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Irony in Action

Anthropology, Practice, and the Moral Imagination

Irony today extends beyond its classification as a figure of speech and is increasingly recognized as one of the major modes of human experience. This idea of irony as an integral force in social life is at the center of this provocative book. The result of a meeting where anthropologists were invited to explore the politics of irony and the moral responsibilities that accompany its recognition, this book is one of the first to lend an anthropological perspective to this contemporary phenomenon.

The first group of essays explores the limits to irony’s liberating qualities from the constrained use of irony in congressional hearings to its reactive presence amid widening disparities of wealth despite decades of world development. The second section presents irony’s more positive dimensions through an array of examples such as the use of irony by Chinese writers and Irish humorists. Framed by the editors’ theoretical introduction to the issues posed by irony and responses to the essays by two literary scholars, Irony in Action is a timely contribution in the contemporary reinvention of anthropology.

280 pages | 2 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Language and Linguistics: Pragmatics and Sociolinguistics

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Anthropology of Irony

Part One
Chapter 1The Constrained Use of Irony in U.S. Congressional
Hearings on Immigration

Chapter 2Irony and Power: Toward a Politics of Mockery
in Greece

Chapter 3The Irony of Complicity and the Complicity
of Irony in Development Discourse

Chapter 4What Makes the Anthropologist Laugh?:
The Abelam, Irony, and Me

Chapter 5Kenneth Burke’s "True Irony": One Model for
Ethnography, Still

Chapter 6An Apollonian Response

Part Two
Chapter 7Wine in the Writing, Truth in the Rhetoric:
Three Levels of Irony in a Chinese Essay Genre

Chapter 8"Paddy’s Pig":Irony and Self-Irony in
Irish Culture

Chapter 9Irony and Paradox in the "Contact Zone":
Missionary Discourse in Northern Papua New Guuinea

Chapter 10The Predicament of Irony and the Paranoid Style
in Fin-de-Siècle Rationality

Chapter 11Ironic Irony

Chapter 12The Last Discussant

Coda: Irony, Practice, and the Moral Imagination

List of Contributors

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