Here’s Arnal’s commentary on Crossley’s Context-Group bashing:
“…Crossley goes after the Context Group for promoting Orientalist scholarship (disclosure: I am a member of the Context Group, though not an active one). It is, in the first place, unclear why this particular group of scholars is being singled out for scrutiny when there are so many potential foci for Crossley’s analyses; the work of the Context Group (as Crossley admits at points) is hardly consistent in its Orientalism, nor hardly the most egregious example of such an approach. Crossley’s point is certainly well taken that broad characterizations of ‘Mediterranean’ culture as, for example, rather timelessly based on honor-shame tend to play into and confirm stereotypes about a contemporary ‘clash of civilizations.’ But does this have any real bearing on the motivations of the scholars who reconstruct such anthropological models? Are such motivations even relevant? Indeed, does the potential misuse of these models (even by their own authors) have any implications at all either for their accuracy or their utility in the analysis of ancient Mediterranean cultural artifacts (which is, after all, what they are being used for)? Crossley needs to provide satisfactory answers to these questions.”
Bill is one of the panelists who will be reviewing Crossley’s book in Atlanta this November (the others being Mark Goodacre, Zeba Crook, and Roland Boer). I’m looking forward to the session. Zeba Crook is a Context Group member and will naturally have some interesting things to say. I didn’t know that Bill himself was a (non-active) member of the group until reading this review.