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Buberian Anthropology: Mysticism & The Ethnographic Encounter

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How can the ethnographic encounter with the proverbial "Other" be framed in theological discourse?  How might Buber's seminal text, "I and Thou" (Ich und Du), relate to the field of anthropology--both past and present?

The very act of writing and recording one's observations, transforming human experience into a thesis, onto a page, destroys the I-thou relationship.  Writing betrays the intimacy of the encounter...the subject instantly becomes an "It," not a "Thou."  Can the anthropologist ever form an I-thou relationship with his "subject(s)"?  Does the very nature of the encounter preclude the possibility of forming this relationship?

Although obsessively self-critical and apologetic, can the field of anthropology ever break free of treating the subject as "informant"?  The subject simply becomes a means to an end.  Are there other methods or mediums of expression that can better preserve the intimacy of the encounter?

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hi sammyboy89

I like that you've picked a specific text to orient discussion through much broader topics of anthropology as a discipline.

I'm wondering if it would be worth extending this discussion to incorporate other texts that either critique or build upon Buber's work to help with this navigation.


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