Symbiotic modeling: Linguistic Anthropology and the promise of chiasmus

Reviews in Anthropology 45 (1):22–50 (2016)
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Reflexive observations and observations of reflexivity: such agendas are by now standard practice in anthropology. Dynamic feedback loops between self and other, cause and effect, represented and representamen may no longer seem surprising; but, in spite of our enhanced awareness, little deliberate attention is devoted to modeling or grounding such phenomena. Attending to both linguistic and extra-linguistic modalities of chiasmus (the X figure), a group of anthropologists has recently embraced this challenge. Applied to contemporary problems in linguistic anthropology, chiasmus functions to highlight and enhance relationships of interdependence or symbiosis between contraries, including anthropology’s four fields, the nature of human being and facets of being human.
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