CASCA/IUAES2017 Conference in Ottawa
The anthropological fieldwork experience is largely based on a movement from the centre to the periphery. This panel invites papers interrogating the validity of the ethnographic project as a whole from the indigenous/marginal perspective, from those who have been objects of study.
Anthropology as a discipline was founded on a colonial base where fieldworkers from Western Europe or the USA studied people they had colonized. The anthropologist held a privileged position as a person from the power center moving from the center to the periphery; the anthropological encounter was between people who were neither equal, in terms of power/knowledge, nor coeval, as the 'field' was almost always conceptualized as caught in a time warp that situated it in the 'past' as compared to the 'present' of the fieldworker. Even after historical decolonization, when the formerly colonized became anthropologists, this outward journey continued, by the researcher moving to the marginal places within their own regions. Rarely has a movement taken place in the opposite direction, when an anthropologist from the Third World studies a community in the First world; and even then the anthropologist has remained as a member of the 'center' in academic terms. In this panel we would like to invite scholars from the 'margins' to re-examine some of the works that have been written about them in a critical perspective, and indeed to consider the validity of the ethnographic project as a whole for the indigenous perspective. How do scholars from the First Nations, from 'tribes', indigenous communities and the Dalits (from South Asia) and other 'marginal' communities and locations, evaluate critically their ethnographies. Where are the points of agreement and disagreement? What is the degree of acceptance? Where do the paths of the fieldworker and his/her field cross?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Who is the Other? Doing fieldwork in one's own region
This paper takes a critical look at the creation of an 'object' of research in situations of decolonization, the creation of an ''other'' as an object of study and the contribution of hierarchy in the field to the building of anthropological knowledge..
Colonization had provided anthropologists from the dominant regions of the world with ready made and captive objects of study. The power hierarchy between such objects and the academician was a great facilitator that enabled the scholar to collect data from a platform that was politically and economically superior. In the period following decolonization, scholars from the erstwhile colonies made the transition from being 'objects of study' to active agents doing research. This paper takes a critical look at the reconstruction of the "object"'of study and attempts to reestablish the earlier hierarchy between the anthropologist and the 'field''. Most scholars from a country like India, attempt to move from the center to the periphery by moving from the city to the village, from an upper caste ( scholar) to a lower caste ( field); or from an urban sophisticated level to the marginalized 'tribal' area.Even when a scholar attempts to study their own 'community' ; it is from a vantage position of higher knowledgeability. This paper makes an appraisal of the innate tendency to have a power hierarchy in the 'field'' situation and its contribution to the building of anthropological knowledge and raises the issue of the necessity of such a hierarchy.
When scholars from peripheries within the First World do fieldwork in the United States
This paper explores marginalized positions of scholars from peripheral “First World” nations conducting anthropological research in the U.S. to explore new possibilities in the field.
Anthropologists are traditionally expected to conduct research outside of their "home" society, and the direction of the movement is rarely from the Third world to the First world. This holds true even within the "industrialized," "developed," countries categorized into the "First World." For example, students of anthropology from peripheral "First World" nations attending American universities planning to do fieldwork in the United States, frequently face strong pressure to do fieldwork in their home countries. Even when these researchers succeed in remaining in the U.S. to conduct fieldwork, they are often pressed to use their native language skills to conduct archival studies or interviews with immigrant generation subjects. Although some important research requires language fluency, this reflects the existence of attitudes that students from the outside are only able to contribute to U.S. anthropological fields of study by exploiting their linguistic abilities. This is further complicated when research subjects are ethnic/ racial (or other social) minorities, as another power relationship comes into place between scholars from within, or local to, the community, as opposed to those from the "outside," including white scholars and those from abroad. "Outsiders" are often characterized by "insider" scholars as not having enough credentials for "empathetic" understanding of the subjects. In this paper, I would like to raise questions regarding how those anthropologists—marginalized by the American/ Western European academic hegemony as well as from the academic communities of ethnic/ racial studies could be posed to contribute new findings and direction to the field of anthropology.
Deprivation of marginal communities and their development: a study of a tribal settlement from South India
In the paper an attempt is made to explain anthropological correlates of ethnography. By using empirical methods, the paper suggests that holistic understanding of the deprivation of marginal communities is necessary in order to draw the conclusions.
The concepts of Deprivation, Poverty and Development have many meanings in contemporary globalised societies. Deprivation is seen in terms of low levels of living standards, livelihoods and lack of resources, assets, and liabilities. Poverty is seen in also seen in terms of total lacking of resources and assets. Development by definition implies desired changes in means of livelihood, improved quality of life and better access to assets and services, etc. However in reality development programmes sometimes have negative consequences, perhaps unintended, multiplying the acute scarcity of resources and opportunities, or reproducing poverty or deprivation. Also, the consequences of developmental programmes often appear to be out of focus, and seen at the ground level, there seems to be a gap between what is intended and what is actualized.
In this framework, the present paper presents a case study of the social, cultural and economic correlates of the development processes in Adadakulapalle, a settlement of Sugali peoples, once a nomadic tribe, in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, South India. The paper shows how factionalism and faction politics affects the implementation of development interventions. It also explains the poverty and deprivation in the settlement and also focuses on the type of change that they have experienced with the implementation of different schemes by both government and other agencies. Change is perceived in the present study by using the macro and micro analysis of development programmes of the different agencies.
The circulation of people and things: anthropology entering and leaving Brazil
This paper explores other ways of conducting anthropology that challenge a colonial view of what should be studied in the South and gives particular attention to a movement in an opposite direction: Brazilian scholars who became “Europeanists” or “North Americanists”.
As in other Latin-American countries, anthropology arrived to Brazil by boat, encrusted in the bodies and baggage of scholars who came from Europe and the United States in organized missions in the first half of the twentieth century and who soon became known as “Americanists”. Indeed, as if it was a chessboard, the world was divided by scholars from the North into fieldwork areas to be scrutinized by “Americanists”, “Oceanists” and “Africanists”. A French anthropologist went as far as to develop a correspondence between geographical regions and possible objects of research. In a book issued in 1992, she wrote:
"Each region, in fact, raises specific research questions that are linked to the anthropological tradition that was established there, but also to the cultural or social traits particular to it: shamanism and mythology are studied by the Americanists, while Middle East specialists traditionally address technical problems associated with nomadism. " (Segalen, 1992 - my translation).This paper explores other ways of conducting anthropology that challenge a colonial view of what should be studied in the South and gives particular attention to a movement in an opposite direction: Brazilian scholars who became “Europeanists” or North Americanists.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.