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Anthropology after GluckmanThe Manchester School, colonial and postcolonial transformations$
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Richard Werbner

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526138002

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526138019

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Victor Turner’s ‘voyage of discovery’

Victor Turner’s ‘voyage of discovery’

(p.214) 8 Victor Turner’s ‘voyage of discovery’
Anthropology after Gluckman

Richard Werbner

Manchester University Press

This chapter traces the emergence and wider reception of Victor Turner’s ethnography, arguments and dominant ideas, including the social drama, liminality and communitas; and also his remarkable projection of a personal fable, which he called his ‘voyage of discovery’. There is a restlessness in Turner’s life and work that makes any account of his anthropology problematic. What yesterday’s man saw was actually blinkered, as today’s man continually realized, opening his eyes for himself and for the liberation of future generations – or so went Turner’s own tale of novelty and discovery in his intellectual history. A major challenge that this chapter addresses is twofold. On the one hand, it follows the deep continuities in Turner’s vision as a British-trained social anthropologist, a pupil of Gluckman, and a member of the Manchester School. On the other hand, the account discerns certain developments in his remaking, in America, as an influential celebrity. Now it is as if a tide once fashionably in his favour, as it swelled in America in his lifetime, has slipped away, or bubbled up for popular consumption, oddly, as a posthumous caricature. Hence the open question: What can social scientists learn about celebrity and fashion from the fate of Turner’s voyage?

Keywords:   social drama, liminality, celebrity, travelling theory, social anthropology, Ndembu, pilgrimage, communitas, decolonization, personal fable

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