Accepted Paper:

Who is the Other? Doing fieldwork in one's own region   


Subhadra Channa (Delhi University)

Paper short abstract:

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..

Paper long abstract:

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.

Panel WIM-AIM01
Anthropological fieldworks: moving from the centre to the periphery [IUAES Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid in collaboration with WCAA]