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The essays collected in this volume offer comparative perspectives on scholarship across a wide range of cultures and periods, from oral instruction by Yoruba diviners in West Africa to Renaissance humanism and nineteenth-century anthropology. The contributors address three prominent issues in cultural studies: the relation between oral and written transmission of knowledge; the nature of contacts between European scholars and the learned persons of other societies; and Western constructions of the culture and knowledge of non-Western peoples and of the "folk" in Europe.
It has recently been much more generally realized that nineteenth-century Western travelers and scholars were too confident that their own science was superior to, and radically different from, the myths and dogmas of other cultures. This realization makes it possible for us to appreciate the reactions of non-Western scholars to Western intrusions and the ambiguities and blind spots in the work of Western scholars who saw themselves as preserving and valuing the texts they studied. Cultures of Scholarship will be invaluable to scholars in historical anthropology and cultural studies and to teachers and students interested in expanding the traditional content of "Great Books" courses.