Saturday, May 07, 2011

Back to the Sources

The only way to do social or cultural theory in Near Eastern Studies is to go back and read the original theorists, alongside the textual sources. There's no middle ground. A survey or summary can show you where to look, but reading one instead of Weber, Benveniste or Lacan is a waste of your time. And just as you can only catch epigraphically unsound readings and get new readings by looking at the inscriptions and manuscripts yourself, you can only avoid a cookie-cutter reading of Weber on bureaucracy and come to your own understanding by working through the whole article in Economy and Society.

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