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Sidney W. Mintz Lecture for 1995: Controlling Processes Tracing the Dynamic Components of Power

Laura Nader
Current Anthropology
Vol. 38, No. 5 (December 1997), pp. 711-738
DOI: 10.1086/204663
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/204663
Page Count: 28
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Sidney W. Mintz Lecture for 1995: Controlling Processes Tracing the Dynamic Components of Power
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Abstract

Ideas about culture are interwoven with notions of control and the dynamics of power. To show how controlling processes work to construct and institutionalize culture, I examine three ethnographic examples of different types of control‐‐‐(1) moving people to see harmony rather than justice as desirable, (2) inducing women to undergo body‐altering surgery under the illusion of free choice, and (3) dismissing the context of scientific work by emphasizing an idealized version of science. The processes involved are partly tailored to the projects at hand and partly reflections of larger cultural configurations. Any society undergoing rapid, continuous change is framed by the social organizations of colonialism and/or industrialism, but on close analysis we see that there is a flow of power and a link between ideas, institutions, and human agency whereby power is double‐edged and simultaneously centered and decentered.

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