Hit & Run

Culture By Commotion, the Blog


Anthropologist Grant McCracken, who has done much of the vital foundational work in exploring the transformation of self through markets, has a blog: This Blog Sits at the Intersection of Anthropology & Economics.

Among the recent entries is this one in honor of Canada Day (McCracken is a Canadian):" Who said that the right believes in the liberties of the marketplace but not in those of culture, while the left believes in the liberties of culture but not the marketplace? Canada, it turns out, believes in neither one. The marketplace is regarded with suspicion. Its dynamism is feared, and, when possible, controlled. Culture, especially commercial culture, is regarded with discomfort. Canadians prefer their markets regulated by governments and their culture mediated by experts (Margaret Atwood, take a bow)."

There is also a remarkable discussion of changing models of beauty, citing such figures as Jocelyne Wildenstein, who had herself transformed according to a feline model (thus becoming "the Bride of Wildenstein"), and the artist Orlan, who will eventually "possess the chin of Botticelli?s Venus, the nose of Gerome?s Psyche, the lips of Francois Boucher?s Europa, and the eyes of Diana from a sixteenth-century French School of Fontainebleau painting." And don't miss his entry on how James I received the news of Elizabeth's death via an "economic bargain with the future."

Anthropologists, writes McCracken, "need to take on the challenge of thinking about a culture that comes out of individual choices, made in markets, constrained not so much by trust as by interest, by highly individuated, highly innovative individuals…. Our reward? Making the miraculous a little more intelligible."