Johannes Fabian: Ethnography as Commentary — Writing from the Virtual Archive

I will have more to write about this after the event has taken place, probably a short summary. In the meantime, I wish to post the announcement and a related link.


JOHANNES FABIAN, Sept. 22nd at 5pm – Location: H-1120, Concordia University

Co-hosted by the Dept of Sociology & Anthropology, Concordia University and Dept of Anthropology, McGill University.


The lecture by Anthropologist Johannes Fabian on Monday September 22nd at 5pm entitled “Ethnography as Commentary: Writing from the Virtual Archive” is being co-hosted by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.


“Ethnography as Commentary: Writing from the Virtual Archive”

The internet makes it possible to set up publicly (or widely) accessible virtual archives of ethnographic texts. This is likely to change conditions of ethnographic writing and publishing. This paper reports on a recent experiment (about to appear in print) with writing ethnography in the presence of a text, a conversation with a Congolese healer and provider of protection. The text can be consulted at:


Johannes Fabian is professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He did research on religious movements, language, work, and popular culture in the Shaba mining region of Zaire (1966-7, 1972-4, 1985, 1986). In his theoretical and critical work, he addressed questions of epistemology and of the history of anthropology. His books include History from Below (1990), Power and Performance (1990), Language and Colonial Power (1986, 1991), Time and the Work of Anthropology (1991), Remembering the Present: Painting and Popular History in Zaire (1996), Moments of Freedom: Anthropology and Popular Culture (1998), and Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa (2000). Anthropology with an Attitude, a collection of essays, was published in 2001.

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7 thoughts on “Johannes Fabian: Ethnography as Commentary — Writing from the Virtual Archive

  1. Maximilian Forte

    P.S.: After I missed several key speakers in anthropology over the years here at Concordia, with Michael Taussig and Ann Stoler being the most recent this year, I am hoping that my blogging about the event will ensure that I don’t continue to be absent for such occasions. I also managed to miss Ralph Nader and Al Gore on campus, but these events were so heavily covered by the mass media, and webcasts were archived, that I don’t feel I missed as much. This is one of a billion micro episodes that tells you how celebrity status is worked in our society.

  2. Maximilian Forte

    Thanks very much Jacky, I did not know that, and others might not have known either. If you learn of more details, please post them, concerning the topic and the location and time of his talk.

  3. Pingback: Review of Johannes Fabian’s Ethnography as Commentary « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

  4. Maximilian Forte

    I just checked, using the title of Fabian’s book, and I was surrpised to see the post comes first. That’s an odd feature of Google — what was at one point my single little posted commentary for the Ethnographic Film Festival came first and several positions higher than the actual FIFEQ website. I have no idea how Google works, but you would think that the creators of the original content would be listed first.

    Anyway, thanks for the note.

  5. Pedro

    Dear Johannes,

    My name is Pedro, I am a psyhcologist and anthropologist. I am starting a Virtual Society for Amateur Anthropologists on Facebook. You will find us through the link: or by googling ‘Chains of Difference/Facebook’. The aim is to provide people with no formal training in anthropology with some basic notions of what anthropology and fieldwork is, invite them to do a mini-anthropological incursion on the 21/05 (UNESCO Diversity Day) and post the experience, blogging about it online. Throughout the year, we will carry on blogging on amateur anthropology. I am just starting this project, with very little resources, and I appeciate all the help that I can get. Thank you, Pedro

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