6. The historical referent of “high theory,” I emphasize in passing, is the interdisciplinary, loosely “postmodern” field of intellectual production that began, in the United States, in literary studies in the late 1960s and was later imported into anthropology and other humanities. Within this field, foreign intellectuals like Derrida, Foucault, Zizek, or Agamben have been famous across a range of disciplines. The best critical reflections on this development of “theory” come from literary studies: see for instance Williams 2002 or Herman 2003; for partial social-scientific analyses see Lamont 1987 and Boyer 2001.

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