An Anthropological Trompe l'Oeil for a Common World: An Essay on the Economy of Knowledge (BOK)
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Our political age is characterized by forms of description as "big" as the world itself: talk of "public knowledge" and "public goods," "the commons," or "global justice" create an exigency for modes of governance that leave little room for littleness itself. Rather than question the politics of adjudication between the big and the small, this book inquires instead into the cultural epistemology fueling the aggrandizement and miniaturization of description itself. Incorporating analytical frameworks from scientific studies, ethnography, and political and economic theory, this book charts an itinerary for an internal anthropology of theorizing. It suggests that many of the effects that social theory uses today to produce insights are the legacy of baroque epistemological tricks. In particular, the book undertakes its own trompe l'oeil as it places description at perpendicular angles to emerging forms of global public knowledge. The aesthetic "trap" of the trompe l'oeil aims to capture knowledge, for only when knowledge is captured can it be properly released.