John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Mon, 4 Dec 1995 08:08:18 +0900

Stephanie Haber-Hirsch writes,

>I am trying to discover if there are analogies to be drawn
> between the ethnographer/ethnographic object relationship and the
> analyst/analysand relationship even when the method is not expicitly
> psychological anthropology, particularly dealing with the mechanism of
> transference.

Interesting question.

My first impulse was to cast the anthrologist in the role of analyst
and the informant in the role of patient.

Then it came to me that it is the patient who comes to the analyst because
s/he has a problem.

But, said the other half of my brain, it is also the anthropologist who
brings "professional knowledge" and "expertise" to analyzing the

It is an odd sort of relationship in which the anthropologist occupies both
the position of patient ("Please help me") and that of the analyst ("I know
how to find out what's going on here").

Where, then, does the informant figure in all this? If there is transference,
isn't it the anthropologist's transference to the informant of the
anthropologist's latent "Other" who is the focus of concern?

To use my own case, was it entirely accidental that during my first
fieldtrip, my key informant was a male healer precisely old enough to be
my father but also a practitioner/believer in religious Taoism, an
amalgam of incense, idols, ritual, etc. which closely paralleled the Roman
Catholic Other demonized by the Lutheran tradition in which my real
father raised me? An Other recently embraced by my one and only dearly
beloved daughter?

An intereting question indeed.

John McCreery