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?