Re: foreign versus domestic fieldwork

EJ Ford (
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 11:32:20 -0800

at the risk of branding myself a non-anthropologist, I would like to
comment on the below post. I am an anthropologist whose degree reads
Applied Anthropology. We are the folks that participate in both general
social-science research and more traditional anthropology (ethnography,
key-informant interview, et multiple cetera) in relation to solving
practical, day to day problems. Much of our work is done right here in
the good 'ol US of A.

The project that I am on right now is a quality assessment project,
matching the needs of social services with the efforts of the service
system to meet those needs. I work with a multi-disciplinary team. My
specific task is to look at the service sytem, listen to what consumers
are saying about their preferences and determine if the system is
litening as well. All of this takes place right here in the states.

There are plenty of academic (i.e., non-applied) folks that do work here
in the States, too. The thing to remember is that we, as
anthropologists, study Humans, without restriction as to location.
There may be some argument made about the relative efficacy of
researchers investigating certain populations, but there are no
practical limits to where you do your work.


Shannon Adams wrote:
> This is something that I've been wondering about for a long time.
> Should anthropologists (cultural) limit their studies to
> foreign/exotic/pre-literate societies? Is there something of value that
> anthropologists could contribute in a domestic study? What are the
> hang-ups for an American anthropologist conducting fieldwork in America
> (the political unit, no sly comments about doing work on the res.)? I
> know a lot of people would claim this is the domain of a sociologist but
> is it? Should it be?
> Shannon