Being lost at sea: ontology, epistemology and a whale hunt

Lundberg, Anita (2001) Being lost at sea: ontology, epistemology and a whale hunt. Ethnography, 2 (4). pp. 533-556.

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Abstract

This article probes the sense of loss attendant upon beginning fieldwork in the whale-hunting village of Lamalera in Eastern Indonesia. This feeling of ontological absence was heightened when four boats were towed away by a harpooned whale, a tragedy which invoked the origin story of the first whale hunt that tells how Lamalera ancestors disappeared at sea. Each of these tales, those of the ethnographer and those of the whale hunters, speaks of the psychoanalytic fear of lack. Yet the details of their narration suggest that the syncopated moments in these heroic quests are cracks through which a different story may begin to emerge. Informed by theories ranging from feminism to phenomenology to anthropology, this article proposes that the space of no-thing offers new ways of being and knowing. Syncope is thus a vital moment in the stories that inform our lives, whether these be fiction, tales of adventure, fieldwork experiences, cultural performances and myths - or the disciplined story of the practice of anthropology itself.

Item ID: 22431
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: syncopy, liminality, loss, fieldwork, feminism, archetypes, whale hunting, Indonesia
ISSN: 1741-2714
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2013 00:10
FoR Codes: 22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220207 History and Philosophy of the Humanities @ 25%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200204 Cultural Theory @ 25%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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