Incomplete regularities

Giovanni da Col
2015 HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory  
I don't have any ideas, comparison provides them." Louis Dumont's zen-like epigraph introduces the special section on radical comparison and value published in this tenth and longest issue of Hau. If truth be told, ethnographic theory rises beautifully and coincidentally out of the aleatory movement of juxtaposing unfitting images of ethnographic situations. Thus, Dumont's quote ranks with Evans-Pritchard's reported statement that "there is only one method in anthropology, the comparative
more » ... e comparative method-and that is impossible, " as one of the most memorable quotes for Hau's manual for ethnographic theory. All recent "turns" in anthropology (ontology, ethics, multispecies) call for a revision of the comparative method. Against Fred Eggan's (1954) seminal proposal for "controlled comparison, " Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (2004) responds with a method of uncontrolled comparison or "equivocation, " which partially returns to Marilyn Strathern's (1990) "negative strategies. " Maurice Bloch's (2005) "incomplete regularities, " Marcel Detienne's (2008) Comparing the incomparable, Joel Robbins' (2013) proposal for an anthropology of the good, Peter Van der Veer's 2013 Morgan Lecture The value of comparison, Hau's recent special issue (Vol. 4.3, Fall 2014) edited by Carlo Severi and William Hanks on Translating worlds, the recent Sawyer Seminar series on "Comparing Comparativism" at CRASSH-Cambridge-all are part of a movement attempting to restore some optimism in the comparative method, seemingly quenched by the anti-essentialist obsessions of deconstruction, poststructuralism, and postcolonialism. The purpose is to group together not essences but sets of recurrences and propensities indexing universal human concerns and perceptual regimes, however contingent on different histories and political-economic conditions. 2015 | Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5 (1): i-vii Giovanni da Col ii
doi:10.14318/hau5.1.001 fatcat:7dkpcg4uzzcwdnxomd4b2t3aay