purposes. Literary portraits that focus on posture, physical aspect, clothing, and distinctive behavioural traits increase the realistic eect of the ethnography. e reader will nd it easier to engage with the theoretical arguments presented if these are instantiated in the stories involving characters that resemble real-life individuals. e presence of characters helps the ethnographer to avoid the ction of de-humanised subjects represented as dry objects of knowledge and abstract types: research participants are rendered as humans, with emotions, contradictions, an active agency and a speaking self. Most importantly, the representation of research participants as fully rounded characters, accompanied by the report of their personal narratives through direct speech and dialogue allows for the expression of multiple voices a common concern for the contemporary ethnographer. Furthermore, character construction touches upon a deeper epistemological dimension. Characters allow the ethnographer to expose the particular view of subjectivity and inter-subjectivity in the society under study. e multiplicity of stylistic devices available for the construction of a character makes such construction a exible tool that can serve the context-specic needs of the ethnographer. Character construction can also become a useful theoretical tool that moulds and is moulded by the encounter with the Other in the eld. is dialectic is likely to produce new kinds of knowledge about subject constitution which might have been obscured by previous theoretical concerns. e ethnographic novel also allows the ethnographer to be inserted into the narrative as one of the characters. is presence provides for the objectication of the ethnographers relationships in the eld (Burawoy 1998; Scholte 1972). e ethnographer and her relationships are made visible from the beginning to the end of the text. Reexivity will become a constitutive practice for the ethnographer-novelist since a substantial omission of such relationships from the ethnographic novel would make for a rather awkward character (e.g. an ethnographer that does not actively interact with her research participants). is device also allows for the emotions and the personal beliefs of the ethnographer to be presented in a way that does not hinder the ethnographic intention. Rather, the reader will be able to discern the personal bias of the ethnographer and to make sense of the complex interactions between her worldview and that of the research participants with whom she is interacting. Reexivity may also be achieved in another way. e ethnographic novel brings to light the actual process of research and the complex epistemological development of ethnographic knowledge. Alongside characters descriptions and dialogues, literary descriptions of the events in which the characters are involved are part of the narration. ese have the potential to objectify the raw material in which the research process is grounded. For example, ethnographic interviews can become part of the plot and be inserted into the novel as scenes. e reader will be able to catch glimpses of the methodological challenges that the ethnographer faces in her everyday life as a eldworker. Evidently, the ethnographic novel provides the ethnographer with a number of tools to maximise the reexive element of her work.
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Contrary to what Eriksen (1994) claims about ction novels, the ethnographic novel presents theoretical statements in a form that allows them to be examined and evaluated. Properly formulated research questions and clearly spelt out theoretical conclusions are not marginal to the narration, but constitute its structural core. Plot here assumes a central role. By placing events, descriptions, and dialogues in a certain succession, plot can be constructed as a progression that reects the dialectical development of the basic theoretical arguments of the ethnography. Plot works as an organising structure for the constitutive elements of the text. e plots theoretical nature is highlighted by the fact that it includes not only the sequence of the events (e.g. the organisation of the story proper) but also orders all other parts of the narrative that have only indirect connections with the story. e plot is then used to structure the argument and to connect the literary and the ethnographic elements in such a way that the two will complement each other for the ultimate purpose of theory-making. e theoretical possibilities opened by the usage of plot are instances of a more general quality of the ethnographic novel. e novel, with its emphasis on writing, compels the ethnographer to think thoroughly about the deeper relationships between form and content. is can become a fruitful locus of theoretical advancement. inking about the novel as a vehicle for theory and about its literary techniques as tools for theory-making is likely to lead to the production of new theories and to the critical re-evaluation of past theoretical claims expressed with dierent forms of representation. ere are, however, a few areas of concern. One of these is the usage of direct introspection. Ashforth uses it to expose Madumos inner thoughts in the parts of the narration referring to events which the author has not directly witnessed (for example, the brilliant exposition of his misadventures in Hillbrow when Madumo is homeless, and the recollection of Madumos trip to his fathers village). Although in the nal