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To grasp anthropology’s attitude toward selves, we might turn inside out Marianne Moore’s notion that poets should “present for inspection ‘imaginary gardens with real toads in them.”’ Anthropology has long offered for our contemplation cultural gardens with imaginary selves in them. It has done so at least since Marcel Mauss (1938) slyly insinuated that “the self” is a cultural creation (Carrithers 1985, 234–235). This perspective on selfhood remains vital, but incomplete. It dodges the question of how existential selves inhabit these gardens— and how they animate their own cultural selves.
KeywordsCultural Model American Culture Human Consciousness Cultural Pattern Cultural Life
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