Critical Journeys: The Making of Anthropologists

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Critical Journeys: The Making of Anthropologists

CRITICAL JOURNEYS To Sanjiv Kumar and Grace Carswell for sharing our journeys Critical Journeys The Making of Anthro

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CRITICAL JOURNEYS

To Sanjiv Kumar and Grace Carswell for sharing our journeys

Critical Journeys The Making of Anthropologists

Edited by GEERT DE NEVE University of Sussex and MAYA UNNITHAN-KUMAR University of Sussex

© Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar 2006 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR England

Ashgate Publishing Company Suite 420 101 Cherry Street Burlington, VT 05401-4405 USA

Ashgate website: http://www.ashgate.com British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Critical journeys : the making of anthropologists 1.Anthropology 2.Anthropology - Field work 3.Anthropology Research I.Neve, Geert de II.Unnithan-Kumar, Maya, 1961301 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Critical journeys : the making of anthropologists / edited by Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7546-4809-5 1. Anthropology--Philosophy. I. Neve, Geert de. II. Unnithan-Kumar, Maya, 1961GN33.C75 2006 301.01--dc22 2006007777 ISBN-10: 0 7546 4809 5 ISBN-13: 978 0 7546 4809 3

Printed and bound by Athenaeum Press, Ltd. Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.

Contents Preface and Acknowledgements Notes on Contributors 1

Introduction: Producing Fields, Selves and Anthropology Maya Unnithan-Kumar and Geert De Neve

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‘What I want is for Florida orange growers to know why it is important for us to whale’: Learning to be an Anthropologist in the Field Barbara Bodenhorn

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The Multi-Sited Ethnographer Simon Coleman

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Others In and Of the Field: Anthropology and Knowledgeable Persons Narmala Halstead

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Hidden Reflexivity: Assistants, Informants and the Creation of Anthropological Knowledge Geert De Neve

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Writing as a Kind of Anthropology: Alternative Professional Genres Anthony Good

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Among the Crowds: Learning Anthropology and Learning Multidisciplinarity Rachael Gooberman-Hill

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Sensing the Field: Kinship, Gender and Emotion in an Anthropologist’s Way of Knowing Maya Unnithan-Kumar

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Participant Experience: Learning to be an Acupuncturist, and Not Becoming One Elisabeth Hsu

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‘Working in the Metropolis’: Reflections on Gender and Fieldwork in the City Henrike Donner

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The Silence in Between: Governmentality and the Academic Voice in Tibetan Diaspora Studies Martin. A. Mills

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Index

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Preface and Acknowledgements The idea for the present volume originated in 2002 when both of us were involved in different pedagogical exercises to do with conveying to Sussex graduate and undergraduate students what ‘fieldwork in anthropology is all about’. There were MA workshops in the anthropology of development looking at practitioners in the field, there was a visual anthropology workshop about the role of film in anthropology, and there was a student led term-long programme which focussed on the less written about aspects of fieldwork conducted by anthropologists at Sussex. The conversations which followed these meetings made us realise that there was a lot to be gained from a more systematic reflection on our different field related experiences in ways that tie in with recent calls for theorising the field. At the same time we saw an opportunity to engage with issues stemming from the changing nature of fieldwork and the discipline itself and thus to break into areas which have hardly been addressed so far. We then decided to put out a call for papers on ‘anthropological journeys’ in 2003. As it happened the ASA conference at Durham in early 2004 carried the theme of Locating the field – metaphors of space, place and context in anthropology, and provided us with an excellent opportunity to present our work and get responses from a wider audience equally engaged which the issues that we were writing about. We thank Simon Coleman for suggestions and advice. The title ‘Critical journeys’ reflects the underlying thinking which is shared by all contributors that, in anthropology, fieldwork is critical to the formation of both the discipline and its practitioners. We consider it therefore necessary that the processes and outcomes of such journeys be subject to critical reflection. It is precisely because fieldwork is so interconnected with the life and reflection of the individual anthropologist as well as the ‘collective conscience’ of the discipline, that it needs to be subject to systematic analysis. The metaphor of the journey represents both spatial and physical movement as well as shifts in ideas and imagination. Although it is difficult to argue that ethnography can be ‘taught’ in any obvious way, we hope that those interested in the practices of anthropology – be they undergraduate students, doctoral candidates preparing for the field or experienced ethnographers – may learn something from the journeys in this volume. We would like to thank all the contributors for their generous sharing of time and ideas, Grazia De Tommasi at Sussex for her help in the production of this volume, and Mary Savigar at Ashgate for generous editorial support. Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar

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Notes on Contributors Barbara Bodenhorn is Newton Trust Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and is currently affiliated with the Institute of Ecological Research, National University of Mexico, Morelia in connection with her present research in Mexico. Simon Coleman is Professor of Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. Geert De Neve is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. Henrike Donner is a Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Rachel Gooberman-Hill is a Research Fellow, MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol. Anthony Good is Professor of Social Anthropology in Practice in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Narmala Halstead is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London. Elisabeth Hsu is University Lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford. Martin Mills is Lecturer in the Anthropology of Religion in the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and co-director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research. Maya Unnithan-Kumar is Reader in Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex.

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Chapter 1

Introduction: Producing Fields, Selves and Anthropology Maya Unnithan-Kumar and Geert De Neve

Fields and reflexivity The volume critically reflects on the shifting engagement of anthropologists with ‘fieldwork’, ‘field sites’, informants, and the discipline itself. It explores not only how ‘the field’ emerges or disappears in terms of a specific sense of place, but also how we as anthropologists connect our fieldwork and our life concerns to the anthropological knowledge we produce. The chapters in the volume seek to understand both the personal and the academic ways in which anthropologists’ engagement with the ‘field’ comes to shape the discipline as well as their own, multiple and shifting understandings of it. A particular interest thus shared by the contributors is the relationship between the agency of the anthropologist (the ways we act in and with respect to ‘the field’) and the nature of the discipline (what and how we contribute to anthropological understanding). The contributions in the present volume continue the recent concern with fieldwork and anthropological methods (Gupta and Ferguson 1997, Marcus 1998, Fog Olwig and Hastrup 1997, for example) that emphasise the processes of mutual engagement between people, locations, and representations. They also seek to relate this critical reflection on the field and fieldwork to the kinds of ethnographic writing and anthropological knowledge that it produces. Finally, we reflect on the use of anthropological knowledge not only within the discipline but also by those working in related fields and more distance professions. The main themes, set out in this brief introduction, indicate how the specific focus of this volume differs from and complements recent publications on anthropological methodology (Watson 1999, Dresch, James and Parkin 2000). Gupta and Ferguson (1997), Marcus (1998) and others have noted how the idea of travel (or journeys) to different geographical locations is key to the notion of the ‘field’ and to the project of anthropology itself. In our volume we use the word journey to suggest that as anthropologists we ‘move’ between locations (including geographical ones), ideas and relationships. We use the word critical (journeys) in two senses. The first is to highlight the significance of ‘journeys’ to both the discipline and the self of the anthropologist. The second is to emphasise the need for a critical reflection and

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evaluation of these journeys if we are to render them collectively visible and more comparable. In this sense we differ from those who trained us to believe that fieldwork is too complex, individual and personal to be reflected upon in any meaningful sense for the discipline as a whole, and that the reflections that accompany it are best kept distinct from the academic writings that are produced from it. Such ideas have rather contributed to a mystification of the discipline and its methods. In contrast, it is the connection between the personal domains of the anthropologist and the respondents, on the one hand, and the collective anthropological conscience, on the other, that we seek to explore in the pages of this volume. As an area of enquiry, fieldwork has, until recently, been regarded as not methodologically rigorous enough a subject to lend itself to theorisation (Gupta and Ferguson 1997, for example). The specific details of field-generated material have been regarded as too localised, variable or anecdotal to speak to the generalisations sought by a positivist anthropology. There has been a strong tendency, both within and outside anthropology, to consider field data as valuable only when processed through analysis and writing. Contributors to this volume argue that we need to clarify the parameters within which field-generated knowledge is itself produced if we are to understand how anthropology as a discipline functions, reproduces itself and shifts over time. What we therefore need to understand is the historically situated interrelationship between the life worlds of the anthropologist and key persons in the ‘field’, and what we call the collective anthropological conscience. The identity of the anthropologist as fieldworker has been neglected because for long we have avoided to engage with what Bourdieu calls ‘participant objectivation’, or the ‘objectivation of the subject of objectivation, of the analysing subject – in short, of the researcher herself’ (2003: 282). What Bourdieu urges us to do more specifically is to critically examine not the anthropological self per se, but ‘the social world that has made both the anthropologist and the conscious and unconscious anthropology that she (or he) engages in her anthropological practice – not only her social origins, her position and trajectory in social space, ..., but also, and most importantly, her particular position within the microcosm of anthropologists’ (ibid: 283). Bourdieu, as we note, is working with a wide notion of the field, that is, the field as ‘habitus’, as structuring, generating, and orchestrating anthropologists’ objective and conscious intentions. He distinguishes the reflexive analysis involved in participant objectivation from the narcissistic reflexivity of much post-modern anthropology, the point being that reflexivity is of interest if it contributes to our understanding of how the discipline functions, how anthropological engagements come about and how knowledge is generated. Before we go further, let us turn briefly to examine some of the defining moments in terms of the rise of a disciplinary self-awareness, with which Bourdieu’s critique engages. Although anthropology has recently been described as, among many other things, ‘the study of reflexive debates within other societies’ (Goodman 2000), reflection on its own disciplinary practices is of relatively recent origin. While the first momentous autobiographical accounts appeared in the 1950s (Triste Tropiques), 1960s (A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term), and 1970s (Reflections on Fieldwork

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in Morocco), it was not until the late 1970s that methodological issues were more systematically addressed in a number of edited volumes on the experiences of ethnographic work (Srinivas, et.al. 1979; Béteille and Madan 1975). Revealingly, and unlike much of what was to be produced later on, these initial reflections centred on the ethnographer ‘in the field’ and on the tribulations of entering ‘fields’ and conducting fieldwork. Yet such discussions – however engaging they were – did not question the ways in which fieldwork was relevant to anthropology, nor did they address the particular position of the ethnographer vis-à-vis her field. Later, much anthropological writing was to be borne out of a reflexive awareness of the power differentials that shape the ethnographic encounter. A relatively recent collective attempt to address the politics of this encounter arose in the postmodern anthropology of the 1980s led by Northern American scholars. The postmodern turn in anthropology (Clifford and Marcus 1986, Marcus and Fisher 1986) challenged the taken-for-granted authority of the anthropologist as ethnographer. Anthropologists’ accounts were revealed to be at best partial and selective renderings of other societies (in that they often silenced and excluded certain perspectives). This view highlighted the power relations upon which anthropological fieldwork was based and, in turn, sought to undermine the authority with which ethnographies were presented. Fieldwork and ethnography were connected in predetermined ways as Clifford, Marcus and others showed us, in that the power differentials between anthropologists and respondents had significant implications for the manner in which we as anthropologists do fieldwork and represent the ‘other’. Power relations underlying fieldwork became further ‘fixed’ in ethnographic writing. Literary processes were shown to affect the ways in which culture was rendered meaningful. The boundaries in ethnographic writing between the representation and the ‘invention’ of culture, as Clifford (1986) observes, were not always distinguishable. The critique of ethnography elaborated upon by Clifford, Marcus, Crapanzano, Rosaldo, Rabinow, Asad and other contributors to their volume has revealed the power and limitations of our own anthropological gaze. What we suggest, in addition, in this volume is the idea that ethnography is also significantly affected by the particular ways in which anthropologists engage with the discipline and ‘do’ fieldwork: what they choose to be their ‘field’ (as site and method), the kind of ideas and training that they come to the field with, and the events that occur during this time. Given the very different combinations of events and relationships that surround fieldwork, we also suggest that power relations are complex and may not always be stacked in favour of the anthropologist (for example, Srinivas, et.al. 1979). In focusing on the academic habitus of the anthropologist we also pay heed to Fardon, Strathern, Tonkin and other contributors to Fardon’s volume (1990), whose important critique of the Clifford and Marcus volume was framed in a call to acknowledge more fully the regional traditions of scholarship which have gone before and alongside any ethnographic project, and which have been instrumental in critically shaping the orientations of the anthropologist and her ethnographic writings. As De Neve elaborates in his contribution here, Fardon challenged the discipline’s literary self-criticism of the 1980s and argued that in their exclusive

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emphasis on text, style and form, the new critics have underestimated the importance of methodology, history, and theory, while simultaneously neglecting the relevance of specific (regional) contexts. Or, put differently, while the individual obviously plays a key role in the ethnographic enterprise, it is not only the personal life history but also the wider disciplinary, regional and epistemological traditions that guide engagement with particular fields and with the discipline more generally. The contribution of feminist anthropology to the debates generated by postmodernist anthropologists has also been significant. As Moore suggests feminist anthropology has both widened the scope of the postmodern concern with power differentials at the same time as it has challenged the postmodern retreat from theory (1999). Early feminist anthropology in the 1970s and 1980s (Rosaldo and Lamphere 1974, Ortner, 1974, Reiter, 1975, for example) made ‘visible’ the male bias that underlay anthropological methods and theorising. In its emphasis on the differences between men and women (stemming from a supposedly universal interpretation of biological differences) feminist anthropology also revealed differences within the category of woman: the historical, political and economic differences that separated women of different classes and races (Young, Wolkowitz and Cullagh, 1981, Hirschon 1984). The internal critiques of the underlying assumption of the ‘sameness’ of women, which underpinned early feminist anthropology, also showed how limited its own and the later postmodern perspectives were by western cultural concepts (MacCormack and Strathern 1980, Strathern 1987, 1988, Moore 1988, Mohanty 1991). The subsequent work of feminist anthropologists around issues of gender, sexuality, class, race, kinship, and nation has shown precisely how these differences can be theorised and used as rigorous conceptual tools (Collier and Yanagisako, 1987, Caplan 1987, Narayan 1993, Strathern 1988, 1992, 1995). At this juncture, it is useful to remember, that feminist anthropology, as Strathern suggests, has an ‘awkward’ relationship with both feminism and anthropology. While with the former it differs, for example, in its categorisation of the ‘other’ as not only to be men, with anthropology the unease relates to its alliance with the feminist critique of the salience of the concept of society (Strathern 1988: 36, 1987). Nevertheless, one of the lasting conceptual contributions of the feminist strand in anthropology, also to have a major influence on fieldwork, has been the notion of gender, equipping field workers with the conceptual means to grasp the cultural construction and the operation of power differentials in the relationships between men and women (in this volume, discussed further in Unnithan-Kumar’s chapter). Relatively recently, Gupta and Ferguson’s volume (1997) is another watershed in defining our self-understanding as anthropologists of the inequalities which frame our work. They highlight that it is not just the literary forms we employ which mask politics of power but it is the ways in which we perceive, talk about and ‘construct’ the field itself (as ‘wild’, local, isolated, bounded, and so on) which generates and fixes the inequalities in our representations of other cultures. What constitutes ‘the local’ has particularly been questioned from a transnational perspective, which has revealed that places have always been interconnected, and that boundaries are

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therefore always constructed (Inda and Rosaldo 2002; Low and Lawrence-Zú iga 2003; De Neve and Donner 2006). Much has been written about the shifting conceptual boundaries of the discipline and the particular need for multi-sited and interdisciplinary approaches to field research. Yet, ‘fields’ too – whether thought of as ‘local’ or as ‘multi-sited and transnational’ – are always created, that is, the outcome of disciplinary shifts and fashions. Here, we argue for a need to extend the notion of ‘fiction’ from our writings to our fields: if the earlier notion of a local, bounded field is a ‘fiction’, the current multi-sited and transnational conception of research sites similarly runs the risk of becoming fictionalised. Even though the shift to multi-sited and trans-local approaches has considerably enlarged the concept of the ‘field’, in both cases, the field is the outcome of a web of changing epistemological perspectives, academic paradigms and hegemonic discourses of the world we live in. In this volume we elaborate these insights by examining the ways in which we construct fields and by unpacking the terms on which we engage with those in and of the field. Moreover, fields are shaped increasingly by changing audiences for our research and its products. As the awareness of anthropology grows amongst other disciplines, in professional contexts and among respondents themselves, our work also shifts to take into account their concerns and conceptions of what we are doing or should be doing. In this volume, both Good and Gooberman-Hill describe in detail how their own work is viewed and commented upon by professionals and academics, in a legal and health professional domain respectively. One of the main themes of this volume is to explore the negotiations in the production of anthropological knowledge in terms of the relationships between the anthropologist and their informants, research assistants, and their own wider networks within any locality. Anthropological fieldwork has never been completely determined by the researcher. This is as true of fieldwork conducted in the 1920s as it is today. Focusing on relationships in the field allows us to see how substantial learning takes place in this context. Accounts of fieldwork in this volume give us a range of instances through which knowledge is acquired in and through the field: through the co-operation and resistance of informants, through well-informed and vocal research assistants, through the anthropologist’s learning of specific skills of work, behaviour and language – which generate an embodied sense of the field –, through strategies for co-production of information and representation, and through the anthropologist’s own working and writing in different disciplinary contexts. A second key theme in the volume challenges the idea of the field as a site of social relationships and experiences that is separate from the anthropologist’s personal habitus. The personal and social boundaries between anthropologists and their respondents may be less distinct to start with and shift over time. Contributors to the volume reflect on the epistemological significance of the blurring of field boundaries. Boundaries between anthropologist and respondents may collapse through long and intensive engagement but may also be further permeated by myriad forms of social relationships (friendships, kin ties) and the connections of ‘native anthropologists’ that cross these boundaries. Another instance in which field boundaries may collapse is when the anthropologist works in several different field

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sites, either simultaneously or successively. Here field experiences in one site may ‘leach’ into experiences from other sites. The analytical and methodological issues that arise from such overlaps range from questions about field practices and how different sites ‘speak’ to each other, to the ways in which anthropologists link their intimate connections with the field to the sense of anthropology they have gained through their reading and training. Bodenhorn, this volume, makes the point that while fieldwork has often been likened to a rite of passage, where the anthropologist is caught in a state of liminality, this is in fact a highly misleading image. Rather, most anthropologists become involved in social relationships that continue over time and that cross personal, academic and fieldwork sites. At the same time there is a liminality generated at the outset in the way the field is constructed as ‘elsewhere’. The contributions in the volume reflect on how such social connections are made, negotiated, and how they direct and redirect the anthropological enterprise. Learning in the field Amongst anthropologists, anthropological knowledge is more often than not attributed to the scholarship and ingenuity of individual anthropologists rather than to the people whom they have worked with. Inherent to such an attribution is the idea that somehow what is ‘out there’ is raw material (beliefs, practices) to be processed, interpreted and converted into refined theory (knowledge) by the anthropologist. This idea of extraction is in turn based on a frequently reproduced dichotomy that contrasts the dominant presence of the anthropologist with the submissive nature of the informants. Accounts of fieldwork in this volume contest both ideas: that anthropologists construct theory themselves rather than slowly build upon the practical and theoretical reflections of their respondents, and secondly, that respondents are necessarily co-operative rather than challenging or negotiating the anthropologist’s interventions and representations of them. Increasingly, anthropology itself is a discipline which respondents have views about. Respondents’ ideas of anthropology play a significant role in defining the ethnographic project as well as in enabling the ethnographer’s access. Halstead’s work on East Indians in Guyana and New York, this volume, points to the ways in which the anthropological gaze tends to ‘other’ its subjects of study as ‘backward’ or ‘traditional’, which in turn brings out resistance among those who are keen to present themselves as ‘modern’. For the Guyanese living in Guyana, anthropology is a potential threat to their life projects, and it is their view of anthropology as a science of ‘backward’ people which makes them particularly suspicious about Halstead’s presence and questioning. As ‘modern’ people, East Indians questioned why they are of ‘anthropological’ interest? Shouldn’t the anthropologist search for a traditional community instead? The chapters of Mills and Donner reveal other ways in which anthropologists’ access can be directed by informants. Although not openly resistant to anthropologists’ enquiries, respondents may refrain from providing information because of the ways in which they perceive their own vulnerabilities and

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insecurities. Mills, in his discussion of Tibetan Buddhism both in Ladakh and in the diaspora, describes how he struggled to get the monks of the Buddhist monasteries to talk about their role in everyday rituals relating to village deities. What they silenced in their discourse, as a means of protecting their authority, became also for the anthropologist harder to access and understand. Donner similarly shows how her own struggles of access into the lives of middle-class women in Calcutta were shaped by their politics of the urban neighbourhood and in particular the communal divide between Hindus and Muslims. Hindu Bengali and Muslim households rarely interact and as a result Donner’s contact with some households directly precluded access to others. There are nevertheless many instances when knowledge about a society is consciously co-produced by the anthropologists and their informants. As Bodenhorn tells us in her chapter, her doctoral project was designed in consultation with the Iñupiaq History, Language and Culture Commission in Alaska and with the clear Iñupiaq instruction that they wanted her to ‘tell others about why it is important for them to whale’. Bodenhorn’s long association with Iñupiat thereafter sees her working as director of social services, in the women’s crisis centre, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, and also as a teacher of a methods course at the local community college. In her chapter she reflects on how her collaborative relationships emerging from her work in these various contexts have helped her redirect her anthropological thinking as well as her understanding of Inupiaq life. She learnt, for example, that the way in which Iñupiat conceive of their relationship with whales was important to understanding gender relationships in the context of whaling, or how Iñupiaq ideas about ‘rights’ are informed by their notion of ‘responsibility’ in hunting, that is, the duty to give a share of hunted food. Donner, on the other hand, concludes her paper on fieldwork in middle-class Calcutta with a fine example of mutual reflexivity in the field. While Borsa Ganguly, a key informant, reminded Donner on a re-visit of how little she knew about Bengali culture when she first arrived in Calcutta and emphasised that ‘I taught you all you know’, she also admitted: ‘I thought a lot about our conversations, the questions you asked, all the things we discussed – they made me think about my own life’. A key field relationship, yet one that has received scant attention in critical literature, is that between the anthropologist and his/her research assistants. Research assistants are also informants but ones who play a very special role in facilitating anthropologists’ access and advancing their insights. Drawing on his own experiences with different assistants during fieldwork in Tamilnadu, De Neve shows how the relationship between fieldworker and assistant can sometimes be fraught with tension and highly counter-productive, while at other times it is the key to social and cultural understanding. Being simultaneously language translators and cultural interpreters, local assistants are able to open up worlds which even the most linguistically and methodologically astute fieldworker might never be able to penetrate on his or her own. But the task of an assistant is certainly not an obvious one. It presupposes the ability to move between cultures and to reflect critically and consciously on one’s own society in the first place. Such qualities are seldom recognised in representations that

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depict assistants as mere ‘aides’ or ‘data collectors’. The anthropologist’s ultimate ability to understand and construct knowledge hinges on respondents’ own reflections and interpretations of their society, and those of the assistant are crucial among these. While Rabinow (1977) suggests that those who are marginal in their own societies make the best assistants, De Neve reveals that this need not always be the case. An assistant’s personal interests as well as the ‘interpersonal rapport’ between ethnographer and assistant are as essential to a constructive research relationship as social or educational background. Another important yet less written aspect of how knowledge is gained in the field relates to the bodily and physical engagement of the anthropologist in the processes she or he writes about. In this volume Hsu discusses how her knowledge of Chinese medicine, particularly acupuncture was affected by her learning to be an acupuncturist. The learning of a practical skill provided her a deeper and more reflective means of reaching a cultural understanding of medicine. The learning of a new skill changed her own belief in the efficacy of her respondent’s medical techniques. Hsu uses her embodied approach to cultural understanding to suggest that rather than participant observation, it is participant experience that needs to be privileged as an anthropological method. Unnithan-Kumar makes a similar point where she suggests that her research questions on caste/tribe and, later, on reproduction and health were crucially shaped by the fact that she shared a ‘bodily-hexis’ (following Bourdieu; contextually informed ways of presenting the body) with her respondents. Sharing similar processes of embodiment as her women respondents enabled UnnithanKumar to reflect more critically on the emotional (as communicated through the body) aspects of relatedness and healthcare: to understand women’s agency in resort to healthcare services as connected with their relationships of intimacy and loyalty rather than as guided by their knowledge of medical expertise. It thus appears from these cases that anthropologists’ perspectives on any particular social context will always differ according to their emotional and bodily engagements with their field; that is, by the ways in which they ‘embody the field’. Across fields A dominant trend in ethnographic writing has been to exclude the anthropologist’s self from field accounts and has therefore, more often than not, tended to sustain the idea of the field as a static entity which is set apart from the anthropologist. Yet, as several individual reflections on the field in this volume demonstrate, in reality such separations are unsustainable for a variety of reasons. Firstly, ethnographers often are or become ‘related’ to the field and their respondents in multiple ways of which the bodily connections mentioned above are only one (Bodenhorn, Hsu, UnnithanKumar, Halstead, this volume). The boundaries between anthropologist and ‘native’ become less apparent, either through long-term contact, as in Bodenhorn’s case, or, for example, through childhood experiences in/of the places which they study (Unnithan-Kumar, Halstead, Hsu, this volume). Such webs of relatedness across

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fields (both personal and academic) challenge the notion of a home-field distinction at the same time as they highlight the idea that one can never be fully at home, in the sense of ‘knowing it all’. Unnithan-Kumar discusses in her chapter that being regarded as a ‘native anthropologist’ is problematic as it is an imposed category which uncritically assigns the anthropologist to a specific place at the same time as it assumes a prior (deep) knowledge of the field on the part of the anthropologist. But being identified as a ‘native’, especially by one’s respondents can also be a useful category as it provides both anthropologist and respondents with a point of contact and a means of relating to each other, which in turn has both practical and theoretical consequences for the way in which the field is constructed. The ‘relatedness’ of anthropologists to their fields of study makes a distinct contribution to the formation of their analytical models. As Coleman suggests (this volume), it also collapses the state of being ‘in the field’ (fieldworker) with writing about it (ethnographer). Halstead discusses how her identity in the field was constructed by her respondents through at least four perspectives: her Hindu Guyanese origins, her identity as a well-educated middleclass woman, her informants’ ideas about the ‘outside’, and their perceptions of what anthropology is all about. Her case illustrates the more general point that people come to ‘know’ and to ‘position’ the researcher as anthropologist through varying identifications of difference and familiarity. With ‘native anthropologists’ the terms of difference and familiarity tend to be more ambivalent than those through which foreign researchers are identified. The overlaps between the anthropologist as fieldworker and ethnographer are also experienced when the anthropologist works in a number of field sites. In his contribution Coleman discusses how field experiences may permeate into each other, prompting a more systematic consideration in the discipline regarding how different sites ‘speak’ to each other and how they may encourage similar fieldwork practices. Reflecting on the different sites and problematics of his own fieldwork – starting with a study of Pentecostalism in Sweden, followed by research on pilgrimages to Walsingham in Norfolk, and finally involvement with a National Health project on hospital space – Coleman shows how he sees these sites as both connected and differing, at the same time shaping and shaped by his intellectual concerns. Using three ‘metaphors of connection’ (trajectory, dialectics and deep structure), Coleman unpacks the links between these projects and field sites in terms of his own personal and academic life course (trajectory), how each of these sites ‘speak to each other’ (dialectics), and the underlying parallels in his choice of site (deep structure). What emerges from such an analysis of his material is, for example, the understanding that his work has been primarily in sites where the connections between culture, community and place appear deeply ambiguous. Shifting field sites, moreover, can open up new perspectives and insights that allow the anthropologist to rethink earlier data in the light of new findings. This is illustrated by Mills (this volume), who explains how his own understanding of the embeddedness of monastic Buddhism in local ritual landscapes came about through shifting ‘fields’ in two senses. Firstly, Mills shifted field as place by moving the

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physical location of his research from a Buddhist monastery in Ladakh to the Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala, North India, and secondly, he shifted field as method by complementing participant observation with discourse analysis, focusing on the public discourses of the Dalai Lama on modern Buddhism as a secular and disembedded religion. Shifting fields in this manner allowed him to gain insight into the dissonance between Buddhist practices of embeddedness in local rituals and public discourses of disembeddedness as a universal religion. New field sites seldom appear as a deus ex machina, and several papers reflect precisely on how fields emerge and how shifts in fieldwork follow from both the life course and the academic career of the anthropologist. What is often overlooked in debates about fieldwork is that there are significant institutional factors that impact on fieldwork decisions. These include, among others, success in securing funding in an ever more competitive research environment and one’s relative security of employment. Both Donner and Coleman (this volume) mention, from different positions, how a permanent job in academia takes away the pressure to conform to the ‘classic’ fieldwork approach and allows one to explore new spaces and approaches in a more creative way. With seniority the opportunity to experiment with new sites and methods also increases as does the experience of constraint generated from the ‘audit cultures’ in which we work. The importance of institutional and disciplinary contexts also surfaces in another way. Anthropologists may be multi-sited not just in terms of where they do their field research but also in terms of the institutional contexts in which they operate. These multi-sited contexts are not just academic ones, in which anthropologists may talk to archaeologists or historians, but also professional ones, as an engaged anthropology increasingly requires the ethnographer to interact and collaborate with people from other professions. These commonly include development organisations and activists, medical practitioners, legal specialists and the media. While there is an established literature on how anthropologists engage with development (Crewe and Harrison 1998, Gardner and Lewis 1996, Grillo and Stirrat 1997), little thought has been given so far to how both informants as well as other professionals view, understand and regard anthropology and its particular approach. Yet the views that others hold of anthropology have serious bearing on how anthropologists present their own work to others, and is ultimately bound to affect how we reflect on our own methodologies. More generally, it is safe to assume that external judgments of the discipline will increasingly shape the way in which anthropologists working in different institutional and disciplinary contexts conduct research, organise fieldwork, interpret data and write texts. Gooberman-Hill and Good’s chapters provide important insights into such interdisciplinary engagements. Gooberman-Hill, for example, discusses the manner in which anthropological research skills are differently valued within the discipline itself than by those doing healthcare related research, an area in which also her current research is located. Whereas anthropologists may see fieldwork and thick description as the defining characteristics of their work and as their main contribution to other disciplines, healthcare researchers look to anthropology to obtain a more practical

Introduction

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exploration, never only one way of interpreting ethnographic data, and never just one way of being an anthropologist. In this sense the volume addresses the anxieties that emerge from such open-ended modes of social enquiry, and in doing so seeks to prepare those who are entering the discipline. Speaking to the sub-fields within anthropology As the above review shows, the contributions also come from very different fields within anthropology, both topically and geographically (religion, medicine, economics, legal contexts, and political engagements; Central, East and South Asia, Europe, Caribbean and Alaska), which itself reflects the wide diversity of fields within social and cultural anthropology today. Coleman and Mills, for example, address current key topics in the anthropology of religion: globalizing Christianity, and the link between state and religious power respectively. Similarly, Good’s work on asylum cases in the UK brings together pressing legal, political and migration issues, and illustrates anthropology’s engagement with new audiences outside the discipline who shape anthropological work. In her chapter Halstead grapples with the rising awareness which globalisation brings to respondent communities who now have clear opinions about what anthropology is or should be. Her account not only shows how the identity and movements of the anthropologist in the field are affected by respondents’ self-awareness, but also how the latter are central to the production of anthropological knowledge, which articulates ‘the ways people know themselves and want to be known by “outsiders”’. Gooberman-Hill’s work in the area of health in the UK provides an example of the multi-sited contexts in which anthropologists present and craft their work. Here the issue of multi-sitedness is not only restricted to a methodology associated with fieldwork but has as much to do with the multi-sitedness of our anthropological products. The ways in which our writings are circulated and presented vis-àvis scholars and students of other disciplines in turn affects how we produce and shape them in the first place. The production and circulation of anthropological knowledge are mutually constitutive. Hsu and Unnithan-Kumar’s chapters speak to the relevance of mind-body issues that have arisen, at least partly, from a reflection on the intervention of medicine and medical modes of understanding in people’s daily lives. Both anthropologists emphasise, from different perspectives, how their experiences and feelings during fieldwork orientated their thoughts about the field and the conceptual frameworks they developed. In so doing, they draw on recent insights in the anthropology of the body and emotions as a way of understanding the connections between work in the field and the subsequent knowledge that is produced from it. Taken together, the contributions to this volume, while pointing towards very different sub-disciplinary orientations and settings, nevertheless address a set of common issues which surround the production of anthropological knowledge such as its co-production (including instances of resistance, by respondents or assistants),

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the significance of serendipity, the dialectics and continuity between fields, and the play of power in all its disguises. Speaking to regional scholarship and traditions Finally, the chapters that follow point to the ways in which contemporary anthropological work is anchored within regional traditions of scholarship while at the same time moving away from them. Coleman, Bodenhorn, GoobermanHill, and to some extent Halstead and Good, all engage with topics within an anthropology of Europe and North America, yet also present less familiar sides of anthropologists studying ‘at home’. De Neve, Donner, Good, and Unnithan-Kumar have all at some point been shaped by and engaged with South Asian anthropological traditions (including debates on caste, class, hierarchy, status, family and religion), while Hsu and Mills’ work has been framed by key topics in Chinese and Tibetan scholarship. Yet, while individual connections to separate regional traditions may not be comparable, what emerges from a juxtaposition of the papers is of interest in several ways. In each of the cases we find that the anthropologist in question starts with some sort of ‘traditional’ engagement with the field of study, but then shifts to redefine both the field and their own position within it. Two particular kinds of shifts are discernable in the contributions here: 1) shifts within one’s initial regional area of enquiry: from one research topic to another, from one physical location to another, or from one social group to another: in most cases these shifts are towards broader, more interconnected and less bounded ethnographic settings, and 2) shifts of fields between geographical regions and traditions, which in all instances discussed here appear to be moves nearer to ‘home’, wherever ‘home’ may be. Our personal and academic journeys are thus critical, not only to understand how anthropologists are made in relation to their ‘fields’, but as much to gain insight into the ways that anthropologists make and remake their own discipline. The contributors to this volume provide some examples of the great deal that is to be learned from a sustained reflection on our varied disciplinary practices. It is in theorising our methods of fieldwork that we seek to engage with and connect up what Moore (1999) has characterised as the fundamental tension constitutive of anthropology as a discipline: knowledge construction and ethnographic particularism (1999: 7). Acknowledgements We would like to thank Simon Coleman and the reviewers of Ashgate for their detailed and helpful comments on this introductory chapter.

Introduction

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References Béteille, A. and Madan T.N. (eds), Encounter and Experience (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1975). Bourdieu, P., ‘Participant Objectivation’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 9(2) (2003): 281–94. Caplan, P. (ed.), The Cultural Construction of Sexuality (London: Routledge, 1987). Clifford, J. and Marcus G. (ed.), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Writing Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Collier, J.F. and Yanagisako S.J., Gender and Kinship: Essays Toward a Unified Analysis (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987). Crewe, E. and Harrison E., Whose Development? An Ethnography of Aid (London: Zed Books, 1998). De Neve, G. and Donner H. (eds), The Meaning of the Local: The Politics of Place in Urban India (London: RoutledgeCevendish, 2006). Dresch, P., James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000). Elkins, James, Why Art Cannot Be Taught: A Handbook for Art Students (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001). Fardon, R. (ed.), Localizing Strategies: Regional Traditions of Ethnographic Writing (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990). Fog Olwig, K. and Hastrup K. (eds), Siting Culture: The Shifting Anthropological Object (London: Routledge, 1997). Gardner, K. and Lewis D. (eds), Anthropology, Development and the Post-modern Challenge (London: Pluto Press, 1996). Goodman, R., ‘Fieldwork and reflexivity: thoughts from the anthropology of Japan’, in Dresch P., James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000). Grillo, R. D. and Stirrat R.L. (eds), Discourses of Development: Anthropological Perspectives (Oxford: Berg, 1997). Gupta, A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). Hirschon, R. (ed.), Women and Property: Women as Property (London: Croom Helm, 1984). Inda, J.X. and Rosaldo R. (eds), The Anthropology of Globalization: A Reader (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2002). Low, S.M. and Lawence-Zú iga D. (eds), The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003). MacCormack, C., and Strathern, M., Nature, Culture and Gender (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). Marcus, G. and Fischer M. (eds), Anthropology as Cultural Critique (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986). Marcus, G., Ethnography through Thick and Thin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).

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Moore, Henrietta, Feminism and Anthropology (London: Polity, 1988). _____, A Passion for Difference (London: Polity, 1994). _____, Anthropological Theory Today (London: Polity, 1999). Mohanty, C.T., ‘Under Western Eyes: feminist scholarship and colonial discourses’, in Mohanty C.T., Russo A. and Torres L. (eds), Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991). Narayan, Kirin, ‘How native is a “native” anthropologist?’, American Anthropologist, 95(3) (1993): 671–86. Ortner, S., ‘Female is to Male as Nature is to Culture’, in Rosaldo M. and Lamphere L. (eds), Women, Culture and Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974). Rabinow, P., Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977). Reiter, R. (ed.), Toward an Anthropology of Women (NY: Monthly Review Press, 1975). Rosaldo, M. and Lamphere L. (eds), Women, Culture and Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974). Srinivas, M.N., Shah A.M. and Ramaswamy, E.A. ‘Introduction’, in M.N. Srinivas, et. al. (eds), The Fieldworker and the Field: Problems and Challenges in Sociological Investigation (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979). Strathern, Marilyn, ‘An Awkward Relationship: Feminism and Anthropology’, Signs, 12(1987). _____, The Gender of the Gift (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988). _____, Anthropology and the New Reproductive Technologies (London: Routledge, 1992). _____, Shifting Contexts: Transformations in Anthropological Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1995). Watson, C.W. (ed.), Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999). Young, K., Wolkowitz C. and McCullagh R., Of Marriage and the Market: Women’s Subordination in International Perspective (London: CSE books, 1981).

Chapter 2

‘What I want is for Florida orange growers to know why it is important for us to whale’: Learning to be an Anthropologist in the Field Barbara Bodenhorn

In the autumn of 1982 I was writing a grant application to the Alaska Humanities Forum for funding to conduct my doctoral research on the North Slope of Alaska. The project had been designed in consultation with the Iñupiaq History, Language and Culture Commission (IHLC) under whose auspices I would work, and their support was needed for my application to be considered. James Nageak, then Liaison Officer for the IHLC, took me to the local representative of the Humanities Forum. ‘What I want’, he said to the representative, ‘is for Florida orange growers to know why it is so important for us to whale’. That was one of the clearest directives I was ever to receive concerning the desired reciprocal aspect of my work and it marked an important stage (rather than the beginning) in the journeys, both literal and figurative, that I continue to make between Barrow, Alaska and Cambridge England. Without ever having spent much time with Florida orange growers, I still consider that part of my job is to encourage people in many parts of the world to understand why it is so important for Iñupiat to whale. The critical journey under discussion is thus not confined to fieldwork, although that will be the major focus of my exploration. It in fact depends on the constant cross-fertilization of many interactions in many contexts – between colleagues in the field and in the university – with students – and with other friends. Fieldwork has often been likened to a rite of passage, but the image of this time as a limbo state can be misleading. Van Gennep (1966) suggested that during rites of passage, rituands are separated from society and all the rules are temporarily reversed until the moment that one is reincorporated into the group in a changed status. The core of the image is that of time ritually separated off from the rest of social life. Although that might describe the experiences of some anthropologists, who return from the field swearing ‘never again!’, many more of us become involved in social relations that continue to grow over time. What is separated from what and who is incorporated and reincorporated into what becomes an ever more ambiguous question.

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I start with the assumption that whatever institutional training one initially receives, the real training begins in the field when people decide you are serious enough about trying to learn that they are not wasting their time lugging you about and talking with you. The most important departmental training for me (and it was very important) took place not before fieldwork but during the writing up period in intense supervision, seminar and informal discussion. That critical journey has continued, scrutinized and pushed forward through conversation and participation in social life on both sides of the Atlantic since then. Part of the ‘writing culture moment’ in anthropology was the recognition that ethnography can never be a transparent account of an objective cultural reality. Coming under fire, so to speak, in Clifford and Marcus (1986) included EvansPritchard – imaged sitting in front of his tent, writing in a language the people he worked with would never be able to read – and Geertz – critiqued for producing in ‘Deep Play’ a compelling piece of literature, but one that was vulnerable to anthropological deconstruction.1 The genesis of ethnography, or ‘graphic culture’ was held up as a matter of craft – of fiction. The call to greater reflexivity, foregrounding the anthropologist’s own role in the production of ethnography, was issued on a number of fronts.2 At the same time, the uneasy relationship between anthropology and colonialist projects became a matter of heated debate and generated further calls, not only for a self-conscious anthropology, but also for a politically engaged anthropology that brought in others’ voices.3 This story is well known and will be, I am sure, rehearsed in various forms throughout the current volume. For some of the contributors, like myself, these were issues very much in the air as we were nascent anthropologists. For those with a more recent training, it is often the unexamined ground from which one begins. Two tropes emerge: a) in the ‘old days’ researchers, believing in the Enlightenment project, thought the truth was out there and would yield itself to the proper application of a rigorous scientific method, and b) the anthropologist reveals more about her own culture and history than she does about the people she works with, primarily because of the hegemonic nature of culturally embedded knowledge practices. The contribution of a post-structuralist/modern/colonial approach (depending on your point of view) was to bring the anthropologist – as well as the people he works with – explicitly into the narrative and to explore critically the unstable nature of 1 I am, of course, referring to Marcus and Fischer (1986); Geertz’ (1973) essay ‘Deep Play’ is found in The Interpretation of Culture; his critic in Writing Culture is Vincent Crapanzano. 2 This literature is substantial. Works that have now entered the cannon include Marcus and Fischer (1986); Clifford and Marcus (1986), Fabian (1983), and Rabinow (1977). 3 Asad (1973) has become a touchstone for these discussions, although there are many, many others.

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the anthropological truths presented therein. At its most extreme, the post-modern position argued that cultural blinkers are so, well, blinkering, that one can never actually encounter the other worlds in which one is doing research. And at its most extreme, the critical position was that this approach generated nothing but a sort of self-indulgent ‘naval gazing’ that resulted in narratives of little theoretical or analytical interest (see also De Neve, this volume). As with so many origin stories, the past comes to be represented as an amorphous, general state. And in this case, despite the critique of the Enlightenment project, the model continues to depend on the implicit notion of progress. ‘They’ were totalizing; ‘we’ know better and resist the totalizing urge (except in the representation of the prelinguistic turn state of the discipline). This very representation of mine, of course, depends on an over-simplification of highly complex processes and provocatively sophisticated arguments but I put them forward in order to identify the major focus of this chapter, a focus that fits directly within the overall theme of the volume. The first aim of my discussion, then, is to examine critically the implicit assumptions that anthropological fieldwork was ever purely directed by the researcher, that anthropologists were ever so blinded by their own cultural categories that the social interactions they engaged in did not deeply influence their understanding, and finally, that substantial learning did not take place in the field. I do not mean to imply that the call to a more reflexive approach to the entire anthropological project was not a fruitful one. I think that is was. But the danger in defining ethnography simply as the craft of the ethnographer is that this brushes aside the social immediacy of fieldwork as it has been conducted for some time. The image of Evans-Pritchard in front of his tent is telling. If we compare the ways in which he compiled notes and created his text with, for instance, Marjorie Shostak who conducted her fieldwork some fifty years later, it is clear that the research processes in each case were significantly different. When Shostak was gathering the information that would ultimately become Nisa: the Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (1982), she recorded Nisa’s words, would play them back for Nisa, who in turn would then decide what she thought should be the next topic for discussion. Regardless of the extent to which the final volume was indeed a product of Shostak’s craft, the production of the information was highly collaborative in a way that would have been difficult given the technology at Evans-Pritchard’s disposal even if he had wanted to proceed in such a fashion. Yet in his introduction to The Nuer, EvansPritchard (1940) gives a striking and reflexive account of how the conditions he encountered in the field structured the sort of work he did. He details the shifts in social dynamics as he leaves and returns from the field for medical as well as political reasons; he describes the consequences of military actions on the part of the Anglo-Sudanese colonial regime for his position in Nuer camps. And at the end, he compares the ways in which Azande and Nuer positioned him. The more hierarchical Azande, he says, kept him to one side even whilst providing him with detailed information. The more egalitarian Nuer would not permit him to live anywhere but in the camp and forced him to conform to their notions of social interaction rather than the reverse. Evans-Pritchard may have absented himself from the main body

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of the ethnographic text, but he is alerting his readers from the beginning that the experience was not under the control of the ethnographer. From the end of the nineteenth century on, the anthropological record is replete with evidence of the sorts of concerns that have underpinned the critical engagement with the nature of anthropological knowledge and anthropological relationships that have come to be identified with what is called post-modern.4 Although many of these anthropologists do indeed acknowledge the extent to which they depended on their interlocutors for critical learning in the field, none to my knowledge provides a detailed account of how they learned their craft ‘on the job’, so to speak. The major focus of this chapter, then, will consider a series of different sorts of events during the course of which, my own understanding shifted in terms of how I was processing the things I was being taught. These include several what I would call ‘aha!’ moments when I realized that basic assumptions I had been operating on were either misconstrued or completely irrelevant; they include ‘slow burn’ socialization processes during which one realizes only later that one’s ideas have shifted ground quite radically; they include long, elaborate and stimulating conversations in which ideas are explored, challenged, modified and occasionally entrenched; they include frank and open discussions in which the people you work with tell you how they conceive of the research project, what they want you to do, and how they want you to do it. And they include the shifts in position that inevitably and fortunately accompany the passage of time. When I went into the field, most of my contemporaries had young children. We are now the age of grandparents. Not only a wealth of shared experience, but the nature of that experience shifts. That we learn to be anthropologists in the field seems to me to be a truism. How seems a more interesting issue. The setting I have worked in two communities on the North Slope of Alaska since 1980. I arrived having just finished an MPhil in Social Anthropology and with a BA in German literature received a decade earlier. Barrow, the regional capital, is located on the coast of the Arctic Ocean where migrating whales pass close to the shore twice a year, where seals, walrus, ducks and fish gather in abundance, and where daily jet 4 One of the earliest of these to come to my attention is Alice Fletcher, an ethnomusicologist who worked with Omaha for several years in the late nineteenth century. She adopted a young Omaha man, Frances la Flesche, who collaborated with her for many years (see, for example, Fletcher 1893). She is explicitly reflexive about the extent to which her perceptions and musical training might influence her understanding of Omaha categories; she also became directly engaged with the politics of indigenous/state relations. By the time Malinowski (1935) writes Coral Gardens, his tone has lost quite a lot of the magisterial quality that characterizes Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922). If you do not find knowledgeable people who are interested in what you are trying to learn and take it upon themselves to act as teachers, he says in the introduction to volume one whilest indentifying by name one of his most important teachers, you are lost.

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planes transport Iñupiat and others to and from the region. Rivers provide access to inland resources (fur bearing mammals, caribou, geese, fish). A forty-five minute plane ride to the west lands you in Wainright, a village of some 415 people where whaling, hunting and fishing also form core aspects of social life. The people for whom this is home call themselves Iñupiat, the real people. They define themselves as hunters, but pursue multiple economic activities and are also deft political actors on the national and international scene. Microwave ovens are used to defrost niqipiaq (real, or hunted food) and satellite technology keeps people connected to the internet as well as to 99 channels of cable television. My involvement with North Slopers has taken a number of forms. I worked for the regional tribal government in Barrow for three years (the Iñupiaq Community of the Arctic Slope, or ICAS) as their Director of Social Services; I worked for the Arctic Women in Crisis Center for several months; I conducted research for the IHLC, already mentioned and, more recently, for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC); I worked for the City of Wainwright as their grants monitor for almost two years; and I taught a course in research methods at Ilisagvik, the local community college. Whatever I do as an anthropologist has always been embedded in the myriad of social relations that have structured these varied experiences. In that, I feel enormously fortunate. By the same token, it is absolutely clear to me that my cognitive filters, so to speak, are by this time anthropological ones. Thus what is ‘critical’ in this account are not only events and processes that have been central to my development as a person who is, amongst other things, an anthropologist, but also how these events have contributed to the formation of the analytical models through which I attempt some critical purchase in the interpretation of my experiences. Moments of truth We turn then to the first type of example – conversations that effected immediate and permanent reordering in my own thinking. I have chosen three, although not because they were the most important – it would be difficult to decide that. In each case, however, the conversations did something quite different. The first, with cosmological overtones, required that I rethink some of the most basic categories that I had. The second, a direct comment on the nature of ‘rights’, encouraged me to broaden a set of ideas that I had been working with for some time. The third, a comment on environmental knowledge and decision-making, once again reminded me how much I do not know after twenty years – and encouraged me to explore some new avenues. Although Geertz (1973) is credited with introducing the term ‘thick description’, to anthropology Malinowski probably provided a more wide-ranging and detailed description than Geertz of how such a project might be put into practice. One of his most famous admonitions in Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) is that anthropologists must learn to ‘see the world through the Natives’ eyes’. In Coral Gardens and their Magic (1935) he elaborates what he meant by such an admonition

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and discusses at length how one goes about trying to translate untranslatable words.5 Simply seeking word for word equivalents, he suggests, will inevitably do conceptual violence to the local categories. Instead, one must learn meanings not simply as a function of osmotic language learning, but through an attentive and systematic analysis of that process. In this way, it is possible to build up a conceptual vocabulary from within the local system as opposed to imposing one’s own logic upon it. He does not just assert this, but he takes several concepts and, through detailed transcriptions of conversations, shows us how he engaged in this task. In his shorter discussion of garden magic in Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), Malinowski addresses the question of questions. Without a significant fund of cultural understanding, he suggests, it is very easy to ask questions that are nonsensical to the audience and therefore will generate either a sense of general bemusement and baffled silence, or equally nonsensical answers. His example concerned the ‘origin’ of magic. To ask Trobrianders where magic comes from (his initial question) makes as much sense as to ask a Christian where God comes from (my analogy). It does not compute as a question. After listening to several narratives with magic as a central topic, Malinowski modified the question and asked, how did people first come into contact with magic? To that question, answers apparently came thick and fast.6 These insights are crucial in understanding the processual linkage between linguistic and interpretive learning. But the first two ‘moment of truth’ examples I shall discuss below happened precisely because I asked stupid questions – ones which, like Malinowski’s example above, were based on conceptual categories which did not make sense in Iñupiaq terms. What is critical here is that the people I was talking to understood the categories I was operating with, and were able with a few concise words to show me that I needed to rethink the grounds on which I was interpreting what I saw. The first moment: A lesson in cosmological understanding I had recently arrived in Barrow to begin working for the Iñupiaq Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS). It was autumn of 1980 and people were getting ready to go out whaling. As an MPhil student I had read Ernestine Friedl’s (1975) analysis of the importance of the sexual division of labour when considering the gender order amongst hunters and gatherers. She was unequivocal that amongst Inuit in 5 Coral Gardens, vol. 2 (on language), chapter 11 ‘On translating untranslatable words’. 6 Malinowski’s description of the process by which he learned to ask questions is stimulating, but is in fact a relatively rare sort of inclusion in his earlier texts. Keith Basso, a sociolinguist who has worked with Western Apache for decades, has developed a style of writing that takes the reader through the processes by which Basso comes to understand what people mean when they say, for instance, ‘wisdom sits in places’ (1996). Basso describes the conversations – and their contexts – in which teaching was taking place. Basso thus provides an account of how information was conveyed as well as a reflective account of what he thought he learned thereby.

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general and Iñupiat in particular, the fact that men hunted most of the food people consume, meant that the position of women was comparable to a housewife in Middle America. Dad brings home the bacon and Mum cooks dinner. One evening as we were getting ready to leave the ICAS offices, I wanted to show that I had some cultural knowledge and said to Ernie Frankson, a colleague, something to the effect of, ‘So I guess it’s just you guys who go out whaling, isn’t it?’ Ernie smiled, put his arm around my shoulder and responded, ‘But you know that the whale comes to the whaling captain’s wife, don’t you?’ I suddenly realized that I had no idea whatsoever what it meant ‘to hunt’ in Barrow, Alaska; I certainly had no idea how people conceived their relationships with whales. I spent the next several years trying to find out. It led me to the conviction, only strengthened with time, that the received anthropological model of gender relations amongst Iñupiat was simply wrong.7 The extraordinary thing is that Ernie did not get impatient and ignore the remarks of a foolish newcomer as he could well have done. Nor did he shout at me about not spouting off until I actually had learned something. He knew exactly what to say that would stop me in my tracks and make me think about the assumptions I was operating with. And it did. The second moment: Rethinking aspects of social organization Fast forward to summer 1998. I had been extraordinarily lucky to be invited to sit in on a training session for virtually all of the bilingual experts in the region. Courtroom translators were going to be needed and it was important for people to understand how the requirements of translating during legal proceedings might differ drastically from, say, a doctor’s office or elders’ conference. The room was filled with an aweinspiring number of Iñupiat who were passionately interested in their language and in the often uneasy ‘fit’ between Iñupiaq and English. The first collective exercise was to decide how best to translate the legal phrase, ‘You have the right to be silent’. Every person in the room thought about it and wrote down their suggested translation. Each person then read out their version and it was discussed, carefully, attentively, and without the least hint of competition over whose version might be best. Ultimately the group agreed that the closest translation would use an Iñupiaq word that expressed something like, ‘you have the expectation that you will not be forced to talk’. I had been sitting next to James Nageak and asked if that would be analogous to the right to a ningik, or share, in hunted food. In this case too, after all, a share is a non-negotiable claim, something you can expect to get. James looked at me in astonishment. ‘But the right to a share is based on a responsibility!’ he answered. He did not say, ‘you’ve been here how long and you don’t know that?’ He did not say, ‘there she goes again’, answer something vaguely affirmative to be polite, and get on with the important business of the meeting. I was accurate in suggesting that the right to a share is non-negotiable, and in that sense, generates an expectation that one will receive a resource. And I actually knew very well that in order to be able 7

See Bodenhorn 1990; 1993 for elaborations of that argument.

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to make that claim on the North Slope, one must contribute to the hunting effort. But my own theoretical engagement with debates about ‘property’ was so deeply entrenched in the language of rights, that my own knowledge that obligations were part of those property relations slipped to the lower reaches of my consciousness. In addition, it underscored for me how important it is think about ‘rights’ as a linguistic category that can encompass many sorts of relationships. Here again the crucial moment in this exchange was that James knew what I meant – and he was able to put into very few words the information that I needed, once again, to see the need to shift the grounds of my own analytical categories.8 In both these cases, the questions themselves were ‘wrong’ questions; in each case they were based on false analogies. In the first case this occurred because I was almost totally ignorant of Iñupiaq ideas. In the second the analogy was made on the basis of ordering accurate information in inaccurate ways. In both cases, this led to fruitful results because my interlocutors were adept at helping me see exactly in what sense they were based on misleading assumptions. Third moment: Environmental disaster, environmental knowledge: new directions In the spring of 1997, toward the end of the whaling season, a large slab of the shore-fast ice on which whaling crews had been camping broke off and began to float, carrying 142 people and their whaling equipment away from shore. Despite the dense fog which created virtually zero visibility, Barrow’s Search and Rescue workers were able to prevent the loss of a single life – successfully following the signals of personal locator beacons to find and pick up person after person. Luckily there were no high winds to make helicopter landings difficult. Not surprisingly, the event was the topic of conversation for many months afterwards. One experienced whaler said that he had to keep reminding the crew to breathe deeply, and to stay by the boat and gear so that if worst came to worst they could get into the boat and float to safety. A non-whaler said that his uncle, a whaling captain of many years, had been watching the cracks in the ice all spring and had told his crew they should camp much closer to shore than was their usual practice. Germane to the present discussion was the comment of yet another whaling captain who said he had decided not to go out whaling that weekend, ‘because the wind had stopped’. My first reaction was bemusement. Surely the absence of wind would be a good thing, making the navigation of spring waters, already dangerous because of floating ice, somewhat less hazardous. What I had not known until that point was that in the spring, wind and current often move in opposite directions – holding the ice in place by their equal and opposite pressure; if the wind stops, the current has the capacity to lift up the ice, breaking it off of its base and setting it afloat in the ‘lead’ – the crack of open water in which Iñupiat hunt bowhead from mid April to late May.

