Re: 'Native' anthropology

Cecilia Maria B Sardenberg (cecisard@SUNRNP.UFBA.BR)
Sun, 16 Jan 1994 22:27:29 -0200

On Sun, 16 Jan 1994, Erik A Mueggler wrote:

> On Sat, 15 Jan 1994, Cecilia Maria B Sardenberg wrote:
> > As to your previous message (reply), all I
> > have to say is this: it makes a world of difference being a 'native'
> > anthropologist and somebody who is there just to get data to write a
> > dissertation to get a job to get tenure , etc...
> Does it? What kind of difference? And just what is a 'native'
> anthropologist? Are you one? If so, what makes you able to claim that
> priviledge? Finally, didn't you write, or aren't you writing, a
> dissertation? And isn't that to get a job or tenure?
> Erik Mueggler
Gee, I did not think that my comments on Ehrenreich's on 'active
ethnography', would get such a violent reply...I did know that to take
part in the discussions going on in this forum, one had to furnish
details about one's personal life besides giving 'credentials'. But if
E.Mueggler finds it necessary, let me remind him (that is, if he
has been following the discussion from the beginning) that I've already
stated that I am a Brazilian, a feminist anthropologist, doing work among
fellow feminists involved in the women's movement. Besides, I work, live,
and am politically active in the same city where I do fieldwork. My picture
is often on the papers, I've participated in local TV shows, I'm so to
speak a 'public feminist' figure. This is certainly a lot different from
going to a 'far away' place, working there for a year or so, and then
returning home, wouldn't you agree ? I call my work 'active
ethongraphy' because even though I obviously make 'academic'
use of my research data, the type of research I do is primarily geared
towards furthering the political goals of the groups of women I work with
and for.

Going back to the main disscusion, I agree with Cohen's and
St.Christian's comments; I doubt if a researcher can be apolitical. But
this was not the point brought out by Ehrenreich. THe question was: is
it or is not important to seek political involvement in the field ? As
to that, I stand by my earlier position. If you can help it, don't get
caught into it, unless it is crucial to your work, which of course, you
can never know for sure ahead of time.