Vincenzo Matera

Affianco alla cultura: l'"altro termine"

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Is cultural diversity an ethnographic invention, or cultures are real objects, to observe, to represent and to study? In this paper it is my intention to underline that anthropological reflection on culture has taken a dead end since the beginning of ethnographic research, for a great amount of efforts was spent to represent the content of specific cultures, expressed by a plurality of single societies. The final result is that nowadays anthropologists know much about invented cultures, but don't know a lot about Culture, about how Culture works, which is, otherwise, I think, the main object of anthropological research. Cultural anthropology is lacking of a culture theory, and this is a bit embarrassing for more than one reason. It is true that in the last years, and not easily, the crisis of representation in social sciences has been in part overcame by new theoretical categories, and by new ways to think the concept of culture, no more as an essence, strongly linked to a place, to a delimited "spot", but as a dynamic process of making sense. But the necessary step for anthropological way to think culture fits with the actual world is to deal with "the other term", the term "nature", always present but always neglected within anthropological research about man. It is not enough to study different and specific cultures, I mean, for identifying how culture works, it is necessary to join the study of cultural diversity and the study of natural diversity, if it is possible to discover a kind of thing as "natural diversity", for really thinking, in a theoretical way, what culture is and how does it work.

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