Re: anthropology for home

Tue, 6 Dec 1994 15:43:24 -0700

Both Michelle's and Luis' points well taken.
I was at another AAA panel about, it turned out, the dilemmas created for
peoples of color and other minorities (women) becoming anthropologists
("Between a Rock and a Hard Place on Sun").

Many expressed anguish over the tension of needing to produce complex and
oft-times obtuse, "interesting" writing on the one hand, with the pull to
serve their communities on the other. The writing for which they were
rewarded professionally was utterly inaccessible and inapplicable to
concrete and immendiate problems in the community.

In this context, the push (from advisors etc.) to go far afield and study
very other others was presented almost as if it were a conspiracy to
wrench "native anthropologists" from their communities.

Nowhere was the notion presented that the estranging, stripping away of
the fieldworker's preconceptions and assumptions have intrinsic value.
Does anyone else out there believe that there is more to "getting
distance" than simply deciding to turn anthropological lenses on familiar
interaction (as the native anthropologist must do)? I am strongly in favor
of native, activist anthropology. But I still subscribe to the notion that
native anthropologists can be far more effective if they have their first
significant fieldwork experience away from their childhood tromping

There are many ambiguous cases that fuzzy categories like "native"
and "other," of course, which I'll only recognize but not elaborate upon