Very little fieldwork on the U.S. has been done so far by anthropologists outside the U.S. Is this an accident, a coincidence, or a pattern worth explaining and even changing? The panel will explore the phenomenon as a problem and offer examples of the benefits of such engagement.
Little fieldwork has been done so far by anthropologists outside the U.S. on the U.S. Is this an accident, a coincidence, or a pattern worth explaining and even changing? Serious engagement with the issue demands discussions of the phenomenon as a problem and examples of the benefits of such engagement. This panel addresses a phenomenon that often remains unnoticed, and yet entails analytical/theoretical, ethical, and practical concerns. These include discussions of what is right or wrong about anthropology being or remaining (1) a field that studies 'Others,' (2) a field that mostly studies 'down,' (3) a field unsure of its role in studying metropoles, power, and perceived centers; and (4) a field of training that largely excludes the intensive and field-based study of the U.S.A. Exceptions exist but they are surprisingly few. Is there a continued pattern that best fits what Michel-Rolph Trouillot called 'the savage slot' and that might explain why outsiders rarely do fieldwork in the U.S.? Or does a post-Said and postcolonial era of avoiding the study of 'Others' in the world produce a privileging of 'anthropology at home' that explains why outsiders rarely do fieldwork in the U.S.? This panel welcomes presentations by anthropologists who have done extensive fieldwork in the U.S. and anthropologists who analyze the politics, history, sociology, and anthropology of knowledge and might shed light on the avoidance of the U.S. as a field site (by anthropologists outside the U.S.A.)