8 See Bodenhorn 2000; 2004 for related discussions re property, rights, obligations and responsibilties.

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By now I am no longer surprised at my own ignorance. I have yet to spend even a summer up on the North Slope without learning things that I might have assumed I would already know. The effect is the constant opening up of new sorts of questions. In this case, my interest has expanded to include questions about environmental knowledge, the complex processes involved in decision-making and ways in which ‘risk’ is theorized. A lot of people were in agreement that ten years ago, such an event in such dense fog would have been a disaster. My oft-repeated question was whether or not ten years ago, 142 people would have been out on the ice in the first place. The follow-up to a ‘probably not’ answer was to ask whether people could no longer ‘read’ the ice as their parents had; whether ice conditions were changing so people weren’t sure what they were seeing, or whether people could indeed read the ice, but assumed that because they had personal locator beacons and search and rescue helicopters, they could ‘take a chance’. Not surprisingly, many people thought all three of those possibilities were perfectly feasible. What I did not ask, but am continuing to explore in other contexts, was to what degree and how people consciously balance potential dangers – thin ice (a serious problem in 1997 as in most other recent years), early break-up, the probability of worsening weather conditions, adverse publicity – and the need to catch a whale when making decisions about whether or not ‘to go out’. Far from theory driving research and imposing structures on the ‘ethnographic record’, it seems to me that questions come out of the field context more often than not. These are then are analyzed and interpreted in a mutual relationship with theoretical models. Becoming socialized – the slow burn While I was working for ICAS, Raymond Neakok, Sr. was the Tribal Council member with responsibility for ICAS’ involvement with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Passed in 1978, the law recognized that the interests of Native American children were not met by taking them from their families and putting them into foster homes or children’s homes that had little engagement with the children’s own cultures. Legally speaking, this meant that the Tribal Government had to be notified whenever the State proposed to take custody of a child. Practically speaking, it meant that we worked with the State Social Services and with the schools whenever possible to try to co-generate strategies that would prevent such proposed action in the first place. As Director of ICAS’ Social Services, I was involved in many of those preventative encounters, but always in consultation with Raymond who would advise me on ICAS’ official position and who would think long and hard about the best interests of the child in question. The learning curve in terms of Indian Law, in terms of constructive interagency cooperation and in terms of local family dynamics was steep. My respect for Raymond’s care with each case was profound. One enduring outcome, however, was that I was gradually incorporated into Raymond and Marie Neakok’s family. ‘Do you want to learn what it means to be Iñupiaq?’ Raymond asked me after we had been discussing a particular strategy for a child custody case,

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‘come camping with us’. It was an invitation I accepted with alacrity and for the next several years was delighted to be included in geese hunting in the spring, ‘boating’ in the summer, looking for ducks, and camping in the autumn when caribou were getting fat. Over time I came to occupy a somewhat ambiguous position. At work I was a professional, someone who was seen to work hard, get paper work in on time and negotiate the varied shoals of government waters with a fair degree of success. But outside of that, out on the tundra and on the beaches, I was clearly a neophyte. With a chuckle, Raymond would introduce me as ‘a kid of some sort’ – someone who occupied a sort of hazy position within the family and someone who clearly did not know what they should have known by my age. My friendship/kinship with Raymond and Marie began before I was undertaking fieldwork; in very different ways they each contributed actively to the research project as it got under way and their friendship has remained a touchstone for me ever since. Through the years other close friendships have grown, metamorphosed and settled during the course of which I learned about hospitality, linguistic conventions, having fun and mourning. The learning in these contexts is through osmosis as much as it is through direct speech. The primary aim of visiting, by now, is simply and satisfyingly social. This trajectory, I suspect, mirrors that of virtually any anthropologist whose connection to a community has grown over the course of time and I am not going to spend any more time talking about it. What I do want to discuss is how I think my knowledge practices have been directly influenced by the ways in which Iñupiat have talked to me about how one might know things. In large part this reflects the tension between the urge to generalize so implicit in the value claims of social science and the recognition of the importance of the particular. The issue that the people I have been working with keep bringing back into view is the question of what sorts of knowledge claims you can make on the basis of the information you have. Readers may feel that this is something we do automatically as anthropologists; I will suggest (on the basis of the frequency with which I have to be reminded of it) that we do not do it nearly enough. I am not for one minute suggesting that Iñupiat do not generalize. I have already given examples of straightforwardly generalizing statements: when the wind stops, the likelihood of ice breaking off increases, which in turn is potentially dangerous for whaling crews; the right to a share depends on the fulfillment of a responsibility; whales give themselves up to whaling captain wives through the efforts of the crew. What I am saying is that people are careful about the grounds on which they justify what they are asserting. When I had finished my original fieldwork and was beginning to write a report for the History and Culture Commission I felt paralyzed because so many things were happening. I went to Leona Okakok, then the Liaison Officer for IHLC, and told her how difficult it seemed to me to be able to write about anything with any confidence. Her response was perhaps the best single piece of advice I have ever received. ‘You talked to a finite number of people for a finite period of time. That’s 9

9 ‘Camping’ is the term used to denote hunting that takes longer than a day. It has no recreational overtones although it is invariably spoken of with great pleasure.

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what you are discussing, isn’t it?’ My reaction was a sigh of relief and an ‘oh yeah, I forgot!’. In work that I have done since, the exhortation to be cautious about knowledge claims has taken many forms. The elders on the History and Culture Commission are exceedingly careful when thinking about the implications of information. Barrow people are explicit in their recognition that the proper conduct of whaling is different in Point Hope, or Wainright, Barrow or Kaktovik and resist over-generalizing statements beyond a general recognition of its importance across the Slope. Even in Barrow, my friend Marie wanted to make sure that I realized that every crew she had ever helped out on had different ways of doing things. As a supervisor, I find myself constantly putting the brakes on my graduate students’ generalizing assertions. It is only recently that I have begun to see in my reactions, traces of the admonitions that have been a constant part of my North Slope experience. Although I am sure I also reach for general arguments that might cause raised eyebrows amongst some, I am equally sure that one of the slowest burns of all for me has been the constant calling attention to the care that must be given to the question of what evidence may be thought evidence of. This seems to me to be a satisfying midpoint between the position that asserts objective knowledge is attainable if pursued with sufficient rigour and the position that assumes all knowledge is socially and/or culturally constructed and hence ultimately unstable. When an Iñupiaq hunter seeks out a taiguaqti (literally, a reader) of the ice to talk about weather conditions, he has the expectation that this expert will tell him to the best of his knowledge what he might find if he goes hunting in a certain direction along the shore. Taiguaqtit are not thought infallible; they are recognized as knowledgeable, articulate, and accurate. That is their craft. They are accountable for the accuracy of the information they provide to the best of their ability so they are very careful about what they assert. That, it seems to me, is precisely the job of an anthropologist. Shifting positions My first stay in Barrow lasted for about six years, from 1980-86. My second extended visit did not take place until 1997, when I returned for about ten months to work on a project for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. I was positioned quite differently this time – both in terms of my living circumstances and in the way we organized the research. A good friend was starting training in Anchorage just as I arrived in Barrow; we agreed that I would stay with the family full time and in particular help look after the kids when the father had to travel. I was embedded in another family, no longer as a kid of some sort, but as a foster mom of some sort. Attending parent-teacher conferences, providing rides to ‘little dribblers’ (the junior basketball team), attending school concerts, having long telephone conversations with my friend over parenting strategies, helping with homework, with dinner, with chores, finishing the evening with a game of scrabble or cards rather than visiting the friends next door - all of these became important parts of my daily activities. Anyone who has experienced

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fieldwork with and without children will recognize not only the ways in which one’s time suddenly shrinks, but also how one becomes involved in very different sorts of conversations with a new range of people. Not the least of these were my friends’ children and their friends. Because they ranged in age from 11 to 16, I was suddenly granted an intense, if partial, access to the world of adolescents. My research was likewise structured very differently. A great deal of my work was funnelled through the provision of an ethnographic research methods class at Ilisagvik, the local community college. My students were all women, the youngest of whom was an 18 year old who had come from Nome because she had heard there was an Iñupiaq college in Barrow. The two eldest were Doe Doe Edwardson, an experienced whaling captain wife who also had worked for the IHLC as a interviewer and translator, and Fannie Akpik, from a non-whaling family, who was a commissioner for the IHLC and who had considerable experience in bi-lingual/bi-cultural curriculum development. The course itself was designed in consultation with the Documenting Committee of the Utqia vik A viqsiuqtit A nangich (UAA) – an association of Barrow whaling captain wives. The intent was to build up documentation in areas that had been identified by the committee as important. At the same time, the goal was to provide an avenue whereby people’s existing knowledge would be formally recognized (the course was worth three advanced credits at the University of Alaska) and expanded. The class was a riot. Because of the wealth of experience in the room – experience coming from different sources – discussion was always lively, critically informed, and often took off in unexpected directions. I will provide two brief examples. One day I brought in a video, made by the AEWC, on the construction of an umiapiaq, the type of skincovered whaling boat that continues to be used in Barrow during spring whaling. The exercise was to think comparatively about how information is present visually in film as well as in text and to consider how they would themselves design a film on that or a similar project. Doe Doe Edwardson’s immediate reaction was that of a committed whaler. ‘Why should we watch videos? What is important is to go whaling!’ Fannie’s response was, ‘but I don’t come from a whaling community and I really want to learn’. That broke the ice and an insightful, creative discussion ensued. It was Doe Doe in fact who decided that the film under discussion had the effect of compartmentalizing what is more properly understood as an ongoing process. ‘We should start the film with a shot of Nalukatak (the celebration held to mark a successful spring whaling season)’, she suggested, ‘and then pan to hunters setting out in their boats right after to go sealing. That way, people would understand whaling never ends’. The discussion was one I would never have been able to generate on my own. The second example produced more far-reaching results. Martha Aiken, an elder, whaling captain wife and member of the UAA Documenting Committee agreed to make a presentation to the class concerning one of the issues the Committee thought was in critical need of attention: the need for more young women to learn how to braid sinew into the thread that is used to sew the skin covers for umiapiat.10 Again 10 In Iñupiaq, singular nouns often end with ‘q’; dual with ‘k’ and plural with ‘t’. Thus umiapiaq is one boat; umiapiat are three or more.

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the discussion was energetic, engaged and informed. The questions ranged from seeking advice concerning the best way to treat seal skins to a general discussion about how one might try to materialize some of the issues in order to produce a museum exhibit. Fannie, as a member of the IHLC, had stopped by their offices to pick up recording equipment so that a high quality record of the session was on tape. Two things came out of that session. One was a three-day workshop, open to anyone who wanted to participate, on sinew braiding. Some forty-five people attended. One of Martha’s observations during the initial class was that ‘things nowadays cost too much! We always used to exchange, but now you have to buy, buy, buy all the time.!’ At Martha’s exhortation, the resulting workshop was organized in such a way that not one penny changed hands, although many other forms of reciprocity were involved. Fannie, who ran the Iñupiaq Studies Department at Ilisagvik, arranged it so that those participants who wished to earn a single University of Alaska credit would be able to do so. In order to qualify for a credit, however, they would need to write an account, in Iñupiaq or English, of what they felt they had learned. The combined result of class and workshop was a book, beginning with Martha’s presentation, including the students’ accounts, featuring a photo-essay of the workshop, finishing with an annotated bibliography and a bi-lingual glossary, and framed with historical photographs from the IHLC archive.11 The book is a delight. It is entirely the work of students. And it was received with great pleasure on the North Slope. Here we come full circle, but with a twist. I opened this paper with an explanation of its title and with the acknowledgement that I still consider it part of my job – my assignment, as it were – to talk about why it is important for Iñupiat to whale. That is one form of reciprocity, for it is a direct response to what people said they wanted to gain by the research project. I finish with the ‘other side’ of that assignment, that of reciprocity in terms of work that is meant to stay ‘at home’. Fieldwork is awash with it. And it keeps getting more satisfying as more and more people are involved in the final results. Acknowledgements In no particular order and highly incomplete, thanks go those whose friendship and intellectual stimulation have buoyed me for decades. Raymond and Marie Neakok, James and Anna Nageak, Leona Okakok, Mattie Bodfish, Martha Aiken, Arlene Glenn, Priscilla Nageak, Lucille Bodfish, Anna and Dempsey Bodfish, Maggie Ahmaogak, Fannie Akpik, Nancy Ahsoageak, Edna Ahgeak Maclean, Eileen Boskofsky, Rosie Habeisch and Eben Hopson, George and Debbie Edwardson, Homer Bodfish, Ethel Segevan, Ernie Frankson, Charlie Edwardsen, Kathy Itta Ahgeak, Craig George, Gretchen Bersch, Mabel Smith, Ann Fienup-Riordan, Phyllis Morrow, Chase Hensel and many, many others.

11 See Akpik and Bodenhorn, eds. 2000. The book is distributed through the IHLC. It was sold out as of last summer, but moves were being considered to print another run.

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References Akpik, F. and Bodenhorn B. (eds), Pilgallasiñiq ivaluipianik: learning to braid ‘real thread’ (Ilisagvik College and AEWC: Barrow, Alaska, 2000). Asad, T. (ed.), Anthropology and the colonial encounter (London: Ithaca Press, 1973). Basso, K., ‘Wisdom sits in Places’, in Feld S. and Basso K. (eds), Senses of Place (Santa Fe, 1996). Bodenhorn, B., ‘“I’m not the great hunter, my wife is”: Iñupiat and anthropological models of gender’, Études/Inuit/Studies, 12(1-2)(1990): 55–74. _____, ‘Public places; private spaces: public and private revisited on the North Slope of Alaska’ in Bender B. (ed.), Landscape: politics and perspectives (Oxford: Berg, 1993). _____, ‘“It’s good to know who your relatives are, but we were taught to share with everyone”: shares and sharing among Iñupiaq households’, in Wenzel G., HovelsrudBroda G. and Kishigami N. (eds), The social economy of sharing: resource allocation and modern hunter/gatherers (Osaka, Japan: SENRI Ethnological Studies 53, 2000). _____, ‘Sharing costs: an exploration of personal and individual property, equalities and differentiation’, in Widlok T. (ed.), Hunter/gatherers, property and equality (Oxford: Berg, 2004). Clifford, J. & Marcus G. (eds), Writing Culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Evans-Pritchard, E.E., The Nuer: a description of the modes of livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1940). Fabian, J., Time and the Other: how anthropology makes its object (New York: Columbia University Press,1983). Fletcher, A., A study of Omaha Indian music, aided by Francis La Flesche (Cambridge, Mass: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, 1893). Friedl, E., Women and Men: an anthropologist’s view (New York, 1975). Geertz, C., The Interpretation of Cultures: selected essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973). Malinowski, B., Argonauts of the Western Pacific: An account of native enterprise and adventure in the archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea; with a preface by Frazer J.G. (London: Routledge, 1922). _____, Coral gardens and their magic: a study of the methods of tilling the soil and of agricultural rites in the Trobriand Islands. Vol. 2: The language of magic and gardening (London: Routledge, 1935). Marcus, G. and M. M. J. Fischer (eds), Anthropology as Cultural Critique: an experimental moment in the human sciences (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986). Rabinow, P., Reflections on fieldwork in Morocco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977). Shostak, M., Nisa: the life and words of a !Kung woman (London: Allen Lane, 1982). Van Gennep, A., The rites of passage; translated by M. B. Vizedom and G. L. Caffee (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).

Chapter 3

The Multi-Sited Ethnographer Simon Coleman

Introduction: Fetishizing the field? Scholars cultivate many ‘fields’. We may achieve pre-eminence (or remain in obscurity) within our chosen field. Or, within physics, we can use the word to refer to the idea of interacting forces (Gupta and Ferguson 1997: 41). In my own distant past, I have dug up field sites in the name of archaeology: indeed, my tendency to think about unearthing lunch rather than artifacts on such occasions was one of the causes of my decision to move over the fence to an adjacent field, involving the study of living people rather than buried remains. However, despite the wide-ranging uses of the term, social and cultural anthropologists have frequently used representations of ‘fieldwork’ in order to draw sharp boundaries around their own ‘field’, deploying the former in order to reinforce the latter’s disciplinary identity. What does such identity amount to? One answer lies in the fact that a Malinowskian archetype still influences the ways in which we represent ourselves methodologically to ourselves, as well as to others:1 in such terms, the purest form of ethnographic knowledge is to be obtained through experience of the unalloyed Other in a field site that is epistemologically and culturally, as well as geographically, distant from home. Such an ideal can be seen as deriving, so Kuklick argues (1997), from implicitly masculine, Western ideals of personal growth through travel and endurance. It also refers rather more to issues confronting the young fieldworker than to those facing the maturing returnee (Parkin 2000: 259). In its celebration of the intrepid explorer, albeit one presumably surrounded by informants, it parallels Urry’s (1995) notion of the Romantic Gaze constructed by middle-class tourists who wish to distinguish themselves aesthetically and socially from the travelling herd. Of course much has changed since Malinowski pitched his tent on Trobriand shores, but the powerful imaginary of the outsider who becomes the fictive native is still part of our disciplinary consciousness (cf. Marcus 1998: 246), with total immersion in an alien culture being valorised as both a data-gathering strategy and a rite of passage into ‘the field’. Yet – perhaps not all that surprisingly – quite a 1 While Gupta and Ferguson (1997: 21) point out that the original Boasian tradition in the US emphasised history and text, they add that a future path of American anthropology was indeed to adopt the Malinowskian model of direct observation of contemporary, primitive societies.

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few paradoxes are evident in anthropological conceptualisations of the material and disciplinary arenas in which we carry out such work. Take for instance the language that we use to describe what we do. We talk of going to ‘the field’, coming back from ‘it’, and so on, as if it were a communally owned methodological space (suitably ring-fenced) to which we all repaired from time to time. Yet, one of the foundations of the anthropological project has been based precisely on asserting the salience of fundamental cultural differences between the places to which we travel. How, then, can a multi-centred field become a site of common practice, a focus of disciplinary habitus? The question is made even more complex if we accept that considerable cultural variations exist among long-standing national traditions of ethnology, such as the German, French, British, American, and so on. A second paradox relates to how we deal with the assumptions lying behind our disciplinary practices. The importance of fieldwork is not generally in doubt (though see Allen 2000). But is it so fundamental that it is actually taken for granted? In recent years we have been keener to anatomise such issues as the notion of culture or ‘the anthropologist as author’ than we have been to examine the role of the fieldworker (Gupta and Ferguson 1997:1). A common trope within informal anthropological discourse describing one’s first fieldwork experience – at least among members of my own (now incipiently middle-aged, British-educated) generation and above – involves an admission of methodological ignorance, combined with stories of the positive discouragements given by older generations in response to anxious questioning as to how fieldwork should actually be conducted. Shore (1999: 27-8) makes a similar point when he juxtaposes the centrality of fieldwork to anthropology with the lack of formal training devoted to it. He adds (ibid.: 33) that the attitude when he was a PhD student was that anthropological methods could not be taught since fieldwork was too personal and unpredictable for pedagogical generalisations: thus one either coped or caved in – a view that he now sees as a further reflection of the macho ethos behind such travel. Of course, if we are to proceed on inductive lines rather than succumbing to (ideal) natural scientific paradigms, a degree of flexibility and even improvisation is indeed necessary. However, the trope of ignorance may also serve an important rhetorical purpose, not only suggesting the initial cultural and ideological blankness of the fieldworker, who is consequently fully receptive to the culture studied, but also emphasising the considerable distance that has been travelled in the journey from ignorance to immersion.2 I am not arguing here that we should suddenly design rigidly generic fieldwork courses, since such an approach would bring us back to imagining an homogenous field; rather, I am noting that our disciplinary reflections on fieldwork and the field as containing highly heterogeneous sets of practices are rather thin in comparison with other forms of anthropological self-examination. However, as is so often the case, our assumptions are currently being more fully exposed – or, more charitably, one might say articulated – precisely because they 2 Expressions of initial ignorance are often incorporated into ethnographies as part of the narrative of entry of the anthropologist into the field.

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are being challenged from both within and without. A crisis of representation in the human sciences (Marcus and Fischer 1986) is being followed by a minor crisis in deciding how to carry out the work that makes such representations possible. Much appears to depend on how we currently conceptualise space and context in defining the boundaries of our work, as contemporary anthropology begins to accept that the notion of the isolated, autonomous fieldwork site has been something of a convenient functionalist fiction. Hastrup and Olwig (1997) refer to the ‘shifting anthropological object’ in reference to the fact that place has become weakened as a dominant metaphor for culture (ibid.:7). Or, as Appadurai puts it: ‘Does anthropology retain any special rhetorical privilege in a world where locality seems to have lost its ontological moorings? Can the mutually constitutive relationship between anthropology and locality survive in a dramatically delocalized world?’(1995: 4). Ethnographic constructions of the local are challenged not only by mobilities, diasporas and ‘scapes’, but also by seismic shifts in the demographics of anthropological production. Sharp distinctions between desk and the field are deeply problematised when anthropology is done at home (wherever home happens to be). The connections between the ‘fieldworking’ person and the ‘fieldworked’ place often become (more) complex and loaded as geographical and cultural distance are reduced, and when the very agency of the anthropologist as author is deconstructed either by informants or by the ethnographer. We see why Gupta and Ferguson (1997: 38-9) end up suggesting (although perhaps not fully developing) the idea of seeing anthropological knowledge as a kind of situated intervention, existing and possibly contending with other representations in any given context.3 Nevertheless, ‘the field’ does remain a fetishised concept within anthropology (cf. Dresch, James and Parkin 2000: 2): it is central to our self-understandings but shrouded in mystification;4 it is given a tangible, unified quality through anthropological rhetorics that actually conceal a multiplicity of practices. Once translated into ethnography, it is also invested with a sort of power: the ability to make or break the anthropological persona. Geertz’s Works and Lives (1988) famously shows how the ethnographer inserts the fieldworking self into place, into a state of ‘being there’ (Watson 1999). The legitimising strength of the ideal of fieldwork is evident even in the writings of in those who are openly sceptical of its role in anthropology. Thus, Allen (2000) depicts his career as moving unapologetically in a linear journey from field to desk, as he attempts to deal with large-scale historical 3 Compare Marcus’s point (1998: 16) that one of the premises of the 1980s critique was that ethnographers would no longer be able to define sites and objects of study that were not already written about and represented, and so could no longer constitute objects of study naively without explicit strategies of engaging other, often competing modes of representation about the same objects of study. 4 Discussing the anthropology of the West, Okely argues: ‘It is no accident that the geographic space which has been obliterated or defined as the ethnographic periphery for orthodox anthropology is the very same which is occupied by a centre of academic power’ (1996: 3). In the same way, it may be no accident that our methodological centre is itself relatively unexamined.

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questions that can be elucidated through expertise in anthropological thought rather than through fieldwork per se. He states: ‘What I am against is…fetishising fieldwork, and turning it into the defining essence of the discipline’ (2000: 243). As ‘essences’ go, fieldwork is too imprecise to give us an enduring identity, says Allen, even as he reveals (ibid.: 247) that it is no longer the monopoly of anthropologists, given that it is increasingly undertaken by sociologists, political scientists, students of religion, and so on.5 Admittedly, many anthropologists would argue that only ‘we’ know how to do ‘our’ kind of fieldwork, so that we should retain control of the authorised versions of the rites and writings that create legitimate ethnographers. I am reminded here, however distantly, of the endpoint of a different kind of travel, that discussed in Eade and Sallnow’s (1991: 15–16) description of the sacred shrine in Christian pilgrimage. They note that what confers upon a shrine its universalistic character is its capacity to absorb and reflect back a multiplicity of religious discourses: embodying the classic Marxist model of fetishisation and alienation, the shrine appears to its devotees as if it were dispensing the power and healing balm which they seek. So pilgrims both make and are made by shrines; similarly, ethnographers both create and are created by field sites. Such sites are material but also intellectual spaces that define the limits and contexts of authorised interpretation. The delineation of a context for study has an active, performative character. As Dilley puts it ‘Context … involves making connections and, by implication, disconnections’ (1999:x), and this point can be extended to the notion of ‘the field’, which describes the limits of one’s contact with informants, but also indicates the extent as well as the boundaries of one’s ethnographic expertise. My interpretation of the title of this volume therefore leads me in two directions. The phrase ‘critical journeys’ implies the sense that travel (however proximate its goal) is often seen as central to the intellectual and more broadly personal biography of the ethnographer; indeed, it is seen by some as constitutive of legitimate participation in the field of anthropology. However, the title also points to the necessity of providing a critique of the assumptions behind our journey-making and therefore our (re)creation of ourselves as ethnographers. My strategy in this chapter is to examine specific aspects of the fieldwork process as I have experienced them, in order to ask whether we can go beyond a purely fetishising and unreflective assertion of the centrality of fieldwork to our disciplinary identity. Thus I come here not to bury fieldwork, but neither do I wish to resurrect it to a celestial plane.

5 However, we also need to remember that understandings of ‘the field’ and associated ethnographies have not always echoed contemporary sensibilities. Gupta and Ferguson (1997: 7) note that even many of Malinowski’s own students completed library dissertations before entering any ‘field’, while James (2000: 87) interestingly remarks that when she was a student some decades ago ‘ethnography’ did not have the abstract and elevated sense it now enjoys: ‘An ethnography was a type of book, rather than a timeless mode of encountering and enciphering the world’.

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The multi-sited ethnographer We have seen how, in defining their field, anthropologists have recently been wrestling with how to deal with ‘travelling cultures’ (Clifford 1997), ‘ethnoscapes’ (Appadurai 1996) and the need for anthropologists to cope with ‘a wider world’ (Dresch, James and Parkin 2000). Along these lines, the phrase ‘multi-sited ethnography’ (Hastrup and Olwig 1997) is usually taken to imply that the anthropologist examines a number of fieldwork sites that are connected through movements of people and/or cultural representations. In other words, spatial separation is acknowledged but also overcome in work that aims to focus on the simultaneity of linked events in distinct places. I want however to examine a slightly different idea, that of the ‘multi-sited ethnographer’. By this phrase I refer to the temporal as well as the spatial journey that most anthropologists make throughout their careers, from one site to another, and then possibly another, and so on. This is a journey that has been taken by many anthropologists over the years, although it has not been particularly studied, but it forces us to ask how fieldwork experiences may leach into each other, even if they are undertaken in separate places and at completely different stages of the fieldworker’s career. By using the term ‘ethnographer’ rather than ‘fieldworker’ here I am consciously conflating the state of being in the field with that of writing about it, because part of my point is that over the course of a career one might at times be reacting as much to what one has previously written about a place as to one’s memories of having been there. A reason to go down this analytical path is that it can begin to get at the heart of some of the paradoxes I mentioned above. If there is a tension between ‘the field’ as generic concept and the many fields actually investigated by anthropologists, how might the same ethnographer reflect upon this potential conflict within his or her own career? Marcus argues that: ‘What multi-sited strategies of research offer is an opportunity to dislocate the ethnographer from the strong traditional filiation to just one group of subjects among whom fieldwork is done and instead to place her within and between groups in direct, or even indirect and blind, opposition’ (1998: 20). My aim is to see this attitude as comprehending not only a single research project, but also the interaction of several sites over time within the intellectual biography of the anthropologist, to see how the overlapping demands of different projects can create fertile as well as at times difficult relationships (Parkin 2000: 261; Marcus 1998: 10-11; 239–40). Approaching ‘the field’ in this way should also provide the opportunity to blur some of the firm boundaries that have sometimes been drawn between field and home. There are parallels here with Unnithan-Kumar’s questioning in this volume of the distinctiveness of the field over time and space, and with her sense that she always carries ‘the field’ along with her. Regardless of whether fieldwork has been conducted in one’s own country or not, locating or contextualising constructions of the field within autobiography provides the opportunity to see the life of the anthropologist not as a series of ‘normal’ periods interspersed with ‘abnormal’ sojourns in the field (the parallels with rigid structure/anti-structure models are obvious) but rather as

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an intermingled set of reflections and experiences, drawing on different but linked contexts. James (2000: 76) notes that she was never able to think of her fieldwork as self-contained, insulated from her ‘normal’ life, not least because she was teaching in Khartoum at the same time as studying the Uduk. Gardner (1999) expresses a more programmatic desire actively to avoid compartmentalising fieldwork as a special category, isolated from the many understandings that are achieved in preand post-fieldwork contexts (cf. Watson 1999: 15). As Gardner puts it (1999: 49), the relationship between our transformative fieldwork experiences and the texts resulting from them is not linear, because what and how we learn is endlessly influenced by our personal locations and identities, which themselves change over time. So an obvious but important point is not only that field sites change over time, or that autobiography and ethnography interact, but that the self is also subject to change (cf. Reed-Danahay 1997: 2). Furthermore, our very relationship to past events and writings changes as we and/or our discipline are transformed. Parkin reflects: ‘Multisitedness over time and space is then partly a prolongation of memorised writings recollected at later dates and sometimes for different intellectual purposes than those originally expressed’ (2000: 265). The ‘here and now’ encounters of participantobservation become recast in memory (James 2000: 69), but memory itself is not made of stone, and is transformed over time. I therefore propose in the next section to examine my experiences of ‘multi-field ethnography’, reflecting on my work in the three different sites that I have engaged with since the mid-1980s. These projects have been initiated not only at different times of my career and at different periods of anthropological and cultural debate, but also in contexts where local expectations of the practices of ethnography have been very different. Apart from providing a chronological description of my ethnographic journeys to and through these sites, I wish to explore a number of specific themes: 1) How might these sites be said to ‘speak to each other’ in ways both anticipated and not anticipated by me in the course of doing fieldwork and writing about them?; 2) In what ways might the juxtaposition of sites help to collapse or at least complicate home-field distinctions?; 3) To what extent have the sites prompted similar fieldwork practices, despite the fact that I have negotiated access to them at very different stages of my personal and professional life? Location, location, location: Three scenes from ‘the field’ Sweden, 1986–present In 1985, as a third-year undergraduate contemplating the possibility of postgraduate research, I was looking for a research topic when one fell, quite literally, into my lap. During a lecture, a fellow student passed me a note asking whether I believed in God, and our subsequent scribbled exchanges led to my agreeing to accompany her to her local congregation in the suburbs of Cambridge (cf. Coleman 2000: 17). Having had a largely secular upbringing, I found my first Sunday morning in a House Church to

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be intriguingly exotic: here were tongues, dancing, moving in the Spirit – made even more striking by the fact that they were being carried out by people whom I could expect to (and indeed did) meet subsequently in the street. My subsequent decision to work on conservative Protestant Christians in Sweden was prompted by a number of motives: a desire precisely to study such religious behaviour in a social and cultural context where it might initially appear to be deeply ‘out of place’; the assumption, no doubt derived from my academic training, that I should create at least some distance between desk and field, with Sweden seeming relatively remote in comparison with Cambridge suburbs; and the personal wish (in the context of the Britain of the mid1980s) to experience a nation-state that, as I perceived it, promoted the values of social democracy rather more than those of the unfettered market. After a preliminary visit to Sweden, I based my fieldwork in Uppsala and focused on two churches: one a well-established Pentecostal congregation in the centre of the city, and the other a new, American-style, Prosperity-preaching ministry (the ‘Word of Life’) that was in the process of developing possibly the largest Bible school in Europe. Indeed, during my first period of fieldwork in Uppsala the ministry constructed purposebuilt premises in an industrial zone of Uppsala. While the Pentecostal church made me feel immediately welcome – it probably helped that one of its members was an anthropologist – the Word of Life was busy discouraging researchers from the local Theology Department from examining it too closely. As I later discovered, the ministry also had an ambivalent relationship to anthropology, mistrusting it in its secular manifestations but keen to use its cross-cultural insights when teaching believers the benefits of deploying social scientific knowledge in mission and evangelisation. In any case, I managed to negotiate a position where my presence at the group was tolerated if not actively encouraged. Initial fieldwork was conducted over fifteen months between 1986 and 1987 in both congregations simultaneously, as I wanted to gain the parallel experience of seeing the world through ‘older’ as well as ‘newer’ charismatic eyes in Sweden, and I have since been back a number of times to ‘the field’. While my PhD (1989) on this fieldwork, titled ‘Controversy and the Social Order’, focused on the moral panic in Sweden caused by the Word of Life in the twin contexts of Sweden and Uppsala itself, my book based on the fieldwork (2000) took a rather different tack, comparing the newer movement to a transnational corporation constructing its own ideologies of globalism as it attempted to transcend what it perceived to be the cultural, political and social limitations of Sweden as the focus for its activities and charismatic imaginaries. Norfolk, 1995–present By the mid-1990s, I had completed my PhD, been employed as a Junior Research Fellow in Cambridge, and then moved on to a lectureship in Durham. I decided that I was keen to build on my work applying an anthropological perspective to Western Christianity, but wished to place my knowledge of Swedish charismatics in some kind of comparative ethnographic context. Serendipity again played a considerable part in my choice of a new field. I happened to visit the North Norfolk coast and

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came upon the picturesque village of Little Walsingham. Wandering into what I took to be a local church, I was confronted by a dramatic statue of the Virgin and Child, shining on an altar placed in what appeared to be a cavern-like structure built into the church itself. The contrast between what I took to be the almost Mediterranean gaudiness of the building and the surrounding sleepy Norfolk countryside was striking, and I soon came to realise that I had arrived at the High Anglican shrine of a village that was one of England’s premier sites of pilgrimage – and moreover one that had never been subject to sustained anthropological study. My next project was about to be born, but there were still decisions to be made. Walsingham had been a pilgrimage site in the medieval period before being revived in the early twentieth century, and its shrines (not just Anglican but also Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as it turned out) were stuffed full of art and other forms of material culture. I therefore invited an art historian (and friend of almost twenty years), John Elsner, to work on the site with me. Since 1995, I have been to Walsingham many times, either with John and our respective families or on my own. Much of the work has attempted to relocate pilgrimage in new theoretical frames – of movement, memory, narrative – rather than addressing older arguments about the applicability or otherwise of communitas models to sacred travel (Coleman 2002). I have mostly focused on talking to shrine staff and pilgrims, John has looked at the material aspects of the site, and we have both worked on archives, but in practice our work has necessarily overlapped (Coleman and Elsner 1998). In contrast to the Swedish fieldwork, I have found an openness to research among almost all of the informants I have encountered in relation to Walsingham. Another significant contrast has been in the location of some of the work: I soon came to the conclusion that pilgrimage research should not be confined to the shrine alone, since (to borrow a Turnerian metaphor that is rather apt for this chapter) any given pilgrimage ‘field’ clearly comprehends not just a shrine but also many different interpenetrating ellipses, constituted by routes with their own ‘sociogeographical surrounds’ (Turner and Turner 1978: 22). Fieldwork on ‘Walsingham’ has meant following and interviewing pilgrims in the village but also at numerous points around the UK. Middlesbrough, 2002–present Some years ago, Peter Collins, a colleague of mine in the Anthropology Department at Durham, showed me the plans of a large hospital, situated in Middlesbrough perhaps forty minutes drive from the main campus of our University. He explained that the hospital was about to be rebuilt and extended, in the process taking over the functions of a number of other local hospitals in the area. Eventually, both Peter and I worked as part of a team also consisting of one clinically-trained academic, two architects and an expert in community-based arts, that gained funding from NHS Estates to carry out an evaluation study of the conversion of the Middlesbrough hospital into what will probably be in certain respects the largest tertiary care facility in Europe. The evaluation, ongoing at the time of writing, focuses on the impacts of new architecture and art on patient and staff perceptions of the hospital. At the

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background to such work not is only a further analysis of the role of the expanded hospital in the local community, but also an examination of the influence of Private Funding Initiatives (PFI)6 ideologies on working practices in the NHS. This work has a clear applied dimension, and one of its aims is to generate a template for appraisal of changes in hospital space that can be deployed throughout the NHS. However, it also has a number of resonances with wider issues within both medical anthropology and the discipline as a whole, since it views hospitals as potential sites of memory and narrative, as shifting arenas of discipline and surveillance, and as means of articulating varying (and often competing) forms of public and private space in the contexts of interactions among staff, patients and visitors. A particular feature of such work is also the explicit attempt to analyse the value of participant observation as a technique of assessment that can complement other methods, such as collecting questionnaire data, focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Of the three ‘fields’ described in this paper, this one comes closest to James’s depiction of blending teaching and data collection almost simultaneously: a morning teaching anthropology may well be followed by an afternoon’s interviews down the road. From distinct fields to deep structures? So: what to make of these three brief sketches or barely glimpsed scenes from ‘the field’? Clearly, in certain respects they represent distinct activities, divided variously by national location, language, research aim, and so on. However, even in their differences they can be seen as linked in key respects, some of which have been consciously planned by the ethnographer, while others have emerged on post-hoc reflection in ways that I confess I myself have found surprising. Thus I want to juxtapose a sense of the generic field with these three particular fields by deploying various metaphors of connection: ‘trajectory’, ‘dialectic’ and ‘deep structure’. Fieldwork as Trajectory What happens if we arrange these sites in linear fashion, as representing different points along a career trajectory – thus viewing them through the filter of (auto-) biographical time? In such terms, we can see how the first example of fieldwork comes closest to the Malinowskian archetype. Uppsala is hardly a remote jungle but it is relatively far from my home and my work there has involved collecting data on my own. The Norfolk research has been both closer and shared with one other researcher, albeit not an anthropologist. Finally, the Middlesbrough project is close enough to be considered geographically very proximate to other parts of my life and is being carried out with other researchers, including one fellow anthropologist.

6 Under PFIs or Private Funding Initiatives, a private sector consortium pays for a new hospital and then the local NHS trust pays the consortium a regular fee for the use of the facility.

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It is therefore possible to view the trajectory of my fieldwork so far in terms of some apparent correlates: as time has gone on, geographical distance from home has decreased, and degree of collaboration with others has increased. There are of course some problems with this over-neat summary. For a start, I have deliberately not drawn a line under any of the projects I have started, since I wish to maintain long-term engagement with each of the sites. In addition, it is perfectly possible that I might travel far from the UK or even Europe to conduct research in the future. However, I think it is also fair to note Gupta and Ferguson’s point (1997: 15) that second field-sites are the ones that tend to be closer to home, a pattern that fits well with considerations of tenure (in their American cases) and child-rearing. Each of these projects represents work that has aroused my deep curiosity and commitment, but as an anthropologist one can hardly ignore the influences of institutional context (Shore 1999: 45) or personal circumstances on one’s choices. Lone fieldwork in Sweden was originally carried by a student who needed a PhD to gain access to the ethnographic club; joint fieldwork in Middlesbrough is being carried out by an ethnographer who is married with three small children, and already has a job at a university. Dialectics of ‘the field’ There is at least one other point to be made about second field sites – or in my case it might be more accurate to say subsequent field sites. They might often be less distanced in geographical terms than the first fields to which ethnographers travel, but there is the potential for them to journey further in terms of theoretical and methodological experimentation. Marcus (1998b: 234) points to a trend he has increasingly found among anthropologists (again in the US), for second projects to be real departures and de facto experiments both in the conception of research and in its production. Second projects sometimes move beyond the settled community as site of fieldwork toward dispersed phenomena that defy the way that classic ethnography has been framed, reflecting ‘very much the predicament of how to work and conceptually write one’s way out of a tradition that one both wants to preserve and change’ (ibid.: 234), and thus often moving towards interdisciplinary work and being informed by issues that are distinctly outside the tradition of area studies. In effect, it is easier to experiment once one has a job. In addition, while second or third field sites should be able to stand on their own intellectually, they may also be chosen to comment on what has been done before. Thus, my Walsingham fieldwork has certain continuities with the Swedish research – for instance both broadly relate to Christianity, and both have been carried out in northern Europe.7 However, it is 7 Indeed, by the time of going to Walsingham I had become more fully aware of prejudices still held by some anthropologists against working in (at least certain parts of) the West (‘Why did you go to Sweden?’; ‘I assume you are studying the Sami?’ and so on), but had among other things come to a conclusion similar to that of Allen (2000: 245) concerning the relativity of otherness, that there is no cut-off point where otherness begins or ends.

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also possible to see both the Walsingham and Middlesbrough projects as conscious attempt to move away from or at least experiment more radically with some of the elements of the Swedish research. My decision to work at Walsingham with an art historian was of course prompted in part by the characteristics of the site itself, but also by a desire to view pilgrimage through intellectual lenses that were not primarily deployed by past anthropological approaches to the topic. Thus my own fieldwork is carried out alongside – in a literal as well as a methodological conversation with – someone who is constructing his own field in a rather different way. Such an approach has been taken to a further extreme in the Middlesbrough work – ostensibly away from the realm of religion but of course re-invoking the role of art in relation to a healing context – where participant observation is explicitly juxtaposed with other constructions of what is being examined, including the hospital’s own views as to what ‘knowledge’ should be. The fact that I have not abandoned any of the fields that I have originally visited also means that work on one site can explicitly feed back into another. An obvious example of this relates to the Word of Life-Walsingham connection. Having carried out initial fieldwork at the pilgrimage site, and having of course discussed the site with John, I found that when I came back to Uppsala I began to perceive charismatic and Pentecostal culture through rather different eyes: in effect, the material aspects of conservative Protestant lifestyle – photos, buildings, even images – became much more apparent to me, as did the realisation that much previous ethnographic work on such Christians had largely ignored such a constitutive part of the conservative Protestant religious life (Coleman 1996). Deep Structures The most intriguing aspect of my comparing field sites has actually come from observing some underlying parallels between my choices of sites – or one might equally say ‘constructions’ of such sites as projects – that were not consciously intended or even initially noticed. Thus, none of the fields I have described involves a tribal group located in a given territory in a classic anthropological sense, but focuses rather on groups that might be described as engaging in complex and often problematic forms of self-conscious place-construction. The Word of Life’s ambivalent relationship to both Uppsala and Sweden was reflected in its new building, a warehouse-like structure at the edge of town that echoed the internationalist styles of other ministries run by Prosperity Christians elsewhere in the world. The Anglican shrine at Walsingham advertises itself as part of ‘England’s Nazareth’, but its deeply problematic relationship with the Anglican communion is expressed in its placeconstruction: for instance, I soon discovered that the Mediterranean quality of the shrine church was also a commentary on the role of High Anglicanism in relation both to England and Europe. The hospital at Middlesbrough (not the most fashionable of towns, unlike for instance neighbouring Newcastle) is self-consciously using the language of heritage (‘James Cook’) to put itself on the local and national, and even European map, just as its connections with locality are debated by residents of the

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area who are unsure of the role of a hospital that appears in itself to be as large as a town. Each of these sites involves ‘communities’ where the connections between culture and place appear deeply ambiguous: Are they at the centre or at the margins?; How do they cope with and indeed channel the thousands of people who flow through their spaces each year?8 The self-consciousness displayed by members of these fields is also translated into their relationship to the discourse of anthropology, as represented by the ethnographer(s) involved. The Word of Life actually teaches some social sciences in its international university, deploying the work of, amongst others, Ernest Gellner to do so. At Walsingham, I have interviewed many well-educated pilgrims whose analysis of the place sounds suspiciously akin to that of Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983) in The Invention of Tradition (and in some cases this is, I think, because they have indeed read the text). I was unable to find any modern works of anthropology in the library of the Anglican shrine (though Frazer’s Golden Bough is there), but did find myself interviewing an administrator who has undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from Durham. The Middlesbrough hospital has a specific interest in deploying social scientific research methods in examining itself, leading to inevitable ambiguities as to the role of the ethnographer in relation to the assumptions of both clinical and wider NHS discourse. Although I have not adopted a similar stance towards field sites at a particularly conscious level, it is therefore fair to say that many of my informants have been well equipped to challenge the assumptions of anthropology from their own, well articulated, ideological viewpoints. I confess I have felt comfortable with this stance of anthropology as relatively unprivileged, situated intervention (see Gupta and Ferguson 1997: 38–9, and above), however inadvertently it has been adopted. More broadly, it is possible to see each of these sites as expressing tensions between two competing interpretations (material and ideological) of broadly the same cultural resources. Put crudely, the Word of Life represents a form of hypermodern (or post-modern) charismatic culture that is constructed in opposition to the more classical styles of Pentecostal worship; meanwhile, over the past century, the Anglican shrine at Walsingham has constructed a parallel and often deliberately competitive pilgrimage environment to its Roman Catholic counterpart in the environs of the same village (although now relations are rather more ecumenical); finally, the Middlesbrough hospital represents a new, rationalised face of the NHS, with its expansion achieved at the cost of local cottage hospitals. It is even possible, in retrospect, to see work on one site as providing implicit resolutions of the problems raised by another. For instance, carrying out fieldwork within the Word of Life, I experienced a certain frustration in studying a ministry that was ostensibly based in Uppsala but was self-consciously transcending apparent spatial and cultural limitations, not only by constructing a global imaginary of charismatic influence, but also by actually setting up offices and parallel ministries in other parts of the world, most of them in practice unreachable by a fieldworker 8

Of course there are historical connections between pilgrimages and hospitals.

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with limited financial and temporal resources. In retrospect, I suspect that one of the attractions of going on to study Walsingham was the opportunity it afforded of looking precisely at the relationship between a ‘religious centre’ and its numerous satellites, many of which were relatively easily reachable within the UK. At a broader level, I cannot deny that, despite my worries about fetishisation, I have tended to adopt – only half ironically – what I now think of as a broadly common fieldworking ‘disposition’ when gathering data. By this I perhaps mean little more than an acceptance that, as an anthropologist gathering data, I should be primarily orientated towards listening to others rather than expressing views of my own. Such an approach is applicable as much in a hospital context as it might be in a charismatic prayer group, but there a fine line to be drawn between such a self-conscious ‘listening mode’ and an over-objectification of the sense of crossing over into another, distanced world when carrying out fieldwork. A few weeks before writing this piece I found myself approaching the hospital wearing the unaccustomed garb of a jacket and tie, and wondering whether I was doing so to blend in with clinical staff or rather to construct a personally significant distinction between my fieldworking self (at the hospital) and my teaching self (in the campus just down the road). I do not have an answer to my own question, but I would confess that, after more than twenty years, I now feel comfortable in my fieldwork disposition. It has in itself become a kind of disciplinary dwelling, a habitus (Clifford 1997: 69) that, as a consequence, provides a further way to confound the distinction between home and field. ‘Home’ might be located almost as much in such a habitus as in the domestic routines of one’s working life. Concluding remarks: Journeys without end I do not intend this chapter to provide definitive answers to questions as to how to do fieldwork. Rather, I have been trying to explore tensions between conceptualising ‘the field’ and actually working within multiple fields that I regard as inherent within the process of gathering ethnographic data. There is of course a specific worry in attempting to bring fields together as I have done. By bestowing the labels of ‘culture’ and ‘site’ onto three very different entities – a charismatic ministry, a pilgrimage site and a hospital – I have also in effect created the intellectual conditions through which to compare them. As Harvey puts it: ‘This aspect of the concept of culture as construct bears an uncanny resemblance to the outcomes of commodification processes, the worlds of advertising and entertainment where difference proliferates but there is no hint of incommensurability’ (1999: 215). The context of comparison I have created can therefore be seen as serving my own purposes, producing the conditions of possibility for discussing three fields in one paper.9 Yet, I have also tried to show that these fields are linked by the biography of the researcher, the multi-sited ethnographer whose own self is likely to exhibit 9 Compare Marcus: ‘Within a multi-sited research imaginary, tracing and describing the connections and relationships among sites previously thought incommensurate is

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both transformations and continuities over time. If there is anything inherent to the anthropological condition (and of course such phrases deserve to be received with a considerable degree of scepticism) it may consist in a constant sense of being suspended between ‘the field’ and the various fields we explore over the course of our careers. This sense of suspension can I think be used productively by anthropologists, and here I suggest just two possible ways, apparently very different in intent and audience. Firstly, if we are to accept that boundaries between field and home are blurred, it seems to me that such a perspective should feature strongly in one of the most significant of all anthropological practices: teaching. In my experience our own disciplinary rapprochement with history has still not led sufficiently strongly to a contextualisation of ethnography in the historical circumstances of the writer’s ‘home society’ alongside the changing circumstances surrounding ‘the field’. What is the significance of the fact that an ethnography was produced in the Britain of the 1930s, say, or the France of the 1970s? What political events, other forms of writing, genres of artistic style, were salient at the time? Such questions are vital and obvious but still inadequately addressed, and they play an increasingly important part of my own teaching strategies. Secondly, having discussed the notion of the multi-sited ethnographer, I want to adapt another metaphor deployed by Marcus. In a review article (1995) he famously depicts multi-sited ethnographic research as peripatetic, a practice of ‘following’ connections, associations and relationships as much as finding any given ethnographic object. Thus: ‘Multi-sited research is designed around chains, paths, threads, conjunctions, or juxtapositions of locations in which the ethnographer establishes some form of literal, physical presence, with an explicit, posited logic of association or connection among sites that in fact defines the argument of the ethnography’ (ibid.:105). (Interestingly, in the context of what I have just said about cultural production, he compares this approach to the constructivism of the Russian avant-garde). Part of my argument is that it may be intellectually productive and revealing for us to understand our own forms of ‘multi-project’ strategy, exploring the connections and associations between the apparently different research fields (not just sites) that we follow and construct over time. After all, we are each of us on an ethnographic journey whose end can never truly be reached.

ethnography’s way of making arguments and providing its own contexts of significance’ (1998: 14).

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References Allen, N.J., ‘The Field and the Desk: Choices and Linkages’in Dresch P., James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Appadurai, Arjun, ‘The Production of Locality’in Fardon R. (ed.), Counterworks: Managing the Diversity of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1995). _____, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). Clifford, J.R.: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997). Coleman, S., ‘Controversy and the Social Order: Responses to a Religious Group in Sweden’, Unpublished PhD Dissertation (University of Cambridge, 1989). _____, ‘Words as Things: Language, Aesthetics and the Objectification of Protestant Evangelicalism’, Journal of Material Culture, 1(1996): 107-28. _____, The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity: Spreading the Gospel of Prosperity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). _____, ‘Do you Believe in Pilgrimage? From Communitas to Contestation and Beyond’ Anthropological Theory (2002). Coleman, S. and Elsner, J., ‘Performing Pilgrimage: Walsingham and the Ritual Construction of Irony’, in F. Hughes-Freeland (ed.), Ritual, Performance, Media (London: Routledge, 1998). Dilley, R., ‘Preface’, in Dilley R. (ed.), The Problem of Context (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999). Dresch, P., James, W. and Parkin, D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Eade, J. and Sallnow, M. (eds), Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage (London: Routledge, 1991). Gardner, K., ‘Location and Relocation: Home, “The Field” and Anthropological Ethics (Sylhet, Banaladesh)’, in C.W. Watson (ed.), Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999). Geertz, C., Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author (Cambridge: Polity, 1988). Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J., ‘Discipline and Practice: “The Field” as Site, Method, and Location in Anthropology’, in Gupta A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). Harvey, P., ‘Culture and Context: The Effects of Visibility’, in Dilley R. (ed.), The Problem of Context (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999). Hastrup, K. and Olwig, K., ‘Introduction’, in Olwig K. and Hastrup K. (eds), Siting Culture: The Shifting Anthropological Object (London: Routledge, 1997). Hobsbawm, E. and Ranger, T. eds 1983 The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). James, W., ‘Beyond the First Encounter: Transformations of “The Field” in North

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East Africa’, in Dresch, P., James, W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Kuklick, H., ‘After Ishmael: The Fieldwork Tradition and its Future’, in Gupta A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). Marcus, G. E., ‘Ethnography In/Of the World System: The Emergence of MultiSited Ethnography’, Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1995): 95–117. Marcus, G. E., Ethnography through Thick and Thin (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998). Marcus, G.E. and Fischer, M.J., Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in the Human Sciences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). Okely, J., Own or Other Culture (London: Routledge, 1996). Parkin, D., ‘Fieldwork Unfolding’, in Dresch P., James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Reed-Danahay, D.,‘Introduction’, in Reed-Danahay D. (ed.), Auto/Ethnography: Rewriting the Self and the Social (Oxford: Berg, 1997). Shore, C., ‘Fictions of Fieldwork: Depicting the “Self” in Ethnographic Writing (Italy)’, Watson C.W. (ed.) Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999). Turner, V. and Turner, E., Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (New York: Cornell University Press, 1978). Urry, J., Consuming Places (London: Routledge, 1995). Watson, C.W. (ed.), Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999).

Chapter 4

Others In and Of the Field: Anthropology and Knowledgeable Persons Narmala Halstead

This chapter probes understandings of the other in the field and academia in terms of academic debates and fieldwork encounters among Guyanese East Indians in New York and Guyana. East Indians want to be others as a category of positive visibility in multiculturalism settings, but are wary of being anthropologised as the objects of research in specific contexts. These encounters demonstrate an anthropological tension in the field: the modernity of the discipline is assessed according to East Indians’ ideas of being modern; in turn, this allows for an anthropologist’s examination of anthropology through its mode of crisis as ways of engendering knowledge. Introduction As the indigenous anthropologist among Guyanese East Indians1 in New York and Guyana, my presence becomes a nexus between academic debates on anthropology and East Indians’ concerns with knowledge: our encounters are experienced through particular frames vis-à-vis East Indians’ understandings of themselves as modern. These interactions rely on my different positioning which allows my indigeniety to shift: thus, there are instances where I am seen to be aligned with my discipline rather than with East Indians. My different visibility helps to tease out these encounters as issues of knowledge and to demonstrate East Indians as interventionist in the knowledge constructions which follow. The chapter discusses these interventions and their consequences as both an anthropologising of anthropology and the mutual connections between researcher and researched for the construction of anthropological knowledge. Both in the academic setting and in fieldwork encounters, these are issues framed through critical reflection. Among East Indians this foregrounds a mode of intra-group questioning which emerges as status concerns and becomes attached to the fieldworker who is both ‘indigenous’ and ‘distant observer’. In academia, this 1 They are also described as ‘Indian,’ Indo-Guyanese and in New York, IndoCaribbean.

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resonates with the discipline where this is constructed through constant reflexivity as a mode of crisis and which encompasses historical shifts around representation and the anthropological object (Fabian 2002, Clifford and Marcus 1986, Rabinow 1986). The notion of crisis in anthropology provides for a reflexive approach to the discipline’s role in constructing the other.2 The need for ‘rescue’ allows for the discipline to probe and build on its intellectual contributions through crisis (Fabian 2002: 102, Halstead in press a). This relates to extensive reflexive examination by anthropologists of anthropology as a discipline (see, for instance, Nencel and Pels 1991, Leach 1961).3 In the encounters with East Indians there is an extension of the mode of crisis: anthropology or an idea of it is variously positioned within modernity or displaced into history. The researcher has to then engage this extended mode as participant and observer in the co-production of anthropological insights as located in the ways people know themselves and want to be known by ‘outsiders’ (see Kahn 2001). This allows for a series of contemporary processes with historical influences in the constructing of various kinds of other through regard and examination from different ends of the field.

