But it's got me thinking about anthropological SF (maybe most emblematically exemplified by Ursula Le Guin) and Lafferty: does his work fit into this category/phase/expression of science fiction? Probably not any more than his work fits into the New Wave in general. But just as his work is amenable to the literary, experimental, psychological, linguistic, philosophising characteristics of New Wave (such as the likes of Zelazny and Delany exhibited), so too his work is amenable to the emphasis on indigenous identity, worldview, magic, ancestry, ritual, and culture in the anthropological SF of the likes of Bishop, Le Guin, and Tiptree.
One potential difference I see in Lafferty over against other practitioners of anthropological SF is that Lafferty's exploration of 'tribal' ethnicity and culture feels much more insider than what I've read in other authors. Other writers often feel more like the compassionate and self-censuring view of a master race who is trying to repent of its atrocities and make amends. Don't misunderstand that: Le Guin and Bishop, for example, are exemplary liberal humanists (Taoist and Christian respectively) who are earnest about repentance and new policies toward the Other, working that out deeply and powerfully in their fictions. But Lafferty feels more like a tribesman speaking out on behalf of the People. His voice comes across to me more like a Chinua Achebe or Black Elk. (It's interesting to note in this connection that Gene Wolfe said Lafferty's unique genius would have been taken more seriously in the USA if he had been of South American or some other non-white ethnicity.)
Lafferty deals often with other ethnicities and tribes than his own, sure - Native Americans and Native Indonesians spring to mind - but I think his empathy comes from the inside of his experience. And those other Others sometimes stand in symbolically for his own, I think. I know he self-identified as an ethnic and religious minority. In one interview he said he just narrowly missed being a WASP by being instead a Ruddy Irish Catholic. His own worldview too was far more in line with various indigenous peoples of the world than with the modern secular humanist worldview dominant in the West.
While I can think of quite a few short stories which are explicitly anthropological in theme, I'm not sure I can think of any of his novels that are really centred in this concern (aside from the obvious Okla Hannali). Past Master, for example, seems more about sociology and political philosophy (and class is more at issue than race). Anyway, here are a list of some of the short stories, off the top of my head, that are pretty deeply anthropological I think:
'Ride a Tin Can'
'Groaning Hinges of the World'
'How They Gave It Back'
'Frog On the Mountain'
'Nine Hundred Grandmothers'
'Land of the Great Horses'
'Smoe and the Implicit Clay'
More stories that feature anthropology, but I'm not sure whether they centre in that theme:
'Cliffs That Laughed'
'Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne'
'Name of the Snake'
'Old Foot Forgot'
'Tongues of the Matagorda'
'Happening in Chosky Bottoms'
'Days of Grass, Days of Straw'
Can anybody think of other instances and perspectives on this?