In an Antique Land and Dramas of Nationhood In an Antique Land and Dramas of Nationhood Term Paper ID:42868 Essay Subject: This paper compares the degree of objectivity subjectivity utilized by two anthropologists to both...... 6 Pages / 1350 Words 2 sources, 6 Citations, MLA Format 24.00 Paper Abstract: This paper compares the degree of objectivity/subjectivity utilized by two anthropologists to both avoid and maintain friendships with the subjects of their study in Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale and Lila Abu-Lughod’s Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt. Paper Introduction: In an Antique Land Dramas of Nationhood In Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land History in the Guise of aTraveler's Tale and Lila Abu-Lughod's Dramas of Nationhood The Politics ofTelevision in Egypt the authors work with objectivity and subjectivity tovarious degrees as they try to avoid and or maintain friendships with thesubjects of their study In many of his relationships for example thosewith Jabir or Nadeel Ghosh attains a level of relating that might arguablybe labeled extended kinship while his fascination and Abu-Alicannot understand the appeal of television to Jabir, who uses car batteriesto run the one next door because there is no electricity in the village. As Ghosh (26) describes the scene as it unfolds before him, his accountshows intimacy and subjectivity, "Jabir, a boy in his late teens, withbright, malicious eyes and a tongue that bristled with barbs" asksquestions that were "entirely rhetorical; he would answer them himself, andthen, sighing with pleasure he would glance at his uncle and exclaim: 'Ohthere's so much to be learnt from television. Abu-Lughod does focus on gender relations and everyday life in theMiddle East in the treatment of her subjects, but she is not immersed intheir culture as deeply as Ghosh is, which accounts for her more objectiveview and her tendency to keep a professional distance where friendshipswith subjects are concerned. We also see a personal intimacy between author and his subjects ashe weaves together the relationship of Bomma and Abraham against a culturethat is Egyptian, Indian, Muslim, and Jewish but also mercantile, religious, and family oriented.
Works CitedAbu-Lughod, Lila. How each goesabout developing relationships with his or her respective subjects will beaddressed in the analysis. Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt. One of the mostdisappointing aspects of Ghosh's work is that despite his desire andpassion about Bomma, he fails to fully explain why he is so fascinated andobsessed with his subject.
Abu-Ali is also jealous because he has many gadgets but his half-brother next door has purchased a television first. Forexample, her interview with Bakr shows her more aloof nature where avoidingfriendships is concerned and a more clinical approach than Ghosh. Chicago, IL: Univ. His subjects are colorful andwhile he lives in the villages of Lataifa and Nashawy we come to know anassortment of individuals like his greedy landlord Abu-Ali, Jabir, UstazSabry, and Nabeel, who all seem as much friends of the author as subjects. Time and again he engages in personal interactions with them.
Living in Egypt for several years, it is only natural Ghosh forgedrelationships with his subjects. This difference in approach to Ghosh may stem from the fact that Abu-Lughod did not live the life of her subjects on the same level or for thesame length of time as Ghosh.
We see this in herprofessional and clinical treatment of one of the males she discusses, thedirector Muhammad Fadil, who blames television's apologetic excessivereligious program as fueling Islamic extremism. While Abu-Lughod'srelationships maintain a greater emotional distance and more objectivitythan Ghosh, at times we find her empathy with her subjects increases andmoves her closer to subjectivity and intimate relationships. Despite this approach, she does permitherself to develop relationships with her subjects, if not as deep as thoseof Ghosh and some of his Egyptian friends, who come to his aid wheninhospitable Egyptians criticize the practices of his culture.
In contrast to Ghosh's subjects, Abu-Lughod's focus on femaleviewers in her mainly patriarchal communities is something as a female shecould surely relate to on the personal as well as the professional level. However, she remains more clinical and objective than Ghosh throughout herresearch presentation even if her empathy toward her subjects is apparent. While Ghosh's narrative is more engaging as a straight read, I think thathis intimate relationships with his subjects makes his work less valid as aprofessional anthropological study than Abu-Lughod's. The unique structure and form of Ghosh's In An Antique Land lendsitself to a more subjective perspective from where the author seems tomaintain friendships among his subjects.
While both revealvarious aspects of diverse cultures, Ghosh subjective and personal approachundermines the validity and credibility of his conclusions in comparison toAbu-Lughod's more professional and objective demeanor among subjects. Indeed, the ethnographer travels withAbraham and his family and Bomma when they must flee to India's MalabarCoast. Yet Abu-Lughod (88) also makes subjectivestatements in her work, like her judgment on Bakr's comment above, "This isa harsh judgment that underestimates the complex way state television worksin places like Egypt, even while capturing something of the truth of itsuse as an instrument of hegemony.
" Even in this subjective comment Abu-Lughod remains more clinical and aloof from friendships with her subjectsthan Ghosh whose comments arise from his interactions. It is as if those responsible feel guilty, and thus the mass media feel the need to assert their religiosity. Such clinical and objective insights are provided in contrast to Ghosh'spoints and themes, many of which come through in his explanations of hisfriendships and interactions with his subjects from a subjectiveperspective. (Ghosh 17)This shows that Ghosh perhaps has a personal motive in knowing more aboutthis largely forgotten individual and is certainly passionate andsubjective in his desire to recreate his existence. For instance, rather thansitting in a living room watching family squabbles over television or otherencroachments of modernity, Abu-Lughod conducts her interactions ininterview fashion and through observation more than immersion.
This analysis will provide a discussion of the degree of objectivityand/or subjectivity used by Ghosh and Abu-Lughod as they go about eitheravoiding or maintaining friendships with their subjects. In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale. The author explains that he is fascinated by his cluethat reveals Bomma, especially because in the twelfth century AD, When the only people for whom we can even begin to imagine properly human, individual, existences are the literate and the consequential, the wazirs and sultans, the chroniclers and the priests - the people who had the power to inscribe themselves physically upon time...the slave of Khalil's letter was not of that company: in his instance it was a mere accident that those barely discernible traces that ordinary people leave upon the world happen to have been preserved. It's lucky for us there'sone next door.
'" In these encounters, it seems like we are privy to afamily encounter or squabble as much as being treated to objectiveobservations of an ethnographer. of Chicago Press, 2 4.
Ghosh, Amitav. Even so we see that itremains nearly impossible for the anthropologist or ethnographer to befully detached from his or her subjects or to be wholly objective at alltimes.
In an Antique Land & Dramas of Nationhood In Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of aTraveler's Tale and Lila Abu-Lughod's Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics ofTelevision in Egypt the authors work with objectivity and subjectivity tovarious degrees as they try to avoid and/or maintain friendships with thesubjects of their study. In his painstaking search to know Bomma, Ghosh shows his subjective perspective and personal intimacy with thisunknown servant. As shesays of Bakr, "She maintained that those who work in television are chosennot for their abilities and experience but for their loyalty to the state"(Abu-Lughod 88). As Abu-Lughod (173) quotesthe director, Egyptians have always been a religious people, without any outside interference, and without the excessive religiosity that is now present in the mass media.