If Truth Be Told: The Politics of Public Ethnography
Didier Fassin is James Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, a Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, and the author and editor of many books, most recently, Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition.
Ghassan Hage recounts the tensions he experienced as he was preparing to deliver a lecture at a Palestinian university. Whereas he perceived that the role of the intellectual in such circumstances is less to affirm new ideas than to confirm what his audience already knows, thus manifesting his support for their cause, he nevertheless took the opportunity of this public presence to challenge the conventional topic of resistance and assert that empowerment is not an end but a means. To the heroic discourse, which masks games of power and reproduces the attitude of the oppressor, he opposed the everyday practices...