On Fieldwork and Theory

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI:
On Fieldwork and Theory

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Fieldwork has long replenished the lifeblood of anthropology through the continual engagement of the theory of observed realities of people's lives. This chapter serves to depict the role and import of fieldwork for anthropology and illustrates the gathering of data by anthropologists, sketching out ways in which anthropologists have tried to connect the studies of micropopulations with larger theoretical perspectives. Modern anthropological research begins with immersion in local experience and local knowledge, which is a first, yet important, step in bringing the headwork of theory into confrontation with the world. The field-worker's final text may register some of these experiences and voices, but they are not its primary purpose. Its goal is to provide a densely substantiated model of how material–social relations and signifying practices are mediated through the cultural forms of a specified population.

Keywords: fieldwork; anthropology; theoretical perspectives; anthropological research; micropopulations

Chapter.  5729 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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