Anthropology, Philology and Islamic Texts
Monday, January 29, 2007
Presented by the Anthropology Section
Speaker: Brinkley Messick, Columbia University
Discussant: Mandana Limbert, Queens College.
"Anthropology, Philology and Islamic Texts"
As a precursor to a project on Islamic legal texts, I explore the history of the written source in anthropology. Considering its old aversion to such sources, anthropology may seem an unlikely discipline from which to mount a study of archival documents. Yet it has been remarked that the work of certain anthropologists, from Boas to Geertz, had a marked philological character. In connection with Islamic texts, philology has been criticized as the principal method of the Orientalists, yet Edward Said later advocated a "return to philology."