2 This concern with re-examining anthropology’s relationship with the exotic and how this is (mis)read outside the discipline continues into the 21st century (see MacClancy 2002). Harris notes that anthropology’s efforts to ‘combat ethnocentrism’ is successful to a degree, but that ‘it is now commonplace to see as problematic the very focus on exotica which early generations of anthropologists were so busy trying to rationalize’ (1991:146). 3 This scrutiny has seen a discussion of how early anthropologists ignored the impact of the colonial presence in their accounts (see Hirsch 2001:137, Stocking Jr. 1991). Leach (as cited in Tambiah 2002:432–433) in an 1987 ASA lecture, discussed how ‘tribal ethnographers’ ignored this presence where ‘in order to bring things into sharper focus palpably European elements in the ethnographer’s notes were omitted from the published record or else treated as alien contamination grafted onto whatever was there before’. The issue of anthropologists colluding with the colonial powers to oppress their subject populations was shown as unfounded by Goody (as discussed in Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:56). However, Eriksen and Nielsen (2001:56) noted that it ‘may still be maintained that British anthropologists tended to pursue research interests that directly or indirectly legitimised the colonial project’ (see also Asad 1991: 314-316, Bunzl 2002: xix, Gupta and Fergusson 1997 6–7, Fabian 2002:17). The implicating of anthropology in colonialism led to the need to address concerns around the legitimacy of fieldwork and the need to examine its authoritative claims for knowing the other (see Bunzl 2002, Nencel and Pels 1991:6–7). The terms of this critique have merited scrutiny as Nencel and Pels noted and where they argue that ‘the people we encounter as anthropologists are usually perfectly capable of taking care of themselves’(1991: 17).

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Clothing the anthropologist: Indigenous to what? I begin with encounters among the predominantly Guyanese East Indian locality in Richmond Hills, Queens, New York4 where various attempts by participant-hosts to make me bodily visible in specific Indian clothing puzzled me. I thought it strange that these various East Indians should offer to buy me a sari: as an East Indian of Hindu Guyanese origins, I had grown up with the idea of the sari as an exotic Indian item to be brought out for specific displays and very specific at that. The general attire was ‘western-style:’ people did not really ‘dress-up’ in Indian wear despite their attendance at Indian ceremonies which were public displays of Indian culture. Observing the new fashion in specific settings in New York where women were attired in expensive saris, known to be brought from India, I realised that this fashion was intertwined with new kinds of access to the items. In turn, women migrants returning to Guyana to participate in functions in Indian settings influenced the new trend so that more and more persons appeared in saris or shalwar kameez instead of just a few core participants as had often been the case previously in Guyana. The fact that they reverted to the everyday non-ethnic wear outside of these cultural sites meant that more was going on than just access to and availability of these forms of clothing. The displays demonstrated wealth, status and achievement of the ‘outside’ as an external imaginary. Inextricably part of this was an emphasis on what I describe here as ‘cultural authenticity’. This was borne out, for instance, by a pandit’s wife in New York, one among those of my hosts who had kindly offered to gift me with a sari (Munasinghe 2001: 113–4). She noted that when she wore a sari she felt like a ‘real Indian woman’. Yet, outside of these functions, she returned to wearing everyday ‘western’ style clothing. Thus, there were different spaces for being ‘real’. My reflections on these encounters alongside very different ones allowed me to return to earlier interactions with East Indians in Guyana and to consider the notion of the modern in terms of displays of ‘traditions’ and spaces beyond and outside traditions (see Knauft 2002). By reflecting on their movements between ‘Indian’ and ‘non-Indian’ identities, I was able to appreciate the nuances of particular kinds of cultural authenticity among the New York migrants (Halstead 2000). Although residents include Indo-Trinidadians and smaller groups of Italians and Puerto Ricans among others, this New York community is constructed as ‘Indian’ largely through a notion of Guyanese East Indian-ness (Amit 2002). The material is drawn mainly from discussions with and observations of migrants in their homes, at public functions, at religious and social-religious settings of mainly Hindus and to a lesser extent, Muslims. I also met with migrants in business places and on Liberty Avenue

4 I carried out initial fieldwork in 1994 in Guyana prior to commencing doctoral research between 1995–9. I subsequently followed up this research by carrying out fieldwork in New York from 1999. I have also conducted more recent fieldwork on the political violence and migration issues in Guyana and in New York.

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East Indians shop and meet each other on the avenue as a site of ‘back home’ connections. For various East Indians in New York, the emphasis on ethnic clothing is ostentatious, ‘show-off’ behaviour: they are impatient and critical of the public display of cultural authenticity. Their critique is part of their understandings of being modern. But those who publicly perform cultural authenticity are also being modern specifically by demonstrating knowledge and competence of how to do traditions rather than how to critique these: thus, being modern occupies dualistic spaces of ‘Indian’ and ‘non-Indian’ forms of behaviour and where critical intra-group scrutiny and distancing inform this dualism. East Indians produce themselves as modern through these forms of othering and by demarcating exclusives spaces to be authentic within and outside of culture. As researcher and East Indian, I appear in a double mode of this dualism: there are two kinds of critical gazes that allow for distinctions to emerge between the different forms of othering attached to these roles. My indigeniety relies on my Guyanese East Indian origin,5 but I am also occupied in this ‘strange task’ of acquiring information about people whom I (must) know about. My person is invested in this strangeness: my project and audience are understood in encounters where my presence intercedes or my project has to be controlled to allow for particular expressions of ‘being modern’. Where persons are comfortable with being represented through particular displays of tradition, this relates to their understandings of achieving the modern, so that the display of tradition cannot render them ‘backward’. This issue of loss of the modern under the gaze of the anthropologist as something suffered by those performing ‘backward traditions’ emerges more explicitly in the Guyanese sites as discussed further below. In the New York setting, where Guyanese migrants have achieved status by virtue of outward migration from Guyana to the U.S., an achievement of the modern is identified with being in New York and being successful: in these instances, they produce themselves as ‘positive others’ and expect that in studying them, I will re-affirm this positive visibility. This resonates with the multiculturalism ethos which celebrates different cultures (Kahn 1995, see, however, Trouillot 2003: 71–3). In contexts of public displays of distinctiveness, this also requires my appearance as Indian, complete with sari to seal my cultural authenticity. Not everyone dresses in ostentatious ethnic clothing when they attend Indian gatherings of religious and social functions in New York: some women feel that they confirm to the traditional setting by wearing the white orhni, the lacy headgear which effectively cover their head, parts of their face and can fall on their shoulders 5 The focus on ‘anthropology at home’ by western anthropologists has allowed for a recognised shift in the notion of anthropology as the study of remote places and people (Eriksen and Nielsen 2001:49, Jackson 1987, Okely 1992, Strathern 1987). This shift allows for both ‘modern people’ and those seen as native (non-modern) to be part of anthropological knowledge production (Moore 1996:6). How East Indians are ‘indigenous’ may be seen as problematic in a way that it is not for modern Euro-Americans who are the focus of ‘anthropology at home,’ (see, however, Strathern 1987:21).

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depending on its length. This, with the traditional long dress, expresses their body as pious and devoted in the context of being an Indian woman as an embodiment of respect. In these instances, it is the long dress with orhni that is traditional rather than the imported sari or shalwar kameez wear. When I am offered saris so that I can appear dressed like a ‘real Indian woman’, I am identified outside of these coresiding spaces of critical distance from ethnic wear or the ‘back home’ tradition of the long dress and orhni. This claiming is not just about my East Indian guise: it is also about my appearance as ‘other’, someone representing an audience which seeks knowledge of these others. But in these instances, my gendered East Indian visibility could not and would not be allowed to be separate from this researcher’s role: I am representative of Indians and need to be visible in the correct way. The offer of a sari is not just an effort to ‘own’ me; it is also about my visibility as Indian, where as the (East) Indian anthropologist, I am presumably able to mediate particular representations of the other, to be replayed as positive under the ‘academic gaze’. These attempts to get me to belong are about how particular migrants want to enact and ‘preserve’ culture and display ‘authentic’ traditions, but also rely on how as researcher and or an anthropologist I am seen as aligned to my discipline or academic setting rather than to Indian culture. Inside this specific modern setting, it is both the efforts of the migrants to be more Indian in the New York setting and the perception of my nonindigenous persona that forms this particular relationship. There are other nuances where some who are also studying their culture whilst living it, expect my presence as anthropologist. Some of these East Indians are presenting their own living histories via filmed events, emphasis on media, particularly television to promote culture and present themselves as cultural stewards (Trouillot 2003: 132–3, Van Maanen 2001: 236). Among these various migrants who oversee, officiate or record ‘culture’ in New York, my presence as an anthropologist fits into their activities. Thus, they want to know more about my work, they tell me about what they are doing, welcome me and give me access which both acknowledges and privileges my role as an anthropologist among them. Being modern and the researcher: Different contexts of authenticity While the distinctive grouping of East Indians in Richmond Hill is visible through the enacted mode of cultural authenticity, this co-resides with these migrants’ understandings of themselves through another kind of authenticity. This is where they appear as ‘modern persons’ outside of cultural or ethnic markers of identity. The focus on my representative role for Indian culture overlaps with encounters with migrants who see the migrant setting as a forum to explicitly demonstrate that they can be modern outside of culture. This is despite the forms of acting in and out of Indian behaviour in Guyana. One migrant explains: ‘people come to America and they go overboard’. In many ways, the contra-traditional approaches of ‘behaving badly’ in New York frame the loss of what it means to be indigenous in this setting

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and allow for a public redefining of men and women’s roles in terms of respect issues. Those who want to counter the effects of ‘wild’ America see this redefining of respect as ‘decadent modernity,’ and one which has to be rendered absent in more culturally-prescribed ways of belonging. In this context, women are blamed and targeted for loss of respect. The understanding of this loss prompts further displays of the ‘community’ as distinctively Indian. These particular oppositions co-exist to either recreate a setting indigenous to Indian culture or to claim a particular form of modernity where persons show themselves outside Indian notions of respect. The public orchestration of these categories also relies on the particular stories people want to tell which often expresses their efforts to actually achieve the status gained as an automatic right by virtue of migration. In these co-residing modes, their understandings of my researcher’s role shift from someone writing ‘positively’ about Indian culture to someone who has to record their passages of migration, hardship and status: I am friend, confidante, someone who can empathise by virtue of my East Indian-ness, my gender as a woman and or my researcher’s role (see Halstead, in press). The migratory journey has, in itself, also produced persons as knowledgeable in a way that separates them from persons who carry out backward traditions. Whether they do so or not is not the issue. Of significance, are the different processes of being modern vis-à-vis traditions: in Guyana more than in New York, some East Indians feel the need to separate themselves from traditions which might affect their appearance as modern under the gaze of the observer. The complexity of these cultural constructs and my role as observer are further brought out in discussions with a pandit who resides in both Guyana and New York. In Guyana, this pandit, ‘Ramchand’6 lives on the outskirts of ‘Better Prospects’, one of my main field-sites. He ‘demanded’ my presence at his home in Guyana so that he could tell me about Indian culture, yet it the same time he found it necessary to make me understand that ‘Indian culture’ was not something people always did (Khan 2005, Kuper 1999, Stephanides and Singh 2000: 31). There is a sense of his desire to move away from an orchestrated discussion on Indian culture. This demonstrates his awareness of the blurred boundaries of non-Indian and Indian. He reflects as a pandit who has to constantly remind East Indians, in Guyana, for instance, to wear ‘ethnic’ clothing for ritualistic ceremonies: Ramchand also does ‘pandit work’ in New York and marvels at the migrant East Indians in New York who emphasise rituals at an intense level. Ramchand asks me many questions about my research. He has satisfaction that I want to know about the lives of East Indians and about ‘Indian culture,’ where he is conscious that East Indians also act against culture. This satisfaction is about my efforts to record Indian culture. Culture is located as something to be accessed by those who do not know about it: it is of value to those whose interest in turn adds to the value of Indian culture as something that can be documented and at the same time can represent the beliefs and practices of specific groups of people. He displays me to people, to his 6

Pseudonyms are used for people and places.

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friend and neighbour with whom he has had many discussions about Indian culture, and to his family, among others: I am the anthropologist writing about Indian culture. He tries to provide me with information about correct notions and behaviour; at the same, he is concerned that I should not confuse this with the contradictory behaviour of East Indians: these contradictions are puzzles on which he has to constantly reflect and or identify. This is in terms of his understandings about his own identity and the representative burden he bears as pandit to ensure and perform Indian culture. His understanding of this culture as separate is reflected in his honesty to me; at the same time, he has positioned me as someone writing for a specific audience. Thus, his conversations are to help me to understand Indian culture as a set of knowledge practices and notions where I am engaged in a primary task of documentation. As a person who is both migrant and local, and in his pandit role, Ramchand makes comparisons between the different cultural settings and demonstrates through his reflections that he is concerned with the dualistic and contradictory modes of behaviour. In this context, my task as an anthropologist is welcome: he makes sense of my project in terms of how he himself thinks of Indian culture as separate. But he also wants me to understand the dualism and not to confuse the ideal with other behaviour. Ramchand is a green card holder (US residence): this allows him tremendous status in the local villages in Guyana. It also means that he is differently located in global networking activities. His position as a pandit in both countries as well as his reflexive approaches to his lived settings, in general, means that he does not have the same concerns about my observer’s presence and representative role like various others I meet in Better Prospects. This village is on the West Bank Demerara. It exemplifies the contradictions as a squatting area7 where its impoverished conditions enter into intense status interactions around culture, migration and diaspora. Residents live in all kinds of houses which are constructed alongside a winding dam and, in some instances, small houses have been demolished to allow for larger ones. The involvement of residents in global networking – which includes receiving gifts from overseas relatives, trading in ‘outside goods’ and travelling – intercede in squatting area conditions which become a poor indicator of residents’ levels of prosperity (cf. Smith 1988:47). The activities around global networking form part of an external imaginary8 for residents which they envisage through an idea of America. There is a pre-dominant group of Hindu 7 People obtained the land by turning up and building on it, hence the term, squatting area, which is also disreputable. 8 By the mid 1990s, Guyana, independent from British colonial rule in 1966, had become a country known by its inhabitants as having ‘more Guyanese outside the country’ than in its borders. While intensive outward migratory activity is not Guyanese-specific, given the way the Caribbean, for instance, is seen to be defined through migratory flows, this particular migration movement is referenced through poor socio-economic conditions and political repression (see, for instance, Olwig 1995). It gained momentum in the 1970s under the dictatorship of its then President, Forbes Burnham. Although the country emerged from 25 years of undemocratic rule in 1992, the emphasis on going ‘outside’ continues as central to Guyanese activity.

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residents in the locality which also includes inter-religious families and Muslims and Christians (Halstead 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005). The public ritualistic settings are discussed in this chapter mainly in terms of Hindu rituals: these are attended by guests from different religious backgrounds and a Hindu ceremony can also be inter-religious in the sense of the participant having other religious loyalties as noted in Halstead 2001. This constructs an Indian community across religion and through shared understandings of respect notions; at the same time, there is intense emphasis on being publicly Indian through particular religious and cultural activities that also express their differentiation as Indians among themselves. This brings out issues around their understandings of being modern and performing ‘traditions,’ but where there is not the same emphasis on cultural authenticity as in the New York setting. This is because people know themselves as Indian: there are long-established public avenues to display this identity and there are persons who will facilitate these public performances through their guises of having particular cultural knowledge such as the pandit or the nowa, a helper to the pandit (Khan 2005, Munasinghe 2001). They have a different relationship with cultural authenticity that places emphasis on accessing the ‘outside’ by demonstrating themselves as competent and as people who know how to belong beyond cultural settings. Thus, alongside the performances of rituals and social functions are the displays and activities which demonstrate their outside connections and global networking activities. This is also the case with those who carry out ceremonies where Ramchand, for instance, officiating as the pandit at a Hindu wedding ceremony in the village made constant references to New York and what residents were doing there, although he focused on their activities which promoted culture. Their self-questioning is directed at both Indian and non-Indian expressions which have to be constantly examined to identify and deride ‘inauthentic’ behaviour and to separate themselves from those who appear inauthentic. This separation and critique allows them to express themselves as ‘modern’, that is, those who know how to belong as competent persons in a global network. Their intra-group differentiation is also about denying possible intra-group categorisations of backwardness. This becomes an extension under the gaze of the ‘outsider,’ where the outsider, too, has to be scrutinised and or distanced or included as part of status enactments (Halstead 2001). Where the outsider is also an insider, the constant scrutiny explicitly interrogates these insider and outsider positions. What will ‘anthropology’ do for you and to me? In various instances, my role of studying them intervenes in their appearance of being modern: they then interact with me through their efforts to shift the presumed focus from their ‘native status,’ to people who know how to be modern or whose knowledgeable status allows them in turn to be critical of being scrutinised. My materialisation as an observer who is also indigenous appears contradictory: if I already know about the culture, what is it that I am seeking to find out. This is the

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question posed through Harish’s observations, a resident, who runs a ‘drinks shop’. Harish’s outlet is on the winding, muddy dam in Better Prospects: as a squatting area there are no proper road facilities. Harish invited me to sit next to the small, wooden outlet and chat with his customers, whilst he himself chatted with and observed me.9 His scrutiny is not unprecedented in anthropological accounts. The presence of anthropologists has often come under scrutiny by locals (see Brettel 1993). Freilich (1970: 2), writing in 1970, discusses how anthropologists were perceived by locals including that of being government agents. Several decades later, Karim (1993: 89), for instance, picks up the theme of being observed by the observed (see also Fowler and Hardesty 1994: 5, Narayan 1993: 671). Karim adds: ‘Singly or collectively, he or she will reflect upon this new experience and be caught up in a situation of dealing with two kinds of reflexivity, the “self” as both “object” and “subject” and the “other” as “observed” and “observer”’ (1993: 89). Harish’s scrutiny extends these accounts to bring out the nuances of how my project and anthropology are located: this renders explicit the intermittent role of observer between us.10 While he serves a trickle of customers to his small outlet, he questions me: will I make money out of this? Are there lots of jobs? What am I doing here? What is the value of anthropology in these times? During this questioning, he talks about his friend who lives nearby, who can assist me because he knows a lot. Thus, like Ramchand above, he displays me to his friends and others as an anthropologist sitting at the side of his shop, but where this is also an effort to locate himself outside of knowledge about Indian culture. When his friend eventually arrives, I am provided with ‘positive representations’ of Indian culture which to be offered have to negate my possible indigenous knowledge. Harish’s gaze has to configure me not just in relation to our shared East Indian origins: it also has to encompass my relationship to the outside. This is in the context of the tremendous interaction in global networking and migratory activities and Harish’s inhabiting of these settings through various negotiations. These activities allow him not only to move in and out of ‘indigenous’ frames, but also to have a certain advantage as a ‘knowledgeable person’.

9 The drinks shop is an entity separate to the ‘rumshop’. The latter genders the public display of respect as a cultural notion in favour of men and was traditionally complicit with the imagining of women in relation to propriety (Sidnell 2003, Bannerji et al 2001). In turn, the drinks shop provides a ‘traditional space’ for respect that is not associated with the rumshop. The word ‘drink’ in this context refers to what are described as non-alcoholic ‘soft drinks’ such as coke and other aerated drinks, although Harish actually sells alcohol discreetly. The invitation to sit is a ‘safe one’ in terms of my own appearance in relation to propriety and as a consideration of respect relations. 10 When I visited Better Prospects in summer 2002, Harish’s small drinks’ shop on the dam was no longer there. In its place, he had constructed a large shop on the ground floor of his house. There were also some family issues around this image of Harish as a’ knowledgeable man’ where he was perceived differently in the home.

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This knowledge is achieved through extensive reading, inclusive of Reader’s Digest, and prolonged discussions with his friend in addition to his global networking activities. Although his concerns about global networking take precedence, his understanding of himself as a knowledgeable person allows him to question me about the discipline. His scrutiny does not suspect the idea of his possible cooptation into an academic reservoir of knowledge: what is present is an idea of anthropology being about the study of natives of different time. This questioning does not credit the way anthropology, as noted, has come under repeated scrutiny and critique in the academic setting, particularly since the late 1950s. During our chats, I’m seated on a small wooden bench immediately next to the outlet and make contact with the residents who visit the outlet. Although, Harish, extremely helpful at this stage, assists with these contacts, his enthusiasm for some over others demonstrates his perceptions and management of my project. In the immediate setting, he is inviting persons to speak to me who can provide me with the ‘particular information’ about Indian culture that I seem to be seeking. The invitation extends to his friend who can best inform me: thus, he eclipses himself as a knowledge-giver in the friend’s favour. This shifting of the focus from himself as the object of study also shows his discomfort. In a context where my presence is ‘out of time,’ anthropological study is seen to be about strangers and others outside of the west, rather than about Harish and other East Indians. Drummond’s (1980) account of fieldwork in Guyana in 1980, adds to this point where he is told that he already knew about the culture, as a white person, since it was the same as his. My presence as an East Indian, however, immediately provides a strange context. As noted, if I already know as an East Indian person, what is it that I am seeking to find out? Thus, Harish endeavours to provide me with ‘knowledgeable persons’ presumably those who know more than I can about the culture, whilst keeping an eye on me (Cohen 1992:221). There is irony in how my presence and project can then allow for an idea of difference, as one constituted in a backward time, to emerge. This may be considered further in relation to Fabian’s discussion of how the anthropologist can remain implicated in colonial power relations despite good intentions and where efforts to establish empathetic relations can be misunderstood. (1991:198).11 Hariish’s uneasiness emerges in his open scrutiny of my presence and through noticeable distance after I chat with his family. This is about my knowing things about them and their uncertainty as to what it is I will do with this knowledge.12 Also, 11 This, however, did not relate to an indigenous anthropologist, although the point remains relevant to my discussion and in terms of my outsider positioning. Fabian’s (1991:198) discussion between himself and a Zairean colleague, was about how to describe a well-known missionary who could be seen as ‘one of the villains of colonialization’. The colleague, however, noting that the missionary was a ‘true friend,’ also compared the missionary’s competence in the language with that of Fabian’s (ibid.). 12 It takes effort on my part to alter this coolness (cf. Fabian 2002:90). This is done by how I talk about my work, but also in the ways I seek to fit in and to display empathy (Halstead, in press b).

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the implicit suggestion is that my project of studying could conflict with his efforts to obtain status through global networking. His hovering presence during my incursion into his home to chat with his family shows his concerns. While I build on being familiar and on the idea of the humanism in my representative efforts, my knowledge of them retains its ‘symbolic’ trespass (Hastrup 1995: 47). Harish’s framing of my study assumes the presence of a certain otherness and places it in the category of otherness (Karim 1993: 259). This element of ‘writing about others’ remains in the fieldwork process as reflected in the efforts by my host to understand why I want to and how I seek to ‘anthropologise’ him. This resonates with Hastrup’s point (1992: 121) where she notes that the realisation of otherness has to be followed by an understanding of how persons locate themselves in their own discourses (see also Strathern 1992, 1987). Harish has already considered that while I am seeking information about ‘culture,’ I seem to want to know about America and his interest in it as a migratory destination. This may be considered in relation to Hirsch and Gellner’s (2001: 7) locating of ethnography’s strength in its methodological holism. Harish is not quite sure how this interest in America affects his status. But there’s enough of a suggestion of otherness for him to shift the focus back to me to interrogate my presence. My presence to anthropologise Harish does not really fit his understanding of being modern. He then has to consider how it is that he is an object of anthropological interest, and as un-modern. Harish has to extend his idea of being modern to account for the anthropologist’s study, which has to rely on his own ways of interpretation (see Strathern 1992). There is a particular transformation which has to occur where it is ‘anthropology’ rather than he that has to become the other in the sense of the native. Harish deals with my researcher’s focus by placing himself outside of being known as the ‘historical other’. This, he does, initially by his scrutiny of my project, but it is also by how he subsequently loses interest in what I am doing. Concern about my representations becomes overshadowed or is diminished by his perceptions of what I cannot do, that is, further his efforts in global networking. His scrutiny, along with oblique efforts to obtain my help, has established that my help in his global networking may be incidental. This complex interaction is inevitably about status (Halstead 2001, 2002, Jayawardena 1963, Williams 1991). Harish’s questioning also expresses his need to understand, how it is, that I, as someone of Indo-Guyanese origins who resides outside Guyana, can obtain status by returning to speak to him, although the fact that I am from the ‘outside’ does confer some status on him. But he wants to know of the benefit of my project to me rather than to him. Notions of status centralises his understandings of my presence and project, which also contextualises his scrutiny of anthropology as discussed. Thus, his question becomes, in what ways does my engagement in the local network offer me status, when East Indians in Guyana engage global networking to obtain status and where this is also obtained just by virtue of leaving the country (see Halstead 2002). However, this may be further contextualised through the ways returning East Indians migrants are in a network which shifts from the global to the local in Guyana. In the resultant status interactions, persons can

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seek to be more modern (outside of a specific Indian identity) in Guyana than New York and in New York to be more Indian than their counterparts in Guyana. Status is negotiated through extensive exchange of gifts between migrants and local residents. Migrants will return to Guyana to consolidate the status gained through actual migration with their gifts and in the guise of ‘modern-modern’ persons as a result of living ‘outside’, that is, this clothes them in new knowledgeable forms. As a migrant, I am not seen to engage in the specific status transactions which emerge: I do not endeavour to ‘create’ Indian culture in the ways these returning migrants are doing in terms of how they produce themselves as ‘authentic Indians’. Also, the scrutiny of my presence being discussed here is different from the efforts of various East Indians to benefit from my outsider and migrant position as someone who presumably can assist them with global networking. Harish’s questioning unveils certain categories of my insider-outsider positioning. He demonstrates that locals can react to the presence of the researcher and or anthropologist in a context where they are perhaps yet to be convinced of the value of or made aware of the selfreflexivity in the academic setting. This resonates with Strathern’s (1987: 18–19) critique of ‘shared authorship’ as a way to offer adequate representation vis-à-vis the writing culture debate. Rituals and the visibility of persons The following brings out these nuances further, but also shows anthropological focus as welcome. In these accounts, anthropology is not mentioned as the academic frame for my research. Yet, how the first two encounters develop suggested a nativising of my project in relation to the classic othering role of anthropology, without the benefit of revisionist approaches. This was reversed in the third encounter, in the example of Hari, who was enthusiastic about my stated interest in ‘people’s stories’. The questions my presence and project elicit or the ways people chose to reveal themselves to me brought into the setting both anthropological and colonial histories and the modern as a construct in opposition to these histories. These varied reactions examine and or construct otherness and researcher through people’s understandings of academic settings and through this, anthropology. The accounts consider three rituals all by residents in ‘Better Prospects to show the emergence of ‘backwardness’ and positive forms of the other under anthropological scrutiny and their mediations by these East Indians who seek to reveal themselves in different knowledge categories. This engages with their expressions of ‘being modern’ by managing different temporal perceptions of ritual. The rituals I describe here are separate ceremonies within ceremonies in homes along the winding dam and not very far from Harish. I knew about one ritual, jharaying (blessing or taking away the evil eye) and had witnessed many similar ones. I encounter the second ritual, an earth ceremony for a newborn child, for the first time. The third ritual is homage to a land dee (spiritual master), one I had witnessed in various periods and forms, including that of animal sacrifice. The earth ceremony followed a nine-day,

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a ceremony for a Hindu newborn, nine days after the birth of the child. This ritual occurred around nightfall after most of the guests departed. The mother and baby had been in the house, upstairs. This was a one flat wooden house on pillars. The music for the celebration was being coordinated in the ‘bottom house’. The floor of this bottom house is mud and as customary, was daubed with cow dung. For the earth ceremony, the mother is downstairs with the baby and accompanied by a helper, Rati. The newborn is placed on a piece of cloth, which is placed on the earth, just beyond the daubed bottom house. The mother with helper then proceeds to make an offering and to pray to Dharti Mata, Hindu goddess of the earth. After my initial request to photograph this ceremony has been refused, I maintain some distance. The mother tells me that not even her brother who had brought a camera was permitted to film this particular ceremony. I feel that she is afraid of external interference affecting the ritual rather than how I might represent the ritual. The emphasis seems to be on ensuring the ‘correct performance’ of the ritual and that nothing adversely affects it. However, what follows after the helper subsequently chats with me suggests the need to control the potential othering nature of my project. Rati seeks to show herself in a non-Indian category, one bounded by this separation from an idea of Indian as backward (Depres 1967, Jayawardena 1963, Halstead 2000, Williams 1991). Wilk also makes a similar point in relation to Belize, where traditions are seen as backward vis-à-vis ‘fashionable modernity’ (1994: 102). Further, Wilce’s (2002) work on Bangladesh considers how traditions vanished under the ‘modernising gaze’. Rather than an actual vanishing of practices which may seem un-modern, it is more about the public who views these practices and the efforts to manage publicity. The helper separates herself from a ‘backward tradition,’ where she notes that she does not really perform many earth ceremonies. This is to mediate my perception that she regularly officiates at these ceremonies. Despite her promise to explain what had occurred she seeks to dismiss the ritual as insignificant to her life and to my research. She is more concerned with describing her everyday activities as a market vendor. Rati’s attitude was reflected in that of a young pandit who quickly enacted distance from the ritual he was performing when he became aware of my presence. This pandit was carrying out a jharaying ceremony. This ritual is where mothers will traditionally present their children at Indian religious ceremonies for the pandit to jharay through the reading of mantras: this is to stop them from crying or bless them, which relates to the ‘evil eye’ being taken away. The ritual occurred at the end of a jandhi (Hindu ceremony of worship) at another house further on the dam. The officiating pandit had benefited from the outward migration movement in Guyana which led to an exodus of Brahman pandits. The shortage and consequential ‘outside’ interactions mean that he can present himself as a pandit on the basis of knowledge rather than caste13 (Khan 2005: 173–2). This idea of knowledge suggests 13 Brahmans retained their hold as occupational priests through caste, as a sole official survival. The emphasis on knowledge draws on panditry as an enlightened practice in New

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the significance of my observation of this ceremony as unwelcome to the pandit, although my host, Hari, had not only warmly invited me, but also had expected his status to be enhanced by my presence. Hari’s welcome provides a different context for status, facilitated by the performance of Indian culture, for the benefit of insiders as well as others beyond the culture (Depres 1967, Halstead 2000, Jayawardena 1980, van der Veer 1996). But the young pandit, relying on the new precedence given to knowledge rather than Indian caste-based practices, also locates himself as an outsider to the performance in his efforts not to be observed and when being observed by an ‘outsider’. At the jharaying ceremony, when the mothers queue with their children for the pandit to jharay them, my tape recorder is running. But I think to ask permission to video-film the event. The pandit is immediately discomfited. He says he prefers not to be filmed. He prefers not even to be observed. His jharaying is now marked by glances at me; I am standing beyond the queue, consciously ignoring my notebook and feeling that if I were to just leave this might be open to misinterpretation. Shortly after, the pandit abruptly ends the ceremony. He departs, although there are a number of children still waiting. This ritual is a usual occurrence and also occurs in the New York IndoCaribbean setting. The routine quality suggests that the pandit’s discomfiture is out of place. But for the young pandit, the jharay ceremony conflicts with a modern category of knowledge, now divided under my scrutiny from the way he presents himself as a knowledgeable man to preside over Indian rituals. As in the case of Rati above, it is my presence that has produced a notion of tradition existing in a different time. My project has to be ‘controlled’ in a traditional setting in order not to affect certain ideas of being modern. Anthropology, the other and the other But this scrutiny has to consider that some people are comfortable about and expect academic interest in their lives: this resonates with the activities of those who orchestrate cultural authenticity and those who are producing living histories in New York in the process unveiling themselves as ‘positive others,’ as noted. At the same time, Hari, the man hosting the jandhi, was eager to tell me about the land dee (spiritual land master) ritual. The dee ritual is different from general Indian ceremonies (Miller 1994: 104–5, Vertovec 1992: 113–14),14 and one associated with spiritualism. In this regard, it sits uncomfortably with the performing of the York where most Guyanese East Indian pandits migrated. Many have emerged as scholars to rely on knowledge of the scriptures rather than caste to practise as priests. 14 The origins of the dee are located in earth ceremonies in India. In Guyana, these ceremonies can be of a coercive nature, where their ‘revival’ is often on the advice of a spiritualist to counter recurrent ill luck. The dee ceremony can be feared in the inter-ethnic society, where it is seen to have associations with other and very entrenched forms of spiritualism, in particular Kali worship, that of the Hindu goddess, Kali (cf. Stephanides and. Singh 2000).

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jandhi. There is also a certain empowerment provided by the land dee ceremony, where linkages with spiritualism are meant to counter social and political injustice. In recounting stories of misfortune and injustice experienced by his family, Hari is interested in obtaining my help. Thus, there are specific instances when possible concerns about how he is perceived are overridden by his need to tell his story. But he also talks about his family in England who are representing ‘Indian culture’ there: this account and other efforts to tell me about traditions demonstrate his interest in being known in this ‘traditional’ space. Both the performance of the jandhi and the land dee ceremony have become part of what he does as Indian, linked to the efforts of his outside relatives to uphold Indian culture in another part of the global network (Jayawardena 1980). In addition to his desire to gain my help, he has pride in directing my focus to these rituals, as a result of his perception of my project. Given the approaches of Rati and the pandit above, the land dee ceremony could also be seen as one which has to be placed in a temporal setting of backwardness. But Hari’s pride about the land dee ceremony demonstrates a different understanding of the other and of my project. Hari interprets my project in a positive way and endeavours to aid me in this promotion of ‘Indian culture’. This may be contextualised by his feelings of being oppressed by the Forbes Burnham dictatorship in the 1980s and by various personal hardships, but it is also about his locating of these ceremonies as knowledge that other people want and something he can give. This attitude transforms the potential ascription of backwardness possible by my knowing of his part in this ritual. But of relevance to him are his expectations that these representations will emerge as valuable to benefit those who want to and need to know i.e. ‘western academic audience’. Unlike the other two examples, what is present in this encounter is Hari’s perception that this seeking of knowledge by the ‘west,’ as a separate academic centre (see Hirsch, in press) privileges Indian traditions as evidenced by the focus of research. In this instance, I am also associated with the ‘west’ and with my field of study rather than with East Indians and these traditions. His visibility as a modern person is also about the knowledge he can offer: my materialisation as another kind of ‘knowledgeable person’ prompts him to gaze beyond my public indigenous status. While the indigenous or native anthropologist has emerged to challenge or engage in the debates of anthropological othering (Shahrani 1994, Jacobs-Harvey 2002), these field encounters show the engagement between my hosts and I. Rather than our commonalities, it is our differences which have to be examined, established and at times, transformed. The way my native status shifts in terms of local perceptions draws on Strathern’s (1987) point about the local organising of knowledge where she notes that it does not matter where anthropologists live or what they call themselves; how they are located ‘is decided by the relationship of their techniques of organizing knowledge and how people organize knowledge about themselves’ (ibid.: 31, emphasis added). What has to be rendered absent in our dialogue is our similarity. Hastrup (1992: 118) points out: ‘In the anthropological dialogue, we talk across established difference and create a world of betweenness (references omitted)’. However, in these encounters there are new forms of betweenness which relies on an establishing

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of difference. My presence, my project and in some cases, my discipline have to be managed to enable East Indians to be modern and other in a time where difference is celebrated or where a ‘native’ sense of otherness has to be located elsewhere. In this instance, this ‘elsewhere’ is attached to the visiting researcher: her indigeniety shifts to her academic setting or her discipline. Conclusion The encounters between me, as an anthropologist and East Indian, and my participanthosts demonstrated intertwined processes of knowledge construction which also questioned and mediated constructions of various others. As an indigenous anthropologist, I was positioned in different ways in the field-sites: this was also where East Indians moved in and out of cultural settings to show themselves as modern through traditions, by acting against traditions and by claiming or displaying particular forms of authenticity. Further, their understandings of being modern were also about self scrutiny which showed their critical gazes into their contradictory cultural settings: this also emerged as forms of intra-group distancing. The different understandings of the research project by East Indians allowed for various understandings of academic knowledge to emerge and for a scrutiny of nativeness as an anthropological construct in some encounters. This also considered the ‘field’ of the research as extended and as a field variously conceptualised. Their self-scrutiny allowed for my researcher’s presence to be examined vis-àvis the potential to render them as native, in terms of my academic setting rather than my indigenous status. Their scrutiny of my presence and project resonated with the reflexivity in the academic setting where much of the self-scrutiny, following the writing culture debate has been on the way the fieldwork encounter becomes translated in the academic setting and the negotiating of the authorial voice of the ethnographer (Clifford and Marcus 1986, Salzman 2002, Strathern 1992, 1987: 19). Some encounters demonstrated that while academic scrutiny has done much to re-examine the anthropological representation of the other, an idea of the discipline remains implicated in the classical othering role in particular fieldwork encounters. The notion of the other emerges as a research objective, in instances, where people had less an idea of my academic setting, but where my academic study of them, in itself, raised the idea of the other as backward. Anthropology, at varying times was also explicitly discussed or seen as a frame for my research. This allowed for the emergence of both the classical and the revisionist approaches to studying the other as the forms of engagement by East Indians with my presence and project. My efforts to know East Indians had to consider their assumptions about my presence and project filtered through various understandings of my research and varied understandings of anthropology. The interactions demonstrated that they produced the study as something of value in ‘western academia’. This was also in terms of their understandings of a shifting western setting and their inhabiting of the ‘west’. This relates to the emphasis for critical anthropological knowledge

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construction to represent the other in ways that will reflect the late 20th century ethos of anthropology. The narratives which have emerged in these varying encounters are also intertwined with the anthropologist as variously positioned in the research process: making sense of the data remains implicated in the meanings people make of the ‘anthropological presence’ as different constructions of the other. Acknowledgements I thank Geert De Neve, Eric Hirsch and Peter Pels for their comments on earlier versions of this chapter. Versions were presented at the EASA Young Scholars Plenary in Copenhagen 2002 and at ASA 2004. I am grateful t the convenors for facilitating my presentations and acknowledge the helfpul comments from participants at both sessions. I also thank Fred Myers for his advise on this chapter whilst I was visiting the anthropology department NYU in 2003 on a Cardiff University Young Researcher’s Travel Scholarship. I remain grateful to my research participants in both New York and Guyana. References Amit, V. (ed.), Realizing Community: Concepts, Social Relationships and Sentiments (London: Routledge, 2002). Asad, T., ‘Afterword: From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of western Hegemony’, in Stocking G.W. Jr. (ed.), Colonial Situations:Essays on the Contextualization of Ethnographic Knowledge (London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991). Bannerji, H. et al. (eds), Of Property and Propriety: The role of gender and class in imperialism and nationalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001). Brettell, C. B. (ed.), When they read what we write: The politics of ethnography (London: Bergin and Garvey, 1993). Bunzl, M., ‘Foreword to Johannes Fabian’s Time and the Other – Syntheses of a Critical Anthropology’, in Johannes F., Time and the Other: How anthropology makes its object (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). Clifford, J and Marcus G. (eds), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Writing Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Cohen, A., ‘Self-conscious Anthropology’, in Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography (London: Routledge, 1992). Depres, L., Cultural Pluralism and Nationalist Politics in British Guiana (Chicago: Rand Mc Nally & Co, 1967). Drummond, L., ‘A cultural continuum: a theory of intersystems’, Man,15 (1980): 352–374. Eriksen, T.H. and Nielsen F.S., A History of Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 2001).

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Fabian, J., ‘Dilemmas of Critical Anthropology’, in Nencel L. and Pels P. (eds), Constructing Knowledge: Authority and Critique in Social Science (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1991). _____, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001). Fowler, D. D. and Hardesty D.L., ‘Introduction’, in Fowler D.D. and.Hardesty D.L (eds), Others knowing others: Perspectives on Ethnographic (London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994). Freilich, M., ‘Field Work: An Introduction’, in Freilich M. (ed.), Marginal Natives: Anthropologists at Work (London: Harper and Row, 1970). Gupta, A. and Ferguson J., ‘Discipline and Practice: “The field” as site, method and location, in Gupta A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). Halstead, N., ‘Switching identities: movements between “Indian” and “non-Indian” in Guyana’, Anthropology in Action 7(2000): 22–32. _____, ‘Ethnographic Encounters: Positionings within and outside the insider frame’, Social Anthropology, 9(3) (2001): 307–321. _____, ‘Branding perfection. Foreign as self; self as “foreign-foreign”’, Journal of Material Culture, 7(3) (2002): 273–293. _____, ‘Belonging and respect notions vis-à-vis modern East Indians: Hindi movies in the Guyanese East Indian Diaspora’, in Kaur R. and Sinha A. (eds), Bollyworld: Indian Cinema through a Transnational Lens (New Delhi: Sage Publications Ltd., 2005). Halstead, N. ‘Experiencing the Ethnographic Present: Knowing through Crisis’, in Halstead N., Hirsch E. and Okely J. (eds), Knowing how to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present (Oxford: Berghahn, in press a). _____, ‘Knowledge as Gifts of Self and Other’, in Halstead N., Hirsch E. and Okely J. (eds), Knowing How to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present (Oxford: Berghahn, in press b). Harris, O., ‘Time and Difference in Anthropological Writing’, in Nencel L. and Pels P. (eds), Constructing Knowledge: Authority and Critique in Social Science (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1991). Hastrup, K., A Passage to Anthropology: Between Experience and Theory (London: Routledge, 1994). _____, ‘Writing Ethnography: State of the Art’, in Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography (London: Routledge, 1992). Hirsch, E., ‘When was modernity in Melanesia’, Social Anthropology, 9 (2001): 131–146. _____, ‘Afterword: Embodied Historicities’, in Bamford S. (ed.), Embodying modernity in Melanesia (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, in press). Hirsch, E. and Gellner D., ‘Introduction: Ethnography of Organizations and Organization of Ethnography’, in Gellner D.N. and Hirsch E. (eds), Inside

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Organizations: Anthropologists at Work (Oxford: Berg, 2000). Jacobs-Harvey, L., ‘The natives are gazing and talking back. Reviewing the problematics of positionality, voice and accountability among “native” anthropologists’, American Anthropologist, 104(3) (2000): 791–804. Jayawardena, C., Conflict and Solidarity on a Guianese Plantation (London: The Athlone Press, 1963). _____, ‘Culture and Ethnicity in Guyana and Fiji’, Man, 15 (1980): 430–450. Kahn, J., Culture, Multiculture, Postculture (London : Sage Publications, 1995). _____, ‘Anthropology and Modernity’, Current Anthropology, 42(4) (2001): 651– 680. Karim, W.J., ‘With moyang melur in Carey Island: More Endangered, more Engendered, in Bell D. et al (eds), Gendered Fields: Women, Men and Ethnography (London: Routledge, 1993). Khan, A., Callaloo Nation. Metaphors of Race and Religious Identity among South Asians in Trinidad (London: Duke University Press, 2005). Knauft, B. (ed.), Critically Modern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthropologies (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002). Kuper, A., Culture: The Anthropologists’ Account (London: Harvard University Press, 1999). Leach, E. R., Rethinking Anthropology (London: Athlone Press, 1961). Jackson, A. (ed.), Anthropology at Home (London: Tavistock Publications, 1987). Maanen, J.V., ‘Afterword: Natives ‘R’ Us: Some Notes on the Ethnography of Organizations’, in Gellner D.N.and Hirsch E. (eds), Inside Organizations: Anthropologists at Work (Oxford: Berg, 2001). MacClancey, J. (ed.), Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Miller, D., Modernity: An Ethnographic Approach: Dualism and Mass Consumption in Trinidad (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1994). Moore, H., ‘The changing nature of anthropological knowledge: an introduction’, in Moore H. (ed.), The Future of Anthropological Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1996). Munasinghe, V., Callaloo or Tossed Salad: East Indians and the Cultural Politics of Identity in Trinidad (New York: Cornell University Press, 2001). Narayan, K., ‘How native is a “native” anthropologist?’, American Anthropologist, 95(3) (1993): 671–86. Nencel, L. and Pels P., ‘Introduction: Critique and the Deconstruction of Anthropological Authority’, in Nencel L. and Pels P. (eds), Authority and Critique in Social Science (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1991). Okely , J., ‘Anthropology and Autobiography: participatory experience and embodied knowledge’, in Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography (London: Routledge, 1992). Olwig, K.F., Global Culture, Island Identity: Continuity and Change in the AfroCaribbean Community of Nevis (USA: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995). Rabinow, P., ‘Representations Are Social Facts: Modernity and Post-Modernity in

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Anthropology’, in Clifford J. and Marcus G.E. (eds), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Salzman, P.C., ‘On Reflexivity’, American Anthropologist, 104 (3) (2002): 805–13. Shahrani, N.M., ‘Honored Guest and Marginal Native: Long Term Field Research and Predicaments of a Native Anthropologist’, in Fowler D.D. et al (eds), Others Knowing Others: Perspectives on Ethnographic Careers (London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994). Sidnell, J., ‘An Ethnographic Consideration of Rule-following’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 9(3) (2003): 429–45. Smith, R., Kinship and Class in the West Indies: A Genealogical Study of Jamaica and Guyana (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). Stephanides, S. and Singh K., Translating Kali’s Feast: The Goddess in IndoCaribbean Ritual and Fiction (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000). Strathern, M., ‘The Limits of Auto-Anthropology’, in Jackson A. (ed.), Anthropology at Home (London: Tavistock Publications, 1987). _____, ‘The Decomposition of an Event’, Cultural Anthropology, 7(2) (1992): 244– 254. Stocking, G.W. Jr., ‘Maclay, Kubary, Malinowski: Archetypes from the Dreamtime of Anthropology’, in Stocking G.W. Jr. (ed.), Colonial Situations: Essays on the Contextualization of Ethnographic Knowledge (London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991). Tambiah, S.J., Edmund Leach: An Anthropological Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Trouillot, M.-R., Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World (Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000). van der Veer, P., ‘Authenticity and Authority in Surinamese Hindu Ritual’, in Dabydeen D. and Samaroo B. (eds), Across the Dark Waters Ethnicity and Indian Identity in the Caribbean (London: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1996). Vertovec, S., Hindu Trinidad: Religion, Ethnicity and Socio-Economic Change (London: Macmillan Caribbean, 1992). Wilce, J., ‘Genre of Memory and the Memory of Genres: “Forgetting” Lament in Bangladesh’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 44(1) (2002): 159– 185. Wilk, R., ‘Consumer Goods as Dialogue about Development: Colonial Time and Television Time in Belize’, in Friedman J. (ed.), Consumption and Identity (Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994). Williams, B., Stains on My Name, War in My Veins: Guyana and the Politics of Cultural Struggle (London: Duke University Press, 1991).

Chapter 5

Hidden Reflexivity: Assistants, Informants and the Creation of Anthropological Knowledge Geert De Neve ‘The Field’ is a clearing whose deceptive transparency obscures the complex processes that go into constructing it. (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a: 5)

Introduction: Reassessing reflexivity While ‘reflexivity’ has been one of the keywords in the emerging critique of anthropology and its methodology since at least the beginning of the 1980s, the concept itself has remained remarkably devoid of any coherent definition or systematic application, even as used by those authors placed at the vanguard of the post-modern critique of the discipline and its methodology. The many nebulous definitions and uses of the concept of ‘reflexivity’ have led many an anthropologist to dismiss the process of critical (self-)reflection as naïve ‘navel-gazing’, blunt ‘narcissism’ or plain ‘self-indulgence’. As a result of this, the potential power of ‘critical reflection’ has to a great extent been lost in a largely unproductive battle between steadfast critics of ‘classical fieldwork’ in anthropology (Stocking 1984) – who often argue for a radical rethinking of established yet now out-of-date methodologies – and those who reject such critical projects on the grounds that they lack a coherent epistemological framework for reflection and fail to present a convincing alternative practice (Fardon 1990). This chapter therefore begins with a closer look at some of the different – and often implicit – definitions that ‘reflexivity’ has been given since the ‘writing culture’ revolution of the 1980s, in order to indicate how the concept has been used by different people for diverse purposes and in a range of contexts. The main aims of the chapter are firstly, to argue that despite this myriad of meanings and projects, a crucial form of reflexivity has been neglected in such critical debates. This is reflexivity defined as critically unpacking the ways in which we ‘do fieldwork’ itself, that is, how we establish field sites, interact with informants, assistants or collaborators, and participate in activities – irrespective of whether that social context is our own or one that we are less familiar with. It is this latter definition of

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reflexivity, as reflections on processual interconnections, that is, connections between the process of fieldwork and the process of interpreting and gaining insight, which is the focus of what follows. Secondly, the chapter discusses how the anthropologist’s own reflexivity is closely connected to, and shaped by, the reflexivity of those who belong to the society observed, including that of the famous yet rarely discussed assistant. It is the reflections of our ‘informants’ and ‘assistants’ about their own society that are crucial to the ways in which ‘we come to know them’. Reflexivity, conceived of in this manner, is not about navel-gazing or self-aggrandisement, but rather reveals the ethnographers’ limitations, their ignorance and the often accidental ways in which they gain an understanding. It is also bound to reveal how rarely we are ‘enlightened’ on our own accord, but how the gradual and occasional insights we gain are usually achieved through repeated observations, multiple interactions and relentless explanations generously offered by informants and friends in the field (see also Bodenhorn, this volume). Reflexivity thus becomes informative as a reflection on how knowledge is gained through ‘the field’ both as a practice and as a location. The point of view forwarded here is that the understanding of anthropologists in the field – be they outsiders or ‘native’ anthropologists – is to a large extent generated through the reflexivity of his or her informants, assistants and collaborators, whose own reflexivity unfortunately remains hidden in ethnographic accounts. It is on the latter’s reflections, utterances, and insights that the anthropologist feeds and builds. Rabinow summarised this process most aptly in his Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco: ...when a Moroccan describes his lineage structure to an anthropologist, he must do several things. He must first become self-reflective and self-consciousness about certain aspects of his life which he had previously taken largely for granted. Once he arrives at some understanding of what the anthropologist is driving at, thinks about that subject matter, and comes to a conclusion ... , the informant must then figure out how to present this information to the anthropologist, an outsider who is by definition external to his usual life-world (1977: 152–3).

This chapter does not claim to offer a new theory of reflexivity, but aims to demonstrate through a number of examples drawn from my own field experience and that of others, how reflections on what ‘happens’ in the field, and in particular in the exchanges between ethnographer and key informants/assistants, may contribute more fruitfully to an understanding of what goes on in the process of conducting fieldwork and constructing anthropological knowledge. The rise and rise of reflexivity But let us first have a brief look at the genealogy of reflexivity and its recent avatars within the discipline. There is little controversy about the fact that one of the distinctive features of what Stocking has called the ‘classic period’ in anthropology (1984) was its particular methodology of long-term field research, through which

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anthropology not only emerged as a separate discipline at the end of the nineteenth century but arguably continued to distinguish itself from closely related disciplines throughout most of the twentieth century. For generations of anthropologists, on both sides of the Atlantic, fieldwork led – quite unproblematically – to the writing of ethnographies and to the concomitant construction of knowledge in the discipline. It was ‘the nexus between ethnographic experience and the right to interpret’ which provided the ‘argument which allowed anthropologists, in their conventional historiography, to claim authority for ethnographic accounts’ (Fardon 1990: 15). Even Geertz’s influential shift towards an interpretive perspective on culture (1973) changed little about the assumptions that there is a coherent ‘culture’ out there and that the anthropologist can come to ‘know’ it and write about it; the interpretive method only suggested a new approach as to how to reach such knowledge. It cannot be denied that even early critical reflections on fieldwork as practice appeared remarkably late in the day, and even in the 1970s they remained rather isolated publications. Rabinow’s reflections on fieldwork in Morocco (1977) is probably the best known work of that decade, while less frequently cited seminal works include Béteille and Madan’s collection of personal accounts of fieldwork in India (1975) and M.N. Srinivas et al.’s volume on the fieldworker and the field (1979). The earlier posthumous publication of Malinowski’s A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term (1967) has been noted to have ‘surprised and scandalised many of his followers’ (Okely 1992: 7); clearly, the time was not yet ripe for more personal revelations of this sort. It was not until the mid-1980s that fieldwork was for the first time subjected to critical reflection in a systematic way. It is worth noting that this initial critique of the ethnographic experience did not so much focus on the practice of fieldwork itself as on the writing and reading of ethnography (Clifford and Marcus 1986; Geertz 1988; Marcus and Fischer 1986), leading to a shift that some have called the ‘literary turn’ in contemporary anthropology (Scholte 1987). The reflexivity that was part of this critical moment primarily focused on how what had been observed was turned into text (Clifford and Marcus 1986; Spencer 1989). This ‘literary reflexivity’ by and large aimed to lay bare the ways in which ethnographies, as a distinctive sort of writing, are produced and to reveal how, as academic texts, they are necessarily always selective, partial and subjective. Reflection was both on the strengths and weaknesses of texts as a mode of representation (production) and as a source for interpretation and understanding (consumption). Clifford called ethnographies ‘fictions’, ‘something made or fashioned’ (1986: 6), that could only reveal ‘partial truths’ (ibid.: 7). While strongly criticised (see below), this critique of ethnographic writing certainly had its merits. It challenged the taken-for-granted authority of both fieldworkers and their literary productions by revealing ‘the devices by which the authority of the writer was produced as a textual construct’ (Fardon 1990: 7); it opened up the space for a more critical reflection on the position of the writer and his/her audience by recognising that all ethnographic writing is implicated in relations of power inequalities; and it paved the way for explorations with new forms

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of (ethnographic) writing by incorporating reflections on the process of textual production itself. Despite its value, the ‘writing culture’ critique was not unequivocally received within the discipline. Perhaps best known is the incisive and substantial reply by Fardon and the contributors to the volume Localizing Strategies: Regional Traditions of Ethnographic Writing, published in 1990. Fardon assesses the then ‘new criticism’ and argues that in their exclusive emphasis on text, style and form, the new critics have underestimated the importance of methodology, history, and theory, and have neglected the relevance of specific contexts: ‘new critics give examples of something or the other, as if it does not matter where they come from or what their context is’ (1990: 23). Instead he argues for the need to locate our individual fieldwork experiences and writing in ‘traditions of regional scholarship’ (ibid.: 24) in which they are embedded and through which they take shape. Such regional traditions include the legacy of earlier anthropologists and ethnographers of a particular region, as well as the trends set by the dominant research schools of a region, their paradigms and their research interest (see also Unnithan-Kumar, this volume). Or, ‘the regional tradition influences the entry of the “working” ethnographer into a “field” imaginatively charted by others’ (ibid.: 24–5). Indeed, ethnographers never merely ‘construct their own fields’ (in the broader sense of the word) but they always join established traditions of research to which they hope to make a contribution. It is well known that regions have come to be equated with certain ‘issues’ and ‘research problems’ (for example, India as the ‘field’ to study hierarchy and inequality), and that any new ethnographer’s voice (or written word) only then stands a chance of being heard if they locate themselves within that tradition, critically but necessarily also sympathetically. Fardon’s was thus a plea to shift critical attention from text to context, and to reflect instead on the ways in which disciplinary, institutional and regional contexts shape how fieldwork is undertaken and texts are written. Here, he argues, ‘there appears to be a role for reflexivity, not so much as a confessional literature, but as a basis from which it may be possible to generalize about the most common circumstances of anthropological research in different areas as a way of questioning the fieldworker’s authorship of ethnographic experience’ (ibid.: 28). Fardon thus similarly questions the fieldworker’s authority and interpretation yet he does so not by focusing on the ethnographer him/herself, but on the specificities of ‘contexts’, which promote certain research agendas rather than others, favour certain interpretations over others, and make particular conclusions more acceptable than others. The reflexivity proposed by Fardon is one which unpacks the ‘circumstances of anthropological research’ and which aims to find the commonalities that shape individual research projects. The value of such a critique cannot be underestimated, as it provides a welcome counterbalance to the more introspective critiques that were to follow. Yet, because of its particular concern, and in reaction to the new critics’ predominantly textual focus, Fardon’s critique ends up privileging ‘contexts’ over ‘fieldwork’, and largely ignores what happens in the process of field research itself.

