Accepted Paper:

When scholars from peripheries within the First World do fieldwork in the United States  


Yasuko Takezawa (Kyoto University)

Paper short abstract:

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.

Paper long abstract:

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.

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