Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein

Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein

Veena Das

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780823287895

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Textures of the Ordinary: Doing Anthropology after Wittgenstein is an exploration of everyday life in which anthropology finds a companionship with philosophy. Based on two decades of ethnographic work among low-income urban families in India, Das shows how the notion of texture allows her to align her ethnography with stunning anthropological moments in Wittgenstein and Cavell as well as in literary texts from India. Das poses a compelling question—how might we speak of a human form of life when the very idea of the human has been put into question? The response to this question, Das argues, does not lie in some foundational idea of the universal as that of human nature or the human condition but in a close attention to the diverse ways in which the natural and the social mutually absorb each other within overlapping forms of life. The book shows how reality as ordinary and domestic is impaired not only by catastrophic events but also by the repetitive and corrosive soft knife of everyday violence and deprivation. It advances a view of ordinary ethics as attentiveness to the other and the ability of small acts of care to stand up to horrific violence. The book also presents a picture of thinking in which concepts and experience are shown to be mutually vulnerable and ethnography is treated as intimately connected to autobiography as a form of reflection emanating from the impersonal regions of the self.