Anthropology, as a systematic critical reflection on popular ways of understanding mechanisms of life, should, according to James Boon, attempt to make more native what is alien and more alien what is native. To do that, it must be equipped with critical distance and irony, ability of critical self-conscious thinking not only about the 'objects' of its research but also about the tools used to describe and interpret them. As a result of this approach we have distrust of 'universalia' and, consequently, of comparisons between cultures and generalisations based on these comparisons. Knowledge shared by anthropologists is also a form of 'local knowledge' - this is important modification compared to the beliefs of anthropologists from before the 'critical breakthrough' on what anthropology is and what its tasks are. The 'New Polish Ethnology' rightly pointed to the special status of linguistic data in the research practice of ethnology, emphasizing that the classificational and descriptive character of the natural language helped to reconstruct cultural classification patterns and social functions of the phenomena studied, which directed the scholars' attention to informality and everyday language, which the author considers an important feature of the entire 'anthropological trend' in Poland. Creative treatment of the notions of 'text', 'myth' is also an original 'fulfilled project', which has retained its significance. However, theoretical thinking is not sufficient to understand the world. Therefore, the 'field' is an indispensable part of anthropological experience and approach. The 'field' makes an ethnologist particularly sensitive to attempts at making 'local forms of knowledge', 'scientific meta language' or 'obviousness of one's own culture' instrumental. The idea of field research has been questioned for many years as a separate method. As a result, too far-reaching conclusions have been drawn - 'literature' started to replace the privileged 'field'. The fact that the object of ethnologists' interest and interpretation is a document ('fiction') for them, created by anthropologists themselves on the basis of available data, is obvious. However, it is not so obvious that the mode of representation saves ethnology of its problems. The author does not share the opinion that literature could replace ethnology and does not understand why we should believe that there is a 'naked' or a better truth of a literary text when we have just gotten rid of the illusion that there is a naked truth of facts. The fulfilment of the project of the anthropology of culture in Poland gave rise to one important feature of present-day works: Polish ethnology does not suffer from the 'provincionalism', taking a distance approach to the ideologized form of scientific knowledge. Making no attempt at the depreciation of its other merits, it is precisely the provincionalism that gives us hope that the 'next generation' will make its own original contribution to this history of our field of research.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.