Words for the other. Ethnographies of diversity

Enrica Tedeschi


This article wishes to address ways in which cultural difference is perceived and described by the social sciences, in particular in ethnographical texts. The western view of the Other began to undergo change around the second half of the twentieth century. From the nineteen seventies on, some of the cultural
movements that emerged began accusing ethnographical studies of ethnocentrism and cultural imperialism, and, thus, sought new ways of representing different cultures. The most representative post-modernist
approaches of the nineteen eighties and nineties – auto-ethnography and performance ethnography – present both advantages and limitations which we shall examine here. The most relevant contribution, perhaps, made
during those decades of research, was the self-reflexive technique, which multiplies the points of view presented in an ethnographical text. It is not by mere chance that analytic ethnography has taken on board reflexivity as a valuable method, freeing it of postmodern presuppositions. The latest developments regarding the dialogue with the Other should be sought in the ethnographies of globalisation, which, by refusing the ethnocentric enthusiasm resulting from increases in connections and mobility– shifting the focus of the
representation of the Other onto the plane of research – study the critical and perverse effects of globalisation on marginalised cultures.


ethnography; diversity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13136/isr.v3i1.47

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