Anthropology as Cultural Translation: Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land

Claire Chambers


This article interprets Amitav Ghosh's generically indeterminate text, In an Antique Land (1992), as a creative exemplar of the New Anthropology pioneered from the early 1980s onwards by such theorists as James Clifford and Mary Louise Pratt. By invoking Talal Asad's identification of similarities between the practices of ethnography and translation, I argue that Ghosh attempts to "translate" the Other in a non-manipulative and dialogic way. Through a close reading of In an Antique Land alongside both "classic" ethnographies and the New Anthropology, I suggest that Ghosh is commendably alert to the historical, social, and regional specificities that have shaped the multifaceted Others he encounters.


Amitav Ghosh; Anthropology

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