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Textures of the OrdinaryDoing Anthropology after Wittgenstein$
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Veena Das

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287895

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287895.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Life of Concepts

The Life of Concepts

In the Vicinity of Dying

(p.307) 11 The Life of Concepts
Textures of the Ordinary

Veena Das

Fordham University Press

This chapter is a reflection on how thinking and living an anthropological life are joined together. The discussion proceeds through an exegesis of two books on loss—one, a book of poems written by Renato Rosaldo, years after the death of his wife, Michelle Rosaldo; and the second, on the women raped and rehabilitated as bironganas (war heroines) in the national imagery in post-war Bangladesh. Rosaldo allows the searing grief at the death of his wife to find expression in different voices imagined as those of actual people from his earlier fieldwork. The refraction of his grief into these different voices reveals the omens and premonitions that convey the menace and dangers that lurk in everyday life. Nayanika Mookherjee finds a way of conveying the fine grains of experience in the extreme history (charam itihas) that the women said they were offering to her and in which they lived as khota—damaged, stained women. It is argued that the book itself might be regarded as written in an autobiographical voice though this voice is defined not through personal stories but through the self-knowledge that comes when writing from the impersonal region of the self.

Keywords:   autobiography, concepts, dangers, death, grief, omens, premonitions, self-knowledge, violence, women

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