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The analysis of contexts, however, has not been the main path followed by the ensuing critiques of the discipline. Instead, the 1990s saw a shift from a concern with ‘ethnographic text’ to a preoccupation with ‘autobiography’, and a simultaneous shift of spotlights away from wider context onto the individual ethnographer. In the last decade of the twentieth century, reflection increasingly took the form of self-reflection and introspection. This time it was neither text nor context, but the ethnographer who came to be centre-stage. His or her class, race, nationality, education, emotions, history and familial background, gender and even sexuality became almost overnight the new topic of study, indeed, the new ‘field site’ itself (Okely and Callaway 1992; Bell et al. 1993; Kulick and Wilson 1995; Davies 1999). Reflexivity became autobiographical, and turned inwards onto the ethnographer’s self. Okely, in her contribution to the now well-known volume Anthropology and Autobiography, argued that the personal is both political and theoretical, and is therefore to be opened up to scrutiny as well. Such an approach, she recognises herself, ‘stands against an entrenched tradition which relegates the personal to the periphery and to the “merely anecdotal”: pejoratively contrasted in positivist social science with generalisable truth’ (1992: 9). Callaway, among others, enquired about the implications of ‘the anthropologist as a gendered knower’ (1992: 30; see also Bell et al. 1993; Wolf 1996). The introduction of autobiography or self-reflection had indeed the explicit aim to attack the unrelenting positivism of the discipline (Kulick 1995: 2; Okely 1992: 24), and to challenge representations that continued to avoid reflections on the ‘position’ of those who come to construct them. Kulick pushed the debate even further and argued that it is the complete figure of the fieldworker that has to be subjected to scrutiny, including its sexuality or ‘erotic subjectivity’ (1995: 5). Okely is no doubt right to state that ‘[r]eflexivity has rarely been seen as significant for the total project [of ethnography] in the same way that pre-fieldwork acquaintance with “the ethnographic literature” has been prescribed’ (1992: 11), and that the fieldworker’s persona needs to be put into the picture as the emotional and the personal can never be easily separated from the intellectual endeavour (ibid.: 9). Similar to the earlier critique of textual production, self-reflexivity here is advanced as a means to acknowledge the ethnographers’ positionality, and therefore the partiality of their observations. Today, few anthropologists would deny that the personal plays a vital role in how anthropological knowledge comes to be constructed, and yet at the same time many within the discipline have not been particularly open to the inclusion of personal analysis and narrative in their writing. As Okely and Kulick themselves realise only too well, the ‘disciplinary disdain for personal narratives’ (Kulick 1995: 3) seems to be steadfast, and enthusiasm for self-reflective approaches remains ambivalent. It seems to me, however, that there are some obvious reasons for this. A first one is that while the contributors to this critical tradition recognise that reflections on the personal and the specific should also ‘evoke common aspects’ of the ethnographic experience (Okely 1992: 7), autobiographic accounts too often fail to move beyond the personal and to convince the reader of the relevance of self-reflexivity for the

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wider anthropological project. Bad blood is set in the anthropological community when anthropology is reduced to the study of ‘us’ by means of ‘them’, as suggested by Marcus’s statement that ‘[a]nthropology is not the mindless collection of the exotic, but the use of cultural richness for self-reflection and self-growth’ (1986: x), or in Clifford’s argument that ‘ethnography encounters others in relation to itself, while seeing itself as other’ (1986: 23). Fardon rightly asks in reply: ‘[w]ho, after all, has recently been proposing that anthropology is the “mindless collection of the exotic”?’ (1990: 22). Like Okely, Kulick too recognises the need to ask what the object of self-reflection is ultimately about. Yet, apart from the most general mentioning that it may help to ‘rethink how anthropological work can be done’, no concrete indication is given as to why reflecting on the self may be a worthwhile thing to do. I suggest that it is precisely the failure to indicate and convince the wider scholarly community of the usefulness of reflexivity, and especially its contribution to an understanding of how anthropological knowledge is generated, that has contributed to rejections of self-reflexive projects as mere navel-gazing, narcissism or heroic self-aggrandisement. The self-reflexive project has stopped short of providing an adequate and convincing rationale as to why practising anthropologists should engage with it. A second and related reason is that – given this lack of clarity of purpose – the project is often abandoned not because anthropologists fear what a self-reflexive approach may reveal about themselves or how it may undermine their authority or challenge the truthfulness of their accounts, but rather because they simply believe that it would not add much at all. Or, they are not convinced that revealing one’s own personalities and situatedness (be they intellectual, social, political, or sexual) for example, would tell us anything much about the object of research (previously referred to as ‘the other’), the nature of field research as practice, or the process of generating anthropological knowledge. Hence, I suggest that a reflexive project only then has a chance of being taken seriously if it is connected not only to the self but to the wider processes of fieldwork practice and the concomitant construction of knowledge. This was precisely the quality that Robert Bellah admired in Rabinow’s book: the author’s ability to ‘reveal just so much as we need to know of his personal feelings and judgments without ever obtruding parts of himself that are not relevant to the process of cultural understanding’ (1977: xi). One of the latest transformations that reflexivity has undergone within the discipline was in response to an increased preoccupation with processes of globalisation, and a related concern about what happened to ‘the field’ and its boundaries. Reflection has recently been turned towards ‘the field’ as the site where fieldwork is conducted, as the distinctive method of ethnographic research and as location within anthropology (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a). This reflexivity of the field has begun to destabilise established concepts of ‘the local’ and ethnographies now explore ‘new fields’ that include transnational networks, internet-based communities, and multicultural social groups. Anthropology has in the meanwhile also made a solid entry into new arenas such as reproductive health, development, human rights and the media. At the same time, multi-sited field research has been

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popularised as a means to capture the transnational, dispersed and often more elusive nature of contemporary research topics and informants’ lives (Marcus 1995; see also Coleman, this volume). However, as Gupta and Ferguson remind us, it is not yet clear what the implications are for ethnographic practice of a theoretical de-linking of ‘culture’, ‘place/locality’ and ‘power’ (1997b: 3). While we now have realised that all field boundaries are historically contingent and socially constituted, we still know very little about the actual practice of creating and entering fields. What are the shifting variables (institutional, personal, epistemological, and so on) that make us construct new ‘fields’ over and again? Even though in the era of globalisation our ‘fields’ may have broadened – geographically as well as topically –, little has changed about the fact that we keep constructing them. Gupta and Ferguson call for a recognition of the ‘hidden heterodoxies’, or the diverse ways in which fieldwork is conceived of in different regional traditions and how it is currently conducted by means of an ever widening range of methodologies (1997a: 19–32). Indeed, we need to ‘ask what kinds of knowledge these other practices of “the field” make possible’ (ibid.: 29). Such a question moves us beyond mere reflections on field methods and towards consideration of the shifting research agendas that are currently being addressed in/by anthropology. In this sense, reflexivity of the place of ‘the field’ and of ‘fieldwork’ in anthropology has much to offer.1 Yet even this reflexivity hardly engages with what happens in the field, and largely restricts itself to more theoretical questions about anthropological ‘locations’ – physical, political, methodological and epistemological – and their boundaries, weaknesses and virtues. Reflexivity in fieldwork In what follows my interest lies not so much in literary reflexivity, reflexivity of contexts, self-reflexivity or reflexivity of ‘locality’, but rather my preoccupation is with what goes on in the field, wherever located and however defined. I aim to shift the reflexive focus onto fieldwork as an intersubjective process, between subjects who interact and communicate (Rabinow 1977: 153–4). Reflections on what goes on in the field and on encounters with informants, friends and assistants are particularly revealing as they open up a window onto the ways in which we come to know social and cultural forms. I want to probe into how the ethnographer him/herself begins to gain knowledge about a society, and I seek to understand how our own critical thinking and reflection about a society is shaped through the particular encounters, exchanges and interactions that take place in the course of fieldwork. In other words, I suggest that the sort of reflexivity that might be most revealing in relation to how anthropological knowledge is constructed is that which focuses on what takes place in ‘the field’ as an intersubjective practice (or method; see Gupta and Ferguson 1997a). 1 For a more critical comment on the place of fieldwork in anthropology, see Allen (2000).

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I am not suggesting that this sort of reflexivity is in any way new, nor that ethnographers have not engaged with it – we all constantly reflect on what we do in the field and on how our interactions contribute to our understanding of a particular society. However, such reflection too often remains implicit and unwritten, and is only rarely analysed in relation to the ways in which we come to understand and write about a society. Furthermore, I suggest that such reflexivity is always intersubjective and dialectical, between ethnographer, assistants, informants, neighbours, friends, officials and academics. The point I want to highlight here is that every anthropologist’s reflections on a society are always and necessarily informed by the reflexivity of those whom s/he studies and interacts with, and it is the latter’s reflections, ideas and opinions that set the framework for the ethnographer’s own interpretation and analysis. I emphasise reflexivity ‘as dialogue’ for a number of reasons. Firstly, to counterbalance the more individualistic forms of self-reflexivity which seem to focus solely on the ethnographer’s own intellectual and reflexive capabilities; secondly, to offset more heroic accounts of fieldwork that imply that insights are gained on the anthropologist’s own account; and, finally, to demonstrate how insight is build up only gradually and painstakingly through endless conversations and encounters, and how it is only rarely gained through sudden enlightenment – although this does occasionally happen through an illuminating interview or conversation with a particularly articulate or self-conscious informant. Let me now turn to my own fieldwork journey so that I can illustrate what I mean with critical encounters and dialogues with assistants and informants. Studying consumption...or not? Having completed an undergraduate degree in economics and an MSc in social anthropology, I decided to embark on doctoral research in 1994. My introduction to anthropology had raised my interest in South Asia, and I was keen to do fieldwork in India, mainly because the subcontinent was a terra incognita to me that I was eager to explore. One of my prospective supervisors suggested, however, that I visit India before starting the MPhil, ‘just to see whether you could actually live there’. And so I did. I spent 6 weeks travelling from Delhi and Rajasthan in the north to Chennai and Tamilnadu in the south and rounded off the trip in Bombay. I got in touch with anthropologists and sociologists in Mumbai, Chennai, and Madurai, and with their help I managed to make several visits to more rural areas. A two-day trip to a village in North Arcot District, Tamilnadu, where we were much welcomed by the village head, made me feel quite ‘at home’, although it would be rewriting history to argue that I fell in love with India at first sight! Yet, Tamilnadu was the place that I would eventually return to for fieldwork. I was lucky enough to get onto an excellent language course at SOAS, and began to learn Tamil. It was not until I took to preparing my fieldwork proposal in the spring of 1995 that I came up with ideas about what my research in Tamilnadu would actually focus on. Having read a number of ethnographies that dealt with agrarian relations and their (post-) colonial transformations, I felt that a lot had been said and written about production

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and production relations but much less on changing practices of consumption in rural India. As eventually spelled out in my research proposal, I decided to focus on changing discourses and practices of consumption in small town Tamilnadu. To this purpose I planned to search for a small but dynamic and growing town with some industrial activity as a ‘location’ for the research, assuming that this would be the ideal place to find new patterns of consumption. I also wanted to be away from the capital Chennai and hoped to find a town in the north-western part of Tamilnadu, the Kongu nadu (country) whose rural life has been recorded in great detail in the work of Brenda Beck (1972). I arrived in Tamilnadu in the middle of August 1995 and began to travel across the northern and western districts of Tamilnadu in search of this ‘suitable’ field site. First accompanied by a young lecturer from the University of Madras and then with a research assistant from the Institut Français in Pondicherry, I had visited over 15 small towns by the middle of September. In each of these places I stayed for a couple of days, collected preliminary data about the locality and tried to get a general feel of whether the place might suit my topic, but also of whether I could see myself living there for 18 months. Few of the towns, however, appealed to me and it was not until I visited Bhavani and Kumarapalayam, twin towns situated on the opposite banks of the river Cauvery and linked by a bridge, that I felt I had found a location that matched my criteria. Initially I decided on Bhavani, a relatively small town (about 35,000 people according to the 1991 census) pleasantly located at the confluence of two rivers, with handlooms as its main activity and with an impressive old temple situated on the banks of the river. With the help of a local engineer, I found a house located at the border of a poorer, working-class neighbourhood and a mixed middleclass area; the choice of this location was less than strategic as there were very few houses to choose from. In the meanwhile I had found an assistant through the Institut Français in Pondicherry, who also moved in with me (see below). I was finally ready to start what I then considered ‘proper’ fieldwork. Unfortunately, I had no clue where to begin. The first weeks were mainly spent meeting a wide range of people, both in the area where I was living and in other parts of town. I explored different neighbourhoods, visited many temples, and contacted people in the municipality office, the local churches and in the shops on the main road. My interactions were guided by a wish to locate a neighbourhood that would be suitable to carry out research on consumption. Occasionally I had the impression that I learned something interesting and had found a possible ‘way in’ but most of the time I was quite frustrated by the slow progress I made. On the one hand I was drawn towards Varnapuram, a middle-class neighbourhood, situated east of my house, where people from different caste backgrounds and with different whitecollar jobs formed a ‘mixed’ population. The area had been developed in the northern part of the town, over the last 10–15 years and consisted mainly of new bungalows of varying size. However, I quickly discovered, that access was not easy in this neighbourhood as most people kept to themselves most of the time. On the other hand, I was attracted to Sengadu Thottam, the neighbourhood west of my house that was much poorer, almost exclusively made up of daily wage labourers employed in

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handloom, powerloom and dyeing workshops. People in Sengadu Thottam seemed more accessible, always keen to talk, interested in who I was, and interactions with them were of a much less formal nature. Here, I made friends within days of my arrival, and regularly had people visiting me at home – much to the disapproval of middle-class acquaintances in Varnapuram. However, given my wish to study consumption among an upwardly mobile social group, I began more systematic research in Varnapuram. It was only much later that I realised that the Vanniyars of Sengadu Thottam are in fact one of the most upwardly mobile groups in town, but at this stage my decisions were guided by the physical conditions of the place and Varnapuram seemed eminently more prosperous than the other neighbourhood. By the middle of November I had put together a household survey that incorporated a 14-page (!) questionnaire about consumption behaviour, with questions about food, housing, dress, and so on. Armed with copies of this questionnaire I went from house to house in Varnapuram and sat down, usually with the male head of the household, to fill out the questionnaire. On average, each questionnaire took about 3 hours to complete and I was truly amazed at the informants’ willingness to sit through the ordeal and their patience in answering my rather banal questions. After less than two weeks and having completed about 25 questionnaires, I gave up. I felt that the questionnaire was not leading anywhere and there were several reasons for this. The questionnaire was simply too long and even if my informants were polite enough to sit through it, I myself got terribly bored asking the same questions over and again. I became increasingly aware that I had started this structured method of interviewing far too early on and without having established adequate relationships with my neighbours in the first place. Being anxious to start ‘collecting data’ in a more systematic manner, I had not given sufficient thought as to what I wanted to get out of the exercise and this resulted in highly repetitive, hardly informative and sometimes very awkward interviews. At the same time, I came to realise that consumption practices have to be observed in a variety of contexts, that they have to be related to people’s daily social and economic activities, and that they lie at the heart of intra-households relationships and allocation processes. In sum, a household-based questionnaire was neither an appropriate nor an effective method to gain insight into the intricacies of consumption patterns and decision-making. I was put off by the entire enterprise. In the meanwhile, however, I had begun to visit handloom workshops and textile traders, and found this world of ‘production’ far more fascinating. Everyone around me talked about the jamakkalam (carpet), the pride of Bhavani, and kept relating the town’s identity to its carpet manufacturing. Everyone I talked to, including informants in Varnapuram who were largely unrelated to the textile industry, referred to the decline of handlooms in the light of fierce competition from powerlooms in Kumarapalayam, on the other side of the river. The town’s identity was connected to a history of craftmanship, currently embedded in a narrative of decline in which everyone deplored the collapse of the local handlooms and the lack of development in town. It was my neighbours and informants’ self-conscious reflections about their town, its history, craftmanship and current waning industry that in turn made me

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rethink my research topic. Perhaps the prime reason behind my eagerness to shift topics was the unenthusiastic replies that I received while conducting the initial questionnaires. Few informants got excited about talking of consumption, and this lack of engagement on their part put a major damper on my own enthusiasm for the topic. One piece of advice that I did remember from my pre-fieldwork seminars was that one should always be open-minded in the field and follow up lines of enquiry indicated by one’s informants. It was in the middle of January 1996, and following the earlier disappointment, that I changed my research to start an ethnographic study of handloom weavers in Bhavani. This decision, however, was not taken lightly, and I cannot say that I had any better idea of how to go about this new project. My supervisors warned me that I might even be less prepared for this new topic: Had I any knowledge of the existing literature on industries, textiles and labour issues in India? Had I any idea of what the relevant research questions would be for a study of a handloom industry? Had I given any thought to issues of methodology and access? The answer to these questions was largely no. Hence, I left for Pondicherry where I spent two weeks in the library digging up literature on textiles in Tamilnadu, on industrial development and on relations of production and work. I compiled a series of research questions and talked to a few anthropologists at the Institut Français, before returning to Bhavani at the beginning of February with a clearer strategy in mind. Clearly, informants, supervisors and assistants (as I will explain below) all played an influential role in the flow of my fieldwork. I began contacting textile merchants and traders, and conducted numerous unstructured and largely informal interviews with them – a striking contrast to the formal questionnaires I attempted before. By March I had visited a large number of workplaces, talked to employers and workers, and by the end of that month I was weaving a carpet myself on a loom in a small workshop behind my house. I felt that an ethnography of work and the workplace could reveal a lot, and by the time I left ‘the field’ for a break in May I had spent over 5 weeks in the handlooms chatting to the workers and weaving alongside them on a daily basis. This was perhaps the least structured, yet most rewarding part of my doctoral fieldwork, and I was finally learning something about a group of people with whom I felt increasingly at ease. On my return, at the end of May, I stopped weaving, but by this time I had established the necessary rapport with co-workers that allowed me to begin more structured and in-depth interviews with weavers, employers, union members and union leaders. It is from this point onwards that my fieldwork followed a steep learning curve and that I was in a position to approach informants and friends to discuss a range of issues in much more depth. It was also at this stage that I carried out a more detailed survey covering all weavers and workplaces in town. In July of 1996 my fieldwork took yet another turn. Again following informants’ suggestions I began a similar study of powerloom workers in Kumarapalayam at the other side of the river. Handloom weavers presented Kumarapalayam as a booming place where jobs were plenty, wages on the rise and standards of living much better. I was told that if development and change were on my research agenda, I had better cross

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the river. For the weavers, Kumarapalayam and its powerloom industry stood for progress, modernisation and indeed globalisation. One place could not be understood without the other. Excited by such discourses I was keen to find out about work and life in Kumarapalayam, and to compare its successful industrial development with that of Bhavani; this comparison was ultimately to become the topic of my doctoral thesis, which examined changing labour relations and their social context in these two textile towns (De Neve 2005). The above account has shown the critical journey of a doctoral research project. New topics and methodologies were taken on in response to the inadequacy of methodologies tried, interactions with and suggestions from informants, and the opportunities that came along as the research progressed. This attitude of openness, which allows for insights to be gained by following unplanned lines of enquiry, has been called serendipity. And it lies in the nature of ethnographic fieldwork that the ethnographer actively nurtures serendipity, that is, that he or she facilitates the occurrence of rather unexpected discoveries by accident. Frank Pieke, in an engaging discussion of his shifting research project in China in 1989, suggests that ‘accident’ is not entirely the right word in this context, as serendipity is not only about keeping an open mind but also about creating the necessary conditions and flexibility to encounter the unknown (2000: 145–7). Serendipity involves a particular attitude that makes the ethnographer search for spaces, discourses, events and especially encounters that s/he expects will provide more informative or interesting insights. I suggest therefore that serendipity is in fact not so much about ‘making sudden discoveries’ as about a particular willingness on the part of the fieldworker to learn from and build on informants’ self-conscious and reflexive engagements with their own social environment. Serendipity arises when we are open to what people have to tell us about their own society. In the case of Pieke, it was the sudden outbreak of the People’s Movement in 1989 that drastically and unexpectedly redirected his doctoral research in China. The movement soon began to dominate every aspect of society and became the topic of every conversation, while his own research came to be shaped by the ‘interpretive frame of the total event’ (ibid.: 135). As a result of these developments Pieke entered a series of dialogues with the people studied, in which they were as much trying to make sense of the events as the anthropologist was. This led him to make the relevant point that: [d]ialogical fieldwork should be a dialogue with the entire social reality encountered, a chain of events heard about, observed, and, above all, experienced. The efforts of the ethnographer to make sense of what, at first sight, seem to be random accidents are similar to the creative interpretive work native actors engage in to make sense of their world (ibid.: 137).

This ‘total event’ not only redirected Pieke’s own focus, but it also presented him with a new framework for interpretation. This framework was not his own, however, but it was the lens through which the people of China themselves began to reflect on the meaning of the events of 1989 and on the nature of their own society more

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generally. The ethnographer’s and the people’s engagement with a process of reflection were remarkably similar. It is the latter’s reflections on their own society and its transformations that provide the ethnographer with food for thought. It is more than just in terms of ‘chatting with informants’ that ethnography is based on dialogue – the dialogue that matters is the constant exchange of reflections and interpretations. Learning from one’s assistant...or not? Whereas dialogues with informants and friends in the field are regularly recorded in ethnographic accounts, the crucial role of and interactions with research assistants is less often given the recognition it deserves. Sanjek rightly reminds us that the remarkable contribution of assistants ‘is not widely enough appreciated or understood. In no major treatment of the discipline is it portrayed as a fundamental part of the history of anthropology’ (1993: 13). Comparing the changing relationship between anthropologists and assistants throughout the history of the discipline, Sanjek provides interesting examples of assistants whose contributions were fully recognised and who even became co-authors but also of key informants who were barely acknowledged in ethnographies for which they provided more than 95 per cent of the data. Sanjek’s main preoccupation is with what he aptly calls ‘anthropology’s hidden colonialism’ (1993: 13), that is, the recognition and appreciation that assistants and key informants remained deprived of despite their contributions as professional ethnographers. Sanjek’s article, however, remains silent on the actual processes and interactions through which assistants open life worlds to the new anthropologist. My own experience with research assistants is one place to start. Krishnan, who accompanied me on one of my initial trips in search of a field location, was a real gentleman.2 As a soft-spoken, well-educated Tamil Brahman, Krishnan had an excellent feel for what I might and might not understand as a novice fieldworker in Tamilnadu. Employed by the Institut Français, he had extensive experience assisting anthropologists in the field, and knew the skill of keeping both informants and ethnographer happy. Being familiar with the districts that I wanted to explore, he introduced me to a range of people during the ten days that we travelled around. Krishnan provided me with plenty of background information and selected informants whom he judged would be of interest to me. He encouraged me to feel free to ask questions and willingly translated informants’ responses in such a way that they made at least some sense to me. As a patient listener and a careful translator he was great to work with at a time that my own Tamil was less than basic. His good-humoured nature and relaxed attitude provided a welcome antidote to my own impatience and anxiety to find a place and start ‘real’ fieldwork as soon as possible. I rushed around visiting places and talking to people for up to 12 hours a day and it was only when he told me after a few days that he had bought a balm ‘for muscle pains in all his body parts’ that I realised I had overdone things. Even in those early 2

All names are pseudonyms.

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days of fieldwork, Krishnan carefully made me realise that my pace of work would be unsustainable in the long run and quietly suggested that I slow down. But it was only much later that I realised how my constant anxiety about getting ‘access’ and ‘data’ often turned out to be counterproductive, putting unnecessary strain on myself, my assistants and my informants. Interestingly, however, it was a research assistant who made me aware of this. As a person, Krishnan keenly engaged with research – both my own and that of others whom he had worked with – and often commented on how particular findings had surprised him or on how certain projects had been really fascinating. At the same time, however, he also remained sceptical of the relevance of much research conducted by westerners in India and even got upset when recounting stories of how some fieldworkers had treated both him and informants with little respect. Yet, given his strong sense of duty Krishnan’s overall aim is to support the researcher for whom he works and to try his best to get hold of the information s/he is after. Krishnan did not lack in self-confidence and his polite approach was respected by the people we talked to. Brahmans in Tamilnadu can easily be identified by their particular accent and use of language, and they have a good deal of authority in interactions with others. Krishnan was both a skilled interviewer and a careful translator. Having selected Bhavani as a field site, I would have been more than pleased to continue work with Krishnan. Unfortunately, being employed by the Institut Français, he had other commitments to go back to and our short-lived collaboration came to an early end. On returning to Pondicherry, however, Krishnan introduced me to Jeyaraman, a friend of his who had just finished a BSc in library studies and was taking a correspondence course in sociology. Jeyaraman too had assisted a few social scientists before, and several of the researchers who had worked with him at the Institute recommended him. Having had an excellent working experience with Krishnan, I did not hesitate to employ Jeyaraman and we left for Bhavani a few days later, where he moved in with me for the next six months. Unfortunately, my working relationship with Jeyaraman was not a happy one and almost from day one our collaboration was difficult. While trying to explain during the first weeks what sort of field research I had in mind, he kept replying along the lines of: ‘You should only meet official people. Only they are good informants. Only the educated people can give correct information’, etc. Alternatively, when discussing with him what I hoped to get out of a particular interview, Jeyaraman often replied: ‘But this is something you can find in books!’, or ‘We can’t ask common people such questions; they won’t know’. Initially, I was hesitant to insist as I was not confident enough about what was appropriate to ask in particular contexts. But as time passed and I learned to interact with the people around me, this became increasingly frustrating and it soon became obvious that he was merely not interested in engaging with the research. Having completed his degree in library studies, Jeyaraman was hoping for a position as a librarian in a government institution or a private research institute; all he wanted in the meanwhile was a job that would allow him to contribute to his parents’ household and to help finance his sister’s wedding.

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Jeyaraman was clever but much less critical of his society or reflective of his own position within it. He was a man who was keen to do what is ‘right’ in Tamil society, and at the stage of his life when I met him this meant providing for parents, helping a sister and searching for a permanent job so that his own marriage could be arranged soon after. He was not the sort of person who would question such a life course and therefore, as I realised later, not particularly effective as a field assistant. Jeyaraman’s self-consciousness was nurtured by his own position in Tamil society as an urban, educated and high-caste Hindu. This identity placed him well inside mainstream society and allowed him to reproduce middle-class values and stereotypes that depict rural and lower caste people as ignorant, backward and uneducated. For me, such views soon became a hindrance rather than a help in understanding life in Bhavani. In many ways, Jeyaraman was the opposite of Ali, one of Rabinow’s key informants during his fieldwork in Morocco, who made an excellent assistant not only because he was intelligent, patient and co-operative, but above all because he was a marginal character in his own social world. Rabinow observed that Ali ‘was not the average villager, he was far from the solid-citizen stereotype of Sefrou, and he had not become involved with the French’ (1977: 73). As a result he was more self-reflective and critical about his society and his own place in it than most other Moroccans Rabinow met. It is this rare quality which may well make for a perceptive assistant, capable of sharing, and indeed enriching, the ethnographer’s own imagination. Yet, as we will see in the case of Kumar below, it would be wrong to suggest that only the marginalized are the more reflective members of a society. In the meanwhile, I had to deal with ever-increasing foot dragging by Jeyaraman. ‘Leaving for the field’ in the morning was systematically delayed by getting up late, complaints about the food our cook had prepared, or clothes that still had to be washed. Endless excuses were presented as to why it was not a good time to see Mr X or why we should postpone the interview with Mr Y. In the most extreme cases, I was faced with overt refusal to go out or meet a particular person at all. Worse still, I sat through interviews when he simply refused to ask certain questions – even though they were entirely harmless – or gave me a one line translation of a ten minute conversation that even I had understood had interesting elements in it. In sum, due to my lack of familiarity with the people and my limited knowledge of Tamil at this stage, I felt stuck in a hopeless situation in which I was forced to depend on the input and goodwill of a research assistant with whom every day felt like an endless battle. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have realised much quicker that Jeyaraman was simply not a suitable person for the sort of work I wanted to do and I should have given up on our collaboration much earlier. Jeyaraman himself did not walk out on me as this job provided him with an attractive income whereas I kept trying in the hope that things might improve and that once I myself had a better sense of what went on around me, I would be able to improve my communication with him too. I also felt that there was no guarantee that things would go any smoother with another assistant and dreaded having to re-introduce a new person in the network of relations that I had built up in Bhavani. It was not until the middle of March, six months into the fieldwork, that I gave up on our collaboration.

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Let it be clear, however, that I am not recounting this experience to reproach anyone, but rather to reflect on its impact on the fieldwork that I was engaged in. It was partly in response to his aversion for informal and unstructured interviews, that I put the questionnaire together (referred to above) hoping that this would be something Jeyaraman would be more keen to do. Questionnaires are about collecting data in a systematic and partly quantifiable form and I thought that this would get his approval. In fact I was quite aware that a questionnaire was not be the best methodology to follow at an early stage of fieldwork, but it was part of my neardesperate attempt to get my assistant involved in a more enthusiastic and constructive manner. As mentioned earlier, the questionnaire led nowhere, and this debacle in turn contributed to the change in my research topic in January 1996. By February we had interviewed a series of textile merchants, which had gone quite well, but I had also realised by then that it was hard to move beyond introductory interviews in the presence of Jeyaraman and that my independent explorations in town had led to more successful contacts. I next wanted to get in touch with the weavers themselves and spend time in the handloom workshops, even though I had less than a clear idea about what sorts of data I would gather. I knew that Jeyaraman would not be keen on spending time in these workshops and that he would be dismissive of the very people whom I wanted to get to know. Realising that it would be a waste of time to start on this together, I finally decided to give it a try on my own. I approached a neighbour whom I had befriended and asked him to teach me to weave on an empty loom next to his. He happily agreed, albeit with a good amount of disbelief, and from mid-March onwards I began to visit the workshop on a daily basis. Jeyaraman left for Pondicherry. I told him that I needed to improve my Tamil and that this could best be done by spending time among weavers who do not speak English at all; I had given up explaining that I planned to use participation as a way of getting to know the weavers and their working lives informally. In the six weeks that followed I not only improved my Tamil considerably, but I also gained the friendship and trust of a large group of weavers – both men and women –, employers, union leaders and their families. By the end of that time I was in a position to begin more in-depth interviews and collect life histories and genealogies, but also felt that an assistant would be needed to help me with more intricate questions and with the translation of more elaborate interviews. It was on my return from a break in May that I was introduced to Kumar who had just graduated in anthropology at the University of Madras. I was sceptical, but decided to give it a try for a month or so, being determined that I would let go if things did not work out. This time however I was happily surprised to find that I had not only found a man with a critical (self-) consciousness, but also with superb fieldwork skills, an enormous enthusiasm for participant-observation and a rich anthropological imagination. Kumar stayed with me till I left the field in January 1997 and proved to be an ideal assistant in many ways. He turned informants into friends, never hesitated to try out a different approach to the research and keenly sat next to me at the computer translating interviews often till well beyond midnight. One of his main skills was his capacity to understand very quickly what I was after in an interview, and to

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translate my often general and abstract research questions into practical questions that made sense to the people we talked to and that invited them to speak openly and enthusiastically. Every morning we discussed what we were aiming for that day and what we would try to get at in a particular interview. Often, I would start off an interview with a few general issues that he would then pursue with questions that followed up from points raised by the informant. It was not uncommon for me merely to listen and take notes, while asking the occasional question that redirected the conversation. In the evenings, we translated tapes and jointly began to interpret what we had heard and seen that day. Kumar regularly asked me about what I thought the meaning was of a particular event or statement, and then compared it with his own interpretation, and I did the same. Although Kumar was a well-educated young man from a comfortable, high caste Chennai family, he had an acute awareness of difference and was keen to get to know the ‘other’ inside his own society. Perhaps this awareness resulted from his own identity as a Telugu speaking Christian brought up in Tamilnadu, but perhaps it was merely an aspect of his personality. While his view of culture was strongly coloured by rural romanticism and the idea of the ‘pure native’, it nevertheless meant that he took the ‘other’ seriously and appreciated social and cultural difference without making value judgments. For him there was no right or wrong way of doing things, only different ways of acting and believing. If anything he was exceedingly sceptical of religion and ideology, and his sympathy always lay with the underdog. His degree in anthropology had further raised his curiosity in other people, lifestyles and social forms, and enhanced his interest in conducting fieldwork. As he was preparing to embark on doctoral research himself, he was eager to assist a foreign anthropologist in the field. Most remarkable was his ability to empathise with others and to enter the minds of informants without ever breaching the boundaries of what is acceptable and appropriate. Being able to create an inviting atmosphere in which people feel uninhibited to talk is a real skill that for some, like Kumar, comes naturally, while others, like myself, have to learn it through time and experience. This empathy soon proved remarkably useful in the field. In many ways Kumar was as much an outsider to the locality as myself, although he obviously had the advantage of speaking Tamil and being familiar with Tamil culture. He joined me when I had just come to know various weavers and was ready to start more detailed interviews in the workplace, yet when my Tamil was still inadequate to conduct such interviews on my own and my position as a foreign man still too awkward to start talking freely to women in the workplace. Kumar’s company changed a lot. As we started to make daily visits to the handloom workshops, he first took time to talk to the weavers informally, inquiring how they were and paying due respect to everyone present. He then joined in with the joking and humour that filled the workplace and eventually started an interview, often before any of the informants – or indeed myself – had realised it. I would then slot in and generate questions as the interviews unfolded. Initially, as two young and unmarried men, it was not always easy for us to move around freely in the workplace, especially in those places where women formed the

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majority of the workforce. Once we had established an open relationship in which we told as much about ourselves as the weavers did about their own lives and once we had clearly explained our purpose of talking to them, daily conversations evolved during which Kumar not only translated the weavers’ responses into English but also interpreted and contextualised their conversations into a language that made sense to me. At last, I realised that while some research assistants may be able to translate between languages, few have the skill to translate between cultures. In the process Kumar was often as much in-between cultures as I was, and the cultures that we reflected on were those of Bhavani, Chennai, India and the West. Through this process of dialogue I felt I gradually began to ‘understand’ my informants’ language and speech. However, it was not until my Tamil improved during the last months of my fieldwork that I was able to engage more directly and meaningfully with informants. My assistant had been crucial in enabling my final, independent interaction with informants. Clearly, the understanding I gained and the anthropological writing it led to resulted as much from reflective exchanges with assistants as from direct observation and participation in the field. In the box below, I have extracted the key points of Kumar’s own response to this chapter, which I sent to him for comment.

A note from the then assistant Having completed a Masters degree in anthropology at the University of Madras, I considered the opportunity to assist a researcher from the LSE a breakthrough and looked forward to what I would learn from this collaboration … In the field the researcher’s unrestricted exchange of views and his knowledge of anthropology improved my own understanding of social contexts … and allowed me to re-think my own (mis-)conceptions of culture and society … The learning in the field, both in terms of content and methodology, evolved gradually and we jointly generated new strategies to further the research … My experience as an assistant in many ways improved my own fieldwork skills and especially my own communication skills with informants … I would say that we worked well together in the first instance because of a shared interest in anthropology and in the second instance because of compatible personalities … However, although we shared the learning and exchange of ideas throughout the fieldwork period, in the end the research remained his. The words and phrases that we got from interviews belonged to him; as an assistant I did not own them, but rather felt like renting them. Towards the end of the research, I came to realise that the research was not mine, and that a boundary remained between ‘assistant’ and researcher, even though on a personal level we became good friends. Kumar

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Learning from informants Having elaborated on the role of field assistants and their variable abilities to ‘reflect’ and ‘interpret’, I would like to conclude with an example of some insights that I gained from the reflections of informants themselves, and that were surprising to both me and my assistant. The vignette I present below was compiled from notes of fieldwork conducted in 1999–2000, during which I was helped by a fourth assistant called Anthony Raj. The case illustrates what both of us learned about marriage, kinship and children from a conversation between Santhi and her neighbour Anandh. In June 2000, Anthony and I had begun a series of interviews with rural and urban weavers about family planning, asking men about the number of children a family of their type would expect to have these days. While opinions obviously differed between men, a shared opinion emerged which can basically be summarised as follows: while up to 30 years ago it was normal to have four, five or more children, today one or two is the norm; if the first child is a boy, the mother is sterilised; if the first child is a girl, they try for a second child; if the second child is a boy, the mother is sterilised but if it is a girl they may try a third time, but certainly not more than that. Men’s explanations for such preferences by and large related to the materiality and economics of life. If you own land, you want to have a son to inherit it, but you don’t want to have two or three sons for the property will then be fragmented. If you do not own land or are poor, you want to have a son to work and look after you in old age. Daughters are a burden, both in terms of their upbringing and their marriage, and if they later earn money, it goes to in-laws anyway. Much of these explanations seemed reasonable to us and resonated with popular opinion more generally as well as with much literature on the topic. It was not that men did not have more complex strategies for family planning (including the use of horoscopes, alternative medicine, contraceptive options, etc.), but only that most of their discourse was largely guided by considerations of an economic nature. It was not until we talked to Santhi – and other women later on – that both Anthony and I began to reflect more seriously on the complexity of family planning decisions and especially began to see how considerations about size of family and child sex preferences were highly gender-specific. My own insights largely came from Santhi’s self-conscious reflections on her own family and its needs. As her male neighbour was explaining that one child – and especially a boy – is the current preference, Santhi interrupted him in strong disagreement arguing ‘we don’t want just one child – if there are two kids around, the house will be lively!’ She continued to explain why the ideal is to have a son and a daughter. If a daughter has no brother, she has nobody to look after her when things go wrong or if her husband were to leave her. Moreover, her own brother is the tai-mama (maternal uncle) to her children, plays a crucial role in the arrangement of their marriage and the exchange of gifts (seeru), and links her to her natal family. Santhi emphasised several times that ‘a woman needs such contacts; they are very important to her; if dowry (varadatcinai) and gift-giving (seeru) were to disappear, that would be very sad ... when there are no obligations anymore, the close contacts between brothers and sisters would

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cease’. Furthermore, Santhi added that one needs both sons and daughters so that cross-cousin marriages can be continued over time. For her own sons, she has the right to ask for her brother’s daughters, and as they have a good relationship, she might well consider doing so. Clearly, a host of reasons where uttered by Santhi that point to the importance for women of kin support networks and to the key role of sibling relationships in the reproduction of family ties. Santhi further explained that if she were to die her father has to put a first sari over her corpse, but in case he is no longer alive, her brothers or brothers’ sons would have to do this: ‘if there is nobody around to come with a sari, people will talk and say that I am anathai (destitute)’. Later, an older woman in a village outside Bhavani told us that a woman needs a daughter to look after her in old age and added that even if one has daughters-in-law in the house, they never care as much as one’s own daughter does. But she added that a daughter is also useful for more practical things, such as shopping and cooking, in which sons have no interest and which daughtersin-law are often reluctant to do. Finally, she explained that parents need a daughter to weep at their funeral, ‘as the tears of sons and daughters-in-law are never the same as those of a daughter’. Other women also mentioned various health considerations, including the pain of childbirth and the risks relating to sterilisation. In sum, the interviews with women revealed a whole complexity of concerns that shape women’s considerations about family planning, including marriage choices, kin support, status and prestige, love and emotions, as well as economics. What transpired most was the highly gendered nature of explanations, with men emphasising the materiality of life and women reflecting on matters of kinship, age, health and emotional support too. Revealingly, Santhi and other women’s reflections on family planning were not only new to me but they also opened up an entirely unknown perspective to Anthony who had largely internalised a male and popular perspective on family size and family planning. He came to realise for example that a one-child policy is doomed to fail among less well-off social groups who rely heavily on the economic and emotional support of children as well as siblings. Our insights into these issues and my current writing about them would not have come about without Santhi’s critical thinking about her own interests as a woman and her conscious stance against her neighbour’s ‘male’ opinion. It is her reflections and dialogues which in turn made me think about the differences between male and female perspectives on family planning and related issues. What I have recounted here is not unique, and I do not doubt that many other ethnographers unfamiliar with the culture and language they set out to study, have had similar experiences in the field. In order to conclude my point about the ways in which reflections arise from dialogues with assistant and informants, I refer to a revealing passage in James Ferguson’s Expectations of Modernity (1999), where he reflects on how to interpret and make sense of a heterogeneous urban social context in Zambia. Ferguson argues that the people who form part of the urban setting are themselves rarely able to make sense of what goes on around them. Ferguson contrasts the setting of the classic homogeneous village community with the context of urban Lusaka

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where people are themselves mystified by the noise, that is, the misunderstandings, confusion and miscommunication, that surrounds them. In many ways, [n]eat lines between the locals who know what’s going on and the foreigner who doesn’t proved hard to maintain on the Copperbelt, where everyone seemed to be coming or going, where nearly everyone spoke of their home as some place other than where they lived, where languages and cultures ran together in a cryptic hodgepodge to which no one seemed to hold any definite interpretive key (ibid.: 208).

While Ferguson admits that ‘in the end matters were as unclear to the “locals” as they were to me’ (ibid.: 209), it was in dialogue with his assistants that he began to unravel and understand the fuzziness and ambivalence of cosmopolitan life. There is little doubt that however important assistants’ practical help in terms of access may be, their most valuable contributions relate to the ways in which they facilitate the ethnographer’s reflection, enhance their understanding and ultimately enable their construction of what is known as ‘anthropological knowledge’. Conclusion Reflexivity in anthropology has a considerable history, and has over the last decades moved from the margins into the core of the anthropological project. From preoccupations with texts, their production and consumption, and the interest in regional traditions of ethnographic practice in the 1980s, the practice of critical reflection was largely directed towards the ethnographer’s self in the 1990s, and more recently towards a critical revisiting of ‘fields’, ‘localities’, and of how they are conceptually defined and practically constructed. I have argued that despite the usefulness of each of these reflective approaches, they fail to gain wider support because their advocates fell short of indicating the relevance of such approaches to our understanding of how insights are gained and anthropological knowledge is constructed. In other words, reflections on texts often got stuck in textual analyses, while reflections on the ‘self’ rarely moved on to the ‘other’. I suggest that a type of reflexivity that is more revealing in this respect is that which focuses on the process, complexity and diversity of fieldwork as a critical journey, in which the ethnographer engages with informants, assistants, friends, and collaborators, and gets involved in a myriad of encounters and events. Through some examples of such engagements and experiences in the field, I tried to illustrate how the ethnographer’s own reflections, insights and interpretations are largely shaped by the events in which s/he gets involved, the methodologies tried out and the interactions with others in the fields. Especially the reflections and ponderings of one’s informants, and the critical role played by one’s assistants, are vital to the way in which the ethnographer is able to make sense of what goes on around him/her. Unfortunately, it is this reflexivity of the gradual acquisition of insight and construction of knowledge that has remained veiled in most critical accounts of anthropology.

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Acknowledgements An earlier version of this chapter was presented in 2004 at the ASA conference in Durham, and I would like to thank the participants at the conference for their comments. Special thanks go to Grace Carswell, Henrike Donner and Maya Unnithan-Kumar for more detailed critiques of draft versions of this material. References Allen, N.J., ‘The field and the desk: choices and linkages’, in Dresch P. , James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Beck, B., Peasant Society in Konku: A Study of Right and Left Subcastes in South India (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1972). Beck, U., Giddens A. and Lash S., Reflexive Modernization: Politics, Tradition and Aesthetics in the Modern Social Order (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994). Bell, D., Caplan P., and Begum Karim W.-J.(eds), Gendered Fields: women, men and ethnography (London: Routledge, 1993). Béteille, A. and Madan T.N. (eds), Encounter and Experience (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1975). Bourdieu, P., ‘Participant Objectivation’, in The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 9(2) (2003): 281–94. Clifford, J and Marcus G. (eds), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Writing Ethnography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Davies, C.A., Reflexive Ethnography: A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. ASA Research Methods in Anthropology (London: Routledge, 1999). De Neve, G. The Everyday Politics of Labour: Working Lives in India’s Informal Economy (Delhi: Social Science Press, 2005). Dresch, P., James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000). Fardon, R., ‘Localizing Strategies: The Regionalization of Ethnographic Accounts – General Introduction’, in Fardon R. (ed.), Localizing Strategies: Regional Traditions of Ethnographic Writing (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990). Ferguson, J., Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). Geertz, C., The interpretation of cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973). Goodman, R., ‘Fieldwork and Reflexivity: Thoughts from the Anthropology of Japan’, in DreschP. , James W. and Parkin D. (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Gupta, A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997a). _____ (eds), Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997b). Kulick, D., ‘Introduction: The Sexual Life of Anthropologists: Erotic Subjectivity and Ethnographic Work’, in Kulick D. and Wilson M. (eds), Taboo: Sex, Identity

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and Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork (London and New York: Routledge, 1995). Kulick, D. and Wilson M. (eds), Taboo: Sex, Identity and Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork (London and New York: Routledge, 1995). Marcus, G. and Fischer M. (eds), Anthropology as Cultural Critique (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1986). Marcus, G., ‘Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography’, in Annual Review of Anthropology, 24 (1995): 95–117. _____, Ethnography through Thick and Thin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). Okely , J., ‘Anthropology and Autobiography: participatory experience and embodied knowledge’, in Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography (London: Routledge, 1992). Okely, J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography (London: Routledge, 1992). Pieke, F., ‘Serendipity: reflections on fieldwork in China’, in P. Dresch, W. James and D. Parkin (eds), Anthropologists in a Wider World (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2000). Rabinow, P., Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977). Sanjek, R., ‘Anthropology’s Hidden Colonialism: Assistants and Their Ethnographers’, in Anthropology Today, 9(2) (1993): 13–18. Scholte, B., ‘The Literary Turn in Contemporary Anthropology’, in Hymes D. (ed.), Reinventing Anthropology (New York: Vintage Books, 1987). Spencer, J., ‘Anthropology as a kind of writing’, Man (N.S.), 24 (1989): 145–64. Srinivas, M.N., Shah A.M. and Ramaswamy E.A. (eds), The Fieldworker and the Field: Problems and Challenges in Sociological Investigation (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979). Stocking, G., ‘The Ethnographer’s Magic: Fieldwork in British Anthropology from Tyler to Malinowski’, in Stocking G. (ed.), Observers Observed (1984). Watson, C.W. (ed.), Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999). Wolf, D.L. (ed.), Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996).

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Chapter 6

Writing as a Kind of Anthropology: Alternative Professional Genres Anthony Good

In modern western societies the ability to create a sense of self which is both historically continuous and uniquely distinguishable from other selves is regarded as a necessary attribute of a normal personality (Linde 1993: 101). There are limits to this distinguishability, however. It has been argued, for example, that socially marginalised persons such as members of ethnic minority groups, and even women as a whole, cannot fully experience themselves as unique selves because they are pigeon-holed by the hegemonic group in ways which, while perhaps leaving their continuity intact, specifically serve to diminish their distinguishability as individuals (Rowbotham 1973; Friedman 1988: 38). I am not persuaded by this. While accepting that diminution occurs in such instances, I find the implied opposite – a totally unique, one hundred per cent distinguishable self – rather hard to visualise. There does not seem to be any qualitative difference between persons here, though there may be a quantitative one as the limits of distinguishability impinge upon different areas of people’s lives. Even inmates in a total institution like a prison or asylum experience interactions involving relatively unmediated inter-subjectivity rather than always being seen and treated as ‘prisoners’ or ‘patients’, while at the other end of the scale, less pernicious attributes such as occupational identity also function to limit one’s selfhood. It is no accident that when a new acquaintance asks ‘what do you do?’ or even ‘what are you?’, our usual, expected response is to specify our profession.1 One common way of demonstrating our selfhood to others is to narrate our life story. Such narrations are rarely presented in complete form, of course, but rather produced in fragments according to context. Such fragments must however display minimal levels of coherence both internally and externally, that is, neither we nor our listeners must perceive a discontinuity in a single narrative fragment, nor, as our acquaintance grows over time, should there be incoherence with what has been said previously (Linde 1993). In my own case, though, one discontinuity never fails to generate comment once my interlocutor discovers, through some chance turn in the 1 Reinforcing this identification of self and career is the common tendency to link career choice to character traits, but only as long as the career is felt to have been successful (Linde 1993: 131–32).

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conversation, that I was once a lecturer in physical chemistry. ‘That seems like a big change; how did that happen?’ Though I can usually tell when this is imminent, I almost never pre-empt it by offering any spontaneous explanation of my own, partly because that particular career move no longer seems especially interesting or problematic to me. Two more recent activities, involvement in development consultancy and acting as an expert witness in asylum cases, never attract the same kinds of comment from others, though both involved intellectual re-orientations at least as radical. In this chapter I illustrate this by looking at the kinds of writing which these different scholarly or professional activities entail. I first sketch out my transition, mediated by Sri Lanka and India, from lecturer in physical chemistry to lecturer in social anthropology, to development consultant for the Department for International Development, and expert witness in the British asylum courts. This is meant simply as a chronological account of how I acquired the experience drawn upon subsequently. The four genres of writing of my title are, therefore: academic articles in chemical physics; ethnographic papers in anthropology journals; development consultancy reports for the Department for International Development; and expert witness reports for the British asylum courts. For reasons explained later, I use examples from my own back catalogue to illustrate the genres to which they aspired to belong. Though others have trodden some of these pathways before, no single person has, as far as I am aware, explored them all. Even to explore a single genre thoroughly would require an entire book; taking on four in a single chapter inevitably involves a degree of caricature. I hope nonetheless to point out some interesting and important contrasts even if the accounts given are preliminary and partial. Autres temps, autres moeurs At school I decided at a very early stage to specialise in science. I never did any biology (not real science), and although physics was obviously important, it was hard! So it had to be chemistry. I was in a group which was promoted by one year, creating space later on for us to sit Oxbridge scholarship exams (vainly, in my case). This meant that by age fourteen, my academic path was firmly set. French and History2 went by the board after O–levels, and from then on there was only chemistry, physics and maths through the sixth form. Only a tiny number of universities to choose from back then, but no UCAS forms either, just interminable individual applications. Though I already had respectable A–level passes, all the English universities to which I applied rejected me, and all the Scottish ones said yes. I began my undergraduate degree at Edinburgh in 1960, and moved straight on to doctoral work in 1964. Chemistry doctorates were routinely completed in three years, including a mere three months for writing up at the end, and by September 2 Not entirely without leaving their mark; one of my history projects was a detailed study of Clive of India (and an ancient book on Indian railways had made an even earlier impression).

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1967 I had secured a postdoctoral fellowship in North America. This was the normal next step in those days, and we joked that there were almost enough of us going from Edinburgh chemistry to Canada that year to charter our own plane. This was the time of the Vietnam War, and some European post-docs in the United States had been drafted, so Canada seemed a safer bet. Chemistry at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, was extremely well-funded (there was an oil boom underway) and the work I did there was easily the most interesting and important of my career in chemistry. Alison, who had graduated with her chemistry B.Sc. from Edinburgh in the summer of 1967, was working there too, as a researcher and teaching undergraduate tutorials, and we could have stayed, had we not fixed in our minds all along that this was a two-year stretch. Worried over the ‘brain drain’, the British government was offering fellowships worth a princely £900 per annum to tempt back scientists such as myself. I ended up in Cambridge in 1969 (Alison finding a job in radio astronomy), but the equipment was inferior to what I had become used to, and the boom in academic posts generated by the expansion of the early 1960s had tailed off during our absence. That was partly why I was interested when the British Council advertised a twoyear Senior Lectureship in Physical Chemistry at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Ceylon (as it then was). We arrived there in September 1970 and remained for a little over two years. Our stay was punctuated by a violent insurrection by (media-styled) ‘Che Guevarists’, unemployed Sinhalese graduates who had fallen into the cracks between the generous state educational provision (Ceylon famously had higher literacy rates than the United States) and the austere economic policy, and found themselves unemployed. We were in no personal danger – the main problem was boredom, with the university closed and several weeks of daily twelve-hour curfews – but gunfire in the early hours of the morning is not the best thing for one’s peace of mind.3 The most significant personal experience while in Sri Lanka was, however, my first encounter with anthropology, in the dynamic person of Bruce Kapferer. I can no longer remember how we met, especially as he was in Galle, a considerable distance from Kandy, where he was beginning his work on ‘devil-dancing’. Nonetheless, we spent a memorable Christmas with Bruce and Judy Kapferer in a lodge in Yala game reserve, went to the Kataragama festival together, and I attended an all-night exorcism which still figures in my teaching today. My interest was aroused, not least because of my ambivalence about my own job. On the one hand I thoroughly enjoyed this first experience of lecturing, and indeed fully understood some topics – most memorably, quantum mechanics – for the first time when actually standing 3 Despite this, security generally remained astonishingly relaxed, and a few months later, having simply turned up at the ceremony in Kandy to mark Ceylon’s transformation into Sri Lanka, we found ourselves in the front row of the crowd, a few yards from the main participants. There was considerable frisson many years later, when I saw on BBC World, in a news bulletin announcing Mrs Bandaranaike’s death, black-and-white newsreel footage of this event, whose grainy character made it seem an artefact from some remote past era.

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in front of a class lecturing about them. Not only that; the discipline of lecturing to people for whom English was a second language was terrific training which, I like to think, has helped my teaching ever since. On the other hand, I was well aware that many students saw their degree as a route to get out of Sri Lanka altogether, by obtaining a green card and emigrating to the United States. Leaving Sri Lanka in October 1972, we spent six months travelling overland back to Britain. The bulk of that time was spent in India where we visited every region apart from Assam. Most significantly for the future, this was our first visit to Tamil Nadu, and we actually passed within ten miles of one future fieldwork site. Because of the moral panic about ‘two cultures’ in British public life, the SSRC was offering Conversion Fellowships for natural scientists wishing to study social science. They were intended mainly for work in management and business studies, but my application to study anthropology was successful.4 The responses of different anthropology departments to my initial enquiries represented a vignette of the discipline at the time. Edinburgh didn’t reply for months, UCL were positive but again too late, while Professor von Furer Haimendorf at SOAS advised me strongly against it, as I was already too old to aspire to a chair! Norman Long in Durham was prompt and enthusiastic, and when I travelled up to see him in an unheated train on a snowy day in the midst of Ted Heath’s three-day week, he plied me with coffee to thaw me out. In the circumstances, the decision was easy. I was in a curious situation in Durham, which I soon learned was called ‘liminal’. I was attending undergraduate classes for a postgraduate diploma, while my fellowship meant that I was often treated as a member of staff. I completed the diploma in 1975, and immediately moved on to doctoral work under Nick Allen’s supervision. I ruled out Sri Lanka as a fieldwork location because I knew that wherever I went, I would already be known to a friend of a relative of a friend of someone I already knew. Fieldwork seemed to require a fresh start as an unknown quantity. Tamil Nadu seemed the obvious place, because of the cultural affinities with Sri Lanka. We naively assumed that anthropologists had to live as remotely as possible and so, baby daughter Emily notwithstanding, we ended up in 1976–77 living in Terku Vandanam in Tirunelveli District, a tiny village several kilometres from the nearest road. My work there dealt mainly with kinship and life-cycle ceremonies. I had not done the Kinship option in my diploma course and my knowledge was largely autodidactic, but local discourse proved impenetrable without grasping the relationship terminology, which had features unexpected to one who had weaned himself on Dumont (1953). These, it turned out, resulted from elder sister’s daughter marriage, literally a footnote in virtually all previous regional ethnography – which treated it as an exotic lapse from properly ‘Dravidian’ behaviour – but statistically and conceptually central to local practices and ideologies regarding marriage choice. 4 In 1973–74, a year of enforced waiting, my swan song in chemistry was a postdoctoral fellowship at City University, where I and another postdoc had to handle most Honourslevel teaching in physical chemistry. This proved less of a contrast with Sri Lanka than I had expected, as most students turned out to be Malaysian!

