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Identity, Process, and Reinterpretation. The Past Made Present and the Present Made Past

John H. Hamer
Anthropos
Bd. 89, H. 1./3. (1994), pp. 181-190
Published by: Anthropos Institut
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40463850
Page Count: 10
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Identity, Process, and Reinterpretation. The Past Made Present and the Present Made Past
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Abstract

Reinterpretation, an old concept developed by Melville Herskovits, is the way in which people seek to relate and adapt their changing experiences by using the past as a marker for interpreting the present. This paper examines the genesis of the concept and how it is often used by contemporary ethnographers without recognizing its explanatory power. There follows a discussion of how the concept may be useful in reflexive anthropology, what happens when reinterpretation fails, and how its limits may be more precisely defined.

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