My approach to the text Les Tarahumaras by Antonin Artaud will be situated in an area of analysis where travel literature, ethnography and poetics converge in the same direction. These three discourses are based on the problematic of the representation of otherness; however, what makes Artaud's approach original lies in the fact that he does not raise these issues in theoretical but rather in poetical terms. I intend to analyse the nature of the link that the poet establishes with the exteriority embodied by the Tarahumaras, in other words the nature of the discourse he constructs in order to account for a cultural space which, in his opinion, still escapes the West. One of my reference will be Derrida's reading of Artaud in L'écriture et la différence where he speaks of the steal (le vol) of language in Artaud's thought. Basing my analysis on the concepts of appropriation and expropriation I will try to see if Artaud is just reproducing an Orientalist and Primitivist discourse on the Mexican Indian or if, using the difficulties of language, he is actually offering something new. Beyond this main problematic my paper will examine the following points:
How the ethnographic discourse is based on the mythology of an authenticity that Artaud forces us to question in this text -- ethnography is also part of fiction.
How Artaud's differs from typical orientalist texts by questioning its very own language -- where is the place of poetry in ethnographic discourse?
The search for a sur-écriture which would leave a room to Otherness and deconstruct the status of the Western subject.
Last modified: 7 May 2001