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After this we had our second experience of large scale violence in Sri Lanka, this time ethnically-motivated. We travelled home via Colombo, largely because its Aeroflot flights were the cheapest option, but our arrival from India on the Rameswaram to Talaimannar ferry coincided with nationwide anti-Tamil riots, and after a night of sleeping on the ground at Talaimannar station, we passengers were taken in a bus under police guard to Anuradhapura, and thence to Colombo in a heavily guarded train. The towns we passed through were burning, and occasionally rocks were thrown in through the windows; in Colombo, we were confined to our hotel room during a 36-hour curfew, luckily relaxed just long enough for us to reach the airport and catch our flight. By now my grant had virtually run out, so I was writing up on the dole, first in Durham, then in my family home in Congleton. My thesis was completed under Milada Kalab’s supervision, Nick having moved to Oxford while I was away, and I was examined – by Edmund Leach and Chris Fuller as joint externals – in late 1978. By then I had a one-year post at East Anglia, replacing John and Marie Corbin. Our daughter Harriet was born there. This was followed by a temporary post in Manchester in 1979–80, after which I was lucky enough to get a permanent job back in Edinburgh – lucky not only because Edinburgh was still our favourite of all the places we had lived in, but also because it was virtually the last permanent job in British anthropology for several years. My second major period of overseas field research, in the temple town of Kalugumalai, was done under an ESRC research grant in 1983–84. Alison and Emily were with me again, and Harriet too on this second occasion. It was their experience as much as mine, and I could not have done my work otherwise. Soon afterwards, while Eric Hanley was Head of Department after Jimmy Littlejohn’s retirement, I became involved in development work, which I had previously regarded with the disdain then fashionable among British academic anthropologists (Grillo & Rew 1985). Eric was ahead of his time here, and through him we began appraising NGO project proposals for the Overseas Development Administration’s Joint Funding Scheme. As our involvement grew we began recruiting academic staff specifically to participate in this work, who were paid from its proceeds. I spent several years convening this consultancy team during Tony Cohen’s Headship of the Department, though Neil Thin took that over while I was myself Head of Department from 1996. The appraisal work was repetitive, not always intellectually engaging, and its volume and very tight deadlines were hard to square with the rhythms of academic writing. On the other hand, overseas visits took me into new countries, and circles not usually open to ethnographers. We also began doing policy-related work, which was highly interesting in its own right. Nonetheless, 1999 seemed a good time to draw a line under this work; I had a sabbatical year looming, and our relationship with ODA’s successor, the Department for International Development, was changing radically. Meanwhile I had become involved with a different kind of ‘applied’ work. Like many others, I had completed a questionnaire from the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, seeking details about potential ‘country experts’ to act as

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expert witnesses in asylum appeals. I was then approached in 1995 by a leading firm of asylum solicitors, Winstanley Burgess, to write a report on a Sri Lankan Tamil who claimed, with convincing supporting evidence, to have been a bodyguard to LTTE leader Pirabakaran. As it happened my report was conclusive in that case, and I received more requests from people who had heard of me by word of mouth. By now I have acted in over 300 such appeals. The use of expert evidence in asylum appeals became my research focus under another ESRC grant in 2000. This section has explained how I came to be involved in the various genres of writing that form the principal topic of this chapter. In a way, my career may be said to make more sense in reverse than it might have seemed to at the time. After all, the asylum work neatly reunites aspects of my previous lives, since I could not have done it had my chemistry background not taken me to Sri Lanka, or without my anthropological research among Tamils. Kinds of writing It is axiomatic that successful academic anthropologists are skilled in the conventions of ethnographic writing, but some of those conventions appear wildly inappropriate if carried over into writing done for different purposes, aimed at different audiences. If writers are not to fall into such anachronisms, they must adopt styles and structures appropriate to their contexts. The aim here is to explore this ‘genre-hopping’, and the problems to which it may give rise. I start by considering the structures of research papers in the experimental sciences, as paradigms of the kinds of writing analysed by Latour and Woolgar (1986). I then compare these conventions with the discursive practices of conventional ethnographic writing, and of reports by development consultants. The parameters of variation thus identified are then used to help characterise the writing of expert witness reports, a far more recent, fledgling genre. The discussion is illustrated with examples of these genres drawn from my own back catalogue, all of which were of course written ‘naively’, prior to my interest in writing styles themselves. The advantage is that it is possible to be more certain of the context – important for reasons given below – than if the examples came from the work of others. Latour and Woolgar developed their typology of scientific statements in relation to research papers in neuroendocrinology, but nothing about it is discipline-specific. Their starting premise – that research papers in experimental sciences aim at ‘the successful persuasion of readers’ (1986: 76) – applies in one way or another to all four genres, as we shall see. They argue that: A text or statement can. . . be read as ‘containing’ or ‘being about a fact’ when readers are sufficiently convinced that there is no debate about it and the processes of literary inscription are forgotten. Conversely, one way of undercutting the ‘facticity’ of a statement is by drawing attention to the (mere) processes of literary inscription which make the fact possible (1986; 76; original gloss; my italics).

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That might equally well have been written about ethnography by one of its postmodern critics! But why do some kinds of statement seem ‘more fact-like than others’ (1986: 76)? Their typology aims to differentiate statements according to their inherent ‘facticity’. At one extreme, type 5 statements express completely uncontentious knowledge, taken-for-granted matters which ‘everybody knows’ (1986: 77). It is only when ignorant and curious outsiders appear, anthropologists perhaps, that type 5 statements require articulation. Otherwise, insiders can ‘leave unsaid all that goes without saying’ (Bourdieu 1977: 18). All disciplines and professions rest upon tacit knowledge of this type. They are the core statements of the prevailing paradigm itself (Kuhn 1962). Paradoxically, to actually utter a type 5 statement is liable to convert it into a statement of type 4. These too cover matters which are widely if not universally accepted, but they are explicitly articulated more often, and to that limited extent represent a slightly less solid form of facticity. Such statements are little used by practitioners going about their daily activities (they may allude to them, but do not spell them out) but they do form part of the ‘accepted knowledge’ disseminated in textbooks and undergraduate lectures (Latour & Woolgar 1986: 77). Table 1

The Structure of a Scientific Article

Paragraphs ABSTRACT 1 I. INTRODUCTION 6 (previous experiments in other laboratories and this one, with chemical equations; an explanation of the reasons for undertaking the present work) II. EXPERIMENTAL 1 (summary of the equipment and techniques, referring to earlier publications for full details) III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION (description and analysis, with ten graphs and 1 table displaying experimental results, and numerous chemical and algebraic equations; sub-divided as follows) A. Pure Nitrogen, General 2 3 B. Kinetics of the N4+ Formation C. Kinetics of the N3+ Formation 2 D. Evaluation of Rate Constants for Consecutive Reactions from Ion-Intensity-Time Plots 6 15 E. Formation of H+(H2O)n in Nitrogen Containing Traces of Water FOOTNOTES foot of each page BIBLIOGRAPHY in footnotes Source: Good, Durden & Kebarle 1970.

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These points are illustrates using one of a series of papers on the ionic chemistry of the upper atmosphere (though carried out in a terrestrial laboratory) which I coauthored while in Canada (Table 1). One reason for choosing that particular paper is that it is still being cited from time to time, as I discovered to my surprise when I began writing this chapter. This helps counter any objection that the synchronic comparison of genres is undermined by the scattering of my chosen examples across four decades. I shall compare it with one of my earliest articles on kinship, published soon after I came to Edinburgh (Table 2). The aim is to elucidate the kinds of statements which such forms of writing commonly entail. Table 2

The Structure of an Ethnographic Article

Paragraphs ABSTRACT 1 INTRODUCTION 13 (summarising current theory regarding terminological prescriptions, marriage preferences, and marriage practices, and explaining the context in which it will be addressed below) ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 2 (the location of the fieldwork and brief background on the Maravar caste group on which the article focuses) TERMINOLOGICAL PRESCRIPTION AMONG THE MARAVAR 20 (description and analysis, with one table and one figure, of Maravar relationship terminology) RULES AND PREFERENCES 12 (description and analysis of Maravar rules of exogamy, divorce, etc.) MARRIAGE PRACTICE 19 (description and analysis, with one table, of Maravar marriage behaviour, including deviant behaviour, referring to marriage statistics and individual case studies) THE OVERALL PATTERN 21 (synthesis of findings of three preceding sections, with one diagram; general theoretical conclusions) ACKNOWLEDGMENT & END NOTES 18 (at end; substantive explanatory footnotes, commenting on main text) BIBLIOGRAPHY at end Source: Good 1981.

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For example, the first paragraph of the chemistry paper contains the sentence: One of the goals was to elucidate the kinetics of the clustering reactions in which neutral molecules attach themselves to ions (Good et al 1970: 212).

As it stands, this is a type 4 statement. But underlying it, unspoken, are several statements of type 5. Thus, it is taken for granted that writers and readers share a common understanding of ‘molecules’, ‘ions’, ‘reactions’ and ‘clustering’. Far more common, however, are statements of type 3. They resemble type 4 statements in being about relationships between entities or ideas, but differ in that they are qualified linguistically by the use of what Latour and Woolgar term ‘modalities’ (1986: 77). These explicitly recognise the provisional, limited, or contentious nature of these relationships (for example, ‘many writers argue that...’), and thereby express the lesser facticity of such statements in comparison to the two preceding types. Type 3 statements are especially common in review articles providing broad surveys of particular fields (1986: 78), whereas articles reporting on individual experimental studies are characterised more by type 2 statements, indicating that the posited relationships are still more contentious or doubtful. Type 2 statements are in fact claims rather than statements proper, and explicitly draw attention to the extent (or lack) of existing evidence (1986: 78–9). Finally, type 1 statements are conjectures, speculations, or hypotheses, representing very limited levels of facticity. They are found mostly in the conclusions of papers, where authors suggest further work that now needs to be done (1986: 79). These five types are idealisations, with no cut and dried boundaries between them. Their empirical identification is not straightforward, not only because, like the coloured bands of a rainbow, they merge imperceptibly into their neighbours, but also because statement type cannot be read off directly from grammatical form. The most one can say is that changes in form may possibly correspond to changes in facticity (1986: 79–80). For example, consider the use of citations in these statements from the articles summarised in Tables 1 and 2: Observations with rocket-borne mass spectrometers by Narcisi5 have shown that the ion H+(H2O)n dominates the positive-ion composition below 82km in the D region of the ionosphere (Good et al 1970: 212) there is nothing to cause one to believe a priori that the content of any one of these levels is necessarily fully determined by or completely congruent with the content of any other, as Needham (1967; 1972) has clearly demonstrated (Good 1981: 109; original emphasis).

Should the citations here be seen as modalities, drawing attention to the circumstances whereby the relationship was established and hence confirming the type 3 status of these statements; or are they there to add further weight, pre-emptively enhancing 5 [Footnote in original] R.S. Narcisi and A.D. Bailey, J. Geophys. Res. 70, 3687 (1965).

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their authority and thereby confirming their type 4 status (see Latour & Woolgar 1986: 80)? Such questions can only be answered through knowledge of the context. Looking back, I believe that both were meant as type 4 statements, and that the citations served the sole purpose of bestowing credit for the original demonstration.6 They occur right at the start of each article, laying the ground for the arguments to come. Had they occurred later, there would have been a stronger case for classing them as type 3, as with the following statements near the end: It is our impression that the data in Fig. 7 represent a rather rare example of a complex first-order reaction sequence which includes reversible steps (Good et al 1970: 221). It is possible to go further, and say that these remarks do not apply merely to this case, but are of universal validity (Good 1981: 127).

The qualifying modalities are shown here in italics. What makes these statements of type 3, rather than type 2 claims, is again the context. Rather than standing alone, they are used to initiate further, broader stages in the analyses, and the modalities are designed to enhance their facticity. In terms of structure, these academic articles show clear similarities. The introduction to the chemistry article defines the topic, explains its interest, and summarises the current state of knowledge. The equipment is then described (briefly, as a full account had been published in the same journal one year earlier; Durden et al 1969), along with an indication of the kinds of experiments carried out and the ranges across which primary variables were studied. The structure of a typical ethnographic article differs only in the nature of the empirical work being reported.7 Thus, the paper summarised in Table 2 starts with a general-cum-theoretical introduction to the issues being addressed, followed by a sketch of the ethnographic context in which fieldwork was carried out. The analytical presentation of data then takes up the bulk of each article, leading to conclusions which are presented as the culmination of the empirically-based arguments which precede them. In short, pace Popper (1989), both are examples of the practical uses of inductive logic – or at least, of induction as a favoured rhetorical device. Stylistically, however, these articles display several differences of varying profundity. Physical science papers are written in the past passive tense, downplaying any impression of subjectivity.8 They are commonly structured into numbered sections. They emphasise mathematical formulae, chemical equations, quantitative data, and graphs. By contrast, ethnographic papers are written in the ‘ethnographic 6 ‘Credit’ is another of Latour and Woolgar’s key concepts (1986: 192ff). 7 There are of course many different ways of writing ethnography, but what makes them ethnography is – I argue – their adherence to at least the logical, if not the grammatical and stylistic, features elucidated here. 8 This was virtually universal in physical science at that period. It is still the normal mode of expression, though there has been a recent trend towards writing in more personalised form.

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present’ tense, as concerning contemporary social facts. The presentation is synthetic and discursive. It is unlikely that sections will be numbered, let alone paragraphs. The emphasis is on qualitative data, with considerable use of case studies, apt illustrations, or anecdotes (to put the same point in successively more pejorative terms). There is also a greater tolerance of indeterminacy and far more hedging of bets in terms of the extent to which complications are exposed, conclusions qualified, and context-dependent variations stressed. Latour and Woolgar argue that scientific papers aim ‘to create as many statements as possible of type 4 in the face of a variety of pressures to submerge assertions in modalities’ (1986: 81). There is however an apparent difference in degree between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sciences in this regard. At any given moment, while doing ‘normal science’ within an established Kuhnian paradigm, physical scientists seem more disposed to store their pre-existing knowledge in type 4 pigeonholes than are anthropologists. Chemists do not call Boyle’s Law or the Second Law of Thermodynamics into question on a regular basis, whereas anthropologists of religion will almost certainly sound critical notes whenever they employ the definitions of Durkheim (1915) or Southwold (1978). In short, type 3 statements seem the modern ethnographers’ natural habitat, if only because they find it hard to make any kind of assertion without alluding to the conditions of production whereby it became known.9 All forms of professional writing, in their own particular ways, entail assertions of authority. For physical scientists this authority is straightforwardly empiricist in character, since what permits their statements to transcend those of lay observers is their ability to design, build, and use scientific instruments ‘to enhance perception and to constitute new perceptual objects’ (Shapin & Schaffer 1985: 36). The distinctive claims to authority entailed by ethnographic writing are also empiricist, but in a more complex way which generated much controversy in the late twentieth century (Clifford 1988a; Spencer 1989). To the extent that it derives ultimately from having ‘been there’ – living locally, working in the vernacular, practising intensive participant observation10 – ethnographic authority too involves ‘an unquestioned claim to appear as the purveyor of truth in the text’ (Clifford 1988a: 25). Within the relatively wide limits imposed by editorial demands, the style is resolutely heroic 9 A further difference is that social scientists’ objects of study produce their own meaningful interpretations of the events under investigation, which meanings in turn form part of what is to be explained by the social scientist. It was the adoption of ‘the native’s point of view’ as an analytical strategy, rather than any differences in presentation or logic, which caused me most difficulty in the early days of my disciplinary transition. I vividly recall a weekend spent wrestling with an essay on witchcraft, trying to understand why anthropologists wrote as though they themselves accepted its validity as an explanatory system. 10 The classic ethnographies of the period 1900–1960 emphasised visual observation. ‘Culture was construed as an ensemble of characteristic behaviors, ceremonies, and gestures susceptible to recording and explanation by a trained onlooker (...). Of course successful field work mobilized the fullest possible range of interactions, but a distinct primacy was accorded to the visual: interpretation was tied to description’ (Clifford 1988a: 32).

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and individual, and the form is that of a ‘complex cultural experience. . . enunciated by an individual’ (ibid.). When, however, anthropologists began acting as development consultants, their hard-won authority derived from ‘being there’ was suddenly at a discount, while their expertise in academic literacy became their ‘most serious weakness’ (Conlin 1985: 84). Conlin may be right that in the early days this was principally because of anthropologists’ obsession with exotic detail, and inability to focus on ‘what the report is for [and] how it will be used’ (1985: 34), but nowadays, I believe, any such failings are due more to the retention of inappropriate structures and styles than to an insufficiency of teleology. Development reports are judged by standards quite different from those applying to ethnography. The most obvious differences are structural: such reports ideally ‘consist of conclusions and recommendations with some supporting statements; all the background material and detailed evidence can be consigned to Appendices to be read by other professionals’ (Conlin 1985: 84–5). A ‘proper’ report begins with an executive summary, setting out its conclusions and recommendations concisely enough to be read and acted upon by even the most timepressed senior bureaucrat. It continues with a longer main report, dealing with the summary points in greater detail, and ends with still lengthier appendices containing the actual findings of the consultancy team. The result is characterised by Rew in terms of what he calls ‘the iceberg axiom’, namely, that ‘about seven-eighths of the studies undertaken for a particular appraisal should be kept submerged in annexes in order to keep the. . . “main report”. . . visible’ (ibid.). The practical operation of this axiom is illustrated by Table 3, the annotated table of contents from a consultancy report of which I was principal author, reviewing the Department for International Development’s support for Christian Aid’s programme in India. Although this was very small-scale as consultancy activities go, the report nonetheless involved two stages of abbreviation and selection. Twentyfive pages dealing with field visits in the appendices were condensed down to eleven in the main report, and the findings and recommendations therefrom occupied under two pages in the executive summary. Stirrat argues that the discursive practices of such reports are paradigms of modernity. They place a premium upon objectivity (‘Doubt is not allowed, nor is opinion, and quantitative data is [sic] preferred over qualitative information’) and rationality (‘analyses. . . are based upon the assumption of systematic closure and indeed impose that closure upon the subject under consideration’). Many typical features are exemplified by the report summarised in Table 3. Stylistically, these include the numbering of paragraphs throughout, ‘somewhat in the manner of a treatise on car maintenance’, and the absence of any authorial voice – the word ‘I’ is never used in my report, while ‘we’ appears sparingly in the field visit reports but never in other sections. These are common strategies for ensuring that topics are ‘distanced and objectified: both authors and readers are firmly excluded from the text’ (all quotations from Stirrat 2000: 42).

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Table 3

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The Structure of a Development Report

Pages Acknowledgements & Distribution list 1 Abbreviations used in text 1 Terms of reference 1 Executive summary 5 1 INTRODUCTION 1 2 INDIA COUNTRY PROFILE AND AID POLICIES 4 (poverty and marginalisation in India; the role of NGOs in Indian civil society; DfID’s India country strategy and links with NGOs) 3 CHRISTIAN AID’S INDIA PROGRAMME 6 (the history and background of the programme, CA’s organisational plan and country policy; and the types of partnership with Indian NGOs) 4 CHRISTIAN AID PARTNERS AND PROGRAMMES VISITED 11 (brief accounts, each about two pages long, summarising five field visits to Christian Aid partners in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Delhi) 5 DISCUSSIONS WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN AID PARTNERS 2 (accounts of meetings in Bangalore and Delhi with a wider range of NGOs) 6 CONCLUSIONS 4 (discussion of changes in the Indian NGO sector in the 1990s, and an assessment of the pros and cons of long-term partnership between UK and Indian NGOs) Appendix 1. India, Basic Statistics 1 Appendix 2. Christian Aid’s India Programme 2 Appendix 3. Map of India Showing Locations of Projects Visited 1 Appendix 4–8. [More detailed accounts of the five field visits] 25 Appendix 9. Itinerary 1 Appendix 10. India Programmes Funded By Christian Aid’s Block Grant 1992–98 4 Source: Good & Docherty 1998.

Development reports thus have their own distinctive forms of ‘non-authorial’ voice. Their tendencies to impersonality and distance are reinforced by the fact that those paying the piper – who ‘own’ the data and have power to invoke the ultimate sanction by withholding the consultancy fee – call the tune to the extent of being able to demand a thorough rewrite if they are dissatisfied with the form of a report or, within limits, its content. This is even more evident when the author is a full-time employee rather than a consultant; the views expressed are then meant to be those of the organisation rather than the author, and the report may not even be attributed to them personally. This is a fortiori the case when the anthropologist in question is a civil servant (Eyben 2000: 8).

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Furthermore, whereas almost all ethnographic writing is singly-authored, development reports generally have several authors. They are not the intellectual and stylistic product of one individual, nor even (like chemistry articles) of several researchers from the same discipline, but are ‘built up layer by layer through the interaction of team members with different disciplinary perspectives’ (Rew 1985: 192). This, coupled with the effect of the ‘iceberg axiom’, may mean that the executive summary contains an extreme distillation of the anthropologist’s individual findings. In Rew’s example, an entire 239-page sub-report on ‘social acceptability’ was reduced, in several stages, to two sentences in the executive summary of the main report. Although these served their purpose in stimulating debate and influencing implementation, their selection and placement was largely outwith the anthropologist’s control (1985: 193). The overall view propagated by such reports is of a world ‘knowable in positivist, empiricist terms’ through the amassing of ‘empirically verifiable facts’ (Stirrat 2000: 35). Their opening sections are particularly significant in this regard. The report summarised in Table 3 began, typically, with a list of acronyms. The prominence given to acronyms is both an authority-generating device, demonstrating familiarity with official bodies and mastery of ‘insider’ jargon, and a source of further reassurance that the world is made up of essentialised categories. ‘A “good” report,’ notes Stirrat (2000: 42), tongue only partly in cheek, ‘may have two or three pages of acronyms’. This is followed by the terms of reference under which the study was carried out. Terms of reference are an essential precursor to all such activities. They ‘spell out a series of empirically defined issues and call for action-oriented responses’ (2000: 36). In this case, again very typically, they were divided into sections covering the background and purpose of the study; its anticipated outputs; the tasks to be undertaken and the responsibilities of each team member for completing these; and the reporting arrangements and methodology, including the time scale for producing the final report and the procedures for assessing and modifying its initial drafts. The final section prior to the main report is the executive summary itself. In the current example, this roughly recapitulated the structure of the main report by being divided into sub-sections corresponding to the respective chapters, none of which received more than five brief paragraphs of discussion. As already noted, this section is crucial in terms of the report’s impact, because it summarises its key findings for senior decision-makers and recommends (in bold print) that a number of actions be taken in respect of these. The factual, positivist tone of the entire report reaches its apogee here; other than cross-references to the main report, these findings are wholly divorced from their supporting evidence, conveying an impression of uncontentious, indisputable truth. All in all, while type 4 (and implied type 5) statements are very widespread throughout development reports, the executive summary contains little else. The following paragraph, mea culpa, typically takes for granted a whole series of notions which in other contexts anthropologists might devote entire books to deconstructing:

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Indian society is divided on the basis of caste, gender, age, power, and wealth. Lower caste dalits, adivasis or tribals, and women are the main target groups for most NGOs. Poverty is principally a rural problem and many rural people remain landless. There are 5 million bonded labourers, and many children are forced into exploitative employment. (Good & Docherty 1998: viii)

Ethnographers often seek to enhance the authority of their work through footnotes detailing time spent with ‘their’ people, and acknowledgments to individual local informants. Development consultants achieve comparable legitimacy by appending their itinerary, along with the names and statuses of the officials with whom they held discussions. Citation practices serve similar purposes. Physical scientists and ethnographers rank academic articles well above reports and other ‘grey literature’ as sources of authority, whereas development consultants tend to do precisely the reverse. The possible result in both cases may be the generation of orthodoxies, but the nature of the genre itself makes this far more likely in the development literature, as recycled and uncriticised statements acquire greater facticity over the years, thanks solely to repeated citation (Stirrat 2000: 42).11 Whereas the strength and weakness of academic ethnography is its constant reinvention of the wheel, the ‘grey’ development literature takes the design of the entire vehicle largely for granted. These differences in structure and style between the ethnographic and developmental genres cannot be fully accounted for by their different purposes; indeed, these differences prove partly illusory on closer inspection. Thus, academic ethnographies appear on the surface to be descriptive and (at least pragmatically) relativist in their stance. Even so, they succeed to the extent that their readers are persuaded that they have learned something new and interesting about what things are like ‘out there’, or about how ‘out there’ is best approached and understood. By contrast, development reports seem overtly prescriptive and judgmental in ways which vary depending on their purpose. Pre-project surveys are generally the most straightforwardly prescriptive in form – this is the problem we have identified, and here is its recommended solution – but appraisals and evaluations too make strong judgments about the strengths and weaknesses of past actions, and are prescriptive in the sense of proposing how things might be better done in future. Things are again not quite as they seem, however. In practice, development practitioners judge consultants not by the outcomes which result from following their advice, but by the quality of their reports. In other words, the standards applied to such reports are, despite appearances, largely aesthetic rather than purposive: 11 On the general significance of citation practices in ‘fact construction’, see Latour & Woolgar (1986; 127ff), and Latour (2002: 234ff). One such constructed ‘fact’ in imperial ethnography was the ‘Indian village republic’, whose growing facticity through repeated citation was exposed by Dumont (1966). An interesting example in the development field, because the constructed nature of an existing ‘fact’ was recognised by the constructors of its would-be replacement, was the notion that development practitioners imported a ‘northern construction of childhood’ into their analyses of child labour in poor countries (Boyden 1997; Groves 2001).

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What consultants do is a cultural activity. Although it is claimed that their work has pragmatic objectives, in practice it is judged in terms of aesthetics, judgement and taste. Consultants are cultural performers, cultural artists, whose product should not be judged in terms of its supposed practical ends (Stirrat 2000: 42–3).

In summary, using the terminology of the linguistic philosopher J.L. Austin (1962), scientific papers and ethnographies seem predominantly locutionary in form, whereas common-sense and outward appearance suggest that development reports are perlocutionary above all else. Yet arguments in academic papers must be persuasive or they will not be published, while a report’s recommendations will not be judged sound unless properly presented. Both genres, ultimately, ‘do not so much inform as perform’ (Latour & Woolgar 1986: 285; original italics). I turn now to the fourth and final genre, expert reports for the British asylum courts. Expert reports are meant to help the courts reach decisions on particular issues whose proper analysis requires specialist knowledge. However, although most UKbased anthropologists probably have a basic awareness of the principles of British law, they are unlikely to have had much practical experience of it. What is more, virtually all ‘country experts’ in the asylum field are part-timers who write reports only occasionally, and few, if any, have undertaken the kinds of expensive training common among professional expert witnesses in more lucrative fields of law. They may not comprehend what is expected of an expert: for example, most do not know of the existence of the Civil Procedure Rules (Lord Chancellor’s Department, no date), let alone what those rules say about experts. Furthermore, solicitors generally give them little or no advice on what they can and cannot properly say. Consequently, they run a constant risk of presenting their material in fundamentally inappropriate ways. This may happen for two reasons. The most straightforward problem is that poorly advised anthropological experts may unwittingly overstep the mark by purporting to offer opinions on matters which the law reserves for the judiciary alone, not for witnesses, however expert. Above all, experts must not express opinions on the ‘ultimate issue’ that the court is required to decide. For example, experts may be lured into assessing asylum applicants’ credibility or truthfulness, or even into expressing opinions on whether they merit refugee status. Breaches of this kind are very likely to attract explicit judicial criticism and may, in extreme cases, lead to entire reports being discounted. There is also a more subliminal and less readily avoidable problem, however, stemming from differences between legal and anthropological discourses, and different professional expectations regarding the presentation of evidence and structuring of argument. This too may lead to expert evidence being viewed with suspicion, but this time the reasons cannot be so easily articulated because neither party is fully aware of them. Ironically, both difficulties become most acute at those very moments when experts are asked to address the ‘classic’ topics of their discipline – such as, in my own case, caste, kinship, or arranged marriage. It is precisely because anthropologists see themselves as the experts on such matters that they are likely to make mistakes of the first kind, that is, to assert the truth or falsity of some particular matter

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before the court, on the basis of their own ethnographic experience and scholarly knowledge. As for the second difficulty, the more classically ethnographic the issues being addressed, the more likely it is that anthropologists will approach them as ethnographers, adopting the styles of presentation and reasoning that ethnographers employ. As anthropological reasoning contrasts sharply with legal reasoning in being markedly relational and holistic rather than rule-oriented and particularistic (cf., Conley & O’Barr 1990; Good 2004), there is clearly considerable scope for mutual incomprehension. Inexperienced country experts often write reports in the form of letters to solicitors, replying no doubt to the letters of instructions which they received. This is incorrect, however; reports should be ‘addressed to the court’, and while reports in letter format are not rejected purely for that reason, they convey an amateurish air which is almost bound to influence the court’s assessment, if only subliminally. Reports should summarise the expert’s qualifications; state the substance of all written and oral instructions received; list any facts or documents supplied to the expert; make clear which of the facts relied upon are based upon the expert’s own knowledge, and detail any literature or other material also relied upon in writing the report. They should also outline the reasoning whereby opinions were arrived at, and make clear whenever these are subject to qualification, by summarising the range of opinions held by others, and explaining the reasons for the expert’s own view. Finally, they should end with a ‘statement of truth’, confirming that the expert understands and has complied with their duty to the court. Because of the rigours of legal requirements, these rules are far more explicit than in the other two genres. At asylum hearings, differences between experts and other witnesses are actually somewhat eroded by the more relaxed laws of evidence (Good 2004), but even so, the courts do generally refer to doctors and country specialists as ‘experts’, and are prepared to treat them as such in terms of how their evidence is handled. This cuts both ways, however, and by the same token the court expects these ‘experts’ to observe the proprieties by demonstrating awareness of their legal obligations. Table 4 gives the structure of my most recent report at the time this section was first drafted (July 2003). Although each report is different, and even their generic sections have to be continuously updated, this one is quite typical; its structure is not even greatly influenced, for example, by the fact that this appellant was female. Even the inclusion of a section on rape is not specific to reports on women, given the high incidence of male rape perpetrated on male detainees in Sri Lanka (Peel et al. 2000). Such reports have features in common with other genres. Country experts’ authority, for instance, resembles that of ethnographers in resting upon ‘being there’, albeit in a particularly crude empiricist way which attaches little importance to the quality of that ‘being’, but quite a lot to its quantity and recentness. In other respects, expert reports seem to resemble development reports, in effacing (once the CV is out of the way) the agency of the writer; in the premium placed upon the values of modernity; and – though this, as we shall see, is deceptive – in the seeming prevalence of type 4 statements.

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In many other ways, however, expert reports fall awkwardly between the other genres. Whereas the rhetorical structures of academic papers and development reports, are overtly inductive and deductive, respectively, expert reports taken as wholes are neither (though particular sections may argue inductively to reach general assessments on the basis of available ‘objective evidence’). Moreover, unlike the other three genres, they are curiously ‘at one remove’ from their hoped-for effects. Their value to those commissioning them depends upon the perlocutionary force which can be extracted from the information they contain, as the barrister builds the case in favour of granting asylum, but because they are specifically prohibited from acting as advocates, experts themselves must not overtly promote one particular decision. Partly for this reason, the report’s overall structure is not especially significant. Whereas the other genres all strive for logical and rhetorical closure in their characteristically different ways, the individual sections of expert reports seem more significant than their wholes. The ordering of sections in Table 4 could be quite radically rejigged without any serious lessening of impact. There is no summary at the start (or anywhere else) distilling the essence of the report for the time-pressed adjudicator, nor even any expectation that it will be read through from start to finish by anyone. The principal explanation for this depreciation in the importance of structural form lies in the uses made of reports by legal representatives. Given the sizes of typical appeal bundles, barristers are naturally concerned, in their skeleton arguments and final submissions, to steer adjudicators through these documentary mazes by specifying those passages most helpful to their case, to ensure that these will be read during the decision-making process. They achieve this by highlighting (both literally and metaphorically) particular paragraphs which support the central planks of their arguments. Lawyers do indeed, it seems, tend to visualise the process of considering evidence, and the question of the standard of proof, in terms of a set of mental scales in the mind of the judge, who must decide which side’s evidence is to be given greater weight. In asylum appeals the scales are initially tilted towards the Home Office because asylum has already been refused, so there is less pressure on Home Office Presenting Officers to add yet more weight during appeal hearings. Appellants’ legal representatives, however, urgently seek to add as much weight as possible to their side of the scale, and will throw in anything at all that might help in this (Nathalia Berkowitz, pers. comm.). This cumulative, total weight is what matters, and the coherent linking of points may often not be possible. Consequently, there may be a striking absence of logical progression in the arguments advanced by counsel; most often, points are simply made one after another and left to stand by themselves. However elegantly expert reports may be constructed, therefore, barristers will simply cite certain paragraphs from them, rather than incorporating their overall arguments, or even the arguments of particular sections, into their closing submissions. Whereas academics seek to string their evidential pearls together into properly proportioned necklaces, barristers are content to drop them one by one onto the scales.12 12 I am in no position to say whether this analysis applies equally to expert reports in other legal fields.

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Table 4

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The Structure of an Expert Report

Introduction paragraphs 1–4 (expert’s CV and track record; list of documents supplied and referred to) Ms M’s Account 6–15 (summarising the appellant’s witness statement and asylum interview transcript) Responses to Instructions 16 (the report’s structure; specifying that it assesses ‘objective evidence’ rather than legal matters) Release through Bribery 17–22 (evidence as to its prevalence and whether those released remain suspects) Existence of Records 23–28 (do the authorities have accessible records of former detainees such as Ms M?) Departure through the Airport 29–38 (how easily can wanted persons can leave the country using false documents, aided by agents?) Rape and Social Stigma 39–59 (rape in the ethnic conflict; social stigmas of rape; suicide among rape victims) General Trend Regarding Human Rights 60–82 (treatment of detained Tamils; continued incidence of torture) Risk at the Airport on Return 83–87 (treatment of returned asylum applicants by Sri Lankan immigration officers) Risk from the Authorities in Colombo 88–92 (current incidences of checkpoints, searches, and detentions of Tamils) Risk from the LTTE 93–100 (recent LTTE human rights violations and killings in the North-east and Colombo) Risk from Pro-government Tamil Militias 101–105 (past human rights violations by these groups; their current status and activities) The Ceasefire and the Peace Process 106–146 (continuing human rights and ceasefire violations; political opposition to the peace process; concerns of Muslims; consequences of LTTE withdrawal from peace talks) Overview of Ceasefire Prospects 147–150 Ms M’s Particular Status and Circumstances 151–152 (how all the above points relate to this appellant) Declarations and Signature (1)–(3)

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The extent of reliance upon individual paragraphs rather than entire reports becomes particularly clear when both sides cite the selfsame document, such as the latest Country Assessment by the Home Office’s own Country Information and Policy Unit (CIPU). In the following verbatim extracts from field notes (appeal no. HX/58388/2000), both sides jump around from one stage of the appellant’s story to another with no regard to chronology, and even cite some of the same paragraphs! Presenting Officer: I draw attention to sections of the CIPU report. Para 5.2.4 shows that in Colombo he will be adequately documented, and will be given ID documents. I ask you to read paras 5.1.17, 5.1.24, and 5.1.36 in conjunction with the UNHCR letter of August 2000, and I ask you to find that he will receive an ID card. He may be stopped at security checkpoints, but the evidence in paras 5.2.9 and 5.2.48 suggests that detentions will be brief with little evidence of ill-treatment; it states that release after the payment of a bribe, is no evidence of further interest. I ask you to find that if released even on bail, this indicates he is not a serious suspect ... Counsel: Returning to the CIPU report, para 5.1.36 deals with risk at the airport; this is arbitrary, and depends on the identity of the officer; 5.1.37 suggests a greater risk as the appellant will have a record. Paragraphs 5.2.11, 5.2.12, and 5.2.14 show that a lack of charges does not reflect a lack of interest. Paras 5.2.15 and 5.2.16 deal directly with the claims in the RFRL. Paras 5.2.17 and 5.2.18 [concern] round-ups, Para 5.2.6 concerns repeated brief arrests, and para 5.2.48 deals with ill-treatment. I ask you to note also that the appellant looks younger than he is. Paras 5.2.40 and 5.2.41 show that torture is used to extract confessions. Paras 5.2.44, and ... um ... 5.2.43 concern confessions to senior police officers. Para 5.2.54 shows that government promises are not met, and human rights organisations say it is reneging. And this is evidence from the respondents’ bundle! Our own bundle helps the appellant even more. I ask you to find that the applicant has discharged his burden to the lower standard of proof.

Because their arguments cannot be overtly cast in perlocutionary mode, however strongly the writer believes in their validity, expert reports require more nuanced interpretation than the other three genres. Above all, it is imperative for experts to disavow any opinion as to the legal consequences of their views, a state of affairs which limits the nature and scope of the knowledge which they can legitimately claim to possess. For example, paragraph 16 of the report summarised in Table 4 read as follows: The instructions received from V & Co ask me to comment on the [Refusal Letter] in the context of a number of specific questions which are given verbatim in italics below, at the head of each section of the report. My responses represent my professional assessment of the objective situation; I do not purport to assess the legal basis of Ms M’s claim.

Experts, then, must confine themselves to assessing the ‘objective evidence’; they can most certainly not state their opinions as to the legal conclusions to which that ‘objective evidence’ may point. This balance is particularly delicate when the report is for a tribunal or higher appeal, especially when the expert’s instructions ask for comments on aspects of the decision in the lower court. The Home Office on the

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other hand, not being a judicial body, are fair game, and where commenting on Reasons for Refusal Letters is concerned it is always open season for the unleashed expert (Good 2003). One result of all this shadow-boxing is that expert reports provide particularly clear illustrations of the Latour-Woolgar point that one cannot simply read off statement type from grammatical structure. They resemble development reports in consisting predominantly of statements of ‘objective evidence’ which, in outward form and ostensible context, appear to be of type 4. Generally, however, they are opposed in the asylum hearing by a contrary set of ostensible type 4 statements, submitted by the Home Office. Adversarial legal proceedings are attempts to convince the court that the other side’s type 4 statements are merely type 2 claims, or nothing more than type 1 speculations. One final point. I am conscious that the third and fourth specimens, unlike the first two, are not easily available to anyone wanting to check my assertions about them, but this lack of availability is itself an instructive aspect of the two genres. ‘Grey’ literature is, by definition, meant mainly for those already ‘in the loop’. Conclusions The aim of this chapter has been to assess the distinctive literary genres with which my career has required me to engage. This is not a matter of purely personal interest, I hope, nor for that matter one which only concerns anthropologists. For one thing, the discussion is also an attempt to assess and explain (and thereby perhaps contribute to remedying) the considerable difficulties professionals face in understanding one another’s viewpoints, even if willing to make the effort to do so (cf., Chambers 1983). For instance, Nelken distinguishes three different though potentially compatible approaches to understanding the kinds of professional disagreements that arise in practice between lawyers and scientists – among whom, for present purposes, academic ethnographers can certainly be included (Good 1996). Trial pathology approaches focus on the ‘more intractable features of adversarial systems’ (Nelken 1998: 14), including the pressure towards scientism in the form of overly precise responses (Clifford 1988b; Jones 1994), while competing institutions approaches stress the centuries-old power struggle between the legal and scientific professions (Jones 1994). Here, however, I have adopted a version of what Nelken calls the incompatible discourses approach, for as Shapin and Schaffer note, disciplinary conventions ‘[do] not take the form of verbalized rules. Instead, the “justification” of convention is the form of life: the total pattern of activities which includes discursive practices’ (1985: 52).

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Characterising the Four Genres

Scientific inductive logic overtly locutionary multiple authors, same discipline passive, objective authority from technical mastery type 4 statements work of writing implicit published

Ethnographic inductive logic overtly locutionary single author

Developmental deductive logic overtly perlocutionary multiple authors, different disciplines reflexive impersonal’ objective authority from authority from ‘being there’ networks and official contacts type 3 statements type 4 statements

work of writing explicit published

work of writing implicit limited circulation

Legal cumulative effect perlocution ‘once removed’ singly-authored ‘objective’ authority from ‘being there recently’ type 4 statements versus type 1 and type 2 work of writing implicit restricted circulation

Table 5 summarises some of the characteristics and contrasts highlighted during the preceding discussion. Although some features are common to two or more genres, the stylistic and structural differences are significant enough that not all anthropologists are able to operate with equal facility in them all, as I know only too well from the experience of convening a team of academy-based development anthropologists whose duties required them to do precisely that. There seems no straightforward explanation for this, however; for example, an individual’s proficiency in genrehopping does not appear to correlate at all with their ability as an academic writer. The genre shift called for when writing expert witness reports for asylum appeals poses similar problems. Overall, indeed, there is a case for saying that the structural and stylistic problems posed by writing expert witness reports are both more subtle and more pressing than those arising in the development context, not least because – in contrast to the gung-ho empiricism which still characterises much development discourse – law has a very highly developed set of discursive practices of its own, to which experts are expected to conform and against which their reports will be assessed. Whereas the exigencies of development report writing are largely constrained by practical matters such as the limited time available to senior bureaucrats for digesting and acting upon information received, those of expert report writing arise out of the juxtaposition of two highly developed yet strongly contrasting epistemologies. Even so, the wheel of argument has in some respects come full circle, because when experimental science first developed in the seventeenth century, science and law had far more in common than has appeared in the discussion so far. Above all, the

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concern for the ‘credibility’ of witnesses and the ‘objectivity’ of evidence is common to both even though the means of assuring these have become more and more different over time: The natural philosopher had no option but to rely for a substantial part of his knowledge on the testimony of witnesses; and in assessing that testimony, he (no less than judge or jury) had to determine their credibility (Shapin & Schaffer 1985: 58).13

While it seems intuitively unsurprising that different disciplines should entail their own distinct forms of writing, the examples given here suggest that the main differences between academic publications in physical and social sciences concern relatively superficial matters of presentational style and manifestations of authorial authority. On the other hand, different forms of professional activity, even when undertaken within the nominal boundaries of a single academic discipline, entail more fundamental modifications of presentational structure and underlying mode of logic. This, I suggest, helps explain why my own experience of the key discontinuities in my autobiography differs from that most commonly seized upon by my interlocutors. References Austin, J.L., How to Do Things with Words (Oxford: University Press, 1962). Bourdieu, P., Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: University Press.1977). Boyden, J., ‘Childhood and the policy makers: a comparative perspective on the globalisation of childhood’, in James, A. & Prout A. (eds), Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood (London: Falmer Press, 1997). Chambers, R., Rural Development: Putting the Last First (London: Longman, 1983). Clifford, J., ‘On ethnographic authority’, in Clifford J. (ed.), The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1988a). _____, ‘Identity in Mashpee’, in Clifford J. (ed.), The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1988b). Conley, John M. & O’Barr W.M., Rules versus Relationships: the Ethnography of Legal Discourse (Chicago: Chicago University Press,1990). Conlin, Sean, ‘Anthropological advice in a government context’, in Grillo . & Rew A. (eds), Social Anthropology and Development Policy (ASA Monographs, 23) (London: Tavistock, 1985). Dumont, L., ‘The Dravidian kinship terminology as an expression of marriage’, Man, 53 (1953): 34–9. 13 Even as recently as my undergraduate days at Edinburgh, physics was not only studied, as such, by Science Faculty students like myself; sitting alongside us were students from the Faculty of Arts, for whom that same course was labelled Natural Philosophy.

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_____, ‘The “village community” from Munro to Maine’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 9 (1966): 67–89. Durden, D.A., KebarleP. , & Good A., ‘Thermal ion-molecule reaction rate constants at pressures up to 10 Torr with a pulsed mass spectrometer’, Journal of Chemical Physics, 50 (1969): 805–16. Durkheim, E., The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1915). Eyben, R., ‘Development and anthropology: a view from inside the agency’, Critique of Anthropology, 20 (2000): 7–14. Friedman, S.S., ‘Women’s autobiographical selves: theory and practice’, in Benstock S. (ed.), The Private Self: Theory and Practice of Women’s Autobiographical Writing (University of North Carolina Press, 1988). Good, A., ‘Prescription, preference and practice: marriage patterns among the Kondaiyankottai Maravar of South India’, Man (N.S.), 16 (1981): 108–29. _____, ‘Anthropology is a generalising science or it is nothing’, in Ingold T. (ed.), Key Debates in Anthropology (London: Routledge, 1996). _____, ‘Anthropologists as expert witnesses: political asylum cases involving Sri Lankan Tamils’, in Wilson R. & Mitchell J. (eds), Human Rights in Global Perspective: Anthropological Studies of Rights, Claims and Entitlements (ASA Monographs, 49) (London: Routledge, 2003). _____, ‘Anthropologists as expert witnesses: political asylum cases involving Sri Lankan Tamils’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.), 10 (2004): 113–33. _____, D.A. Durden & Kebarle P. , ‘Ion-molecule reactions in pure nitrogen and nitrogen containing traces of water at total pressures 0.5–4 Torr. Kinetics of clustering reactions forming H+(H2O)n’, Journal of Chemical Physics, 52 (1970): 212–21. _____, with Docherty F., Report on a Review Visit to JFS Co-funded Christian Aid Projects in India (East Kilbride: Department for International Development,1998). Groves, L., ‘A Vertical Slice’: Child Labour and the International Labour Organisation: A Critical Analysis of the Transformation of Vision into Policy and Practice. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis (University of Edinburgh, 2001). Jones, C.A.G., Expert Witnesses: Science, Medicine and the Practice of Law (Oxford: Clarendon,1994). Kuhn, T.S., The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd edn) (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1962). Latour, B. & Woolgar S., Laboratory Life: the Construction of Scientific Facts. (2nd edn) (Princeton: Princeton University Press,1986). Linde, C., Life Stories: the Creation of Coherence (Oxford: University Press, 1993). Lord Chancellor’s Department, Civil Procedure Rules, Part 35: Experts and Assessors ; no date, consulted 13 November 2002.

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Needham, R., ‘Terminology and alliance, II – Mapuche; conclusions’, Sociologus, 17 (1967): 39–53. _____, ‘Prescription’, Oceania 42 (1972): 166–81. Nelken, D., ‘A just measure of science’, in Freeman M. & Reece H. (eds), Science in Court (Aldershot: Ashgate,1998). Peel, M., Mahtani A., Hinshelwood G., & Forrest D. 2000. ‘The Sexual Abuse of Men in Detention in Sri Lanka’, The Lancet, 10 June 2000, 355, (9220): 2068– 69. Popper, K., Conjectures and Refutations: the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (4th ed.) (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1989). Rew, A., ‘The organizational connection: multi-disciplinary practice and anthropological theory’, in Grillo R. & Rew A. (eds), Social Anthropology and Development Policy. (ASA Monographs, 23) (London: Tavistock, 1985). Rowbotham, S., Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973). Shapin, S. & Schaffer S., Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1985). Southwold, M., ‘Buddhism and the definition of religion’, Man (N.S.), 13 (1978): 362–79. Spencer, J., ‘Anthropology as a kind of writing’, Man (N.S.), 24 (1989): 145–64. Stirrat, R.L., ‘Cultures of consultancy’, Critique of Anthropology, 20 (2000): 31–46.

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Chapter 7

Among the Crowds: Learning Anthropology and Learning Multidisciplinarity Rachael Gooberman-Hill The purpose (and genius) of anthropological ethnography is surely that it takes people seriously: it attempts to reveal complexity, not gratuitously, but because people and the lives they create, and the social and cultural conditions within which they create them, are enormously complex. (Anthony Cohen 2000: 6)

We now accept that anthropologists are inseparable from the ethnography that we produce. But not only are anthropologists embedded social actors in the formation of ethnography, we are also embroiled in the production of the complex social milieu that is anthropology itself. Furthermore, as Shore (1999) reminds us, fieldwork cannot be separated off from the rest of time and space. Even if there is physical separation of anthropologist from his or her field site, this does not mean that engagement ceases or that the process of fieldwork ends. While all anthropologists undergo periods of fieldwork as rites of passage and will draw on that experience in an ongoing fashion, the entire experience of becoming and being an anthropologist also constitutes a form of fieldwork, which is an ongoing and productive process. While ‘doing’ fieldwork of any kind, we reflect and create anthropology as a discipline. In this chapter I trace my own engagement with anthropology and attempt to take seriously my own journey into and through anthropology. I describe how I first came to study anthropology, how I learned to be an anthropologist through relatively conventional doctoral fieldwork, and then how I now work in a rather less conventional multidisciplinary health-related setting for the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC). Treating this process as a form of fieldwork in itself, I describe my journey into and through anthropology with a view to being ‘exploratory’ rather than ‘exhibitory’ (Okely 1992: 2). More generally, given that individual journeys are part of broader patterns and concerns, then this may reflect how anthropologists relate to our own discipline and thereby produce and reproduce anthropology. There are numerous anthropologists working in multidisciplinary settings outside conventional anthropology departments, even though figures might be hard to obtain. In my own experience, such environments are attractive as they enable

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anthropological skills to be applied to real-world concerns in a context of stimulation from other approaches or disciplines. Furthermore, multidisciplinary contexts offer scope for anthropologists to demonstrate the value of anthropology and thereby perhaps enhance its image and position in general. Although there are those who criticise anthropology and related social sciences as ‘impenetrable’, contributions from anthropology are often valued by other disciplines. Whether rightly or wrongly, anthropologists are viewed variously as able to understand ‘culture’; able to access real ‘meaning’ and ‘interpretations’; as competent observers; and as able to study ‘everyday experiences’. Paradoxically and unfortunately, very often it is the association of anthropology with the so-called ‘exotic’ that lends it an attractive image. Regrettably this can become counterproductive when, on consideration but without much reflection, people deem anthropological endeavours as ‘obsolete’ or ‘irrelevant’, a view that anthropologists have increasingly attempted to counter in recent years (for example, MacClancy 2002). For anthropologists in multidisciplinary settings, living up to any or all of these expectations presents both challenge and frustration, but the fact that some expectations of anthropology even exist may bode well for anthropology as a discipline. Learning anthropology In order for there to be expectations of anthropology, anthropologists have to be made. Tracing the process of learning anthropology highlights how chance can play as large a role as planning, and also shows how the learning process can feed into a happy working life in multidisciplinary contexts. As an undergraduate I had never particularly expected or planned to work in such a context. In fact, my journey through education could be regarded as relatively conventional, but then I suppose it was this route that eventually led me into my current position. Although, as I will show, chance played a large part in my route into anthropology, certain shifts in how I thought about anthropology still took place. Integral to this trajectory was my changing attitude to anthropology that shifted from seeing anthropology as exotica, through to intellectual engagement with its mode of understanding, then on to a desire to employ the skills of anthropology in a more applied fashion. In my mind’s eye I have a clear image of how I first came across social anthropology. I was a teenager, standing in the living room of my parents’ house. For my university application form I had to include a third subject for my chosen Scottish degree course in psychology at St Andrews University. I remember thinking that social anthropology seemed rather exotic and exciting. It was only a third subject and I could not think of a preferable option, so I wrote it on the form. I had fully intended to dabble in anthropology only for a year and then to concentrate on my other subject from then on. But I enjoyed anthropology and stuck with it, and after four years at university I left with a single honours degree in social anthropology. Anthropology had proved worthwhile writing on that application form, and had proved rather exciting. The now rather embarrassing and awful notion

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that anthropology was ‘exotic’ soon faded away during the course. Anthropology became an engaging academic subject. Most importantly at this stage, I became fascinated by the opportunity to take a relatively subtle, comparative perspective on the everyday lives that people lead. Interest in some of the topics taught on the degree course led to my decision to travel in Melanesia a few years after graduating. Money saved from various jobs enabled me to take a trip to Papua New Guinea, followed by a spell working in Australia. It was when my Australian visa ran out that I ended up crewing a small yacht across the Coral Sea to the Solomon Islands. Of course, both the journey and the place are the stuff that we may expect anthropologist-novices to dream of, but I do not want to appear as an anthropologist-as-explorer. In no way did my trip feel like that. Instead, it was merely a pragmatic way to leave Australia and I thought it might be helpful to look for a PhD field site and topic. I remember thinking that after several years of moving between jobs maybe it was time for more training. I hoped that this might eventually lead to a more stimulating job than the odd assortment I’d been doing since graduating. In short, the Solomon Islands did yield an interesting topic, and I returned to the UK to enrol on a PhD at Edinburgh. Four years spent on a PhD at Edinburgh was divided into discrete periods of time. The first year entailed reading, writing a research proposal and essays as well as attending formal research methods courses. Courses included general research design as well as those geared towards anthropologists, such as an excellent course on ethnography. These felt relevant and useful at the time, but as I will describe, fieldwork was probably a more important period for learning how to really collect information. The first year was followed by a year of fieldwork in the Solomon Islands, then nearly two years of writing up, interrupted by a two-month return trip to the field. Fieldwork in the Solomon Islands was in the mode of many of my contemporaries, several of whom were conducting fieldwork in urban settings. So, I worked in a city rather than in a remote village, and informants were connected to one another in a variety of ways that included workplaces and recreation choices as well as marriage, kinship and ethnicity. Initially I shared the house of a local family, and with their help I learnt household tasks and how to speak Solomon Islands pijin, the everyday language of town. After a few months, I moved out of their home to share a house with another British woman. Despite the notion that living with a family is often seen as an excellent route into a community, and while in some ways it did help me learn the basics of household life, moving out was one of the best changes that I made during fieldwork. My informants approved entirely, and saw my move to share a house with another British woman as an appropriate and moral manner for me to behave. After my move I found that they immediately became more open with me. This said, this move was not free from guilt. I later found out that since my move, things became less harmonious in the household that I had left. An informant explained that my presence under that roof had in fact served to prevent a certain amount of discord. Because of incidents like this, fieldwork was often personally challenging. But there were many good times too, and I was often reminded of Geertz’s adage about fieldwork in Bali: ‘to be teased is to be accepted’

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(1973: 416). Primarily because of the introductions I received early on in fieldwork, much of my fieldwork centred on a network of households spread throughout the town. I think I got quite a name for myself as the provider of cream buns whenever I visited a household, which often caused much amusement. My informants and I laughed together, sometimes they teased me, and I felt welcome. Like other anthropologists-in-training, the focus of my research shifted over the period of my fieldwork. Prior to starting my time in the Solomon Islands I had planned to study national identity, but I soon found that this was not especially germane to the everyday life of the people I was living among in the mid-1990s. The people whom I met at first, and those whom I had contacted in advance of fieldwork, were firmly part of the emergent and prestigious middle class of the nation. Rather than being interested in national identity, everyday life comprised kinship, ethnicity, work and recreation. The situation in the Solomon Islands has changed dramatically since my fieldwork in the mid-1990s. Since then there has been a period of inter-ethnic conflict followed by peace, and so people’s interest in nationhood may have become heightened. However, at the time of my fieldwork, and with my particular group of informants, to try to make national identity the focus of my work seemed at odds with their main concerns. So, not long into fieldwork, I started to realise that what I was really watching unfold before my eyes was the emergence of a relatively new middle class. Hence, the PhD thesis that I wrote presents an ethnographic description of the minutiae of everyday life among white collar, emergent middle class people in the capital city of the Solomon Islands before the strife of the late 1990s. Although my research was based on daily hours of participant observation, I recall a sense of a lack of focus during the early stages of fieldwork. In part this may have been fuelled by the shift in topic, but I remember feeling that doing anthropology was somehow a vague and disorganised pursuit. Alongside the hours of observation, my copious field notes started to look increasingly like an unfocused collection of information. Soon I began to worry about how I would work from them at all in the subsequent writing up stage. This was despite the respectable formal research methods training that I had received prior to fieldwork. It has been suggested that although participant observation is still important in anthropology, it is not as ‘fetishised’ as it once was, and ethnography is becoming a ‘flexible and opportunistic strategy’ (Gupta and Ferguson 1997: 37). But this flexibility was almost too great for me. So, in order to deal with these feelings, I started to get more organised in my information gathering and recording methods. I produced a small survey form and interview schedules, and started to transcribe the interviews. I even recorded ‘oldfashioned’ genealogies, much to the amusement of my supervisors in the UK. But this was my way of regaining control over an enterprise that was somehow supposed to be flexible, but which I felt was so fluid that I may end up with a mountain of material and field notes that might prove almost impossible to work from. In hindsight I now know that fieldwork in anthropology tends to be much more structured than many – certainly in Britain – might choose to admit. Furthermore, I have since learnt that perhaps the USA is the place to look to for robust guidance on how to ‘do’ fieldwork, as evidenced in texts on participant observation (Dewalt

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and Dewalt 2002) and on writing and analysing field notes (Emerson et al. 1995). The small survey, genealogies and transcribed interviews did not form the core of my material, but I certainly did find them useful. Working with a network of people based in households across town, this manner of organising information helped me to grasp the connections and differences between them. Understanding these connections also helped me to work out what to ask and how to ask it. For instance, recording the number of people in each household and their relationships to one another provided insight into the tensions surrounding requests from rural relatives to come and live in town. In spite of their antiquated image, genealogies were also surprisingly useful as ways of opening up routes to new information. Asking somebody to sit down with me and explore their family tree raised issues ranging from migration and work patterns to personal tragedy and loss. Getting organised seemed to enhance the interactive nature of fieldwork, improved the quality of the information that I collected, and probably made writing-up the thesis an easier task than it might have been otherwise. At the time I saw the production of a PhD thesis as research work in its own right. Indeed, the thesis was a considerable amount of labour. While it appeared at the time that the formal methods courses prior to fieldwork were the most rigorous training that I received, I now feel that the experience of fieldwork and writing-up were considerably more formative. As I now work on rather different topics of research I am more inclined to see the PhD fieldwork and writing-up as a period of training. This shift in perspective can partly be attributed to the fact that I generally no longer write about the material from my PhD. Also, the fact that I felt a need for change in focus and change in methods of information gathering reinforce the sensation that the PhD was a period of training. As I shall describe, I now work alongside those from other disciplines, which means that I have to be able to explain precisely how my research is done. Hence, my realisation during fieldwork of the need for some organisation served as useful preparation for the future, even though I might not have looked that far ahead at that time. I now reflect on the PhD as an antecedent to my current work and as an indenture to the trade of anthropology. Learning multidisciplinarity Towards the end of my PhD I became keen to apply anthropology. I recall that several of my peers had similar aspirations, and I simply felt an increasing urge to make my anthropology achieve something more ‘useful’. In retrospect it is impossible to identify a particular point at which I decided this was the case, instead it was a gradual process driven in part by the experience of how the PhD seemed to bring about little good for my informants. This was probably enhanced by late night conversations with peers, as I remember others feeling the same about their fieldwork experiences. We probably unintentionally encouraged one another towards more applied work, and in my case this eventually meant employment in a multidisciplinary setting.

