Afterthoughts: The Experience and Agony of Fieldwork

Hammoudi Abdellah and John Borneman

in Being There

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257757
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943438 | DOI:
Afterthoughts: The Experience and Agony of Fieldwork

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This chapter deals with the general practice of anthropology and fieldwork. Various accounts of fieldwork from diverse and converging angles make the case for a fresh look at fieldwork encounters. They depart from some of the more traditional, nonreflective practices of ethnography, as well as from the current and pervasive practices in the discipline based on variants of what is characterized as “textualism,” thus moving toward a critical ethnography that makes the agony of fieldwork integral to knowledge production. Finally, the works of different fieldworkers do not subsume the fieldwork encounter under theory, but examine its articulation with theory and context. Beyond everything else, episodes of fieldwork encounters situate the anthropologist in vulnerability. Such placement carries risks but also makes the anthropologist alert to a kind of critical questioning in real time that is indispensable for those seeking to appreciate the dynamics of contexts in which meanings unfold.

Keywords: anthropology; fieldwork; encounters; agony of fieldwork; ethnography

Chapter.  4715 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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