Culture Critique: Fernand Dumont and New Quebec Sociology
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
Barry J. Martin taught in the Anthropology Department at the University of Toronto.
This scintillating and unusual book is a wealth of thoughts on philosophy, poetry, anthropology and social theory. Fernand Dumont has a remarkable, integrative, twentieth century mind.
The introduction by Dorland and Kroker is somewhat awkward and confusing in language, with phrases like “subsidized beggardom” and “pitilessly lucid.” However, the main text, by political theorist Weinstein, is an exceptional summary and critique, not only of the various facets of Dumont’s writings, but also of social theory and the sociology of knowledge. Dumont the man emerges through a discussion of tradition and modernity, subject and object, ideology and religion, and the cycles of life and death in both individuals and cultures. His philosophical, existentialist nature comes out in his concept of centering oneself in solitude towards the mysterium tremendum et fascinans, and in his lyrical poetry on the unknown meaning of seeds in September and the death inherent in the joy of April’s growth.
Whether considering dialectics, economy, technology, utopia, or the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, Dumont’s formulation of anthropology as the study of man’s (sic) cultural attempts at self-definition intrigues the reader with a humane yet analytical theory. Culture Critique: Fernand Dumont and New Quebec Sociology should raise many provocative questions for all social scientists; it should be mandatory reading for graduate students in the field.