The Incitement to Fieldwork

in Social Analysis

Fieldwork necessarily causes some degree of psychological stress for an ethnographer, although the nature and consequences of such stress vary individually. Rather than lament or conceal that fact, I suggest that an ethnographer’s idiosyncratic responses can provide particular insights. To illustrate the point, I consider what might have induced me, and perhaps others, to take on the necessarily disorienting role of an ethnographer. I then contrast my experience (as a middle-aged Western anthropologist) of a meditation retreat in Burma with my experience (as a recently divorced bisexual man) of a naked men’s yoga retreat in Texas. These brief vignettes are intended to suggest that my specific personal conflicts alert me to matters of more general anthropological interest.

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Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology


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