I have been recently attending one of my master’s class, in which we were discussing the relationship between anthropology, literature and the issue of authorship and subjecthood in academia. Well, I had some questions in mind. Just in case you look for some brainstorming.

We all write academic articles. In them, we are expected and encouraged to refer to various sophisticated scholars as much as possible, in order to strengthen our arguments. Might one eventually suggest that our paper “is half someone else’s” in Bakhtin’s terms? Foucault was inspired by Beckett who said, “what does it matter who is speaking?” In academia, it is evident that it very much matters who is speaking. In fact, the matter of who is speaking has never been that much important as it is in academia; plagiarism is a guilt for which one is punished. Scholars own particular sentences, ideas; they are in possession of certain keywords, paragraphs, expressions. On some occasions, in academia, language is not “half someone else’s”, but is all a scholar’s. In that respect, might one suggest that in academia, we’re not just writers but “authors” with authorities? Is a Barthian formulation of academia which would regard the author as dead possible; or is the academia the last and only place where the author will live forever? If this is true, is it possible to “narrow” the space for the authorial voice especially in anthropology and ethnography?
I think that -especially in ethnographic researches-, there is always this danger of archivization of ethnographic accounts, papers, interviews, etc. There are lots of ethnographic or anthropological accounts, (let’s think of the ones of oral history as an example; sound records, transcriptions, film footages) that ultimately turn into “archives”. Agamben, -influenced by Foucault- states that, “the archive’s constitution presupposed the bracketing of the subject, who was reduced to simple function or an empty position”, which was “founded on the subject’s disappearance into the anonymous murmur of statements.” For Foucault, the archive doesn’t need the subject. However, even though some ethnographic and anthropological works -especially conducted for the ones “oppressed” in a particular culture-, are archivized, we still need “the subject” in anthropology, in order to express the feelings, thoughts of the opressed in particular. What might be ways in which one can escape the process of archivization and revive or get hold of the subject?
All in all, might one say that the author is very much alive and even getting more powerful in academic production, whilst the subject about whom the author speaks, slowly fades away? What are the ways in which we should avoid this danger? Or isn’t there any danger at all and am I too paranoid or catastrophic?

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