The University of Wisconsin Press


South Asia / Religion / Anthropology / Philosophy

 

The Cultural Dialectics of Knowledge and Desire
Charles W. Nuckolls
With a Foreword by Stephen A. Tyler


"Strikingly original and engaging."—Narayana Rao, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Why is culture a problem that can never be solved? Charles W. Nuckolls poses this question to his readers, and offers a genuinely synthetic approach to culture that is both cognitive and psychoanalytic. He develops a theory of cultural dialectics based on the concept of paradox, in which he shows how ambivalence and conflicts, and the desire to resolve them, are at the heart of all cultural knowledge systems.

Nuckolls combines and synthesizes the ideas of Max Weber and Sigmund Freud—major influences in the cognitive and psychoanalytic paradigms—and develops the concept basic to both: the dialectic. He recovers the legacy of Gregory Bateson, who provided the foundation for a theory of paradox in culture. With his integrated theory, Nuckolls explains the conflicts of knowledge and desire in a South Asian knowledge system, in particular the religious mythology and divinatory system of the Jalaris, a Telugu-speaking fishing caste on the southeastern coast of India.

This provocative book allows us to rethink the relationship between the currently competing discourses in psychological and cultural anthropology, and at the same time offers a general synthetic theory of cultural dynamics.

Charles W. Nuckolls is assistant professor of anthropology at Emory University. He is the editor of The Cultural Construction of Diagnostic Categories: The Case of American Psychiatry and Siblings in South Asia: Brothers and Sisters in Cultural Context. He is also the author of Culture: A Problem that Cannot Be Solved, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at publicity@uwpress.wisc.edu or (608) 263-0734.


cover of Nuckolls book is a photo of an Indian woman holding her child

November 1996

256 pp.      6 x 9
25 b/w photos

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-
0-299-15124-7
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ISBN 978-
0-299-15120-4
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