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Open Access Fact and fetish in creolization studies: Herskovits and the problem of induction, or, Guinea Coast, 1593

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Fact and fetish in creolization studies: Herskovits and the problem of induction, or, Guinea Coast, 1593

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Focuses on the way Melville Herkovits used facts and facticity in his scientific work on creolization, and how these facts related to the theories in his work. Author relates this to the idea of fact as a stand-alone datum, or "fetish", independent of any theory for its existence. He describes how Herkovits in his work presented classifications of intensity of African retentions in different parts of the Americas, as well as of cultural elements, which Herkovits meant to be heuristic, yet, the author argues, seemed to precede the data. Further, the author discusses criticisms on this "economic anthropology". In addition, he sketches how the data as fetish, and related induction, developed out of the scientific revolution in Europe, separating arguments from facts, but also out of colonial ventures and the history of the slave trade in West Africa, making it a part of the study of creolization, of African slavery and the African diaspora. He points out, and applaudes, that Herkovits' theoretical stance changed from a strict empiricism to an awareness of the place of argument, or social convention, in the making of the facts themselves.

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10.1163/13822373-90002541
/content/journals/10.1163/13822373-90002541
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/content/journals/10.1163/13822373-90002541
2002-01-01
2016-12-04

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