RHETOR 151 Chapter 14: R151 Reading 4.11.2017 People of Calicut

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Aaron Michael Wintroub

Rhetoric 151 Reading 4/11 The people of Calicut: objects, texts, and images in the Age of Proto-Ethnography Christian Feest - Speechlessness of German artist when he saw the treasures sent by Hernan Cortes to the future emperor V - Illustrates 2 things - (1) difficulty of adequately representing material things in words, especially when compared to the possibilities of visual representation - (2) problem of describing the unknown in the absence of suitable categories or concepts - 16th c saw emergence of systematic approaches to record and classify the range of observable phenomena - But it still took until 1770 for the words “ethnography and ethnology” to be invented - But ethnographic and other categorical generalizations have problems - decontextualization and only as good as the categories chosen for the purpose (more often than not are not adequate) - The most successful genre developed in 16th c for the visual representation of the cultural diversity was the book of costumes - which exploited the ambiguity of the term “habit” - Development and diversification of visual concepts was (1) prerequisite for both descriptive and generalizing approaches to cultural diversity and for an incipient visual anthropology - also giant step forward from the assimilation and exotic otherness to medieval conventions - Systematic collection of artifacts presented a more radical break with the p
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