"No mere travelogue": material-semiotic bodies/texts in science, safari, and spectacle

Date
2002-01-01
Authors
Hermsen, Lisa
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English
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Abstract

Where and how might we alternatively understand science as representation and figure rhetoric as material---and thus trace the ways meaning comes to be constructed in scientific and rhetorical practices, in particular historic moments, for the benefit of some and at the cost of Others? This exploration is situated in a study of anthropology as a social science, emerging as a discipline in the early part of the twentieth century. It treats Osa Johnson's travelogue/ethnography, I Married Adventure, and Martin and Osa Johnsons' ethnocinematic films Simba and Congorilla, as boundary objects whose history traces the rhetorical and cultural work involved in anthropology as science and ethnography as scientific method.;The dissertation takes up the rhetoric of science as it was conducted under the guise of travel writing---or travel writing as it was conducted under the guise of science---in a study of representation and materiality, particularly in circulation across the boundaries of professional science, public education, and popular spectacle. Mary Louise Pratt has shown us how to think about the rhetorical tropes of travel writing as apparatuses for global scientific expedition. And Donna Haraway has argued for understanding science as a "material semiotic" cultural event.;The notions of disciplinary tropes and the extended material---semiotic cultural events allow me to trace what Bruno Latour terms "quasi-objects" along networks, as they work to purify always, already-contaminated boundaries. In sum, I explore the overlapping discourses of science and travel, as these interweave in the uncontainable boundaries of pre-disciplinary anthropology, and thus enact other material boundaries and borders between the civilized and primitive, familiar and strange, American and African.

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English, Rhetoric and professional communication
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