chapter the author reveals the sources of his reconstructions (Madumo has given his notebooks and journals to Ashforth), the use of direct introspection for characters that are Other from the author does create problems for the truth value of the representations thus made. How can Ashforth know exactly what Madumo is thinking and the peculiar logic which informs his thoughts? To avoid dangerous slippage into a loose ctional realm, direct introspection should be limited to the character of the ethnographer. e inner thought of the ethnographer provides a natural avenue for the exposition of theoretical arguments. It also constitutes another source of reexivity and brings the theory-making process to a position of further prominence in the text. e challenge posed by direct introspection hints at more fundamental questions: what parts of the text have been fabricated? How? In what sense are representations made up? What are the motivations behind a particular organisation of the plot? e ethnographic novel should be complemented by an introductory chapter. Written as an academic essay, this should expose the process of textual construction. It should discuss in detail the literary techniques used to produce representations and how the author has bridged the gap between reality as it is and reality as it is represented. is chapter will serve an analogous function to the critical introduction present in many editions of classic ction novels. If Madumo was preceded by an introduction of this kind, its status as ethnographic novel would have been greatly enhanced. e list of problems posed by the ethnographic novel does not end here. Nevertheless, the potential benets gained by further experimentation with this form seem to outweigh
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the disadvantages. At this stage further analytical work is needed to provide more detailed answers to the questions raised in this paper. However, the nal test will only come when more ethnographies like Madumo become available for theoretical interpretation.
NOTES ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. My most sincere thanks go to Harri Englund. is paper is an attempt to render in writing some of the stimulating conversations we have had on the topic. I would also like to thank Marie-Louise Karttunen, Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov, Omar Sabbagh, Justin Shaner and the anonymous reviewer for their pertinent suggestions. 2 is rather simplistic sketch of the multiple relationships between anthropology and literature excludes a set of contiguous exchanges, namely those between anthropology and literary studies (for instance, the borrowing from literary theory of concepts such as metaphor and metonymy for the study of ritual). Literature is here taken to be the actual body of works categorised as such, rather than the critical apparatus produced by literary theorists. 3 e most popular example to date remains Return to Laughter, published in 1954 by Laura Bohannan under the pseudonym of Eleanore Smith Bowen. 4 is line of thinking was pointed out to me by Harri Englund. 5 An excellent example of this argument in anthropology is provided by the negative evaluation of Verrier Elwins anthropological works by his contemporaries in the profession (Guha 1998). Many of the latter classied them as literature due to the apparent lack of theoretical analysis. 6 Although Ashforth has been trained in political science, his ethnographic work shows signicant anthropological inuences. is is further corroborated by the fact that Ashforth regularly publishes articles in anthropological journals. 7 Here I employ Poyatos (1988) denition of the literary as the fusion of two forms, the poetic form (deliberately aesthetic; evoking more than saying) and the functional form (used for explanation or description stripped of any artistic intention).
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REFERENCES Ashforth, A. 2000. Madumo, a Man Bewitched. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Banks, D.J. 1990. Resurgent Islam and Malay Rural Culture: Malay novelists and the invention of culture. American Ethnologist 17 (3): 531-48. Bowen, E.S. 1954. Return to Laughter. New York: Harper & Brothers. Burawoy, M. 1998. The Extended Case Method. Sociological Theory 16 (1): 4-33. Capote, Truman 1966. In Cold Blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences. London: H. Hamilton. Clifford, J. 1986. Partial Truths. In Writing Culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography (eds) J. Clifford and G. Marcus. Berkeley: University of California Press. Clifford, J. and G. Marcus (eds) 1986. Writing Culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press. Crapanzano, V. 1995. Reply to DAndrade and Schepher-Hughes. Current Anthropology 36 (3): 420421. Crittenden, C. 1991. Unreality: The metaphysics of ctional objects. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Eriksen, T.H. 1994. The Author as Anthropologist: Some West Indian lessons about the relevance of ction for anthropology. In Exploring the Written: Anthropology and the multiplicity of writing (ed.) E.P. Archetti. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press. Favret-Saada, J. 1980. Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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VITO LATERZA Ph.D. CANDIDATE IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN vl238@cam.ac.uk

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