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Religion through the Looking Glass

Fieldwork, Biography, and Authorship in Southwest China and Beyond

Katherine Swancutt

Euro-American scholarship more generally. I wish to extend this focus by exploring the fascination that fieldwork-based researchers and their interlocutors have with each other and with studying religion. As I show, this fascination may lead

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Navigating Unpredictable Sites

Methodological Implications of Positioning during and after Fieldwork in Conflict Societies

Eva Gerharz

fieldwork itself, but also of the time before and after fieldwork. Consequently, positioning needs to be understood as a process—a set of practices, actions, and meanings closely related to the field—as researchers constantly readjust the boundaries between

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Francisco Martinez

Is fieldwork as anthropologists do it simply a method among others? This article disagrees, drawing on the concept of “serendipity” as introduced by German scholar Ina-Maria Greverus. Beyond the prescribed way of any method, anthropology’s specificity articulates as “discovery”, in this case: an unexpected discovery of remains of the Soviet past in Estonia, through the author’s family life.

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Methods Applied

Political Transformation and Recent Ethnographic Fieldwork in Iran

Mary Elaine Hegland and Erika Friedl

In the 1970s social cultural anthropology in Iran was beginning to flourish. However, with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the subsequent Islamic Republic of Iran, fieldwork in Iran became extremely problematic. Foreign anthropologists faced formidable obstacles to obtaining visas and permits. Anthropologists working inside Iran were also discouraged from anthropological participant observation. As a result, during the post revolutionary period, few anthropologists have been conducting fieldwork in Iran. Recently, some hopeful signs for a possible reestablishment of anthropology can be noted, among them the return of young Iranian anthropologists, from countries where they have grown up and gained an education, to their homeland for dissertation research. This article discusses the influences on fieldwork of politics—international, national and local—and projects, problems and strategies of some anthropologists who have conducted recent ethnographic fieldwork in Iran.

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Introduction

Time and the Field

Steffen Dalsgaard and Morten Nielsen

Prompted by the postmodern turn in anthropology, ethnographic fieldwork has been subjected to considerable analytical scrutiny. Yet despite numerous conceptual facelifts, definitions and demarcations of 'the field' have remained fundamentally anchored in tropes of spatiality with the association between field and fieldworker characterized as being maintained by distances in space. By exploring and unfolding the temporal properties of the field, anthropology can favorably complement and extend the (spatially anchored) notion of multi-sited fieldwork with one of multi-temporal ethnography. This approach implies not only a particular attention to the methodology of studying local (social and ontological) imaginaries of time; it furthermore unpacks the (multi-)temporality of the relationship between fieldworker and the field. This special issue may thus be taken as a fresh invitation to a temporally oriented ethnography.

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Khaled Furani

foundational, if contestable, concepts (e.g., culture, humanity) and its constitutive practice of ethnographic fieldwork. As a result, theology does not end with anthropology; rather, it becomes reconstituted within the latter’s secular syntax. Anthropology

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From Khariji to Kabuli

Being an 'Insider/Outsider' in an Afghan Woman's Fieldwork

Shaharzad Akbar

This article reflects on the challenges of being an 'outsider' in one's own culture and on the journey from being a complete outsider to an 'insider/outsider'. Reflecting on fieldwork among women in north-east Afghanistan, the article explores assumptions and perceptions about Badakhshan and its people and the role of fieldwork in shattering them. It is also a reflection about values and compromises and the researcher's struggle to negotiate the appropriate balance. The article sheds light on the researcher's search for and discovery of different versions of herself when faced with a different version of 'home'.

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Ekaterina B. Tolmacheva

research of fish and fishing. The river became free of ice rather late that year, and fishing only commenced when there was no ice. On 27 May the researcher started his fieldwork. He had to get to the conflux of Irtysh and Ob’ rivers by boat studying its

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Misunderstood, misrepresented, contested?

Anthropological knowledge production in question

David Mosse

This article draws out some of the implications of the fact that what anthropologists claim to know, or want to say, is unavoidably and in complicated ways bound by the ethics of involvement, detachment, and institutional location. I will first consider the increasingly common practice of circulating the output of anthropological research within the social context of its fieldwork, among the various research participants and interlocutors. Second, I will try to account for the sometimes negative reception of ethnographic accounts, especially where the research has focused on organizations (e.g., NGOs), activists, or others professionally concerned with public representations of their work. Third, I will reconsider the notion of “speaking truth to power” by pointing to the unacknowledged power of ethnographic description. Finally, I will suggest that ethical concerns are generated as much by the theoretical framing of research as by fieldwork practice, and that these are matters of choice rather than inherent in the ethnographic method.

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Trouble in Para-sites

Deference and Influence in the Ethnography of Epistemic Elites

Paul Robert Gilbert

Through his enduring efforts to interrogate the regulative ideals of fieldwork, George Marcus has empowered doctoral students in anthropology to rethink their ethnographic encounters in terms that reflect novel objects and contexts of inquiry. Marcus' work has culminated in a charter for ethnographic research among 'epistemic communities' that requires 'deferral' to these elite modes of knowing. For adherents to this programme of methodological reform, the deliberately staged 'para-site' – an opportunity for ethnographers and their 'epistemic partners' to reflect upon a shared intellectual purpose – is the signature fieldwork encounter. This article draws on doctoral research carried out among the overlapping epistemic communities that comprise London's market for mining finance, and reviews an attempt to carve out a para-site of my own. Troubled by this experience, and by the ascendant style of deferent anthropology, I think through possibilities for more critical ethnographic research among epistemic elites.