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Initially, to effect the transition from PhD student to employee, I consciously started to examine my PhD as a skill-set. A PhD in social anthropology from most British institutions will equip its graduates with a range of anthropological techniques. These generally include literature searching and reviewing, planning research, ethnographic fieldwork methods, analysis and writing. At the time it did not seem hard to think these skills out, especially with the help of some of my peers and some useful Internet resources. After writing-up my thesis, and thinking through what I could actually do, I eventually applied for and started work at the Medical Research Council’s Health Services Research Collaboration (MRC HSRC): the research unit where I have now been based since 2000. I am sure that at this point of transition I benefited from the fact that those in health-related research tend to conceptualise the types of skills that an anthropology PhD provides as a ‘qualitative research’ skill-set. There are problems with describing anthropology as a skill-set, as this may distance it from its theoretical underpinnings (see Lambert and McKevitt 2002). However, over recent years, qualitative research has gained credence and visibility among health professionals, many of whom now engage with qualitative research through conferences, accredited courses or publications. For instance, major journals for the medical community – such as The British Medical Journal and the Lancet – publish qualitative research relatively regularly. The inclusion of a qualitative post in the programme on which I was initially employed was in part due to a certain acceptance of the credibility of qualitative approaches, and this stemmed from the hard work of other qualitative specialists over the preceding years. The Health Services Research Collaboration (HSRC) is a research unit, which is supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and is embedded in the University of Bristol’s Department of Social Medicine. The HSRC places great emphasis on multidisciplinary research and methodological innovation, and supports several research programmes. I am involved in a programme of work that is concerned with the assessment, prevention and treatment of mobility-disability among older people in the UK. In addition, I work on other projects as needed; I teach undergraduate medical students; and I teach qualitative health research methods to professionals. Working in the HSRC I engage to a greater or lesser extent with those who hail from a range of disciplines. These include epidemiology, medicine, statistics, sociology, psychology and economics. It is this engagement that has proved one of the most stimulating aspects of my research post. Since starting work at the HSRC I have benefited from some training courses, but these were generic and geared towards topics such as managing research and budgeting. Learning to work alongside those from other disciplines has been more of a hands-on experience helped by reading and explanations. So, one of the first texts that I was recommended to read was a slim book serving as an invaluable introduction to epidemiology (Coggon and Rose 1997), while I also tried to absorb sociological approaches to questions of health, illness and disability. Whether working in health or in other settings, anthropologists engaged in multidisciplinary settings may work in slightly different ways to their contemporaries in academic anthropology. This is often most obvious in approaches to information

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gathering, in which organisation and clear, explicit trails of data-collection and analysis are paramount. But it is also crucial to be able to stipulate clear aims and adopt appropriate ways of presenting findings. In my current research more of my information gathering is based on interviews than might be the case if I worked in a ‘purer’ anthropological setting. I conduct indepth interviews with older people in the UK. My use of interviewing methods is in part because I have – to a certain degree – adopted the acceptable and appropriate mode for current health research. This does not strike me as especially problematic. Indeed, the explicit, clear nature of such an approach to the collection of information seems an ethically sound way to conduct research. There are clear demarcations between researcher and researched, and the methods of data collection and analysis are extremely transparent. Because of this clarity I have felt greater confidence in my research than I might have done otherwise, while interview-based work does not preclude the concurrent collection of observational material with the consent of the interviewees. The emphasis on teaching research methods to others means that people like myself have to become clear enough about their own methodologies to be able to explain them to others. For instance, this is the case when my colleagues and I teach qualitative research methods to adult learners. We also have to include clear descriptions of methods in any outputs, especially as journals that accept papers from a range of disciplines require clear sections detailing methods of data collection and analysis, something that is not as detailed in conventional anthropology. Articles in leading health-related journals such as Social Science and Medicine or The British Medical Journal almost always contain some form of methods section. In addition, as publications in health settings are often attributed to multiple authors, the process of writing can be more iterative than in conventional anthropology. Furthermore, order of authorship tends to indicate degree of contribution: the first named author is generally the lead writer, while the final named author would normally be the lead or principal investigator for the piece of work (for a further discussion of writing styles see also Good, this volume). At the HSRC I am expected to produce clear, specific aims and objectives of research. While this is important in every setting, the aims and objectives of a health-related or other applied study are often focused on highly specific, attainable outcomes. For instance, in one, primarily qualitative study I helped to evaluate and explore the ‘feasibility’ and ‘acceptability’ of an education package for General Practitioners. While in most settings this specificity is in part related to the drive for funding, in multidisciplinary research it seems also to be related to the simple need to communicate meaningfully with those from other disciplines. This is not always straightforward, as anthropological approaches are often exploratory and open to change throughout the course of a project, as evidenced in my shift in topic during my PhD. The existence of an interface between disciplines means that anthropologists like myself have to think hard about how we translate our approaches and work for an audience not familiar with anthropology per se (see Greene 2001). While

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thinking about my PhD as providing a skill-set was relatively straightforward, I found it more challenging to think about how to present anthropological work in an acceptable fashion. So, learning how to work within this multidisciplinary setting has meant that I have had to think about how to describe my anthropological perspective to external readers, conference audiences, and to my colleagues. This includes presenting findings as approachable, straightforward themes. There are different types of qualitative researchers co-existing in health research. Therefore representing anthropology is not just a matter of describing it to those from quantitative backgrounds, but also entails describing what we do to those from other qualitative social sciences. Furthermore, although there is widespread acceptance of the role of qualitative methods in health research, there is still considerable debate about its application and its underpinnings, not least from other social sciences. For instance, there are those who distance qualitative approaches from certain, recent theoretical foundations and thereby attempt to defend the honour of qualitative research as ‘scientific practice’. Dingwall and colleagues write: ‘The methodological procedures of qualitative work reflect a long-established inductive tradition in scientific practice…. In its application it is quite different from the methodological anarchy of postmodernism’ (1998: 167). This kind of assertion means that anthropologists working in a qualitative way still have to discuss and debate the very foundations of their work. This said, as an anthropologist I feel I have much to gain from the perspectives of other disciplines, if I take the time to try to understand them. For example, sociology offers alternative theoretical constructs with which to think about people’s experiences of health and illness. Epidemiology and statistical approaches provide information about associations between specific health conditions and, for instance, material circumstances. I have also started to understand in practice how my work might complement that from other disciplines, for instance: in order to gain better insight into complex questions or to think through their methods. For example, in my work at the HSRC, I have explored how people really understand standard-issue survey questions, and what their narrative answers may reveal in themselves. I selected and interviewed a small sample of respondents from an earlier, much larger survey of older people in the UK. The interviews were designed to explore the experience of ageing, health, mobility and health service use. Near to the end of each interview I asked a standardissue survey question, of the kind commonly used by large-scale health and other types of surveys. Not surprisingly, answers to the question about whether people had ‘long-standing illness, disability or infirmity’ entailed complex narratives and definitions, rather than the straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that would normally be recorded in the course of a survey. As part of my work, I explored people’s lengthy answers to the survey question, and described the themes contained in these answers. Because the interview material showed that the way in which people understand survey questions does not necessarily match the expectations of the survey authors or users, then the study raised questions about how survey material might be better regarded as trustworthy rather than truthful (Gooberman-Hill et al. 2003). Given that

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much health research relies on survey material, then this study adds to an existing body of work that encourages reflection about the nature of that data. In sum, my experience of transition from PhD student to employee in a multidisciplinary setting has proved both challenging and positive. Predicated on the desire to apply my skills, my current work now seems entirely commensurate with my training as a conventional anthropologist. Within a multidisciplinary setting I have tried to maintain my identity as an anthropologist, but have adapted the way in which I conduct research to suit this environment. Conclusion In this chapter I have traced my trajectory through anthropology, which included chance as well as design. The anthropology that I now practice builds on this route, as I use my conventional training to inform how I work in a multidisciplinary setting. For instance, I found that the learning process I underwent, especially during PhD fieldwork, taught me the benefits of clear, organised information gathering. This has helped me greatly in my current work. Furthermore, during PhD fieldwork, I adapted my topic to the interests of my informants in a manner that seems to be echoed by the way that I now adapt to the perspectives and needs of other disciplines. I maintain a professional identity as an anthropologist, but am happy to take cues from other arenas. The techniques that I learned while a student comprise a skill-set that can be applied, but it has been just as important to consider how to represent anthropological approaches to people hailing from other disciplines and to value their perspectives. It seems possible that anthropologists like myself who work in multidisciplinary settings are contributing to anthropology itself by engaging with other disciplines in ways that are applied and relevant (Gooberman-Hill 2003). The type of work that I now do perhaps echoes Benthall’s (1995) suggestion that anthropology will prosper most if ‘it offers consultation and co-operation to other, larger, disciplines’ (1995: 8– 9). Also, ensuring that anthropologists conduct relevant research has been described as vital to the survival of anthropology (Ahmed and Shore 1995), and new volumes that showcase ‘engaged’ anthropology are testament to how engagement is integral to the work of many anthropologists (MacClancy 2002). I have already mentioned that North American anthropology appears to have a stronger tradition than Britain of producing guidance on how to conduct fieldwork. In part this may be to do with structural factors such as the number of anthropologists there. This imbalance is also reflected in the well-organised nature of applied anthropology in the USA. However, there are also notable continuities between applied anthropology in Britain and North America. For instance, the USA has bodies such as the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, a special interest group of the American Anthropological Association, and the UK has journals and organisations for applied anthropology such as Anthropology in Action and the ASA Network of Applied Anthropologists. More specifically, both Europe and North America have relatively large contingents

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of anthropologists working in health in one form or another, with their own special interest groups and bodies. While I work in a health-related sphere, my experience of multidisciplinarity may resonate with those in other arenas. In the same way that anthropologists may adapt and reflect on their own position among informants during fieldwork, many of us adapt and reflect on our roles within multidisciplinarity. We value other disciplines and perhaps even alter the manner in which we conduct anthropology. Anthropologists’ relationships with other disciplines can entail debate and negotiations about boundaries and approaches, but the ways in which anthropologists have to listen to and appreciate other disciplines may contribute to making anthropology unique but also amenable to change and influence. It may be nothing new for anthropologists to work alongside others, but it may be as important as ever for the formulation of new research questions and for the vigour of anthropology. When one explores the lives that anthropologists lead, there will be a variety of ways in which we engage with and therefore constitute anthropology itself. As such, anthropology itself is neither straightforward nor clearly bounded, and disciplinary boundaries may be more permeable than we might at first suppose. Acknowledgements Work in Bristol was supported by the MRC Health Services Research Collaboration. This was part of the Map65+ programme led by Professor Shah Ebrahim. The Department of Social Medicine of the University of Bristol is the lead centre of the MRC Health Services Research Collaboration. PhD fieldwork in the Solomon Islands was primarily supported by a Sutasoma/Emslie Horniman award from the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, and by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. References Ahmed, A. and Shore, C., ‘Introduction: is anthropology relevant to the contemporary world?’, in Ahmed A. and C. Shore (eds), The future of anthropology: its relevance to the contemporary world (London: Athlone Press, 1995). Benthall, J. ‘Foreword: from self-applause through self-criticism to self-confidence’, in Ahmed A. and Shore C.(eds), The future of anthropology: its relevance to the contemporary world (London: Athlone Press, 1995). Coggon, D. and Rose, G., Epidemiology for the uninitiated (London: BMJ books, 1997). Cohen, A.P. ‘Introduction’, in Cohen A.P. (ed.), Signifying identities: anthropological perspectives on boundaries and contested values (London: Routledge, 2000). DeWalt, K.M. and DeWalt, B.R., Participant Observation: a guide for fieldworkers (Oxford: Altamira Press, 2002). Dingwall, R., Murphy, E., Watson, P., Greatbatch, D. and Parker, S., ‘Catching

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goldfish: quality in qualitative research’, Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 3(3)(1998): 167–172. Emerson, R.M., Fretz, R.I. and Shaw, L.L., Writing ethnographic fieldnotes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). Geertz, C., The interpretation of cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973). Gooberman-Hill, R., ‘How multidisciplinarity is good for anthropologists and anthropology’, Anthropology in Action, 10(3)(2003): 28–34. Gooberman-Hill, R., Ayis, S. and Ebrahim, S., ‘Understanding long-standing illness among older people’, Social Science and Medicine, 56(12)(2003): 2555–2564. Greene, A., ‘The culture of epidemiology and medicine: breaking down interdisciplinary boundaries’, Anthropology in Action, 8(2)(2001): 2–10. Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. ‘Discipline and Practice’, in Gupta A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological locations: boundaries and grounds of a field science, (Berkeley: University of California Press,1997). Lambert, H. and McKevitt, C., ‘Anthropology in health research: from qualitative research to multidisciplinarity’, British Medical Journal, 325(2002): 210–213. MacClancy, J., ‘Introduction: taking people seriously’, in MacClancy J. (ed.), Exotic no more: anthropology on the front line, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Okely, J., ‘Anthropology and autobiography: participatory experience and embodied knowledge’, in Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography, (London: Routledge, 1992). Shore, C., ‘Fictions of fieldwork: depicting the ‘self’ in ethnographic writing (Italy)’, in Watson C.W. (ed.), Being there: fieldwork in anthropology, (London: Pluto Press, 1999).

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Chapter 8

Sensing the Field: Kinship, Gender and Emotion in an Anthropologist’s Way of Knowing Maya Unnithan-Kumar

In this chapter I use the framework of kinship and relatedness to explore how as anthropologists we become intimately connected to our fields (peoples, places, ideas) and the significant role such connections play in our analytic preoccupations. Relationships with respondents, colleagues, friends, kinspersons, for example, have allowed me to sense or ‘feel’ the field in specific ways and have at the same time blurred the boundaries of a field ‘out there’ and my everyday life and concerns in India and also back in England.1 The significance of exploring the field in terms of interpersonal understandings also emerges strongly as a focus in recent writing about anthropological fieldwork and knowledge creation (FogOlwig and Hastrup, 1997, Watson 1999). Kinship has been an important focus of my work and in this chapter I set out how my own ideas and practices of kinship have framed these concerns: with the issue of gender and marriage politics with reference to tribe and caste in Rajasthan, and in more recent work around the anthropology of reproduction and childbearing. I see fieldwork, ethnography and being an anthropologist as interconnected through and influenced by my life course.2 This is not to suggest that there are no distinctions between these processes but to recognise that each involves an interweaving between disciplinary and personal boundaries in a more continuous fashion than we have imagined.3 Over time and space my ‘field’ (which has come to include several sets of ideas, people and places) has itself become an encompassing site or ‘body’ which my anthropological self inhabits. I increasingly feel that I ‘carry’ the field along wherever I am. This ‘body’ of field-generated knowing is continuously shaping and 1 It is what Hastrup (1992) has termed the ‘betweenness’ of the world of others and myself that has increasingly overtaken the otherness of our distinct life worlds. 2 A point also made previously, for example, by Gardner, 1999 3 It is also to realise that as a discipline, anthropology has benefited from such distinctions. As Moore suggests, if there is a difference between the empirical stuff of direct experience and interpretation, it is a creative one, ‘the fundamental tension within anthropology is that it is equally reliant on interpretative representation and on ethnography. This tension constitutes the discipline and thus cannot be resolved by a turn to one or the other’ (Moore, 1999, 7).

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shaped by my shifting sense of self and bodily awareness, and related personal and intellectual orientations (which resonates with the observations of Bourdieu (1977) and Csordas (1994) who suggest that the social self is constantly reconstituted through perceptual experience). In the chapter I reflect on the ways I am implicated in, and an agent of, my representation of other’s representations (explanatory models). Like Gupta and Ferguson, I believe ‘fieldwork’ or ‘location work’, the alternative term they suggest, is not so much about anthropologists’ commitment to the local but in their ‘attentiveness to epistemological and political issues of location’ (1997: 38). I suggest that emotional and bodily connections heighten this sense of attentiveness to location and to the workings of the ‘habitus’ of anthropologists and their others. The concept of emotion, I suggest, drawing on the recent work of Tonkin (2005) and Milton and Svasek (2005), provides us with a critical (important) means of being able to ‘know’ the highly complex and varied processes through which fieldwork and other disciplinary practice take place. The chapter touches on the anthropology of emotion but from a different angle: it is not about emotion as a way of defining one’s respondents in terms of a cultural characteristic or cross-cultural variations in feelings and emotions (Lutz 1988, Wikan 1993, Rosaldo 1984, Leavitt 2005) but rather about emotion as a way of connecting, subjectively and selectively, anthropologists to their ‘fields’. In my use of the concept of ‘emotion’ I am guided by Shweder’s understanding of emotion as a complex, synthetic notion with particular emotions being derivatives of various combinations of desires, feelings, beliefs and values (2001: 3). Like Lutz and Abu Lughod (1990) I also believe that the study of emotion is primarily about social discourse and power (Unnithan-Kumar 2001). A focus on the emotions of the anthropologist also involves us taking a closer look at the role of bodily practices in the field.4 As Bourdieu (1977), Lyon and Barbalet (1994) and Csordas (1994), have all pointed out, it is through emotion that the body is inter-communicative and active, and the world rendered knowable (also Geurts, 2002).5 It is my contention in this chapter that if bodily practices and feelings enable an individual to know her world, then anthropologists could also learn through their bodies and feelings about their connection with others. As I argue elsewhere (2001) a focus on emotion also leads us into a deeper understanding of the dynamics of kinship. When turned onto the anthropologist this perspective becomes useful in 4 It is helpful here to note a useful distinction made by Leavitt (2005) between emotional practices and emotional feelings which takes into account the potentially performative aspect of the former, that is, that the demonstration of emotions may be governed by a cultural register. 5 For Bourdieu as well, it is through a bodily hexus that an awareness of the wider framework which defines human interaction (‘habitus’) is generated: ‘bodily hexus is political mythology realized, em-bodied, turned into a permanent disposition, a durable manner of standing, speaking, and thereby of feeling and thinking...’. (1977: 93, italics in original). ... ‘It is in the dialectical relationship between the body and a space structured according to mythicoritual oppositions that one finds the form par excellence of the structural apprenticeship which leads to the em-bodying of the structures of the world, that is the appropriating by the world of a body thus enabled to appropriate the world’ (Bourdieu 1977: 89).

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gaining an insight into how anthropologists can be related to their fields, as I discuss with reference to my on work in the following lines. While I give the role of emotion a primary place in learning about the field in this chapter, I also move beyond the individual and bodily immediacy of emotion as an analytic frame of reference to include shifts in self imagination as well as a historical approach which captures the changing imaginations of those whose lives I seek to understand. As Tonkin suggests there are limits to an analysis based on inter-subjectivity: in terms of its inability to capture the processes of predisposition, memory, imagination and conventionalism linked to bodily practices (2005; 62,63). Similarly Bourdieu makes the wider point, when speaking of class habitus, that interpersonal relations are never simply individual to individual relationships (1977: 81). Knowing ‘Home’: Native identity, regional scholarship and British anthropology The experience of fieldwork as a practical and imaginative journey raises questions about the anthropologist who does fieldwork ‘at home’. If, as Clifford (1997a,b) suggests, the disciplinary injunction of fieldwork as involving some sort of travel imposes its own set of constraints on the ‘movement’ of anthropologists, how do these apply to anthropologists who do fieldwork ‘at home’? Can they take shortcuts on the basis that they already know the field? The notion of the ‘native’ anthropologist is misleading as one is never really ‘at home’ in the sense of ‘knowing it all’. As someone who has grown up in Rajasthan in India, it was perhaps more obvious than if I had not grown up there that I could never be ‘at home’ in a context where caste is experienced in ways that depend on one’s social location, by class, gender, and through local histories and politics.6 Nevertheless, being identified as ‘native’ in specific contexts has, as Narayan has observed, both practical and academic advantages and disadvantages (Narayan 2003, 1997). In my own case, I sensed the field in specific ways: theoretical and practical. In terms of negotiating access, I would never have been able to initially work amongst a ‘tribal’ group if I did not possess an Indian passport or know how to work through layers of bureaucracy by using local networks and contacts. Also, importantly, I had a personal confidence based on having spent my childhood as a girl in India and knowing how to perform (act, walk, sit) in ways considered appropriate to my gender. Such embodied ways of knowing are likely to be learnt with greater difficulty as an outsider (see Desjarlais 1992). Yet, knowing how to present myself in certain ways also meant that I was aware of the obligations and expectations entailed in the ensuing relationships and was constrained by them and by others’ expectations of my knowledge of them. Both the contexts of my fieldwork, amongst a tribal community in Rajasthan in 1986 6 As Narayan suggests, ‘the loci along which we are aligned with or set apart from those whom we study are multiple and in flux, where other identities (gender, class, race, sex, duration of contact) may outweigh the cultural identity of the insider/outsider’ (2003, 285).

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on kinship and identity issues, and on reproduction and health related work in an urban context since 1998 have been shaped by such embodied ways of knowing, as I discuss further in the chapter. The academic advantage of ‘being native’ has been an awareness of the differences and hierarchies which frame the world of academics in India, and through which I have sensed the regional parameters of the field. Here it is useful to note Fardon’s observation about recognising the fact that ‘ethnographic accounts are pervasively cross-referenced, both explicitly and implicitly, to accounts both within and outside conventionalised regions of enquiry’ (1990: 22). Having studied at the Delhi School and been taught by André Béteille, Veena Das, A.M. Shah, B.S. Baviskar, G. Badgaiyan, A. Chakravarti, U.B.S. Uberoi, A. Minocha and others (whose work is well known in anthropological circles in Europe and America), I was aware that compared with the academy at the Delhi School, the work of regional scholars was of a highly varying quality underscored by poor language skills. Yet, fieldwork in Rajasthan showed me how the work of the few fine scholars there, is rarely acknowledged by the social science ‘centre’ or even in the regional ‘margins’ in which they worked. I found that the acute observations of scholars such as Lal, 1997, an anthropologist and sociologist, relating to ‘tribal’ groups such as the Girasia in Rajasthan were lost in the many poor quality publications from the institute where he worked and the general lack of acknowledgement by Indian social scientists of his work. In large part this situation reflected the poor funding for institutions or individual research apart from those provided with central funds in India. Although ironically, Lal himself worked in a centrally funded institute for tribal research in Gujarat. Most work on poor and ‘tribal’ communities in Rajasthan, which saw light as published books, was the result of observations made by administrative officers in their spare time (Meherda 1985, and to some extent Dave 1960, for instance) and are reminiscent of some of their less able colonial forbearers who seldom acknowledged local authorship or the power of their own inherently othering gaze. ‘Being native’ has its advantages and disadvantages for my views as an anthropologist. Yet, I regard my intellectual identity as defined primarily by the graduate training I received as a British anthropologist and where I now teach. I have both consciously and unconsciously fashioned myself to know, live, behave and focus on issues from the perspective of British anthropology7 and in this sense have been self-disciplined (in Foucault’s meaning of the term) in this ‘tradition’. At the same time, I have also learned to challenge such institutionalised ways of knowing, drawing on my subjective and academic experiences of ‘being native’ and set apart in terms of my kinship, ethnicity, class and gender. But have these two aspects of my location: my growing up in India and training as an Indian sociologist, and my training and practising as a British anthropologist, made me a different kind of (diasporic) British anthropologist? Unlike my obvious academic forbearers, 7 See, for example, Kuper, 1983 for how this tradition is represented, Moore, 1999 for how it is represented and experienced and Strathern, Moore, 1999, Edwards et al., 1998, and Carsten 2000, for example, for how I think it is changing.

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Srinivas and other British trained Indian anthropologists (Srinivas et. al. 1979, Srinivas 1987) who studied in Britain but returned to India to teach sociology, I have instead stayed ‘at home’ in Britain and along with other anthropologists here I have begun to work across the Atlantic and elsewhere, to participate in an increasing translocational academic scholarship. My work which has focused in different ways on the issue of relatedness, reflects both my academic self-disciplining and my own experience shaped resistances to such disciplining, as I describe in the sections below. I find the shifts in the anthropology of kinship, from the demise of a particular kind of kinship in its structural-functional sense to the reemergence of kinship in a more fluid, processual sense (as captured in the use of terms such as relatedness, see Carsten 2000), mirrored in the ways my own work has moved: from a concern with reflecting on caste boundaries and identities to bodily ways of knowing and a subjective understanding of agency and local, moral worlds (shaped particularly by a set of medical anthropology literature emerging from North America; for example, Good 1994; Kleinman 1995, Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987, Kleinman, Das, and Lock 1997; Das et.al. 2000). In the following sections I look at how my identity and formal training in India and Britain have enabled me to contribute to anthropological insights on specific topics: caste, family and gender relationships in rural Sirohi in southern Rajasthan (1986 onwards) and reproductive healthcare and medical issues in urban (and peri-urban) Jaipur in central Rajasthan (1997 onwards). My connectedness and disconnectedness from contexts through which I have been disciplined is reflected in my focus on poorer groups and with issues of power and inequality: with gender and ethnic based economic and political asymmetries in southern Rajasthan, and with health and reproductive rights related inequalities in the Jaipur region. In both instances I have used my work to argue against the inclusive and integratory capacity of terms such as caste, tribe, women, reproduction, agency. What has shifted over the period is my own physical and intellectual awareness and engagement with my disciplinary and social worlds. Caste, kinship and gender: Personal negotiations ‘There is so much social structure in India’ an anthropologist colleague remarked to me when I started teaching at Sussex in 1991. This remark resonated with my own doctoral experience as well as the popular and academic perceptions of India as being all about caste, complex social regulations and hierarchy. This perception has also influenced the ways in which scholars within, as well as outside India have engaged with Indian society (Appadurai 1988, Fardon 1990, Narayan 2003[1997]) and how India has been conceived as an appropriate anthropological field site (as a place having ‘more culture’ than western Europe, as noted by Gupta and Ferguson 1997). And yet, as Moore suggests, as anthropologists we do occupy the discursive space defined by West/other relations which we cannot give up ‘because to do so would be to give up on the possibility of a critical politics and a critical ethics linked

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to an understanding of the way the world currently is and to the multifarious ways in which people are living their lives’ (1999; 6). The concept of caste as dominating the social and cultural representation of India has been so powerful that the pressure to present my experiences in the language of caste has never left me, either in the University with students eager or intimidated by the concept of caste (usually a copy of Dumont’s Homo Hierarchicus [1980(1960)] is placed between us) or by colleagues in academia. The concept of caste is seductive because of its powerful associations with the internal othering processes so embedded in social and cultural relations in India, where differences between social groups are still talked about and acted out in terms of a community and occupational purity and pollution. In India, over the last century the significance of caste has become even more intensely felt as national politics is suffused by it: here caste emerges as a reason to form a party, support leaders and get votes or to castigate those who do so and lament the decline of ‘secularism’. So the discourse of caste and the ideological and material inequalities connected with it remains a salient but inherently othering discourse within and about Indian societies. Focusing on caste as an essentialised category only provides a partial and often removed picture of everyday life and concerns. It fails to render adequately visible the more complex association of caste with institutions like kinship, gender or class and combined experiences thereof, which are harder to define and yet highly pertinent in shaping people’s identities and daily lives. This idea gradually became clear to me through my field experiences in Rajasthan in the 1980s (Unnithan 1994, Unnithan-Kumar 1997) and my subsequent reading at the time (Daniels 1984; Das 1987, 1988, 1990; Barnett 1977). My childhood experiences of growing up in Rajasthan provided me with a significant point through which I could relate to a vast literature on the subject of caste when I began a PhD.8 I knew that Rajasthan was a big place (with over 33,000 villages and a number of big towns and cities, in an area the size of Britain) inhabited by lots of different communities with different lifestyles. Growing up in Jaipur, the capital city, at a local, elite girls school I was also fairly aware of the social and material distance between myself and other children living in the slums and nearby villages. When selecting a topic of research for my PhD, I was guided by the awareness to investigate this social difference and decided to work in a remote part of Rajasthan among the Girasia, a group of poor and marginal farmers popularly regarded as ‘tribals’. If village and slum dwellers were removed from my social circle, ‘tribals’ were even more so. In the meanwhile the opportunity to study at the University of Cambridge in the UK arose. After a year’s MPhil I entered the doctoral study programme and returned to pursue my ideas for research in Rajasthan. In the Autumn of 1986, I began a ‘classic’ journey: I travelled from a western institutional setting influenced largely by a structural-functional understanding about caste, somewhat perplexed about what anthropology was really about, to study exotic tribals in India. Here ‘going to the field’ was perceived by my family, colleagues 8 There was so much literature on the subject that even in the 1940s Hutton remarks on the existence of over 5000 works on caste at the time.

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and myself as going to a ‘wild’ place in contrast to working in the urban areas of the country. The research question to be investigated was fairly straightforward: to what extent did ‘tribal’ women, who were depicted as less constrained by sexual and social proscription than caste women, have control over household resources and decision making. This question was framed by my initial assumption, based on the differences between ‘tribal’ and caste women that dominated popular and academic representations alike, that the Girasia tribal women I was going to stay with would have significant agency in household matters. This focus shifted during fieldwork as I realised that as a group Girasia women were at a structural disadvantage, in terms of their lack of command over resources and ownership of property, in relation to men and indeed as compared to middle and upper caste women in the region. Despite the classic beginnings of my journey through anthropology, the route I took was significantly shaped by the academic enquiries of the time: the debates around gender at Cambridge stimulated by Henrietta Moore and Marilyn Strathern in the late 1980s (Moore 1988, Strathern 1987), following along from the engagement of their predecessors with feminism (Rosaldo and Lamphere 1984, Ortner 1984, for example), the discussions with my supervisor Caroline Humphrey on the relationship between kinship and the economy, and with the emerging cultural critiques of anthropology. My observations of the everyday performance of relatedness of Girasia women, men and children helped me think about the meanings and implications of being related especially in contexts of economic vulnerability and gender based ideological difference. Fieldwork, albeit initiated in a classic sense, did enable me to challenge the rigidity of caste through understanding contexts of sameness rather than difference between Girasia and non-Girasia. In local and official texts, the Girasia were represented as ‘tribal’ in a number of ways: through their association with the forest; through their loose conjugal associations and easy divorce practices, through their practice of brideprice, through their mixed economy of subsistence farming, seasonal labour, and forest product gathering. Yet, the poorer caste communities in the surrounding areas also showed these features. The various groups of Girasia considered themselves as Rajput castes and my archival and field research revealed that their claims had to be given serious thought. If the Girasia were indeed marginal or marginalised members of the Rajput community as I found (Fox’s important work on kinship and the Rajput state supports this; 1971), why and by whom was the tribal label applied, what meanings did it convey and why and how was it sustained? It seemed to me that caste/tribe categories were imposed by outsiders (including most Indian sociologists and anthropologists) and constrained rather than facilitated understandings of everyday social and cultural processes amongst the Girasia. It was not that tribe/caste distinctions were altogether absent as social facts, but more so that they were categories which were strategically applied by the Girasia in their dealings with the non-Girasia: the state (development officials, adminstrators), and with other ethnic and kinship groups. The Girasia did not outwardly resist their public representation as tribal partly because of the ways in which the category was tied to benefits conferred by the Indian state (linked to the idea of positive discrimination for ethnically specific groups as enumerated in the

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state schedules or lists). In another sense the absence of a Girasia resistance to the imposed category of ‘tribal’ was linked to the fear of unknown intervention and the crushing authority associated with a state conceived as all-powerful as it was remote and disengaged (local officials, I found often, played on this fear in their interaction with the Girasia). The critique of the concept of tribe as it pertains to Indian society has been made by some other Indian scholars (most notably by Béteille 1986), so the wider implications of my work should not have been so unusual. Yet the reception of my ideas among most other Indian academics in India has been either muted or dismissive where tribe remains, as in popular discourse, deeply embedded in the imagination as that which is different from mainstream society (that is, non-caste as opposed to caste). In fact a recent parliamentary committee in India has decreed that there should be a separate commission for Scheduled Tribes whereas previously there was a combined commission for scheduled castes and tribes. My reluctance to campaign more strongly against what seems a misrepresentation of Girasia identity is curbed by the fear of enabling a process whereby the Girasia will be deprived of any special funding earmarked to help develop the region and their livelihoods. My stay with the Girasia was momentous in reframing my understanding of ‘Indian’ family life and I began to think about: 1) kinship and gender relations rather than caste and tribe as framing local interactions. Caste/tribe distinctions were more removed from daily life and were part of the discourse in non-Girasia circles such as the academic, bureaucratic and political; 2) gender roles and relations as similar across caste and tribe rather than different as I had proposed to study; 3) social identities and differences between caste and tribe as connected to regional social, economic inequalities reproduced rather than fixed over time (UnnithanKumar 1997). Interacting with the Girasia and becoming aware of their interactions amongst themselves, I also got a distinct sense of the significance of lineage based relationships and thereby of caste as defined through lineage rather than marriage alone. This observation brought together what had so far been presented to me as two distinct models of kinship in anthropology: the descent based model associated with African societies and the alliance based model associated with South Asian societies (Parry’s work in Kangra (1979) was also helpful in dispensing such difference). I learned that marriage itself was a highly complex, negotiated process, its structured form often challenged through the subjective experience of the participants. A gender perspective was particularly useful in going beyond or beneath the categories of tribe and caste: the interactions of married women in particular who were ‘outsiders’ to the husband’s family and village were especially useful in understanding the meaning of social difference and its partial transformation into social sameness. The friendship of a group of women: Palvi, my ‘sister’ and Dhanni, Kali and Hoora among them, was crucial to my understanding of what it meant to live as a married woman moving to the unfamiliar social setting of her husband’s village, or even worse in social terms, as not married and continuing to live in a house with one’s brother’s wife. Through these women I learned about the significance of friendship in their own lives especially in influencing the paths of future marriage

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ties, and how women’s activities form important social and political networks connecting a whole range of people who were not agnatically related. By following their paths of social intimacy, I also learnt about the significance of symbolic kinship and how actual physical ties alone do not provide the full picture of what it means to be related. While the notion of symbolic kinship had been written about in the case of the Rajputs in Rajasthan (notably Fox, 1971), and the structural significance of marriage in determining kinship in India had already been noted in the classic works of scholars such as Claude Levi-Strauss and Louis Dumont, it was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that the subjective meaning of marriages became a focus of attention (Parry, 1979, Sharma 1984, Goody and Goody 1991). My field based relationships made me increasingly conscious of the limitations of caste/tribe and gender as analytic categories. On reflection, it is clear that I have been working against their integratory capacity. For example, I argue against the use of popular local and academic stereotypes of tribal communities as ‘backward’, or of tribal women as sexually unrestrained, to reveal alternative modes of representation on the basis of their everyday experiences. The search for alternatives to integrating discourses, largely framed by an academic and social elite has also brought me closer to the project of the subaltern school of Indian historiographers who have sought to reframe Indian history from a ‘subaltern’ perspective (as opposed to an elite perspective). At the same time I show how archival approaches on which such historiography is based are themselves constrained by the fixed ways in which informant positionality is itself captured (1997; a similar point was made previously by Das 1987). As field accounts of other anthropologists have revealed, I am now aware that in my field work with the Girasia I was unable to ask those questions on kinship and relatedness that seemed important later on, for example, the questions around issues such as sexuality, abortions, infertility and reproductive experiences I was to ask a decade later. I feel this is partly because of my training, partly because of my own lack of experience and knowledge of childbearing and parenthood, given the life course stage I was at. But equally importantly, I was ‘fixed’ in a certain way by Girasia women and men and thereby unable to ask certain questions and effectively silenced in certain matters. My identity and project was perceived by the Girasia as very closely allied to that of the government anganwadi (childcare) programme and functionaries, and thus concerned with child hygiene and nutrition. (This tied in to the fact that I had thought the best way to approach women would be to talk about their children!). I was grateful to Palvi, my closest female friend, ‘sister’ and ally, for providing me with the identity of an anganwadi worker which immediately seemed to satisfy all Girasia questions of what I was doing in their villages, despite all my previous explanations about recording their oral history, language, beliefs and practices, and which in retrospect seemed to be contrary to the questions on household matters that I was actually asking. The anganwadi identity was both useful and constraining in that it situated me within the woman’s work domain but apart from their sexual interests and from men’s concerns and politics. It seemed very apt from the Girasia point of view as it located me as urban, from a middle to upper

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caste (Brahmin or Rajput), and as associated with the government in a junior kind of position (see section on ‘context’ in Unnithan-Kumar 1997a). The fact that I was a woman was secondary to these other categories in that I was primarily regarded as an official, thus more ‘male’, and yet being junior, not completely beyond the authority of elder Girasia men. On my part, the absence of a more intense, epistemologically reflective, social engagement in the field was also because within the British anthropology of the time, the self of the anthropologist was only beginning to emerge as an important part of the process of knowing (Caplan,1987). As Okely and Callaway (1992) suggest it was only in the mid-1980s, when fieldwork was being done in Britain, that questions of reflexivity and a critical self-consciousness about fieldwork really came to the fore. Yet even then, at the time they were writing, a conscious working through the anthropologists’ self in terms of an autobiography either within or in conjunction with a monograph had rarely been undertaken (Okely 1992). My recent work (Unnithan-Kumar 2001) which is more subjectively engaged has enabled me to learn about relatedness in new ways: about the ways in which connections are made between biological and social reproduction, and about the role of reproductive agency and emotion, as I elaborate upon below. Reproduction, health and emotion: Linking the personal, local and global My subsequent and ongoing field research focuses on gendered, sexual and bodily inequalities as manifest in the field of biological reproduction. Both previous and current research share the concern with power and inequality but their approaches are different. In the first case, the Girasia context referred to above, I was concerned with understanding identity, especially gender identity in terms of the tension between the material, social and the symbolic realms (Moore 1999b).9 My focus was on why Girasia women were structurally subordinate, in terms of a lack of ownership of property, despite their obviously valuable, but locally unrecognised labour contributions to the household economy. This led me to understand that despite their very different life worlds, Girasia women shared similar experiences of subordination to male ideologies with women of other castes. Even though I did highlight how specific Girasia women asserted agency, for example in their choice of marriage partners and in their decision to leave their husbands, as a group, Girasia women, it seemed to me, ultimately remained circumscribed by their wider ideological and cultural framework. My own upbringing with other privileged middle class girls in Jaipur had shown me that married women in our households were rarely ‘subordinate’ and devoid of agency and that, apart from individual circumstance, class and access to economic resources had a large part to play in such distinctions. The question was not so much one of whether women asserted agency or not, but rather how and under

9 See Moore 1999b especially for the ways in which this tension characterised anthropological work at the time.

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what kinds of circumstances was this made more or less possible. I was to return to a similar question in my next period of field research. My second and ongoing set of research interests arose from my teaching a course on Kinship, Gender and Social Reproduction at Sussex, as well as becoming a mother. In both the academic and personal worlds I was concerned with understanding the connections between biological and social reproduction, and the extent to which knowledge-related authority, power and agency were manifest. Feminist anthropologists’ work of the 1990s, especially concerned with reproduction and inequality (Ginsburg and Rapp 1995, to take just one example) particularly echoed my ideas for research. I was especially interested in the way Rajasthani women thought, felt and acted on fertility, childbearing and healthcare issues given the difficult economic and social circumstances in which they lived and the high expectations of childbearing placed upon them. Here again the question was not whether women decided or not to act in relation to their reproductive conditions, but how, with whom and when, these decisions were taken. To explore women’s reproductive agency I decided to focus on their ‘health-seeking behaviour’ and in particular on the motivations and constraints which influenced them in their selection of some services and healers above others. It was toward theoretical work done on emotion in anthropology, not just on kinship, that I was drawn as I began to see, for example, the relevance of intimacy in promoting women’s choices of healthcare (Unnithan-Kumar 2001). My experience of childbirth in Brighton was also instrumental to the way I approached the questions about childbearing and health among women in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The way in which childbearing and birth in the UK was presented in terms of an event to be managed by the couple and reflected ideas of ideal partnerhood, made me reflect on instances, such as in Rajasthan, where childbearing and birth was very much considered a woman’s responsibility. The feeling about how I would act under the pressures of repeated childbearing made me think about the role of spousal intimacy in reproductive decision-making. At a personal level the decision to work on health tied in very well with the fact that my parents had started a small charitable health centre on the outskirts of Jaipur city a couple of years previously, and where I based myself initially for my research. I was thus able to gain direct access to a context of health provisioning without going through the endless cycles which were entailed in gaining bureaucratic permission in India. The fact that I also had two young children made my parents support vital in carrying out extended work in India at that time and, more significantly, in making me more attentive to maternal and infant survival issues. Working close to Jaipur city meant that, unlike my stay with the Girasia, I did not need to learn a new dialect or seek help with communication. This enabled me to have a greater intimacy with the people I met, promoted, for example, by an ability to joke and laugh about things together. The fact that the health centre was a site which my respondents themselves sought made my presence less of an issue and indeed circumvented questions about what I was doing there, presenting a very different context from my stay in southern

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Rajasthan, for our mutual trust to develop.10 The health centre was located in an area surrounded by villages, although a number of residents held jobs in the city. But what I was unaware of, until I met with patients at the centre, was that the area was predominantly populated by poor Sunni Muslim and low caste Hindu families. Having thought about categories like caste, and tribe in relation to caste, it seemed perfect that I would now be able to look at another level of difference which framed people’s lives in Rajasthan: between caste and religion. Even before I could work this out, Zahida who was to become my long term associate approached me for a job to help at the centre as her husband had a long term illness and the family needed money. The meeting with Zahida turned out to be significant for two reasons: firstly, I was able to meet a very entrepreneurial Muslim woman (most women were not permitted by their families even in difficult circumstances to work outside their village). Secondly, I became aware that the view of my parents influential position within the health centre was extended to me, and that I was seen as someone to approach for assistance: someone with an authority that could be used to promote my respondents’ interests. This was further borne out as fieldwork unfolded and I was constantly called upon to attend births and healing sessions and participate in family discussions around procuring healthcare. Zahida has also since become sought after in facilitating women’s access to specialist reproductive care. She now works permanently at the health center, which I return to every year since 1997. My association with Zahida, a woman slightly younger than me with six children, has resulted in our friendship and our close working relationship over the past seven years. I have written about her reproductive experiences, which she is happy about, and she in turn has advised me on mine. My initial research on reproduction came to be framed through Zahida’s reflections, her accounts and questions (very much like Bodenhorn’s associations with the Inupiaq and De Neve’s experiences with his key research assistant in Tamil Nadu, this volume) as well as my own experiences and understandings of these reflections. Zahida’s rocky relationship with her husband, his apparent callous attitude to her often precarious reproductive conditions, and her ambivalence towards him made me think about the role that notions of spousal obligation and duty play in determining health-seeking behaviour (Unnithan-Kumar 2001). The use of contraceptives and access to healthcare was surely something that spouses discussed and had influence upon. The significance of emotion, in terms of specific feelings of trust, loyalty, and jealousy in determining healthcare access soon became clear to me. When I trawled through the literature on healthcare and the anthropology of health, it was surprising to find that no specific connections between spousal intimacy and health seeking behaviour had been made so far (later I was to read of the interesting connections which Bledsoe had made on a related issue, on the nature of conjugal relationships between Mende parents as determining the well-being of foster children in Sierra Leone, 1995). 10 I would like to thank Simon Coleman for helping me recognise this point.

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Reflecting on my previous fieldwork from this new ‘field location’, I have since wondered about how Girasia women and men managed childbirth in the very difficult and exacting conditions in which they lived? The fact that these questions had not occurred to me at the time made my concern with social reproduction then seem less embodied than I could have ever imagined at the time. My own limited bodily experiences placed theoretical and analytical limitations on my work. At the time I had just entered a long-term relationship but not yet had any children. In retrospect I can now see why my Girasia related research was led by thinking about the expectations which marriages place upon women and their related vulnerability and social security. During my current research, I increasingly found my thinking about reproduction, influenced by my self and bodily experiences, resonating with Csordas’s observations on embodiment as a means of understanding culture. He writes, ‘the problematising of the body and its movement to centre stage in social theory has also led to the emergence of studies that do not claim to be about the body per se, but instead suggest that culture and self can be understood from the standpoint of embodiment as an existential condition in which the body is the subjective source or intersubjective ground of experience’ (1999: 181). Embodiment for Csordas, ‘is about neither behaviour nor essence per se, but about experience and subjectivity ... a methodological attitude that demands attention to bodiliness even in purely verbal data’. (1999: 184). The engagement with these ideas is now taking me on a different kind of journey through the emerging anthropological and cross-disciplinary literature. Knowing other disciplinary fields: Conjunctions I have recently used ideas on the anthropology of emotion as a means to engage with the new perspectives on human rights. For instance, I look at how reproductive claims (not expressed as legal entitlements) in Rajasthan are framed by notions of kinship, spousal obligation and expectations as well as intimacy (Unnithan-Kumar 2003a). I suggest that the local articulations are both connected and disconnected from the national and global framings on reproductive rights (where the notion of ‘rights’ is conceived much more in terms of entitlements backed by the state). In making claims relating to reproduction I suggest women and men are both subject to external forces of kinship and the agency of the state as well as subjects of their own framing (related to their experiences and feelings) of claims to reproductive health. In contrast to my earlier work which was very much ‘India-focused’ and where the ‘global’ was determined by the region and the State, my work on reproductive rights is defined by a range of transnational sites represented through the writings and activism of feminists, health related civil society groups and movements, population and development planners. My current research on reproduction has a much more visibly applied side to it and I am propelled across disciplines to engage with demographic, public health and

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development issues. I am learning about how to write for these diverse audiences and about the different genres of writing (see Good, this volume). One such area is that of fertility: the social and cultural embeddedness of human fertility (what Greenhalgh terms the ‘situatedness’ of fertility, 1995) and its connections to human agency speaks directly to demographic concerns. Like anthropologists Bledsoe (2002) and Inhorn (2002) who have worked extensively on fertility/infertility in West Africa and Egypt respectively, I see myself as located in the space between the two disciplines and connecting local feelings and processes related to fertility and childbearing with the macro patterns in the health transition that demographers are concerned with. It is not so much that such writing compromises on anthropological insights as the fact that in engaging with the work of especially the social demographers and public health specialists (Das Gupta 1995, Ramasubban and Jejheebhoy 2000, for example) it is increasingly recognised as having value by the demographic and development community. The fact that my current research speaks both to an interdisciplinary audience involved in social intervention as well as to a body of anthropological scholarship concerned with power and inequality makes it particularly meaningful to me and I feel goes a little way in ‘giving back’ what I have received (such as knowledge, trust and friendship) from my respondents. To take an example, female infertility in Rajasthan is widely recognised locally but ignored by public health and development programmes that focus instead on the need to curb high fertility rates and limit population growth as a means to enhance economic progress. This explains why fertility and conception assisting technologies and sex selection procedures (which ensure that the only child you have is of one specific sex) are in great demand but are catered for mainly by private and commercially driven health clinics. The conflicting demands (to produce or to not produce children) and the related controls placed upon poor women’s bodies by the state and the community are played out in the care provided at local, public hospitals where women are treated only if they agree to tubectomies after their second or third child. The reproductive coercion of the private doctors, on the other hand, is linked to poor follow up and a denial of responsibility in cases of fatal/failed outcomes. Writing about the specific ways in which such coercion is played out, as well as bringing them to the attention of sympathetic health professionals such as at the voluntary clinic I was based at, I believe, goes some way toward addressing the issue of reciprocity and a relationship based on trust between my respondents and myself. A concern with the nature of healthcare which poor women in Rajasthan receive has led me to a closer examination of the world of doctors and doctor-patient relationships, and particularly of the issue of medicalisation or, as Lock (2001) suggests, the power exerted by society, culture, politics and biomedicine on human bodies (and as addressed centrally in the works of Foucault 1973, Bourdieu 1977, Martin 1987). The notion of medicalisation allows one to explore the acceptance, institutionalisation and performance of certain medical practices and not others, as well as understanding healthcare in terms of resistance, ambivalence and nonengagement of those who seek it as well as those who provide it (Lock and Scheper-

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Hughes 1987, Lock and Kaufert 1998, Martin 1987, Rapp, Unnithan-Kumar 2004). As individuals, doctors and other health professionals may be both assertive of their authority as well as complicit in the desires and strategies of their patients. My close association and friendship with Mr Banerjee, doctor and director of the voluntary health centre and several women gynaecologists in the last few years has enabled me to learn not only of the principles and knowledge base which inform reproductive medicine but also about the culture and politics associated with medical practice in Rajasthan. It has facilitated a further turn in my work in that the ethnographic gaze has turned to include elites (doctors, health professionals) alongside the less privileged, in their mutual engagement in the field of healthcare. My research on reproductive health and medical practices has also allowed me to address another inequality apart from that of caste/class and gender which exists in India: that between religions. Most of the patients visiting the clinic in Jaipur where I was based happened to be poor Sunni Muslims and ‘low’ caste Hindus. Locally, Sunni Muslim and low caste Hindu healers alike were accorded high respect in terms of their efficacy. The healing sought from a range of religious and medical experts: shamanistic, herbal, Yunnani, Ayurvedic, and biomedical in Rajasthan has led me to focus on the interconnections between religion and medicine, on the boundedness and hierarchy between these medical systems and, conversely, with the ways in which these apparently diverse practices are integrated in local practice. Here again, as in my work on caste and tribe, I am drawn toward the less visible spaces shared by the Hindu and Muslim communities in terms of their common everyday medical practices, a fact which is obscured by the increasing language of religious division gaining prominence in the region. Points of closure Over twenty years of an academic association with Rajasthan my research concerns have emerged from a continuous and simultaneous physical, personal, experiential and analytic engagement with what is happening around me. I live at a time when there is continuing academic debate on the distinction between reason and emotion; there is increasing dialogue between anthropologists, demographers and public health specialists; there is a national and global interest and critical reflection on population planning and development issues; there are emerging powerful debates on feminism and human rights. As I have discussed in the chapter, I have benefited from ideas generated in each of these areas. I have also benefited intellectually from my experiences of motherhood and from my own kinspersons’ connections with my associations in the field, healthcare. Such webs of relatedness (personal and theoretical) have ‘located’ me at specific cross-sections of the fields I have chosen to traverse. My teaching practices have further influenced this relationship. While my interest in reproduction was triggered through my engagement with both teaching and doctoral research in the anthropology of kinship, the different ways in which this research has panned out has now led me to devise new courses and a

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programme in medical anthropology, bringing my ‘field’ of research experiences and concerns into an arena where they can be debated and contested in the language of anthropology, allowing others to learn from my experiences and equally for me to understand their perspectives and refine my own. It is in its role as a teaching aid that the ‘field’ can either become an ossified set of relationships and issues, or it can gain new life through the different ways students engage with the material and the anthropologist chooses to re-engage and reshape it. Teaching based on one’s own work has allowed me as an anthropologist to remain emotionally close to the ‘field’. Teaching through substantive, personalised examples clearly enhances student learning in the subject as reflected in the student satisfaction for courses taught in the tutor’s specialist area (as suggested, for example by third year student feedback on the advanced anthropology options taught at Sussex which are based on a tutor’s specialist area of expertise). As anthropologists, we remain powerful in our role in representing ‘other cultures’ even though as Bodenhorn in her chapter suggests, and my own relationship with Zahida discussed in the chapter points to, we may be aware of how our informants shape our research concerns. The recent focus on a ‘tightening’ of the ethical guidelines which shape our disciplinary practice as anthropologists should enhance the centrality of the field (Meskell and Pels 2005) as a site of intimate relationships (Unnithan-Kumar 2005). At the same time we need to be aware as to how such guidelines increase our self-disciplining as anthropologists (Strathern 2000). Nevertheless, recognising the significance of our emotionally framed intellectual collaborations with both respondents and scholars across disciplines, as I have discussed in the chapter, will, I believe, give us a better perspective on how we come to sense (know) our fields. Acknowledgements I thank Palvi Taivar, Praveen Purohit, Zahida bano, Vimlesh Gogaram, Vipula Joshi, Mohan Singh, Dr. Banerjee, Dr.Bajaj, Dr. Mala, Gerda and TKN Unnithan for their invaluable help in facilitating my thinking and providing all kinds of support in Sirohi and Jaipur. I thank Simon Coleman, Geert De Neve, Sanjiv Kumar, Josephine Reynell and Alison Shaw for their guidance in the writing of this chapter. References Appadurai, A., Putting Hierarchy in its Place Cultural Anthropology vol 3 pp33–49 (1988). Appadurai, A., The production of locality. In., Fardon R. ed., Counterworks: Managing the Diversity of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1995). Beatty, A., Emotions in the Field: what are we talking about? JRAI (vol 11, no.1, Mar. London, 2005). Beteille, A., The concept of tribe with speical reference to India. Arch. Europe.

