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Ethnography: Unrecognized Allegory - Essay Example

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Whether ethnography and allegory are compatible has long been debated by scholars. Ethnography exemplifies a complex network of direct and indirect meanings, which ethnographic narratives into half-fictional stories and creates considerable distance between reality and the ethnographic science…
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Ethnography: Unrecognized Allegory
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Download file to see previous pages In reality, allegory adds uniqueness to ethnographic narratives, making them vivid and live. Apparently, professional ethnographers can do nothing to reduce the effects of allegory on their scientific works. Undoubtedly, ethnographic research is entirely and inevitably allegorical - the recognition of allegory does not complicate but, on the contrary, adds value and uniqueness to ethnographic narratives and studies.
That allegories are an inevitable element of ethnographic narratives cannot be denied. Clifford is correct in that ethnography is, actually, an instrument and source of the powerful social stories that enact mythic rhetoric and act like an effective description of real-life cultural events (98). Ethnography and allegory are inseparable in the sense that ethnographic stories are representational (100). They are inevitably associated with the temporal aspects and the rhetoric of presence in ethnographic narratives (Clifford 100). It seems that allegory and ethnography are the two indispensable ingredients of one ethnographic science. Ethnographic stories often resemble “fables of identity” (Clifford 100). They are designed to meet scientific purposes but, nevertheless, cannot be deprived of a moral angle (Clifford 100). Ethnography and allegory go hand in hand, as long as ethnographic narratives are always too personal to be scientific. Ethnographic narration often presupposes using dialogical forms, which cannot be fully scientific. As a result, allegory is gradually turning into the key framework for developing and sustaining new ethnographic vision of reality. Nevertheless, dozens of ethnographic professionals keep to a belief that allegory and ethnography are incompatible. As a result, they seek to reduce the scope of allegorical meanings in the ethnographic science. Allegory is often believed to be meaningless and confusing – as a result, it has nothing to do with purely scientific research. Clifford himself cannot avoid the tone of criticism in how he discusses ethnography and the place of allegory in it: “Once the ethnographic process is accorded its full complexity of historicized dialogical relations, what formerly seemed to be empirical/ interpretive accounts of generalized cultural facts […] now appear as just one level of allegory” (109). Clifford believes that, in no way can allegory benefit ethnographic studies; on the contrary, it creates conditions of meaningfulness (99). Obviously, Clifford reflects and elaborates on how the prevailing majority of ethnographers treat allegory. This is one of the reasons why allegory has fewer chances to be a full instrument of research and writing in ethnography. Allegory is also considered as the element that reduces and breaks a privileged register of ethnographic explanations and interpretations: when all levels of ethnographic narration become allegorical, it is virtually impossible to view one particular level of meanings as privileged and vital for the rest of the story (Clifford 103). However, even despite these difficulties, any attempt to zero the scope of allegory in ethnographic narratives is initially doomed to a failure. Allegory is not meaningless but an inevitable element of ethnographic studies, which adds uniqueness and meaning to personal narratives. Ethnographic research is entirely and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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