More Thoughts on Resistance and Refusal: A Conversation with Sherry Ortner

In 1995, Sherry Ortner published an essay in CSSH that continues to attract readers today. “Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal” (37/1: 173-193), explored a trend, emergent at the time, in which resistance-oriented scholars were abandoning fine-grained accounts of local, subaltern worlds for critical analysis of external, impinging powers: the empire, the state, the global economy. The outcome, Ortner claimed, was superficial work inadequate to its own political ambitions. In the following exchange with Andrew Shryock, Ortner discusses the positions she took in this essay, giving us a sense of where her ideas came from and how they have changed during two decades of subsequent scholarship.