When the world invades “the field:” emotion, introspection, and ethnography

It’s been years since anthropology set aside the fantasy of “the field” -- a bounded research site, where the locals, and the researcher studying them, are insulated from events in the wider world. But assumptions about “the field,” and what doing fieldwork will be like, are hard to shake. I knew full well, when I … Continue reading When the world invades “the field:” emotion, introspection, and ethnography

Living Fossils

One of the most popular jokes among anthropologists is how often our work is mistaken for palaeontology. Almost every one of my colleagues and even a few of my students can relate an anecdote involving a situation where they were asked if they “dug up dinosaurs.” Imagine the difficulty I now face in my own work where the answer is effectively, “Yes, but not for the reasons you’re thinking.”

Ep. #14 Thesis writing, picturing cults, Muslims with caste, & fieldwork boredom: this month on TFS

Ian (1:25) starts us off by asking, just how well-written does a thesis need to be? "As anthropologists, basically what we do is write... whether it's writing your field notes, or whether it's writing up your articles or your dissertation... and most of us have never actually been trained in how to write." As Julia says, "there … Continue reading Ep. #14 Thesis writing, picturing cults, Muslims with caste, & fieldwork boredom: this month on TFS

Ep. #4 Killer Docs, Imaginary Landscapes, Political Lies, and Emotional Risk: this month on TFS

In this month’s panel discussion, Jodie (1:14) tells us about documents with agency: “Ideas just get up and grow legs, and they run away with themselves.” (Trigger warning: this segment mentions the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. If you want to avoid that part, skip to 3:45.) Next, Ian (6:00) … Continue reading Ep. #4 Killer Docs, Imaginary Landscapes, Political Lies, and Emotional Risk: this month on TFS

Ethnographers vs ‘Tourists’

Anthropologists love to compare themselves to tourists. Nothing more confirms the merit of anthropology and its commitment to ‘in-depth’ fieldwork than the cultural missteps of globetrotters – especially wealthy Western ones – as they bumble through quagmires of etiquette and faux pas in the act of rubbing up against foreign cultures across the world. Anthropologists … Continue reading Ethnographers vs ‘Tourists’