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Exoticisation UndressedEthnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes$
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Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100832

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100832.001.0001

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Indigenous-and-modern Emberá clothes

Indigenous-and-modern Emberá clothes

(p.178) 9 Indigenous-and-modern Emberá clothes
Exoticisation Undressed

Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Manchester University Press

The concluding chapter brings together some of the theoretical concepts introduced earlier in the book in a unified analysis. It employs the notion of indigenous disemia to describe the simultaneity of indigenous-and-modern elements in the identity of the Emberá. It also employes the notion of ‘ethnographic nostalgia’ as a vehicle to problematise the authentic and the exotic, as these are conceived in relation to Emberá representation. Every new ethnography, it is argued, structures nostalgia and authenticity—not merely via the authority generated by the writing process—but also by extending the bibliographical ‘record’ a bit deeper into the past. The resulting feeling of incompleteness—the realisation that we cannot really contain change in our writing—inspires ethnographic nostalgia, but also facilitates its demise. How can we prioritise the narrative we record—one authenticity—over the many that unravel in incomplete form in front of our eyes? Nostalgia, exoticisation, and the search for a singular indigenous authenticity are the ghosts that haunt our efforts to understand social change. But without them, and without the exotic recognition they have provoked—the challenge of new knowledge—we would not have had the opportunity to contest previous conventional views—including our own. Ethnographic nostalgia—however irredeemable it may be—has provided the ethnographer with the opportunity to recognise and contest the exotic.

Keywords:   ethnographic nostalgia, indigenous disemia, indigenous-and-modern clothes, authenticity, exoticisation

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