Re: Studying Your own People

Pauline Shafer (pali@U.WASHINGTON.EDU)
Sun, 26 May 1996 08:19:06 -0700

I too am facing this and have done some degree of reading across the
discipline this last yeara nd am a little concerned of what my
position will entail.
For it seems a definite condition of anthropology that has residue still
today, is that one should study outside ones' own culture, for multiple
reasons. I have seen a great deal that speaks to this delimma in
about refelxive ethnography, yet the actuality of "native"
(now that I've utilezed the attention grabbing quotes, I'll
do aweay with them) ethnographers is few and far between. If native
ethnographers utilize more conventional monographic approaches or anything
that encompasses an "objective" stance, questions of that very objectivity
are immeditely eveoked. And yet I have seen how some people in the
disciplines under anthropology are quite dismissive if not openly hostile
to reflexive/ experimental ethnography. As a mixed-blood Native American
my closest model is Gerald Vizenor, who is in Ethnic Studies and
predominantly works in literature. I know these issues reflect the current
"crises" in anthropology. I would love to ask Arjun Appadurai how he
deals with it, becuase none of his writings I've seen so far do.
I guess I am responding to the concern I've been having of what our very
presence as native ethnographers will mean for anthropology as a
discipline with such a riddled history. I personally am looking to
works like Levi-Stauss's Tristes Tropique for traces (for there are
threads of his delimma of being a Jew there). Then there is
Micheal Taussig's Mimesis and Alterity, where he discusses some of these
vexed issues.

(any vexing or riddling of these issues is purely {uh huh} my own. Tones
of incredulity running throughout are meant to reflect my concern)

On Sat, 25 May 1996, Marie K Conrad wrote:

> Dear Martin,
> Hope you don't mind if I "piggy-back" on your request. I will be
> conducting research next year and am currently tackling just those issues.
> So, if anyone has any suggestions for Martin, please also send them to me.
> Your help would be much appreciated!
> Marie Conrad
> On Sat, 25 May 1996, Martin Cohen wrote:
> > I am seeking help from list members. Does anyone know of any books or
> > papers that deal with the problems of conducting field work among one's own
> > people? I am interested in this as both a source of practical advice for
> > myself, as well as for readings to include in a course I am designing on
> > the topic. Also, any examples of ethnographies by ethnographers who are
> > insiders ("auto-ethnography"?) would be appreciated.
> >
> > Thanks, Martin Cohen
> >