oa Alternation - Gender and Person in African Societies: The Role of Hermeneutics1

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Perhaps the greatest gains that have been made in feminism relate to the interpretation of western value systems, rather than those of indigenous societies, which traditionally form the grist of anthropological research. Writing in honour of Audrey Richards, generally acknowledged as one of the most distinguished English female anthropologists, Pat Caplan (1992:70) berates the failure of what she terms 'feminist anthropology' to make any significant impression in the discipline as a whole. She notes that many have argued that anthropology is inevitably hermeneutic, an approach which Ricoeur defines as 'the comprehension of the self by the detour of the other' (in Rabinow 1977:5). But, she adds, we need to acknowledge, and this happens only rarely, that in making this detour the self also changes.

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