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Social (Vol. XXVII, 297–318, 1986). Bledsoe, C., Marginal members: Children of previous unions in Mende households in Sierra Leone. In, Greenhalgh S. ed., Situating Fertility: Anthropology and demographic enquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). Bledsoe, C., Contingent Lives: Fertility, Time and Aging in West Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002). Bourdieu, P., Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977). Carsten, J., Cultures of Relatedness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Caplan, P., Engendering Knowledge: The Politics of Ethnography. Anthropology Today (Vol 6, no.6, 1988). Clifford, J., Routes: Travel and Translation in the late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1977a). Clifford, J., Spatial Practices: Fieldwork, Travel and the Disciplining of Anthropology. In, Gupta A. and Ferguson J.,(eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977b). Csordas, T., Embodiment and Experience (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Csordas, T., The Body’s Career in Anthropology. In Moore H. ed., Anthropological Theory Today (London: Polity, 1999). Das, V., Subaltern as Perspective. In Guha R. ed., Subaltern Studies (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987). DasGupta, M., ed., Women’s Health in India (Mumbai: OUP, 1995). Dave, P.C., The Grasia (Delhi: Bharatiya Adim jati Sevak Sangh, 1960). Desjarlais, R., Body and Emotion: The aesthetics of illness and healing in Nepal (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992). Dumont, L., Homohierarchicus : The caste system and its implications. (Chicago: university of Chicago Press,1980 [1964]). Fardon, R., Localising Strategies: The Regionalisation of Ethnographic Accounts. A general introduction. In Fardon R. ed. Localising Strategies (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990). Fog Olwig, K., and Hastrup, K., ‘Introduction’. Siting Culture: The shifting anthropological object, pps 17–39 (London: Routledge, 1977). Foucault, M., The Birth of the Clinic (London: Tavistock, 1973). Fox, R., Kin, Clan, Raja and Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). Gardner, K., Location and Relocation: Home, ‘The Field’ and Anthropological Ethics (Sylhet, Bangladesh). In Watson C. ed., Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto, 1999). Geurts, K.L., Culture and the Senses : Bodily ways of knowing in an African Community (Berkeley: California University Press, 2002). Ginsburg, F., and Rapp, R., Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Gold, A., and Gujar, B.R., (eds), In the Time of Trees and Sorrows: Nature, Power

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and Memory in Rajasthan (Durham NC: Duke, 2002). Gupta, A., Governing Population: The Integrated Child Development Services Programme in India. In Hanson, T. B., and Stepputat, F., (eds), States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Post Colonial State (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001). Gupta, A., and Ferguson, J., (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). Hastrup, K., Writing Ethnography: the state of the art. In. Okely J. and Callaway H. (eds), Anthropology and Autobiography, Pps 116–134 (London: Routledge, 1992). In Horn, M., and van Balen, F., (eds), Infertility around the globe: new thinking on childlessness, gender and reproductive technologies (Berkeley: California 2002). Kleinman, A., Writing at the Margin: Discourse between Anthropology and Medicine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Kuper, A., Anthropology and Anthropologists: The Modern British School (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1983). Lal, R. B., Sons of the Aravalli. The Garasia (Ahmedabad: Gujarat vidyapith tribal research and training institute, 1979). Lock, M., ‘The Tempering of Medical Anthropology: Troubling Natural Categories’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New series, vol. 15, no.4, 2001. Lock, M., and Kaufert. P., ed., Pragmatic Women and Body Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Lutz, C., and Abu-Lughod, L., eds., Language and the Politics of Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Martin, E, The Woman in the Body (Open University Press, 1987). Meherda, B.L., History and Culture of the Girasias (Jaipur: Adi Prakashan, 1985). Meskell, L., and Pels, P., Embedding Ethics Wrenner Gren International symposium series (Oxford: Berg, 2005). Moore, H., Passion for Difference (Oxford: Polity, 1994). Moore, H., Anthropological Theory Today (London: Polity, 1999). Narayan, K., ‘How Native is a Native Anthropologist?’ American Anthropologist (95(3): 671–86, 1997). Okely, J., and Callaway, H., ed., Anthropology and Autobiography, ASA monographs 29 (London: Routledge, 1992). Parry, J., Caste and Kinship in Kangra (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979). Ramasubban, R. and Jejheebhoy, S., ed., Women’s Reproductive Health in India (Jaipur: Rawat, 2000). Rosaldo, M., Toward an Anthropology of Self and feeling. In Shweder R.A. and Levine R.A. (eds), Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). Scheper-Hughes, N. and Lock M., ‘The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly (1(1): 6–41, 1987). Sharma, U., Dowry in North India. In Hirschon R. ed., Women and Property-Women

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as Property (London: Croom Helm, 1984). Shweder, R., ‘Deconstructing Emotions for the Sake of Comparative Research’, Paper for the Amsterdam Symposium on ‘Feelings and Emotions’ June 13–16, 2001. Srinivas, M.N. The Dominant Caste and Other Essays (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987). Srinivas, M.N., Shah, A.M., and Ramaswamy, E.A., The Fieldworker and the Field: problems and challenges in Sociological Investigation (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979). Strathern, M., ‘An Awkward Relationship: Feminism and Anthropology’, Signs, (vol. 12. 1987). Strathern, M., Reproducing the Future: Kinship, Anthropology and the New Reproductive Technologies (London: Routledge, 1992a) Strathern, M., After Nature: English Kinship in the late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992b). Strathern, M., Audit Cultures: Anthropological studies in ethics, accountability and the academy (London: Routledge, 2000). Svasek, M., Introduction, In Milton K. and Svasek M., (eds), Mixed Emotions: Anthropological Studies of Feeling (Oxford: Berg, 2005). Tonkin, E., Being There: Emotion and Imagination in Anthropologists’ Encounters. In Milton K. and Svasek M. (eds), Mixed Emotions: Anthropological Studies of Feeling (Oxford: Berg, 2005). Unnithan (Unnithan-Kumar), M., Girasia and the Politics of Difference in Rajasthan: ‘Caste’, Kinship and Gender in a Marginalised Society. In Sharma U. and SearleChatterjee M., (eds), Contextualising Caste, Sociological Review Monograph series: 92–121 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994). _____, Identity, Gender and Poverty: New perspectives on caste and tribe in Rajasthan (Oxford: Berghahn, 1997a). _____, Emotions and Access to Healthcare: womens experiences of reproduction in Jaipur. In Tremayne S. ed., Managing Reproductive Life, Oxford series in Human Fertility, Sexuality and Reproduction (Oxford: Berghahn, 2001). _____, Reproduction, Health, Rights: connections and disconnections. In Wilson R. and Mitchell J. (eds), Human Rights in Global Perspective: the anthropology of rights, claims and entitlements (London: Routledge, 2003a). _____, Midwives among Others: Knowledge and the Politics of Emotions, in Rozario S. and Samuel G. (eds), Daughters of Hariti: Childbirth and Healing in South and Souteast Asia (London: Routledge, 2003b). _____, ed., Reproductive Agency, Medicine and the State: Cultural Transformations in Childbearing, Oxford series in Human Fertility, Sexuality and Reproduction (Oxford: Berghahn, 2004). _____, ‘Anthropology and Bioethics: linking knowledge production and professional regulation’ (Paper prepared for the ESRC Research Methods workshop on Ethics, Sussex, 5–6 May, 2005). Unnithan (Unnithan-Kumar) M. and Srivastava, K., Gender Politics and Women’s

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Agency in Rajasthan. In Grillo R. and Stirrat R. (eds), Discourses of Development: anthropological perspectives (Oxford: Berg, 1997b). Watson, C., ed., Introduction, Being There: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto, 1999). Wikan, U., Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese formula for living (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Chapter 9

Participant Experience: Learning to be an Acupuncturist, and Not Becoming One Elisabeth Hsu

Participant observation remains the main fieldwork method for social anthropologists. The fieldwork method described below was not much different but went a step further: I did not only participate in the lives of the people I worked with and observe them performing highly sophisticated skills but also set out to acquire these skills myself. Engaging in ‘participant experience’ meant that I should learn the skills I studied to such a degree that I could perform them myself. My conviction was that the acquisition of practical skills would give me more insights into the knowledge in which they were grounded than participant observation alone. I also believed that ‘participant experience’ would modify the power relations between the researcher and the people with whom she works, because a person who wishes to learn a skill from someone else puts herself into a position of a dependent apprentice. Participant experience When I told my best friend Manu that I was thinking of studying social anthropology, she did not respond with enthusiasm. I asked her why. She said anthropology grounded in principles that are intrinsically flawed: anthropologists set out to observe human beings, just like animal behaviourists observed animals (she herself was a bat ethologist). She felt it was wrong that one human being should assert his or her superiority over the other by making the other an object of observation. She died in a car accident a few years later, while I was in the field, before I had a chance to tell her that anthropologists themselves were debating their principle field method and framed their activities differently.1 1 This is a revised and abbreviated version of the article ‘Learning to be an acupuncturist, and not becoming one’, published in Maynard (2006), which was presented in the seminar series ‘Medical Identities’ at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Hilary Term 2003. It was written at short notice as a scheduled speaker dropped out, and Shirley Ardener encouraged me to write about my identity as an acupuncturist. Thanks go also to the editors and reviewers of this volume for valuable comments on an earlier draft.

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From the beginning of my studies in social anthropology, accordingly, the idea of participant ‘observation’ as principle fieldwork method did not appeal to me, although it was only years later that I used the term ‘participant experience’ for the kind of fieldwork I had done (Hsu 1999:5). Engaging in ‘participant experience’ meant that I should learn the skills and knowledge I intended to study to such a degree that I could perform those skills myself. I had decided to study anthropology for a rather specific reason. It was because I was interested in uncovering the workings of what then appeared to me a more effective ‘science’ than the one I had studied as a biology undergraduate: Chinese medicine with its highly elaborate conceptual framework. In retrospect, it is interesting that I did not believe it possible to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese medical concepts from studying textual sources only. Rather, I believed that the relevance of these concepts would become evident through practice. At the time, I had never heard of ‘embodied knowledge’, let alone of ‘practice theory’. It may have been my training in a natural science that made me believe that a practitioner who works with technical terms, and successfully effects treatment with them, gains more important insights about them than a mere observer. Yes, I knew from the very beginning of enrolling myself in anthropology that I wanted to learn Chinese medicine in Chinese in China. From the very start I also knew I did not want to become a full-time doctor; I considered myself too impatient for treating patients. Anthropological theory, I thought, would allow me to frame my research such that I might better understand the complex edifice of Chinese medical theory. Since I did not believe in studying texts only, I chose ‘sinology’ only as a tertiary study subject, with ‘social anthropology’ as my primary and ‘general linguistics’ as my secondary one. It was knowledge as contained in everyday medical practice – embodied knowledge, we would say today – that, I then felt, would throw new light on the ‘logic’ of the scholarly medical knowledge that Chinese medicine presents. Needless to say, some anthropologists were perplexed when I communicated my ideas to them, and they even doubted my motivations. Was my intention to spend some time in China or was it really to become an anthropologist, one of the professors asked, as I enrolled in Social Anthropology at the University of Zurich in October 1985. I remember my feelings of indignation as I explained that if I had wanted to go to China – and I knew it was Southwest China I wanted to go to – I could have gone there as a botanist, for I was a fully trained taxonomist, and the flora of that region is famous for its richness and diversity.2 No, I explained, it was that I

2 In March 1986 I did one month of exploratory fieldwork in an acupuncture ward in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Fieldwork was later carried out in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, between September 1988 and December 1989. In the late eighties, fieldwork requests from foreigners were met with a permanent bu xing (“it is not possible”); Kunming, as the sister city of Zurich, was more inclined to favourable research conditions.

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felt anthropological theory could help in clarifying the ‘logic’ of the ‘science’ that I considered Chinese medicine to be.3 I also knew from the very beginning that I wished to specialise in medical anthropology. The Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Zurich is one of the first in Europe to offer this subject as an option, from 1977 onwards. Thus, in the first year of my biology studies, in 1979–80, as on Thursday afternoons we had four-hours-long practicals in inorganic chemistry, I would listen to the tutor’s instructions for one hour, then rush over the street to sit into a medical anthropology seminar for the next two hours, and then only, when my peer were already finishing off their experiments, would I start with mine for the following one to two hours. When the chemistry tutor came to my lab place, he regularly joked about my being slow and I was never quite sure whether he had observed my long absences or thought I was simply dim. He was good-natured though, and we laughed a lot, and sometimes he even gave me private tutorials. I guess I owe it to him that I did well in the exams. Why study acupuncture? It took me several years to be sure that it was medical anthropology I wanted to study. I did not dare to make the final step across the road for I felt that any hard-working person could make a contribution to the natural sciences, while anthropology seemed more daunting. When I finally decided to enrol in anthropology it was again this selfrestraint, or perhaps a certain degree of circumspection, that had me learn acupuncture and moxibustion, zhenjiu, rather than the decoction-based Chinese medicine, zhongyi, although I knew that acupuncture and decoction-based medicine both were sub-disciplines of Chinese medicine, zhongyi. My father is Chinese, and my Chinese relatives who would speak highly about Chinese medicine and its philosophy, which they considered mysterious (aomiao) and deep (shen’ao), looked doubtfully at me. To really understand Chinese medicine, one had to learn classical Chinese, and one had to know the Chinese medical drugs; the celebrated physician Li Shizhen had described almost two thousand different kinds (Métailié 2001: 233). In acupuncture, by contrast, I then believed, one had to memorise only 365 acupuncture points, or loci, which is the standard number given in the classic of Chinese medicine, the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Huang di nei jing). I felt it was important that I learn a skill from the people I study to such a level of competence that I would be able to perform the practice on my own. Only this level of competence would put me in a position to think about the medical theory in new ways. Gaining such competence in acupuncture seemed not as impossible as in decoction-based medicine. There was also a certain elegance to acupuncture, I felt, because it involved minimal technology – needles – to effect potentially maximal therapeutic effects – instant recovery. In China, decoctions are considered to work slowly, while needles 3 I was a bit disappointed when, in 1992, my thesis examiners did not think much of my ‘anthropological theory’ while praising it for its rich ‘ethnographic material’.

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were historically often used for emergency cases (fieldwork 1988–89). Moreover, I knew from reading Paul Unschuld’s Medicine in China (1980) that acupuncture was the therapy central to Chinese medical theory as given in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, and also for historical reasons well worth studying. I had not thought about the identity of the acupuncturist, however, and soon was to learn about it from a senior fellow at my graduate college Clare Hall, when I continued my studies in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge in 1987. I was then applying for doctoral research funding and overheard his flippant remark that I was trying to get my studies funded by a research council in the guise of anthropological fieldwork; my ulterior goal was really to get rich as a practitioner thereafter. So, being an acupuncturist in Britain was associated with making money. The social standing of acupuncturists in China Not so in China. In general, Chinese herbal doctors do not take acupuncturists seriously; literati physicians wrote prescriptions while acupuncturists, like masseurs, were viewed as hands-on therapists. Christopher Cullen comments on their lowly status in Late Imperial China: ‘Starmaster Liu is a blind man who performs divination, heals sores, and carries out acupuncture and moxibustion. He makes mannikins for the purpose of using sympathetic magic, and is generally presented as a low-life character’ (1993: 110). However, acupuncture was not always associated with the lowly. In Tang China (618–905), it was one of the four subjects taught at the Imperial Bureau for Medicine (Taiyiju), in Song China (960–1279) one of the thirteen (Zhen 1991: 175 and 207), and as already said, in Han China (206 BCE – 220), acupuncture was the therapy around which the complexities of systemic medical reasoning evolved. It was acupuncture, or rather, an innovation in acupuncture of the late fifties, socalled ‘acupuncture anaesthesia’ (zhenjiu mazhen), that gave Chinese medicine its credibility as a ‘science’. From the late sixties and early seventies on, this innovation in acupuncture was performed in front of foreign guests, who from a gallery above the surgical theatres could convince themselves of its efficacy with their own eyes (for example, Hsu 1995, 1996a). In the West, people were full of admiration for this sort of ‘acupuncture’, which they equated with the entirety of ‘Chinese medicine’, unaware that acupuncture analgesia was a short-lived innovation, barely practised anymore in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from the eighties onwards (fieldwork 1988–89). Although Chinese herbal doctors often belittled the activities of acupuncturists, and with them the practitioner-anthropologists who studied the former (for example, Scheid 2002 or Ots 1990 who likened acupuncture wards to day centres), some senior acupuncturists in Kunming, where I conducted fieldwork, were well respected. Perhaps their respectable social standing was partly determined by their place of origin: two had emigrated from Shanghai to Kunming; they were thus from

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the centre, which was prestigious, while Yunnan was a border area. One of these two doctors practised a form of acupuncture not recorded in Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) textbooks, having learnt it through the family (jiachuan); the other was an associate professor at the Yunnan TCM College, my college tutor.4 These senior acupuncturists felt slighted at the thought that acupuncture had no theory (meiyou lilun), and they spoke of theories and practices of acupuncture more elaborate than those of the decoction-based medicine. However, as detailed elsewhere (Hsu 2005), basic principles of acupuncture, outlined verbatim in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, are increasingly delegated to the realm of tacit knowledge of the virtuous practitioner by the bedside. Eastern China is known to be the cradle of acupuncture, and though contemporary doctors did not cite chapter 12 of the first book of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Su wen 12; Ren 1986: 39–40), its contents were well known to them: stone needles (bian shi) come from the East, drugs (du yao) come from the West, moxibustion (jiu ruo) comes form the North, and the nine needles (jiu zhen) from the South. Accordingly, patients in Yunnan (Western China) were known to believe in drugs and not in needles (xin yao bu xin zhen). Some Chinese medical doctors therefore wondered why I had come to Yunnan to study acupuncture.5 Indeed, the range of complaints with which patients presented was very limited. Acupuncturists in Yunnan did not treat fevers and stomach aches, as those in Shanghai (Eastern China) apparently did. The range of their treatment was limited mostly to what Chinese call the bi-pattern (bizheng): obstructions of the flow of qi, which manifest in pain of the joints and back. Training to be an acupuncturist in China Acupuncturists take the same basic courses as those who later become Chinese medical doctors. They attend classes in Fundamental Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Zhongyi jichu lilun), TCM Diagnostics (Zhongyi zhenduan xue), Introduction to Classical Chinese for Medics (Yiguwen), and others. A good acupuncturist is able to write Chinese medical prescriptions, and students in acupuncture therefore also attend courses in TCM Drugs (Zhongyao xue) and TCM Formulae (Fangji xue). Vice versa, a good Chinese medical doctor is expected to be able to treat patients with acupuncture, and Chinese medicine students are required to attend a course on the Study of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Zhenjiuxue). This course provides a summary of the themes discussed in four separate ones taught to specialists of acupuncture: the channels (Jingluo xue), the loci (Shuxue xue),

4 They were well respected but not as highly venerated as some of the famous doctors (mingyi) of the college, who practised zhongyi (Zhang 1989: 151 ff.). 5 One of the reasons is given in footnote 2. My wish to study acupuncture rather than Chinese herbal medicine had them reinforce their view of me as a foreigner; foreigners were interested in acupuncture.

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needling and moxibustion techniques (Zhenfa jiufa xue), and acupuncture therapy (Zhenjiu zhiliao xue).6 The main memory I have now, fifteen years later, of these classes is the icy cold air in the classroom. We were wearing padded trousers and jackets, yet the window glasses were broken and a constant draft caused cold feet and subdued stomach cramps. The hands, also rather cold, were kept moving due to incessant copying of the blackboard. I sat in the front rows, together with the other twelve women in class. This was necessary because doing participant experience involved absorbing what was said during the lecture. However, sitting in the back rows, as I later did at some occasions, yielded more ethnographic information on student interaction during class. There were several other situations in which doing participant experience was not ideal for observing people’s interactions, particularly when we were taught the practical skills of needling, but apart from many hours spent alone in my room memorising and actually learning the contents taught in class, I must admit, that doing participant experience was not much different from doing participant observation. In this context, it needs to be said that I was granted a great privilege to sit in class with other Chinese students. Foreign students of Chinese medicine in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and other cities were kept apart and segregated. I was the first foreign student at the Yunnan TCM College, and in recognition of my biology degree, the college administration classified me as a postgraduate student (jinxiusheng) who should receive private tutorials by two of its best associate professors (fujiaoshou). However, since I wanted to engage in participant experience, I protested. A meeting was held with ten to twenty officials and teachers, and it took a couple of hours for me, then twenty-nine years old, to convince my senior hosts that the purpose of my study was to undergo the experience of being taught in class with seventeen year olds. As a result, the two tutors who had been granted a year’s leave, except for the private tutorials to be held with me, were doomed to teach not only myself but a class of forty undergraduates.7 They were excellent teachers; their lectures were clear and very lively, and I hope these forty students duly appreciated their luck. Students of vocational training attended clinical practicals in the third year, those who became regular doctors in the fifth year, but I wished to attend practicals 6 In Yunnan, in the late eighties, acupuncture was taught at the vocational level, which involved three years of training. It was popular with the young students at a time when they took it as an option for setting up private enterprises or going abroad; good students would enrol in the regular five-year TCM course with its emphasis on Chinese medical drug treatment (Hsu 1999: 145–157). 7 I had learnt Chinese in 1978–79 at the Peking Language School, made my living during my last year of my biology studies as a Chinese language teacher, and my language proficiency was already at the beginning of my fieldwork sufficient to sit in class, understand what was said, and read Chinese hand writing on the black board. Although I had developed the ideas for the set up of my studies in Switzerland, quite independently of others, Judith Farquhar’s (1994a) study at the Guangzhou TCM College was carried out before mine. When we met at Cambridge in summer 1987, I naturally felt some disappointment at not having been the first. On the other hand, her research reassured me that I was on the right track.

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already after six months in the classroom. Again, a large meeting with administrators and senior teachers was held, although it was less important than the previous one. During that meeting my two tutors were emphatic that TCM colleges provided a ‘systematic’ training. By insisting on practicals at the bedside, after barely having passed the exams of the first semester, I was exempting myself from this systematic learning (reported in Hsu 1999: 188–9). One of my teachers flatly refused to take on any further responsibility for my training as a practitioner. But I had paid special school fees, I was a foreign guest, and I had my way. From March onwards, I attended three times a week the acupuncture ward at the Provincial Hospital, about twenty minutes cycle ride away from the college. Two doctors were in the consultation room for acupuncture, several students, and barely any patients, only ten to twenty in a morning. Needless to say, I received minimal training in needling. The mornings were long, however. The doctors read the newspapers or occasionally a TCM journal, the students as well, or we chatted. Once, very memorably, we formed a ‘dragon’: this meant that we exercised the movements for doing massage on each others back, each student on the next student’s back, this was the dragon, we shouted and laughed loudly, and almost forgot about the patients who had entered the ward. It was on the acupuncture ward that I started to smoke on a regular basis. This was a very non-feminine activity, but one which had a doctor who was a chain smoker occasionally take me to one side to show me some special Chinese medical marvel. He was into studies on the Book of Changes (Yijing), as were several other Chinese doctors at the time, and into folk remedies; once he treated a woman’s facial paralysis with a snake powder poultice.8 Apart from there being few patients on the ward, he identified my main problem as being too timid. I was afraid of needling any patient and, when I did, I was too clumsy. Patients all complained that my hand was too heavy (shoufa tai zhong). Instead of giving them a feeling of sourness (suan), tingling (ma) or expansion (zhang) after insertion of the needle, it hurt (tong). My tutor identified the problem as arising basically from my being foreign. One day, when an elderly woman with bound feet hobbled into the ward, he suggested I needle her, assuming that this woman was used to enduring pain. I was wearing a white coat and a white cap, and she chatted with me in broad Yunnan dialect. However, the moment I stuck the needle into her ankle, she was in pain, looked straight into my eyes and realised that I was a foreigner. She shunned me on future visits. On a later occasion, the tutor assigned me another patient whom I could treat more than once. He was a young man who suffered from lethargy, hallucinations and delusions and was diagnosed as ‘mad’ (kuang). He was completely sedated by psychopharmaca, but his mother believed acupuncture could lift his spirits. My tutor required this patient to be treated at very specific times of the day, which he calculated 8 Hospitals belong in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health (Weishengbu), colleges in that of the Ministry of Education (Jiaoyubu). College teachers were carefully chosen and usually endorsed TCM principles conscientiously, in contrast to so-called ‘senior doctors’ (laozhongyi) in hospitals.

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in accordance with the method of choosing loci on the basis of the terrestial branch cycles (ziwu liuzhu fa),9 and I was taught how to apply Sun Simiao’s thirteen loci for treating ghosts (shisan guixue).10 Yet even though slight improvement was recorded, this patient did not return to the ward after a few weeks. I later worked in other wards of acupuncture and moxibustion. In fact, in the period of practical training between March 1988 and December 1989 (about which I have so far barely ever written), I worked at five different wards. The college tutor who really cared about my training as an acupuncturist took me during the vacation as her personal student to her friends and fellow acupuncturists. One worked in a military hospital (I was smuggled in as though I were a local Chinese), the other in the Red Cross hospital. The Red Cross hospital, much in line with missionary hospitals in the nineteenth and early twentieth century,11 had initially performed mainly cataract operations and therefore continued to attract many patients with eye problems. The acupuncturist in that hospital, who had been a Western medical doctor forced to learn Chinese medicine in the 1950s, was inventive and had developed special needling techniques for treating myopia and strabismus. During the summer holidays his practice was flooded with myopic and cross-eyed children from the countryside; they were staying with their relatives in the provincial capital and daily came for treatment. My apprehension of needling persisted, particularly as I should needle in the vicinity of the eyes. It persisted even after attending classes on needling techniques, in my third semester at the college, from September to December 1989, during which each student was asked to needle him or herself into one of the loci on the

9 The method of ziwu liuzhu was promulgated in the Song dynasty (Despeux 2001:157), suppressed as superstitious during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), and revived in the late 1980s. 10 He is recorded to have been treated on 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, 28 March and 1, 4, 6, 11, 13, 15, 20, 22, 25 April 1989. From 28 March onwards, the thirteen loci for treating ghosts were regularly applied. In my notes the following fourteen are listed: renzhong, shaoshang, yinbai, daling, shenmai, fengfu, jiache, chengjiang, laogong, shangxing, huiyin, quchi, jianshi, and houxi. For comparison, see Unschuld (1980: 42) and Sun (1993: 327); the names of the loci obviously differ. The patient was simultaneously given prescriptions, for instance, on 21 March: chaihu (Radix Bupleuri), danggui (Radix Angelica sinensis), chuanxiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong), chishao (Radix Paeonia rubra), shengdi (raw Radix Rehmannnia), jiegeng (Radix platycodi), huainiuxi (Radix Achyranthis bidentatae), zhiqiao (Fructus Aurantii), taoren (semen Persicae), honghua (Flos Carthami), zhi?/tiannanxing (Rhizoma Arisaematis), shichangpu (Rhizoma Acori tatarinowii), chenpi (Pericarpium Citri reticulatae), danshen (Radix Salviae miltiorrhizae), gancao (Radix Glycyrrhizae). According to Volker Scheid (p.c.), this represents a variation of Wang Qingren’s (1768–1831) Xuefu zhuyu tang (Decoction for expelling stasis from the blood mansion) with some drugs added to eliminate phlegm. 11 A meaning-centred approach to historical change found literature in support of cataract operations as important Western health interventions (Hsu 1992), but not a primarily quantitative approach (Bretelle-Establet 2002). In a dossier of two thousand archival notes, cataract operations were mentioned only twice (Bretelle-Establet p.c.).

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arm, preferably the quchi. Patients continued to avoid being needled by me, also in the acupuncture ward I then worked at, the Kunming City Hospital. Incidentally, two Swiss friends came as tourists to China and also visited me. One of them, Sylvia, had menopausal flushes and developed acute eczema; her face and body were covered with large red spots that itched terribly, and made it impossible for her to get sleep at night. My college tutor reacted with delight; at last the body of a foreigner presented itself and she grasped the opportunity to have me needle this body daily. For ten days, she came to my dormitory room where we treated Sylvia on my own bed, and she instructed me how to select and insert needles, whether and where to apply moxibustion. Sylvia patiently endured my clumsy needling. The effects were stunning and, for the first time in my life, I had an experience that must be crucial for anyone who can effect a patient’s recovery. First, I experienced great joy. My efforts clearly had an effect, even though the improvement was only symptomatic and temporary (the eczema recurred a few weeks later when Sylvia returned to Switzerland). This joy that novices feel upon their first successful treatment should not be underestimated. It has elsewhere been described as an intrinsic aspect of becoming a shaman: ‘It was in such an ‘access of mysterious and irrepressible joy’ that Aua became a Shaman’ (De Martino 1988: 86). It can directly affect treatment evaluation, as in the case of a qigong healer’s apprentice, where a mixture of delight, enthusiasm and surprise arose from his effecting one of several possible intended sensations (a tingling in the shoulder) by means of meditation, which was rated a success (Hsu 1999: 39–40). Second, I simultaneously experienced a feeling of empowerment. The improvement was so radical – barely any red spots were visible or, if there were any, they were much smaller. In addition, Sylvia did not suffer insomnia and did not complain of constant itching anymore. It did not feel like a case of spontaneous recovery. One might object that it was the care of my teacher and the concentration with which we attended to her body that calmed Sylvia down; or the company she had, the leisure and fun she experienced during the outings we made into the nearby countryside. However, to me it felt as though I had had an effect on Sylvia, a specific, intended medical effect; not a diffuse betterment of a psychological state but a bodily effect that was visible to everyone. Third, I attributed the success of my treatment to my acupuncture and moxibustion procedures, and my belief in their effectiveness was enhanced. Successful treatment enhances this belief in tools, apparatuses, or spirit guides, and in expert knowledge in any treatment provider, be it a shaman, a GP or an acupuncturist. It was not ‘I’, but ‘I and my needles’ or ‘I and my knowledge’ that had effected the improvement. A further effect was that Sylvia later sewed me a beautiful silk jacket. Thereby I learnt yet another aspect of what it means to be a practitioner: in addition to whatever fee is required, patients do give personal gifts. Successful healing typically reinforces the bond between patient and healer. This relation of newly acquired social interdependency is often marked by material transactions from patient to healer, which, in turn, makes the healer indebted to the patient. In this way, healing can be intrinsic to social bonding and community building (Hsu 1999: 58–67).

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The experience of emotional elation, empowerment, and trust in one’s tools, techniques and knowledge, which is likely to escape the participant observer, fundamentally transforms the attitude of the researcher engaging in ‘participant experience’ towards her subject of learning. This was in my case the acupuncturist’s body. There is a multiplicity of views on the body in Chinese medicine, and as Farquhar (1994b) rightly points out, the acupuncturist’s body comes closest to that of the anatomist. They are, however, not the same. The reality of the acupuncturist’s body Today, plastic men and women are manufactured with proportions of a Western anatomical body, onto the body surface of which lines and points are drawn, in different colours. During my training in acupuncture, I bought one of these because I thought it would be useful in helping me memorise the loci. The plastic man was useful, but only to a very limited extent, for I actually found myself using my own body for memorising the loci. I pressed onto my skin, muscle and bone, and rubbed back and forth through the thickness of my clothes until I sensed, a certain kind of sourness, suan, and then I loudly pronounced the name of each of the loci. I had learnt doing so from my teachers and fellow students, and eventually, I could recite the loci in their sequencing along a channel. Knowledge of the location of particular loci certainly is embodied. When delivering treatment and selecting loci, acupuncturists in China tend to tap along the extremities with their fingers and they typically tap the area around the loci more intensely before inserting the needle. By pressing directly onto the loci, without needling, one can already elicit the typical sensations of suan, ma, zhang in oneself or in the patient. No doubt, this enhances the certainty of the reality of loci to doctors and patients, students and their teachers (Sagli 2003: 215–218). Students did not only have to memorise the loci but also the course of each channel, in classical Chinese. While I was determined to memorise the loci, their location on the body surface, and the specific functions they had for treatment, I never bothered to memorise the course of the channels. I was, however, fascinated by the contents of the textbook Study of Channels and Links (Li 1984), because it provided an annotated reprint of the Mawangdui vessel texts dating to the second century BCE, juxtaposed to the corresponding text passages in the tenth chapter of the second book of the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon (Ling shu 10), of between the third century BCE and the eleventh century CE, followed by a translation into modern standard Chinese of the twentieth century. The teacher herself read out the Mawangdui text passages, and explained some terms. The students were asked to read out and later recite the Ling shu text passages. I spent hours comparing the texts during fieldwork while, at the same time on the other side of the Pacific, David Keegan (1988) had already translated, compared and contrasted them in the appendix to his PhD thesis.12 12 For a published translation of the Mawangdui vessel texts, see also Harper (1998:192– 212). For discussion of the vessel system in the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, see Unschuld

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There was extensive discussion about the reality of both the loci and channels, and I remember clearly an occasion where I discussed with the young college teachers the undeniable effects of acupuncture and the scientifically unproven reality of the channels and loci, which we found odd (see also Hsu 1996b). These young assistant teachers were very intelligent people with critical minds; they had been among the best high school graduates of the entire province and had had the privilege to study in Shanghai, for they were to be the first group of acupuncturists to teach the new acupuncture course at the Yunnan TCM College. They were not naïve, yet their work experience would have them believe that the loci were ‘real’, and this is indeed what most believed.13 However, they were not quite certain about the reality of the channels. They hypothesized that through medical practice the ancient Chinese doctors had discovered the loci and that they then invented the channels, as sorts of mnemonic devices to string the points into a line. These teachers also knew, however, that in the Mawangdui vessel texts the channels were mentioned but not loci, which would suggest that the idea of channels along the extremities preceded that of loci useful for therapeutic means, although that did not seem to bother them very much.14 I still remember very vividly how I felt mystified by the fact that scientists had not been able to prove the reality of either loci or channels, and I remember how in the discussion with these young teachers I agreed that science had not yet proven their reality. Was I an easily gullible student? Was it ‘participant experience’ rather than participant observation that led me to this attitude? Or is such identification with the beliefs and the knowledge of the people one works with a general experience of any anthropologist doing fieldwork? Nine years later, in 1998, I gave a medical anthropology seminar at the University College London during which I mentioned this incident and pondered over my credulity, unaware that thereby I upset a fieldworker in the audience for aligning myself with the dominant biomedical viewpoint. Recently, in 2003, after inviting this person (in the meantime a post-doctoral research fellow) to give a seminar at the University of Oxford, the two of us talked about the London seminar. She, who had done fieldwork with homeopaths in London, had since undergone similar transformations, and had more sympathy for my viewpoint. Yet in the meantime, I had lost the certainty displayed in London. She nodded. We laughed. And thus our understanding of the quality of knowledge that in some situations proves useful and therapeutically effective but is scientifically unproven seemed to meet. Probably, a purely detached observer cannot empathise with this quality of knowledge that (2003: 167–180). For discussion of the channels in a TCM book, see Porkert (1974: 197–346) and Sivin (1987:249–272). 13 As eminent scholars as Lu & Needham (1980) were intrigued by machines that can detect a change in electric voltage on the loci, which some consider scientific proof of the loci’s reality. 14 For a more extended discussion of the channels and speculation of their provenance, see the version of this article in Maynard (2006).

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the anthropologist immersed in fieldwork produces and that for years later remains alive. It might be a quality of knowledge that the people one interacts with in the field may experience only to a limited extent. And how I did not become an acupuncturist Shortly before leaving the field, after having received training in acupuncture for one and a half years, I worked at yet another Kunming hospital, the Yen’an hospital, with a much-respected senior acupuncturist who was, I’m glad to say, quite impressed with this foreigner’s knowledge of acupuncture. This approval of the skills I had acquired from several sources – the associate professor at college, the tutor at the Provincial Hospital, the acupuncturists on the various acupuncture wards throughout Kunming city’s hospitals – was important for me for it boosted my confidence that I had sufficient knowledge to practice acupuncture in Britain. However, Sylvia was to remain the first and only patient I ever treated successfully with acupuncture. It was not that I did not attempt to practice acupuncture in Britain, during the period of writing up my PhD thesis. At the time, I felt that it would be a pity to lose the specific knowledge of a technique that I had acquired in China, and I thought I could enhance the practice of acupuncture in Britain with the skills I had acquired with Chinese students in the Chinese language in China. Indeed, there was no scarcity in patients wishing to be acupunctured in Britain, first of all myself. Within days of returning to Cambridge, I fell down the steep and narrow staircase of the Victorian terraced house in which I was renting a room. My first port of call for my injured shoulder was, as it would have been in China, the acupuncturist (found through the Yellow Pages). The response I was given on the phone should have alerted me to the impending failure of being able to treat patients in Britain for the acupuncturist said he would usually not treat injuries and asked if I had any other traumas. I did not quite understand what he meant, slightly perplexed. Patients in Britain tend to consult acupuncturists when they suffer longstanding traumas (and not acute injuries of a limb). The acupuncturist in Britain thus tends to deal primarily with so-called psychosomatic problems, even if those present themselves somatically, in stiff shoulders or back pains. As an acupuncturist trained in Kunming, I was simply not prepared for dealing with problems of the psychological complexities I encountered among patients in Britain. Although most patients presented with problems I identified as a bi-syndrome, which I knew how to treat, there were further complications. I was professionally, and emotionally, not sufficiently prepared to deal with those. My first patient in Britain, for instance, fell in love, divorced his wife, and his passion for me seriously interfered with my own love relationship. Furthermore, my hand technique, which many Chinese had experienced as heavy, certainly was not right for European sensibilities. I had been trained to stick needles deeply, unaware that doctors in Europe provide only superficial needling. European patients are therefore not used to several centimetres deep needling. I experienced how a colleague suffering from diarrhoea had constipation on the day after my

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treatment and how a friend, intent on having her head ache treated, sank into my sofa with an alarmingly pale face, minutes after I had needled her. Needless to say, such experiences discouraged me from pursuing a career as a part-time acupuncturist in Britain. Moreover, there was no institutional incentive for a research student in social anthropology to work part-time as an acupuncturist. In fact, most senior academics were suspicious of my activities as an acupuncturist and some openly expressed doubts in my motivations as a researcher. Reflections on ‘participant experience’ As a student of medical anthropology, I should have known that a skill like needling is not easily transposed from one culture to the other, and that medical techniques take on culture-specific forms adjusted to people’s sensitivities in the new locality. In my doctoral thesis, I was writing about how medical practice is shaped by institutional settings but when practising acupuncture myself, I did not bother to deliver treatment in institutionally defined spaces and clearly confined time periods. By hindsight, my efforts to continue practising acupuncture in Britain were ill-conceived from the very start. I have since lost the little of the practical skills I once had and while I probably could reach a fairly intricate knowledge of acupuncture therapy again, if I made an extra effort now, I have to admit that currently I do not have it anymore. Of the more than 365 loci I once memorised, only a few are still part of my repertoire. I say this with regret, and therefore have admonished one of my doctoral students, who also engaged in participant experience during fieldwork at a contemporary dance school, to live up to her talent and continue exercising her acquired skill even if it slows down the process of writing up. Nevertheless, there is no reason to regret my extra efforts of having engaged in ‘participant experience’. Although the focus of my study was to provide an ethnography of key concepts of Chinese medicine that current scholarship knows primarily from texts, reviewers noted the attention it paid to the unsaid and nonverbal. ‘Participant experience’ furthermore made me sensitive to anthropological inquiries that in the early nineties were just starting to be discussed, such as those that explore the cultural aspects of sensory experience (Howes 1991, Kuriyama 1999, Bendix & Brenneis 2005) and, more recently, one that takes the body as an agent in the environment as the starting point for thinking about social and cultural phenomena (Ingold 2003). With regard to medical anthropology, my field experiences may have shaped me even more. It may not be a co-incidence that I spend an entire lecture series on the question how ‘bodily betterment’ is achieved by focusing on sophisticated techniques of often non-Western medical treatment that elicit sometimes dramatic bodily effects resulting in, perhaps initially unspecific, betterment. While the usefulness of the contrastive concepts of ‘healing’ through a re-framing of the mind and of ‘curing’ through the use of pharmacologically active substances on the body has long been

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questioned, it was ‘participant experience’ that made me acutely aware of just how ethnocentric these concepts were. Since I have experienced Chinese medical treatment and delivered it myself, my personal conviction that it is primarily directed at evoking bodily felt responses, has made me receptive to anthropological writing that starts with the body as an agent in the environment, does not neglect physical aspects of sociality, and focuses on practice. References Bastien, J.W., ‘Differences between Kallawaya-Andean and Greek-European Humoral Theory’, Social Science and Medicine, 28 (1): 54–51 (1) (1989). Bendix, R. & Brenneis D. (guest editors), The Senses. Etnofoor, 18 (1) (2005). Bretelle-Establet, F., La santé en Chine du Sud (1898–1928) (Paris: CNRS editions, 2002). Cullen, C. ‘Patients and Healers in Late Imperial China: Evidence from the Jingpingmei’, History of Science, 31: 99–150 (1993). De Martino, E., Primitive Magic: The Psychic Powers of Shamans and Sorcerers (Dorset: Prism Press and Lindfield: Unity Press, 1988). Despeux, C., ‘The System of the Five Circulatory Phases and the Six Seasonal Influences (wuyun liuqi), a Source of Innovation in Medicine under the Song (960–1279)’, in Hsu E. (ed.), Innovation in Chinese Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Farquhar, J., Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994a). _____, ‘Multiplicity, Point of View, and Responsibility in Traditional Chinese Healing’, in A. Zito & T. E. Barlow (eds), Body, Subject and Power in China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994b). Harper, D., Early Chinese Medical Literature: the Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts (London: Kegan Paul International, 1998). Howes, D. The Varieties of Sensory Experience (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991). Hsu, E., ‘The Reception of Western Medicine in China: Examples from Yunnan’ in Petitjean P., Jami C. & Moulin A.M. (eds), Science and Empires. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 136 (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1992). _____, ‘The Manikin in Man: Cultural Crossing and Creativity’, in Aijmer G. (ed.), Syncretism and the Commerce of Symbols (Göteborg: The Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology, 1995). _____, ‘Innovations in Acumoxa: Acupuncture Analgesia, Scalp Acupuncture and Ear Acupuncture in the PRC’, Social Science and Medicine, 42: 421–430 (3) (1996a). _____, ‘Acumoxa in Yunnan: A Case Study of Standardising Chinese Medicine at a Medical College of the PRC’, Journal on Southwest China Studies, 1:217–248 (1996b).

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_____, The Transmission of Chinese Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Ingold, T., Perception of the Environment (London: Routledge, 2003). Janzen, J. M., The Quest for Therapy: Medical Pluralism in Lower Zaire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978). Keegan, D.J. The ‘Huang-ti Nei-Ching’: The Structure of the Compilation; The Significance of the Structure, Unpublished PhD Thesis in History (University of California, Berkeley,1988). Kuriyama, S., The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (New York: Zone Books, 1999). Li, D. (ed.), Jingluoxue, The Study of the Channels and Links (Shanghai: Shanghai kexue jishu chubanshe, 1984). Lu, G.D. & Needham J., Celestial Lancets: A History and Rationale of Acupuncture and Moxa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980). Métailié, G., ‘The Bencao gangmu: an Innovation in Natural History?’, in Hsu E. (ed.), Innovation in Chinese Medicine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). Ots, T., Medizin und Heilung in China: Annäherungen an die traditionelle chinesische Medizin. 2.überarbeitete Auflage (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, [1987] 1990). Porkert, P., The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspondence (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,1974). Ren, Y. ed., Huangdi neijing zhangju suoyin (Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, 1986). Sagli, G. Acupuncture Recontextualized: The Reception of Chinese Medical Concepts among Practitioners of Acupuncture in Norway, Unpublished PhD thesis at the Department of East European and Oriental Studies and the Department of General Practice and Community Medicine (University of Oslo, 2003). Scheid, V., Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002). Sivin, N., Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China: A Partial Translation of Revised Outline of Chinese Medicine (1972), with an Introductory Study on Change in Present-day and Early Medicine (Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1987). Sun, S., Qianjin yifang (Appended Prescriptions Worth a Thousand) (Taibei: Ziyou chubanshe, [681, facsimile of 1307] 1993). Unschuld, P.U., Medizin in Chin: Eine Ideengeschichte (München: Beck, 1980). _____, Huang Di nei jing su wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). Zhang, D., Yunnan zhongyi xueyuan yuanshi (Kunming: Yunnan keji chubanshe, 1989). Zhen, Z., Zhongguo Yixueshi, History of Medicine in China, (Beijing: Renmin weisheng chubanshe, 1991).

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Chapter 10

‘Working in the Metropolis’: Reflections on Gender and Fieldwork in the City Henrike Donner

On a hot and humid evening in October 1995 I attended the meeting of the Congress party’s Women’s Group (mahila samiti) in Ward 63 of the Calcutta Municipal Cooperation (CMC). The meeting was held in the reception on the ground floor of a spacious two-storied house that belonged to the family of the Samiti’s unofficial leader. About fifteen young to middle-aged women had come and were sitting on the old sofa, some rickety chairs, and mats spread across the floor, chatting. I was accompanied by Bishoka, a social worker, whom I had met in the office of an NGO, and who had introduced me to the local councillor of the Calcutta Municipal Cooperation. He had suggested to take part in the meeting and put us in touch with the women’s group of his party, the Congress, which was at the time dominant in the neighbourhood as well as the wider area. The meeting started after Bishoka and I had introduced ourselves and had explained my research to them, and the Samiti’s members proceeded with their routine. In the course of our conversation it had become clear that women presented their problems to the committee. These were heard on the basis of a mutual understanding that this group acted as mediator between the powerful party organisation and individual women, whose problems ranged from marital disputes to tensions between tenants and their landlords and requests for funds. Though some were still joking and gossiping, others turned towards a young woman in her late teens, who was dressed in a cheap salvar-kameez, while all other women were wearing saris.1 She was seated in front of some older women, and began to talk – her story was the first ‘case’ of the evening. The young woman who had come to present her case was familiar with the procedure and although she had never met most of the women present did not hesitate to give a detailed account of her problem. Apparently, she had been married for 1 In this setting salvar-kameez (long shirt and trousers) are worn by young unmarried women like students and women of different age groups belonging to Muslim or Punjabi communities, whereas a sari indicates that a woman is likely to belong to Hindu or Christian communities and is married/beyond marriageable age.

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several months to a young man of her choice, and although she had a ‘love-marriage’ she lived with her in-laws in a nearby slum. She had come to the committee because she wanted to lodge a complaint against her in-laws, who were abusing her, forced her to work very hard in the house, and prevented her from visiting her parental home just a few lanes away in the same neighbourhood. Most of the Samiti members listened patiently to her story and occasionally someone asked a question to establish some detail, and when she finished they assured her that they would discuss her case with the councillor. However, they made it clear that this kind of problems are expected in her situation, since she had not only had a love marriage, but as a Hindu girl had married into a Muslim family. It was now up to the councillor to decide whether he would send a group of his ‘boys’ to her in-laws’ house, in order to talk some sense into them. It all depended on their standing in the locality and her parents’ reputation, which would have to be established by talking to neighbours. After she had left, the women explained the work of the Samiti to me, and emphasised that there was little they could do in ‘domestic’ cases, as everything depended on the status of the in-laws in the local community. I was told that domestic problems were usually dealt with in this manner, which was appropriate because the young woman came from the slums (basti). In the course of the conversation it appeared that her case was by no means unusual, since love marriages and indeed inter-community marriages occurred among slum dwellers (basti lok), or the working class all the time.2 Inevitably, Hindu girls marrying into Muslim families would get into trouble and would then approach the Samiti members for help. By now the conversation had shifted from the specific case that had been brought to their attention to the general characteristics of the neighbourhood they inhabited, and the social divisions within it. All those taking part in the discussion agreed that a middle-class woman from this locality faced with the same dilemma would not have turned to the Samiti, because unlike the people from the slums, she would have to guard her reputation more carefully. Referring to ‘the middle-class’ in general, they asserted that domestic problems were in this setting a ‘private’ matter, and a ‘good’ girl would not risk the wrath of her in-laws and loss of parental support by dragging such problems – which undeniably existed in middle-class families as well – out into the open. Turning back to the ‘case’ that had been presented to them, they emphasised the fact that the girl had married into another community as a reason for her need of support from a body like their group. Speaking for the others in this almost entirely Hindu middle-class committee, one of the women pointed out that girls who married into ‘another’ community lost the support of their parents and in addition were often suffering in their in-laws’ house, where the role of the good daughter-in-law demanded that they ‘adjust’ to different ‘customs’. Thus I learnt that as a new wife (notun bou) in the house a young married woman would have to relearn everyday 2 I was later to learn that there are many instances of middle-class girls having love marriages in this neighbourhood as well (see Donner 2002).

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tasks related to food preparation, domestic rituals, and behavioural codes. These signified cultural differences between groups, whether referring to castes, ethnic and language groups, or religious communities, and were presented as distinctive and difficult to overcome: those who married within their own community would struggle to get used to a new house in any case, but those who married into a different group would be confronted with an entirely new lifestyle. They insisted that ‘adjustment’ – the process of integration into the new household for which the English term is used – was almost impossible in the case of a young woman who agreed to an inter-community marriage. For members of the committee, it seemed obvious that a Bengali Hindu girl, who had spent all her life in a Bengali Hindu environment, would be profoundly unhappy in her Muslim husband’s home. However, lured into a love marriage by a persuasive young man, many girls in this locality married their sweathearts, and some entered into unions across community lines, which was generally attributed to young women’s naivety. After this discourse on love, marriage, and the perils of inter-community relations in the neighbourhood, their attention shifted to two less sinister ‘cases’ presented to the Samiti, and towards the end more enjoyable aspects of the committee’s work were discussed which included a theatre play and an outing to a local pilgrimage centre. Last but not least someone breached the subject of ‘election duties’, consisting of canvassing and counting votes, for which committee members where expected to volunteer. But since it was almost ten o’clock now, the majority of women had already left, and Bishoka and I decided that it was time to go home, because I had to travel across the city to reach my house in a southern suburb. Shibani, in whose house the meeting took place, led us to the door and agreed to introduce me the following Sunday to some women she knew in the neighbourhood. We walked back through the almost deserted lanes of the neighbourhood, past the few shops still open, the rickshaw pullers sleeping on the raised platforms in front of middle-class houses, and groups of men engaged in gossip (adda) towards the main road. Bishoka, who lived not far from here, crossed and disappeared down a narrow lane. I got on the next bus, and completely exhausted slumped down on the bench reserved for women stared at by the few tired male passengers, while the battered vehicle sped along empty streets. Introduction Recent critical explorations of fieldwork, its methodology and experience, have highlighted that, although the location of fieldwork is more often than not depicted as the background for the ongoing social relations observed by the researcher, the way anthropologists come to work in specific places merits a closer look. In most instances, the location of fieldwork is depicted as a function of specific questions, stemming from the history of the discipline and its strong regional emphasis. With reference to South Asia, students of an earlier generation inevitably favoured fieldwork in villages or small towns, where, according to (the) lore, one would

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be able to establish close relationships with informants almost ‘naturally’ within the context of everyday life. Contacts would be easy to maintain, and participant observation implied to follow the residents as they went about their everyday activities. Today, many choose to work in cities and metropolitan areas, where the life of the anthropologist as well as ‘participant observation’ may take a different form. New topics, for instance the anthropology of migration, transnationalism, and media, have produced a whole range of new ‘sites’ for fieldwork. However, although even the most remote villages are ‘sites’ affected by socio-economic change and globalisation, urban anthropology in South Asia has only recently gained more acceptance, and fieldwork in the city is still associated with an ‘unstable’ field. It is therefore not surprising that those working in urban areas often decide to work ‘among’ members of specific communities, preferably recent migrants or ‘the poor’, and more often than not identify a circumscribed locality in the city as site for fieldwork (for example Vatuk 1972; Mankekar 1999; Hansen 2001). In many instances the way in which a specific space – configured through social relations and local as well as national histories and politics – becomes established as ‘field’ – seems more deliberately constructed in the urban environment. Common criticisms include questions as to why s/he chose this locality over another, the selection of a community over a different group, and why particular links within the city and beyond were explored, whereas others went unnoticed. In the city, the ‘anecdotes’ exchanged among fieldworkers, who ‘stumbled’ on their field sites entirely ‘by chance’ (Gupta and Ferguson 1997:11) are perhaps less convincing, and the definition of the ‘site’ is contested throughout the process. However, ‘who we meet and how, and what to make of it: these accidents are often passed over in the writing of ethnography because, presumably, sooner or later in the field one connects with the right people anyway; or to take the opposite point of view, unless one is seeking the esoteric, anyone will do as one’s neighbours’ (Beatty 1999:79). In this chapter I would like to focus on the process through which a space becomes the ‘site’ of fieldwork, and the way existing social relations and personal contacts shaped where I worked, how I worked and with whom I worked. Throughout I highlight common problems posed by research in a heterogeneous urban setting, the processes of inclusion and exclusion being not simply the result of factionalism and accidental association, but reflecting the interests and location of the anthropologist as well as of those with whom s/he comes to be associated. In other words, this chapter discusses how I conceptualised the ‘site’ for my fieldwork and how this framework was redefined through the interaction with those I came to know, who saw me in different roles: as a stranger, a researcher, a young woman, a foreigner, a tourist and an outsider in the neighbourhood. Thus, I will raise issues of trust, negotiation, and individual location in relation to the site of fieldwork, which appears to be actively constructed and contested.

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Setting the scene First I would like to explore how ‘the field’ of my research was established through a complex process of negotiation, in which my own background as well as a wide range of less personal factors played a part. Though I never again met the young woman who had been presenting her case that day and therefore can only speculate about how she felt, I realised that many of the themes that would form part of my research over the next years were raised in the course of this first meeting with the women belonging to the mahila samiti. Even before I wrote my proposal I had decided that I wanted to do fieldwork in Calcutta, a city which I had visited for the first time in the mid-80s and revisited again in 1990 as part of a student exchange. I was also determined to work on gender and communal identities, a topic that stemmed from my interest in the women’s movement, feminist theory and involvement in antiracist campaigns in Germany. Thus, literature on cultural differences, the conjuncture of gender and race, and more specifically new work on Hindu-Muslim relations and Hindu nationalism formed the main points of reference for my proposal. In the outline prepared as part of a year-long pre-fieldwork course in London I focused on questions of changing gender roles among middle-class women in urban areas with a special emphasis on groupbased identities described but rarely analysed as part of urban lifestyles. Within India, Calcutta seemed an interesting case, since its present politics are markedly different from that of Delhi and Bombay, because in spite of its history of communal violence, the 1990s saw fewer incidents of such clashes than any other major city in northern India. Although famously violent riots occurred during the independence struggle, its citizens and observers alike emphasise the prevalent atmosphere of ‘communal harmony’, which is commonly attributed to the secular ideals and strict organisation of the ruling Communist party in the state of West Bengal. Another reason for working here was that I had come to love the city with its old-fashioned charm, slow pace, and explicitly traditional urbane culture. As well as being a generally friendly environment it is seen as ‘safe’ for women to travel unaccompanied almost everywhere and I felt that it would be possible to live here in rented accommodation. As it turned out I wrongly assumed that it would be easier to stay by myself than to share a home with a family, as I had done for two months on a previous visit. Although these friends had been extraordinarily hospitable and would have no doubt made it possible for me to stay in their house throughout my fieldwork, I would have found it difficult to fulfil the obligations this had implied, which included a rigorous regime of hot meals, constant interruptions and the careful screening of my outside contacts, which I imagined would make fieldwork difficult. Living by myself seemed an obvious solution and was made possible by a family friend, who generously provided an empty flat in a relatively central and reasonably safe area. Both aspects, finding self-contained accommodation and feeling safe in the area, are importantly determined by gender, since single middle-class women with limited funds find it almost impossible to rent flats in Calcutta. My subjective

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notion of safety was founded on my previous experience of different areas in the city whereby the modern, more homogeneous areas in the South were familiar and safer than the more heterogeneous and more traditional neighbourhoods of Central and North Calcutta. With reference to the organisation of my proposed fieldwork I felt that my earlier visits to the city, during which I had worked in the Goethe Institute and with NGOs and urban planners had given me an idea of how and where to start, as well as contacts in different institutions. All these had convinced me that I would be able to manage fieldwork in this city and that Calcutta was a good place to work for me. In order to limit the alleged pitfalls of research in urban areas – the lack of a bounded community, difficulties to participate in ‘all’ contexts, enhanced mobility – I planned to ‘identify’ one specific neighbourhood as ‘site’ for fieldwork. This focus on a ‘locality’ was intended to guide my selection of ‘informants’, provide me with access to related households, and enable me to conduct a survey. I was aware, but not overtly concerned, of the problems raised by seasoned anthropologists, who pointed out that life in a metropolis like Calcutta would not be easy, as travel within the city would be time-consuming, and as a researcher I would have to be pro-active in establishing and maintaining contacts. More so than in the village or small town, the fragmentation of urban life in a metropolis can be confusing for research students, and complicates the collection of comparative data. Furthermore, I received considered warnings related to the temptations of city life more generally, which implied that only deliberate and quasi-Malinowskian isolation from the familiar milieu would make a good fieldworker – apparently a person interested in other people’s lives out of sheer boredom. What I thought were doubts related to my personal preferences and subjective political agenda at the time, does however reflect the deeply embedded distrust towards work conducted in a less clearly circumscribed place than villages are imagined to represent. Aptly and to the point, Gupta and Ferguson refer to a ‘hierarchy of purity’ of field sites, which is based on the assumption that if ‘the field is most appropriately a place that is “not home”, then some places will necessarily be more “not home” than others, and hence more appropriate, more “fieldlike”’(Gupta and Ferguson 1997:14). I gradually realised that apart from the location, all three defining elements of my proposal, namely the focus on middle-class women, the urban environment and the choice of Calcutta seemed a far cry from the traditional model of fieldwork in a remote village, among a marginalised or at least a ‘traditional’ group. Furthermore, since I felt a feminist approach to gender implied more than an interest in kinship and the alleged privileged access to women female anthropologists enjoy in many contexts, the proposal needed some grounding. Clearly, feminist approaches to anthropological questions, city life, and my interest in the middle-classes were too close to home. To counter such criticisms and because I felt the need to justify what and where I wanted to start, I decided beforehand that a suitable ‘site’ for this research would be a locality/neighbourhood with clearly identifiable groups, an active and public community life, as well as easy access to the main transport links.

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Getting to ‘know’ the city In many ways a city is even before one sets out to begin with the actual fieldwork very different from a rural location, since its existence and layout, its history and characteristics are ‘facts’ easily accessed and interpreted beforehand, from abroad. In multiple ways, the ‘search for a field site’ was therefore already circumscribed by expectations and considerations, when I began to look for a neighbourhood after setting up house in a pleasant, allegedly safe and affluent area of South Calcutta in October 1995. To begin with I contacted a few friends involved in work with NGOs, who suggested suitable locations, and after a few weeks Bishoka, who was organising informal schools in various areas, offered to take me on a tour to visit five neighbourhoods. She had chosen localities with distinct characteristics and existing links with her organisation, so that we met residents as well as activists in all places. All five neighbourhoods had distinctive features that set them apart, and all were largely homogeneous in terms of their ethnic/religious composition. After this tour, in the course of which we had crossed almost the whole length of the city, I revisited the detailed survey of Calcutta conducted by the anthropologist Nirmal Bose for the Anthropological Survey of India in the sixties, which provides maps for the municipality wards administrated by the Calcutta Municipal Cooperation (CMC), charts the ethnic composition of different localities, and outlines the built environment found in different areas (Bose 1968). Though out of date, this survey still gave a good impression of the character of different neighbourhoods, their history and the origin of the main communities settled there, as well as a glimpse of the infrastructure and built environment one can expect, including the number of commercially used properties, schools, charities and municipal services existing at the time. Going back to this compilation of maps proved useful and after careful consideration I came to the conclusion that I would probably find what I was looking for in Central Calcutta. This part of the city emerged during the colonial period as business and administrative centre, and though the British implemented a policy of segregation based on race defining the quarters North of Fort William as ‘black city’ inhabited by ‘natives’, very heterogeneous residential neighbourhoods dating back to the early nineteenth century developed at the border of the European quarters further South. The neighbourhood (para) where I decided to work is in an area called Taltala, and is densely populated with large slums, traditional middle-class houses, various markets and institutions like English medium schools, Muslim educational institutions, and charities as well as party offices and publishing houses. Large parts of these inner city quarters are occupied by Muslim migrant communities from the Northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but other groups present in the area are Bengali Hindus, Bengali and South Indian Christians, Marwaris and Anglo-Indians. Thus, the para fulfilled both criteria for the kind of research I had in mind: on the one hand it was a locality, which I assumed would fit the criteria of a bounded community that is a geographically and socially distinct unit. On the other hand it was made up

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of a heterogeneous population and so I gathered that a comparatively mixed locality within this area would enable me to interact with different communities and work with a cross-section of urban society. The neighbourhood I started to work in is located at the northern fringes of the wider area, where the mainly slum-dwelling Muslim population outnumbers middleclass inhabitants, but within the neighbourhood itself Bengali-speaking Hindus are the majority, followed by a sizeable Bengali Christian population. Though many smaller slums can be found, these are also mostly dominated by Hindus, many of whom are Bengalis, and thus Muslims represent a minority in this para. The boundaries of the neighbourhood are geographically defined in terms of large roads, which to the north and east demarcate purono kolkata (old Calcutta), the much more homogeneous quarters typically centred around wholesale bazaars. My choice of a neighbourhood in Taltala puzzled many of my Bengali friends, who wondered why an anthropologist would want to work in what they considered to be an in-between zone, not a neighbourhood where I could sample ‘proper Bengali culture’. In their view the fact that I chose a neighbourhood dominated by Bengali Hindus was not enough, as one after the other pointed out that their position in this locality was ‘abnormal’ – they lived sandwiched between large slums predominantly occupied by Muslims. The choice of a clearly unpopular (at least among the ‘respectable’ upper middleclass) locality implied that firstly it was problematic to find female assistants to help me out during the initial months, and secondly that I had to establish contact with the local councillor of the municipality before I could venture into the locality. This being an extremely politicised environment, the backing of a local politician was essential for my work. In most instances social scientists working in contemporary Calcutta have chosen to study areas dominated by the ruling Left Front parties, which are deemed more ‘progressive‘ and have introduced a specific political culture (Ray 2002; Roy 2003). But these choices reflect personal connections as well, and academics from upper middle-class backgrounds often feel more comfortable in this environment – few openly display much sympathy for the oppositional Congress party, and consequently my own friends and academic acquaintances were not as well connected in this neighbourhood as in other localities. There, existing political connections would have paved my way ‘in’, whereas here more personal and therefore less reliable relationships had to be established over a period of many months. Although I was aware of the implications of such a formal and political point of entry, I was hoping that a representative of the locally dominant political party would be able to assist in selecting households across economic and ethnic divisions. However, as it turned out, the councillor, although willing to let me work on what was essentially his ‘home turf’, saw this differently and quickly introduced me to the leader of the party’s women’s group, the local Mahila Samiti. Though I was initially wary of this link it proved advantageous for both of us and in spite of my own misgivings of such a close affiliation with the Congress party, I realise it had positive aspects too.

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One of the obvious and desirable effects of my affiliation with ‘the party’ was that I never encountered any serious problems while working in the neighbourhood, and the councillor’s posse of young men policing the para ensured that the ubiquitous harassment in the streets was kept to a minimum. Furthermore, my link with the party made introductions easier, and in some cases facilitated meetings with women outside their own homes. These turned out to be particularly interesting and are almost impossible to generate in any different context, since I was soon to find out that most respectable middle-class women do not socialise outside their closely circumscribed circle of friends and relatives. Last but not least, I was able to collect data on the involvement of women into a new oppositional party, which was particularly interesting since for the first time in the history of the municipal elections a number of seats were reserved for female candidates, among them the one for this ward. This change together with the emergence of the newly formed Trinamul Congress opposition, and the support for its female leader Mamata Banerjee, made me explore the local political dynamics as well as some aspects of oppositional politics within a setting where most scholars have focussed on the success and politics of the ruling Left Front and more recently the impact of Hindu nationalism. The many advantages notwithstanding, to work as a foreign woman in such a heterogeneous environment and with members of middle-class households was a particularly difficult task. Furthermore, I soon realised that although I had the opportunity to work with people belonging to different backgrounds, my focus on women’s lives limited the range of contacts I could maintain in the para, and that particular groups would remain out of reach. Heterogeneity: Local meanings The densely populated localities in Central and North Calcutta developed throughout the nineteenth century and drew thousands of poor migrants from the rural hinterland, whose settlements soon engulfed the residences of traders and wealthy merchants. Thus, clusters of economically and politically related populations emerged, and the developing educated elite of respectable people (bhadralok) consisting of affluent business families, absentee Bengali landlords, and the less well-to-do but growing number of the educated middle-class employed in the colonial administration and private enterprise settled here permanently. In terms of local organisation, the patronage of well-to-do caste leaders in the past has given way to affiliations with political parties. However, in Central and North Calcutta, local hierarchies based on caste, affluence and ethnic origin still reflect these earlier histories of direct patronage (Mukherjee 1993). In the neighbourhood I am concerned with, ‘traditional’ patterns of authority and power form the basis of electoral democratic practice, and feed into the more recent politics of the majority vote. Here the notion of a ‘public’ as political space has in the popular imagination democratic, but distinctively male connotations, and even new, more egalitarian

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patterns of participation are based on class and redefinitions of urban politics as a mostly male arena (Roy 2003). Moreover, distinctions according to group-based identities like caste and ethnic or religious affiliation are played out at the local level.3 Unlike the former ‘refugee colonies’, which emerged after independence at the fringe of the city, these Central and North Calcutta neighbourhoods are rarely homogeneous and have a long history of communal friction. Whereas the southern and eastern fringes have become more or less homogeneous affluent Bengali Hindu neighbourhoods, ‘old Calcutta’ has retained much of its characteristic mix of ethnic groups sharing residential and commercial premises, slums and middle-class residences. The everyday life of middle-class families is in many ways determined by this proximity of poor and rich residents, of middle-class homes and slums, the inhabitants of which outnumber their more influential affluent neighbours. Though spatial separation is one of the main concerns among middle-class people here, the lives of neighbours belonging to very different economic strata are intertwined in many ways. Not only do many poor households depend on employment in middleclass homes and the few jobs available in local industries, the middle-class depend on services provided by the urban poor to get access to infrastructure such as water, electricity, TV and phone connections, and to maintain their convenient lifestyle through the recruitment of servants. Thus, mixed class-wise, the neighbourhood is also perceived as heterogeneous in terms of ethnic origin and religious affiliation. These identities – commonly referred to as ‘communal’ in the South Asian context – often cut across class distinctions, and are downplayed in the ‘public sphere’ of the workplace, educational institutions, and party politics, but are crucially reproduced in the domestic arena. Among the residents of these neighbourhoods the boundaries between households of equal economic standing but of different ethnic/religious origin are produced through specific forms of domesticity. These include educational strategies, occupational patterns, dietary and marital preferences. The related practices mark differences in everyday life and provide a strong sense of ethnic identity in a multicultural setting. In particular, the middle-class Bengali-speaking Hindus see the domestic sphere as inner core of Bengali culture, a notion dating back to the colonial period (Chatterjee 1993). The emphasis on the separation of the home and the outside world provides the reasoning behind the importance attached to women’s role as housewives and household chores. Contemporary notions of differences between groups are as I soon found out crucially (re-)produced through various types of work in the house and the control of women’s mobility in the locality.

3 For instance, the important political role played by the subarnabanik caste, originally goldsmiths and traders of bullion, who own much of the real estate in the area, explains why the councillor belonged to such a relatively low-status group.

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Speaking and performing communal boundaries The vignette of politics provided in the introductory sections may suggest that communal relations did play an important role in the conversations with women in the neighbourhood, but this would be misleading. In fact, communal relations between Hindus and Muslims were hardly ever mentioned in my presence, and when I asked Hindu and Christian householders directly about the presence of Muslim families in this neighbourhood, their replies were evasive and very brief. In this sense they reflected the sensitivity regarding the subject among my friends and more generally Bengali Hindus belonging to middle-class families. One of the reasons why women in Taltala were responding in this manner was related to my being a foreigner, who had to be presented with an idealised picture of social relations in the neighbourhood in the beginning. But at a deeper level, I gradually came to realise that given their role as signifiers of communal identity and guardians of the domestic sphere, the women I worked with and others habitually feigned ignorance of anything that did not relate directly to the role of housewife and mother – which is not to say that they were not involved. In this sense they were the worst informants on the topic of communal relations, and since one important performative aspect of differences between groups are restrictions of women’s mobility and their presence in the ‘outside’ (baire) world, knowledge of such things was deemed inappropriate (see Donner 2006). Given the composition of the locality this implied contacts with those living in the slums nearby as well as middle-class neighbours belonging to different communities. Though many women were acquainted with residents belonging to other communities, few acknowledged such relationships in public, and when talking about them the majority resorted to stereotypes, as anything going beyond this implied personal involvement. Since all women I talked to were eager to demonstrate their respectability there was a pronounced tendency to exaggerate the degree to which mobility in the neighbourhood was restricted. Walking in the neighbourhood myself, I frequently saw Muslim women, who – judging from their dress and behaviour – belonged to the few well-established middle-class families, which remained in the para after partition in 1947. However, few of the Bengali Hindus and Christians I talked to had any knowledge of other than working-class Muslim families in the area, and some went so far as to deny that all three communities share institutions including schools and markets. This denial of the existence of middle-class Muslim families was accompanied by the complete erasure of the common history from collective memory. I quickly realised that the word ‘Bengali’ is used by all Hindus as a generic term for Bengali Hindus, although the majority of all Bengali-speakers in the world and in West Bengal are Muslims. Where distinctions regarding other communities were made with reference to class, education, and occupational background, Muslims represented the ‘other’ in every sense. There are obviously many occasions on which women as customers, mothers, citizens of a ward, or simply passers-by interacted with one another without paying much attention to caste and creed, and in most instances this did not seem to pose a

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problem. This was pointed out by Jorna, the mother of an eighteen-year-old daughter, who also told me that she visited the house of a Muslim classmate of her daughter, where she went for tuitions. But while she tried to emphasise the degree of normality in this relationship she did mention that, although she referred to the girls as friends, there had been no occasion on which the Muslim girl had been over to her house. Moreover, she made the point that her daughter never took food in the house of this Muslim family. Here, as in other such accounts, the normality of relationships between classmates and their mothers is taken as an example for the much cited peaceful relations between the communities, but contrasted with unusual restrictions towards the family and domestic environment of a daughter’s friend. In another telling example, Anita, a recently widowed woman, whose in-laws threatened to throw her out of the house, had taken up tuition to earn a living. She was not so much ashamed of this desperate step itself as the fact that she had to teach in the house of a Muslim family from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Luckily, she said, the family lived a few streets away, so that only close friends in her own neighbourhood knew about the arrangement. For Bengali Hindu women problems of everyday contact were less pronounced in the case of Bengali Christians, who are by and large seen as closer in culture and language to Bengali Hindus than other groups. However, this also made the maintenance of the necessary boundaries and appropriate distance more complex. Since Bengali Christians are generally well-off due to male migration to the Gulf, the economic standing of these families was rarely in doubt. Most Christian families are tenants in the neighbourhood and share houses and sometimes more immediate facilities like courtyards with their Hindu neighbours. This proximity made interaction an everyday necessity, and multiplied the problems of Bengali Hindu housewives, who have to maintain a fine balance between neighbourly contact and segregation. As neighbours Christians had to be invited on the occasion of pujas and lifecycle rituals, and food was sent to their houses on different occasions. When I asked about the relationship between these two communities most women would give a fairly detailed description of the pros and cons of inter-community friendships. On the positive side the wealth and access to good education among the Christian community were seen as indicators of social mobility and – sometimes conspicuous – consumption patterns. In addition the fact that Bengali Christian men and increasingly young women are on the whole better educated than Bengali Hindus in the para was mentioned as a signifier of high status and the progressive outlook attributed to the community.4 At the time, Bengali Hindus saw a community geared towards successful education and employment reaping the fruits of upward mobility, and the anti-Christian sentiments promoted by the Hindu nationalists had

4 Most women did not seem to be aware of the history of the Bengali Christian community in this area, who settled here to work as laskars on ships, which led to today’s pattern of migration.

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still to gain prominence. However, the women I worked with criticised the domestic arrangements that go with long-term migration, namely women-headed households, long separation of spouses, and absent fathers. In the mid-1990s the tone of these conversations about the role of Bengali Christians was markedly neutral. It was the Muslim majority in the area and the state Bengali Hindus were concerned about. Others, like Bengali Christians, Marwaris and Punjabis, did in the lives of Hindu women not necessarily form part of the inner circle of friends, but unlike in the case of Muslims strong sentiments and hatred were not expressed. It did not take me long to realise that the link between women’s roles as markers of differences between communities and their active engagement in the reproduction of class was going to have a profound impact on my fieldwork. This framework determined not only with whom I could establish the much-cited ‘rapport’, it also located me in a particular way. As women were the ones engaged in the everyday work of drawing boundaries, identifying even minute differences, and embodying specific traits, my study of gender and urbanisation was also a study of discourses on communal identities within the ‘private’ sphere of family and kinship. This was for instance obvious when I began to look into marriage patterns, and found that, contrary to popular belief, the practice of love marriages, which are common among the Calcutta middle class but represented among anthropologists as well as the general public as exceptional, was widespread in this relatively conservative environment (see Donner 2002). More importantly, I found to my surprise that many such matches occurred in the neighbourhood, and a significant number were unions across caste and community boundaries, which, as those I interviewed repeatedly emphasised, caused problems in any case. Apart from general ideas about status and standing, women in particular pointed out that love marriages with a spouse from a different background caused problems because the young woman would not be able to adjust and be a good daughter-inlaw in her new home. Far from being ‘natural’ or innate, my friends assured me that group boundaries result from everyday activities and customs, which are followed by all members in the house, and are crucially perpetuated by the women in the family. It was stated by members of different communities that married into a different caste or community a girl can not possibly adjust to the customs of the house of her in-laws if they belong to a different group. Many examples of households where tensions arose between a daughter-in-law and her in-laws because of these cultural differences were cited, from cases where the daughter of a well-to-do family married into a family less affluent and could not get used to the hard work she had to perform, to cases were a Hindu girl married into a Christian or Muslim family and faced problems to adjust to a different diet and dress code. Amongst the Bengali speakers 5

5 Since then, the anti-Christian campaigns initiated by various Hindu nationalist organisations gained momentum, and official policies counteracting ‘conversion’ and discussions surrounding reservations in prestigious educational institutions for these minorities gave rise to more negative stereotypes.

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this ideology was referred to as bichar-achar (customs), which are specific to one household, caste, ethnic group or religious community and thus encompass everyday life and create specific patterns of domesticity. Within this framework activities like cooking, dress codes, women’s mobility in the neighbourhood, and religious rituals gained wider significance. Furthermore, even where a love match followed the preferred endogamous pattern, love marriages within the para were deemed problematic because in this case a daughter-in-law was said to be too independent to integrate in her in-laws’ house. ‘If there is the smallest problem she will run to her mother’s house and complain’ was a common comment on daughters-in-law whose parents lived in the vicinity. Clearly, all women were aware and actively promoted the idea that a young in-married woman had to be removed from her network of friends and family in order to maintain the intra-household hierarchy and division of work. Gradually, I came to understand that communal identities and women’s contributions to them were not so much the result of Hindu fundamentalist propaganda or the Hindu chauvinist worldview represented by its proponents, but the almost natural continuity between the Hindu nationalists’ outspoken antiminority stance and the way segregation between different groups was maintained in a neighbourhood like this. Furthermore, since many of the perceived differences related to food habits, women’s dresses and morality, and wider notions of progress related to women’s education, it became clear that these group identities are crucially based on women’s work in the household and the construction of domestic sphere. Work and custom together constituted ‘culture’, which appeared as an equally strong marker of ethnic identity as the more commonly noticed role of the female body representing such collective notions of difference. Sara Dickey has argued that the chores of middle-class housewives in Madurai was concerned with the reproduction of class boundaries, which are established, maintained and renewed through their everyday activities. The same can be said for ethnic and religious identities in middle-class households of Calcutta, which are safeguarded in a heterogeneous environment like this through women’s work and are discussed in the idiom of adjustment (Dickey 2000). In the course of my fieldwork I began to focus on activities like cooking, schooling of children, matchmaking and the many ways in which respectability is produced by housewives. The importance of these everyday practices in an urban setting presents the fieldworker/ethnographer with two related problems: first, how do I get women themselves to spend time talking about such ‘mundane’ matters – about what goes without saying; and second, how to keep readers interested in what inevitably resembles comparable activities elsewhere. Regarding the first issue I tried out a well-worn anthropological route and started to learn how to cook, only to find that not a single person believed that I was able to produce a decent dish, so that immersing myself in conversations about food and cooking remained the main participatory activity. I soon found that the majority of a housewife’s activities centre around the preparation and distribution of food, and most conversations about differences between groups focused on diets and

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consumption patterns: effects on the body and character, changing habits and the advantages of tradition, as well as the growing mechanisation and commercialisation of food preparation. Among the Bengali and more generally Hindu housewives in the para, differences between groups – whether of ethnic origin or religious community – were inevitably described in terms of distinctive food preferences. Compared with the extensive knowledge of divisive dietary habits, religious practices were of little importance and mentioned only in passing. After some time I also realised that while the moral qualities of different types of food are closely linked to the character of the person eating it, those preparing the food are of equal importance. The local understanding was that the qualities attributed to different ethnic groups and classes were developed and transmitted in the ways mothers cooked for their children, wives served their husbands, and daughters-inlaw cooked for affines. Though the ‘big themes’ – the classical markers of difference like commensuality, marriage patterns, and occupational divisions – resonate here, it became apparent that common representations of communal identities focussed on women’s work in the house and middle-class women as facilitators of consumption patterns in relation to food, schooling and healthcare and discourses on modernity. This was also apparent in middle-class women’s involvement with new mostly semiprocessed foods, gadgets and ingredients, which appeared in the market. Middle-aged and elderly women, whose pride was a specific fish curry or home-made sweets were confronted with a wide array of food-related consumption patterns their families acquired by watching TV, going out and through the massive promotion campaigns the food industry used in Indian cities. My attempts to participate in the cooking of food were therefore stalled partly because my expertise was assumed to lie in what a more traditional housewife would consider to be ‘Western’ food, ranging from English and American dishes prepared for special occasions like Christmas pudding and Easter bakery – as well as new and exciting concoctions like instant noodles, instant coffee, and ready-made-custards – delicacies, which had been adapted to local tastes but had yet to be assigned an ‘ethnic’ identity. However, discussions of these mundane practices made me realise that in order to understand the social relations in a heterogeneous neighbourhood I had to go beyond the histories and mythologies of official politics. It was important to look more closely at the context within which people represented themselves, in this case middle-class domesticity, and the ways women as housewives and mothers contributed to ‘gendered communal identities’ as reproduced through everyday activities in the domestic sphere. The domestic sphere as communal space If, as Dickey suggests, the middle-class housewives of Madurai employed their sense of discrimination to reproduce class in the house by carefully guarding goods, information, and persons entering and leaving the house (see Dickey 2000), my Calcutta interviewees applied these skills to the foreign anthropologist as well. What

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made my work quite difficult at times was the fact that many women decided it would not be safe to let me in again after an initial interview had been conducted. Where often a husband or son had invited me to ‘talk to the women’, sometimes the mother or wife concerned made me feel less welcome, and so a number of contacts that looked promising could not be followed up. Moreover, owing to the hierarchical relationships between women in the house, only the most acceptable mostly middleaged housewives or elderly women felt comfortable enough to invite me on their own accord and agreed to meet up on a regular basis. Others had different reasons to prevent access to the house, and on many occasions the most basic information like ‘which places do you visit in this neighbourhood’ or ‘have you got relatives living nearby’ was difficult to collect. In a neighbourhood like this a climate of distrust prevails and I had to accept that a house-to-house survey or any more comprehensive collection of economic data was out of the question. I could not gain access to much information on incomes and household expenditure beyond inference, and felt at the time that my own observations on this topic remained incomplete. Gaining the trust of those interviewed was difficult enough and I came to the conclusion that conducting a survey would underwrite my good relationship with the women. This relationship was in their eyes and my own view facilitated by assumptions about shared gendered experiences, but also brought out some crucial differences. The longer I worked in the neighbourhood the more obvious it became that what was presented to me as the ‘Hindu way of life’ and the ‘nature of Bengali women’ was in fact related to the reproduction of class- and communitybased differences through women’s work. As Kumkum Sanghari has observed with reference to the integration of women into the labour market during the colonial period different types of female labour contribute to class divisions: ‘The household emerges as a site of othering and ‘domestic labour’ and represents a politicised field in which its systematic routines, produced ‘below’ the level of self-conscious political discourse, were being forcefully articulated with emerging discourses of caste and communal difference’ (Sanghari 1999: 338). It was along the same lines that I was told innumerable times that unlike their Bengali Christian or Marwari neighbours, Bengali (Hindu) housewives were solely responsible for the food consumed by the family, and did actually serve ‘a full, well-cooked meal’ where others would take a shortcut and prepare a snack or buy food from ‘outside’. Implicitly, their discourse about these practices included me as well as their ‘other’ neighbours. The basic idea, namely that differences are importantly produced through women’s work – as re-producers of customs and cultures – was still the same. Furthermore, these statements naturalised divisions since few really knew what their neighbours belonging to other communities or I had for lunch. These notions reconfirmed not only preferences or good habits and taste, but social relations that guided decisions regarding the choice of a marriage partner, women’s employment, and economic independence. Very specific kinds of knowledge were generated and transmitted through these everyday activities, the conversations with relatives and neighbours, and the essentialist discourse on difference they imply.

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Knowing and being known I am here not only interested in the ethnography of the space/place and a gendered perspective on the metropolis as a field site for ethnographic research, but the dynamics that made the ‘field’ in this specific case. These include issues of difference and the way I thought about my ‘informants’ and the way in which they interacted with me. Since debates on women researchers and their locations have emphasised the problematic nature of this relationship, which is always uneven in the long run, but dependent on the good will of the subjects of research at the time, in this section I will unravel how they negotiated my presence and work. In many ways the process whereby I became the researcher and the neighbourhood became my field was arbitrary. Visweswaran observes that feminist ethnographers act as tricksters and must accept failure as part of the research process, since there can be no complete identification with or understanding of other women (Visweswaran 1996:100). If identification is intended, anthropological research and ethnography can indeed only disappoint. However, I would suggest that in the urban environment fieldwork is more obviously a mode of dwelling in a place and therefore resembles in this setting the ambivalent relationship of many women with their neighbourhood: just as the female ethnographer working with women in the city is likely to travel between various dwellings and domestic spaces, they were adamant that walking the streets is not a purposeful experience in itself. The responsibilities associated with making and keeping one’s place in a home, are constituted through partly consciously managed relationships with those who are to become ‘one’s own’, and some of the women compared this process with the process of acquiring knowledge in the course of research. Reflecting on their own experiences as members of such contested homes, who had mostly married and shifted from their parents’ house to the husband’s residence, my temporary presence in the neighbourhood and their circle was widely accepted. They were aware that a continuation of this relationship depended on outside factors, and that in spite of closeness and trust I might not be able to return. For young women, most close friendships end with marriage into a different family, and visits may be restricted to the period of brief visits in the paternal home. Furthermore, many families had relatives living abroad, and were familiar with costs and effort involved to keep up relationships even among close relatives. In spite of the familiarity pointed out it became obvious that in order to be trusted I had to remain an outsider who did not belong to the neighbourhood and could therefore be told secrets, gossip and unconventional views. In this role, I could be supported, sent away, requested, and sought out to be told facts, tales, visions and dreams. I could be a sounding board for the accepted worldview as well as its transgressions. This was first revealed to me when the respected leader of the Mahila Samiti, a married mother and teacher took me aside one day to chat about her political aspirations and the lack of enthusiasm in most women attending the meetings. She was herself a very active woman, who most certainly against the wishes of her in-laws had finished her studies and had taken up employment after her

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marriage into the neighbourhood. While we were talking about the most common problems discussed during the meetings she went to a steel cupboard and produced a pack of photographs, which she handed to me. The pictures had been taken on a trip to a small town about 150 km from Calcutta, where the women belonging to the Samiti had gone on an outing. The photographs showed various women members in ‘Western dress’ as she explained, some wearing jeans and T-shirt, some wearing baseball caps and others with cigarettes dangling from their lips. I was amazed that I was shown these photographs and wanted to ask her more questions, when an elderly aunt of hers appeared in the doorway and she quickly shoved the pictures back into the envelope. It was then that I realised that my apparent failure to fulfil the role of a daughter/sister/wife or neighbour made much of this research possible. In the eyes of the vast majority of women a researcher belonging to a Calcutta middle-class family would have not been entrusted with many of the secrets and views women raised in my presence. This was quite clear in the case of my research assistants, young, well-educated women, whose background was a matter of concern for many women. When I finally decided to work by myself a number of them told me that they were prepared to work with me but had felt uncomfortable because I brought these ‘Bengali girls’ with me. The assumption was clearly that whereas there were virtually no connections between my background and their families, there could have always been potential links between a local student’s family and their own circles. A different point of reference was my ‘Western’ identity, which the women associated with specific practices like premarital affairs and love marriages, high divorce rates and generally loose relationships between family members as well as positive and negative consumerism including smoking, drinking, semi-processed food, meat and fully automated kitchens. In short, whereas most of the social habits and consumption patterns were in their view divisive and rather appalling, the objects making such lifestyles possible were admired and longed for. My assumed expertise in all the things Western led to many conflated discussions, for instance about the availability of labour-saving devices in middle-class households, which in the view of many women were responsible for many of the social ills associated with industrialised societies. No matter how much information I provided and irrespective of the countless examples I gave from my own background and the comparably traditional views on housework, gender and the family which are commonly held in Germany, there was little interest in this more nuanced picture. Moreover, being a Western foreigner implied that could I help with foreign or new goods, including information on the prices of VCRs and cameras, but more importantly for many women various items to do with hygiene and beauty care. At the time of this fieldwork even these relatively well-informed middle-class consumers were overwhelmed by the sheer diversity of products introduced to the local market, and on some occasions an item was kept in a drawer for some weeks or months, before I came to visit and had to inspect it, explain its usage, and translate the instructions. In this sense then, I clearly had access to a set of practices they were keen to emulate, and although I politely declined to demonstrate my in-depth knowledge of objects

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like deodorants and tampons on a number of occasions my explanations sometimes ended speculation about the origin and utility of such products. Being Western then could in a way outweigh the disadvantages of being a foreigner and young unmarried woman. But it also meant that I had to be taught about correct behaviour and family values, since many of the women assumed that I was not aware of the most basic relationships. The second positive attribute was that of being a student/researcher albeit female, because a degree from a foreign university was desirable in its own right and commonly featured on the list of future accomplishments for children in these households. Thus, though none of the women had been abroad herself, university education was a signifier of status and it was assumed that because I was doing a doctorate my family must be respectable and relatively affluent. Above all, I was not married and had no children, and this status determined the way I was treated. Even if being a Westerner and a researcher was of some importance, work with women many years senior to me allowed only a very hierarchical relationship to develop. Although I may at times refer to these relationships as friendships for want of a better word, even the most intimate of these encounters would not be referred to in these terms. I was either the friend of a neighbour and thereby another neighbour, or a less specific junior, who was expected to use the term for maternal aunt or maternal grandmother to address the woman concerned. Fieldwork as a process of exchange was thereby characterised as unequal, since I was always the junior person learning from an older, more experienced, wellmeaning but patronising teacher. Regardless of whether or not I was from a ‘more industrialised’ country, knew about consumer goods, was better educated and had a more progressive lifestyle, I remained during this first long-term fieldwork ‘a little girl’, who lacked the status acquired through marriage and having children. I returned for further fieldwork to Calcutta after two years. In the meantime I had written my thesis and had given birth to a son, who was accompanying me on a visit to the neighbourhood when I went to visit Borsa Ganguly on the seventh day of Durga Puja in October 1999. It was afternoon, the best time to walk in the para, since the majority of its residents were at work or asleep, and few vehicles plied the narrow streets. Durga Puja is the most important collective festival in the city during which tent-like constructions (pandals) house images of the Goddess and her children. The most glamorous are designed and decorated by artists, sometimes many storeys high, and are paid for by influential neighbourhood associations. Among family members and in the house the festival is an occasion to exchange presents and visit relatives, and since Durga Puja is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, a festive mood prevails for days. For Bengali Hindu women Durga Puja is traditionally an opportunity to visit the parental home, and thus the imagery of Goddess as a daughter, who has come with her children to visit her parents, is of special importance to them. It was this very emotional image Borsa Ganguly evoked when I arrived at her house with my nine-months old son that afternoon. She had been sleeping when the young servant led me into the room, where she was sitting on the large bed in

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the living room of their two-bedroom flat. As I had expected, the TV was on and a Bengali soap was screened. Borsa Ganguly, whom I address as mashi or maternal aunt but hesitate to call by her first name, had been living in this neighbourhood for the better part of thirty years, ever since she came to the house as a new bride. We had been introduced in the autumn of 1995, when I happened to meet her neighbour during my initial tour of the para, and I had visited her innumerable times thereafter. She had then shared the flat with her husband, adult son, her mother-in-law and the maidservant. Though I was introduced to the house by a member of the Congress Mahila Samiti, Borsa was not a member, and later, when I got to know her better, she insisted that for a respectable woman without ambitions like her, it was not a ‘good’ place to be. She did, however, observe what was happening in the neighbourhood and supported her husband’s involvement with the party. Like many others Mrs Ganguly had not volunteered to take part in what was to become known as my ‘study’ amongst her friends but unlike so many of her neighbours she was always very generous with her time, and enjoyed my visits and our conversations. Over the years we have established a relationship that allows me to raise all sorts of questions and discuss them with her on the understanding that I will not refer to her views in public, in front of her husband or adult son. Departures and returns are very special occasions in these families, and the value placed on the appropriate formalities can hardly be overstated. Middle-class family networks extend across the state, the country and more and more often across continents, and so talk about relatives and friends visiting or leaving after a prolonged stay in the house is a common feature. On this occasion, to celebrate my return, Mrs Ganguly instructed the maidservant to prepare tea and buy fresh patties from the neighbourhood stall, and we spent the following two hours chatting and exchanging news. While we were talking I noticed that – as I had expected – she had put my Christmas card up on a board next to other souvenirs she collected, among a replica of the Taj Mahal and a deodorant her sister had brought from a trip abroad. While we were sitting there, I could hear the familiar noises waving in through the open door of the veranda. Now, around four, the heat abated and the roads and side lanes of the neighbourhood came to life after the long siesta. Soon families dressed up in new clothes would turn up to look at the displays of the shops, and many houses would receive visits from friends and relatives. We had by then talked about children, and about her son, who had returned from a not very successful stint at a college in Ranchi to complete his studies here, and then turned to our common acquaintances, the exam results of her nephew, the marriage of the downstairs neighbours’ eldest daughter, and the reappearance of an estranged husband next door. It was only then that Borsa mentioned the death of her aged mother-in-law, who had spent hours squatting next to us when I had been visiting her first, and even now this was only mentioned in passing. According to her the mother-in-law, once a beautiful bride, had led a fulfilled life, although she had been unable to prevent the break-up of the joint family after her husband’s death.

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This led Borsa to remark that though her mother-in-law had given birth to three sons she had suffered as only a mother suffers. Drawing on commonalities based on this inclusive statement, Borsa proceeded to talk about herself and the fact that though not beautiful even in her youth, she was an equally good wife and mother, and had always been a dutiful daughter-inlaw. To fulfil the demands of all three roles was frequently seen by women like her as important and a real achievement, which can be measured by one’s children’s success in later life. She clearly felt and stated that now that I had a son myself she could share her thoughts and feelings more freely with me, since, as she put it, ‘we would know the same kind of worries’. Though I had always been a kind of displaced visitor – in the beginning something between a travelling salesperson and a child’s college friend – Borsa had always made it a point to introduce topics related to women’s lives. Among my many female friends in the neighbourhood it had been her, not the more involved activists in the party committee, who tried in her own way to make me understand what values women like her identified with. Though not well-educated in the academic sense, – like most of the women I worked with, she had studied up to matriculation – she obviously wanted me to see the pros and cons of different debates that concerned her live, where this concerned love marriages, reservations in schools and colleges, changing food habits, or the increasing pressures of consumerism visible in changing domestic arrangements among segments of the middle-class. In the course of our conversations she would come up with examples chosen from the lives of saints, Bengali reformers, and nationalist leaders or draw on the experiences of neighbours and relatives to illustrate a point or particular arguments. In many respects Mrs Ganguly was a typical Bengali middle-class housewife and whatever we discussed was judged according to a value system with women’s roles as wives and mothers at the centre. In her case as in many others, to adhere to the norm implied that a woman was an obedient daughter-in-law, who invested her energy into bringing up a son and preparing him for a government job, finding him a good wife and maintaining control over her so that he would not abandon his parents in old age. In her world, the changes urban India was experiencing in the wake of liberalisation policies and political change, were threats insofar as her efforts to reproduce this pattern in Calcutta during the nineties were at stake. Increasingly people like Mrs Ganguly faced the challenges of a more globalised middle-class lifestyle, including the decrease in secure government employment, the multiple influences of media images, and new consumption patterns. Globalisation was interpreted as global influences at home, experienced within the family, mostly as a possibility for a different lifestyle within reach, a local phenomenon. But here as elsewhere in South Asia, these lifestyles are also represented by the presence of strangers in the city itself, in this case the majority are volunteers for two NGOs, one of them Mother Theresa’s organisation, which draw hundreds of young backpackers to Calcutta, who live in guesthouses not far from this neighbourhood. If I sometimes wondered how I was placed when I first arrived, I quickly realised that the stereotyping and reproduction of media images, which in Hutnyk’s account

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of these tourists’ views on Calcutta is all pervasive, their presence, behaviour and representation also provided the background for my presence in the eyes of Taltala’s inhabitants (Hutnyk 1996). Whether my attempts to learn Bengali, my adaptation to my local dress or the endless questions about so many obvious things changed these first impressions, I never learnt. The conversations with Mrs Ganguly became significant once I began to visit her and others without taking my young assistant with me. I had not expected this to make such a difference, but since the female students who initially helped me to communicate were Bengali Hindu girls from Calcutta middle class families, our hosts in Taltala remained formal and did not reveal much of their personal lives for fear of gossip. After some months I managed more and more visits by myself and since my experiences of working with young college students had not been encouraging I decided not to go back to the previous pattern. This did no doubt increase the number of misunderstandings and left gaps in my transcriptions of our conversations, since I did not always follow what was said. However, the advantages did outweigh the disadvantages because with only one proper outsider present, many women were willing to discuss otherwise problematic themes like dowries, inter-community marriages, and women’s rights to inheritance in considerable detail. There were still incompletely understood answers to my many questions and embarrassing moments, when I did not get a hint, but equally important where the many instances in which women in the para made an effort to make me understand their point of view, their perspective on any of the above issues and the manifold experiences that shaped their values. Borsa Ganguly was among those who made it a point to discuss various issues from different perspectives, and often referred to my being ‘Western’ as one of them. By the middle of the 1990s Calcuttans had been exposed to media representations of the West, mainly in the form of American soap operas, and the middle-class held strong preconceived ideas about what life ‘abroad’ was like. These were partly based on the notions that emerged as a result of the colonial encounter, but were increasingly reframed by images of the West presented in new media like TV and consumed in more and more homes. Unlike so many other anthropologists, whose hosts would be interested in their family life, the differences in dress codes and gender relations, here there was hardly any curiosity about my life abroad, since what interested them most – consumption patterns and family values, was in their view adequately covered in the media. Following questions regarding my marital status, number of siblings and occupations of everybody in my extended family, conversations normally shifted, and they sought confirmations of what media and TV had taught them about consumption patterns and the high prices of consumer goods. Generally speaking the young women whom I had recruited as assistants to accompany me during the first few months of fieldwork were subjected to a much more detailed and often pretty intrusive examination of their backgrounds. Getting to know the neighbourhood better, in fact after some relationship had developed, I realised that in no way would I become part of their families’ lives and expect to be treated as anything but a guest. I have therefore no story of ‘adopted’

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parents in the neighbourhood, although I look at some of my friends’ houses in that way. Neither were there any attempts to ‘transform’ me into an Indian woman, or a ‘Bengali girl’ by dressing me up in a sari, though it was mentioned that foreign women who had married neighbourhood boys were seen as beautiful daughtersin-law. While in other contexts, in particular in rural settings, the transformation of the female visitor into adopted kin, was preceded by such outward signs, in the metropolitan setting of Calcutta the relationship was based on the recognition of differences. Moreover, the historical moment made my presence as a foreigner more convincing and nobody felt it could be overcome by a change of dress code. In fact, those I talked to and got to know better saw it as part of their own new version of the city – experienced in part through ‘foreign’ (bidesh) – food, media, morals, which became more and more prevalent in the locality, and in order to contain it, it had to be known. The assumption that the best way to relate to me was to subsume me under the same heading soon turned out to be to my advantage, since as far as my work was concerned interesting and intimate conversations were based on the understanding that I would remain an outsider, albeit of the city and therefore familiar. I would like to link this subjective experience with broader observations on the relationship of women and the modernist city, which interestingly enough is a theme so far not explored in anthropology but presently discussed in literature criticism, cultural studies, architecture and geography. Here, questions of what kind of identity, subjectivity and, in anthropological parlour, self are produced in urban spaces, which technologies, practices and experiences emerged and what kind of cultural production goes with it, has been explored. Most of the literature is concerned with the flaneur, the public, and the access of women to urban space. But what about the perspective of the non-walking, rarely wandering, still dwelling housewife? In relation to them I have tried to highlight the ‘field’ as the home, the neighbourhood as alien and gender as crucially produced through notions of class and appropriated behaviour. These women are as much commentators on the postmodern city as those equipped with cameras and pens, who take the opportunity to actively pursue a vision of their world. I have attempted here to show how the ‘field’ emerged in the course of my conversations as a practice of location, for the women I talked to as well as for me. On the occasion of our meeting Borsa and I spoke about the work we had done during my previous visit, and she reminded me that I had then not understood anything. Talking in Bengali herself, she did recall how I had been a ‘little girl’, ‘not knowing any Bengali’ and ‘unmarried’, and had to visit her with young students, in order to converse with her. And repeatedly, she emphasised her own role in my ascent to knowledge, by stating ‘I taught you all you know’. In a way that described very well what kind of relationship I had established with her and other women in the neighbourhood. Since I was not a relative, a neighbour or indeed attached to any particular local institution, the majority treated me as someone who came to learn about their lives and more importantly their ‘culture’. But unexpectedly for her, as for others, this was not a one-way process. Talking to me, many felt that the outside world appeared more familiar than they had assumed, and at the same time realised how strange the safe places – the home, the family and the oft-cited

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‘culture’ appeared to be in such a reflexive mode. Places they were sure they knew a moment before, disappeared and the world they inhabit seemed to be vast and somehow dangerous. This is what Borsa Ganguly alluded to, when at one point in our conversation that afternoon – almost two years after our previous meetings – she leaned back and stated ‘I thought a lot about our conversations, the questions you asked, all the things we discussed – they made me think about my own life’. Acknowledgements Fieldwork in Calcutta was conducted between 1995–1997, 1999–2000, 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 and was supported by the University of London Research Fund and the Economic and Social Research Council. An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the ASA conference 2004 in Durham and I am grateful for comments received then as well as the detailed suggestions by Geert De Neve, Maya UnnithanKumar, and Hendrik Wittkopf. References Beatty, A., ‘On Ethnographic Experience: Formative and Informative (Nias, Indonesia)’, in Watson C.W. (ed.), Being there: Fieldwork in Anthropology (London: Pluto Press, 1999). Bose, N. K., Calcutta: 1964 – A Social Survey (Bombay: Lalvani Publishing House, 1968). Chatterjee, P., The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). Dickey, S., ‘Permeable Homes: Domestic Service, Household Space, and the Vulnerability of Class Boundaries in Urban India’, American Ethnologist, 27: 462–489(2) (2000). Donner, H., ‘One’s Own Marriage: Love Marriages in a Calcutta Neighbourhood’, South Asia Research, 22: 79–94 (1) (2002). Donner, H., ‘The Parlour and the Para: Class and Gender in a Neighbourhood of Central Calcutta’, in De Neve, G. and Donner, H. (eds), The Meaning of the Local: The Politics of Place in Urban India (London: RoutledgeCavendish, 2006). Gupta, A. and Ferguson J., ‘Discipline and Practice: “The Field” as Site, Method, and Location in Anthropology’, in Gupta A. and Ferguson J. (eds), Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science (London: Pluto Press, 1997). Hansen, T. B., Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). Hutnyk, J., The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation (London: Zed Books, 1996). Jeffery, P. and Basu, A., Appropriating Gender: Women’s Activism and Politicized

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Religion in South Asia (London: Routledge, 1998). Mankekar, P., Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999). Mukherjee, S.N., Calcutta: Essays on Urban History (Calcutta: Subarnarekha, 1993). Ray, M., ‘Growing Up Refugee: On Memory and Locality’, Hindi 1: 148–198 (2000). Roy, A., City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003). Sanghari, K., Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narrative, Colonial English (Delhi: Tulika Press, 1999). Sarkar, T., Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion and Cultural Nationalism (London: Hurst, 2001). Vatuk, S., Kinship and Urbanization: White Collar Migrants in North India (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972). Visweswaran, K., Fictions of Feminist Ethnography (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996).

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Chapter 11

The Silence in Between: Governmentality and the Academic Voice in Tibetan Diaspora Studies Martin A. Mills

Introduction This article is, in many senses, the biography of a particular problem, one that has dogged my intellectual footsteps for some fifteen years now and exists at several levels. At an ethnographic level, this is a problem about the role of landscape (or chthonic) deities in Tibetan Buddhist ritual life. At a political level, it is about trying to understand the dynamics of ‘modernism’ in religious and governmental traditions such as that of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. From a methodological perspective, however, it is also about how we should understand or talk about that which remains silent in a particular cultural context. Finally, from a professional perspective, it is about the role of anthropologists and academics as sometimes willing, often unknowing brokers of cultural change. If there was a point to this moment of introspection, it would be this: by mistaking ‘culture’ for discourse, and discourse for language, we often wrongly assume that those elements of cultural discourse which are silenced are thereby suppressed, and that which is silenced in a culture is thus always somehow subordinate. Modernism and ritual in the anthropology of Buddhism In 1966, in his work Buddhismus, St t und Gesellschaft, Heinz Bechert introduced the concept of ‘Buddhist modernism’ to the study of Buddhist societies. Effectively a discussion of the impact of the colonial literary gaze on Asian religious traditions, Bechert’s term has been to Buddhism what Said’s orientalism was to Arabic and Islamic studies: seminally, he asserted that Buddhism – particularly Theravadan Buddhism in Burma and Sri Lanka – had been rationalised throughout the 19th Century in response to the criticisms and reconstructions of Western commentators. As the American Buddhist philologist Donald Lopez has argued: Modern Buddhism shares many of the characteristics of other projects of modernity, including the identification of the present as a standpoint from which to reflect on previous periods in history, and to identify their deficiencies in relation to the present. Modern Buddhism rejects many of the ritual and magical elements of previous forms

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of Buddhism; it stresses equality over hierarchy, the universal over the local, and often exalts the individual over the community. Yet, as will be clear in what follows, modern Buddhism does not see itself as a culmination of a long process of evolution, but rather as a return to the origin, to the Buddhism of the Buddha himself. There is certainly criticism of the past, but that critique is directed not at the most distant Buddhism but at the most recent. Modern Buddhism seeks to distance itself from those forms of Buddhism that immediately precede it, that are even contemporary with it. It is ancient Buddhism, and especially the enlightenment of the Buddha 2,500 years ago, that is seen as the most modern, as the most compatible with the ideals of the European Enlightenment that occurred so many centuries ago, ideals embodied in such concepts as reason, empiricism, science, universalism, individualism, tolerance, freedom, and the rejection of religious orthodoxy (Lopez 2003: ix–x).

Both Bechert and Lopez’s description of Buddhist modernism emphasise a particular interpretation of the paradigm of modernity where religious legitimation becomes internalised, rationalised and individualised, disembedded from its hierarchicallystructured local moorings. Writers such as Anthony Giddens have argued that this transformation is characteristic of the disembedding processes of a technologically and discursively distanciated modernity (Giddens 1991). Subtly altering Bechert’s theme, Richard Gombrich and Gananath Obeyesekere have argued that such transformations occurred through the incorporation of Protestant missionaries’ pedagogic frameworks for ‘appropriate religion’: an inwardly-oriented, private religion, short on ritual and ceremonial trappings, and ultimately anti-clerical in social tenor (Gombrich & Obeyesekere 1988). Either way, few have denied the foundational paradigm of such post-colonial discussions: the tendency (desirable or undesirable according to the sympathies of the writer) for Western modernist discourse to colonize and eventually subtly frame the parameters of particular religious traditions, rebuilding them in an image of itself. Whether it be Reform Judaism, ‘Sanskritic Hinduism’, ‘real Islam’ or ‘real Buddhism’, the dominance of Western thought as principal agent within such transformations is in most cases taken for granted. It is, in many regards, one more version of the old secularisation thesis: societies and religions change by becoming more Western. In the context of Tibetan Buddhism, this transformation has been mapped by Lopez as one in which Tibetans have become ‘prisoners’ of Western myths about themselves – most particularly the myth of ‘Shangri-la’ – incorporating those myths as elements of their continued project of ‘cultural survival’ on the world stage. For Lopez, one of the most important figures in this ‘incarceration’ by Western preoccupations is His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, whom Lopez sees as one of the principal ‘Buddhist modernizers’ in modern Tibetan politics: Since…1959, the leading proponent of Buddhist modernism has been a Tibetan, the Dalai Lama. A strong proponent of non-violence, he invokes Gandhi and Martin Luther King as much as Buddhist figures, and explains that the essence of Buddhism is ‘Help others if you can; if not, at least refrain from harming others’…The Dalai Lama has taken an active interest in modern physics and psychology, hosting a number of ‘Mind Science’

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conferences in Dharamsala in recent years. He has stated that when elements of Buddhist cosmology conflict with the findings of Western science, the Buddhist views can be dispensed with…The central practice of Buddhism, according to his view, is meditation, which is to be practiced by monks and laity alike, leading to salubrious psychological effects (Lopez 1998: 186).

This assertion is not an uncommon one: for many writers, the present Dalai Lama is a uniquely accessible figure, bridging with seeming effortless ease the ‘gap between East and West’ in a manner undemanding to western preconceptions. But is modernity really the dominant trope by which to examine such intercultural transformations? Even if it is, is the disembedding of local processes and identities automatically a signature of Western modernity, or at least the modernizing state? There is a tendency amongst anthropologists (one which I have more often than not fell foul of myself, as will be seen below) to ascribe such rationalizing abstractions to the impact of Western or European colonial thought, whilst the ethnographic Other remains firmly (and virtuously?) embedded in their social worlds, at the worst a duped or unwilling victim of hegemonic western abstractions. In what follows I would like to trace various parameters of the interaction between European and American academic thought and Tibetan Buddhist practice, both at a local and transnational level. Here, I was particularly interested in whether such a historical shift was actually occurring within exiled Tibetan practices and representations of governance. Tempting though such a thesis was, and popular (especially amongst historians, anthropologists and sociologists) as a means of interpreting social and political change in the South Asian context, the simple truth of the matter was that, were it so, then the dynamics of the situation would simply not be as we normally understood them. The rise of Buddhist modernism or its subtly distinct variant, ‘Protestant Buddhism’ has always been associated with historical conditions of European colonialism and orientalism, neither of which had any systemic impact on Tibetan life over any extended period. As I shall explain below, my own research has gone through several leaps as a means of addressing this problem. Initially, my assumption was that western analysts were simply importing the conceptual vocabulary of European modernity into the Tibetan context, either out of ignorance of other possibilities, or as a pragmatic means to legitimise the Tibetan cause on the international stage. Later, I found myself increasingly of the view that the conditions of ethnographic and historical research when studying diasporas such as the Tibetan one (multi-site ethnographies, highlyliterate transnational migrants and dislocated refugees) tended to militate towards ‘disembedded’ interpretations of Tibetan socio-political realities: interpretations at a distance as it were, particularly in the realm of governance. Concepts of the Tibetan ‘nation’ and its ‘people’, of the rise of nationalism and international structures of cartographic sovereignty became the coinage of debate on such matters, despite clear difficulties in making such concepts ‘stick’ in historical and ethnographic terms. Further examination, however, has pushed me towards a somewhat more complex conclusion: that modernist discourses about Buddhism and Tibetan nationhood –

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whilst less than satisfactory in actual empirical terms – are at the same time being actively mobilized by elite Tibetans themselves, a mobilization that incorporates those discourses into a particular form of diasporic political project. At the same time, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile pursues public governmental practices that re-embed its traditional religious authority within the diaspora context, concerning which it maintains a surprising discursive silence. In other words, a clear distinction emerges between the academic and elite production of disembedded models of Buddhist religion and governance as modes of legitimation on the one hand, and the construction of practices that embed religious and governmental authority, on the other. Within the crucible of this tension, moral practices exist for the formation of appropriate academic discourse on Tibetan religion and governance, practices that maintain a particular balance between active representation and silence. To understand this in the Tibetan context, we need to look at both the arc of my own field studies in this area, and the constitution of Buddhist governance through ritual relations with local deities. Fieldwork 1993–5: Monks, incarnates and local gods My early fieldwork was carried out in North-West India, in the predominantly Tibetan Buddhist Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, just to the south of Pakistan and separated from Tibet itself on its East by the flimsiest of borders. Dominated by the Kagyu and Geluk orders of Tibetan Buddhism since Tibet’s war against Ladakh in 1681, Ladakh has maintained a complex and historically-rich monastic culture, and seemed an ideal place to examine the ritual dimensions of Buddhist monastic ordination within long-established Buddhist communities (Mills 1997, 2003a). Monastic communities in Tibetan areas are institutionally organized around the Mulasarvastavadin code of discipline, and my initial pre-fieldwork studies of Tibetan and South Asian forms of Buddhist monasticism had pushed me towards an initial research hypothesis: • Hypothesis One: The socio-religious authority derived from Buddhist ordination is part of a division of labour, in which monks attain ritual authority over the processes of social and economic production by renouncing their involvement in those economic processes.1

This broad position derived largely from studies of Theravadan Buddhism (Bunnag 1973, Collins 1982, 1988, Tambiah 1976), wherein the renunciation of sexual and agricultural labour by Buddhist monks on the one hand, was matched on the other by the adoption of ritual authority with regard to social and economic fertility. I wanted to see whether this hypothesis applied in the Tibetan context. Ladakh is perhaps not the easiest of field sites. Baked by the high altitude sun in the summer, its winters are frozen and snow-bound. After several months building up social contacts in the regional capital, I received an invitation to visit a distant 1

See Mills 1993.

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Geluk monastery by the name of Kumbum in the village of Lingshed. Summoning up a physical recklessness which surprises me even in retrospect (and mortified my more urban acquaintances in the region, who told me I would certainly die in such a place, or in getting there, or in getting back), I joined my earliest real informants and gatekeepers, Karma Namgyal and Thubstob Dorje on the long, dangerous and bitterly cold journey to Lingshed. With the passes snow-bound and temperatures dropping at night to –45C, the three of us marched the treacherous Chadar-lam – a frozen river that cuts through the high Zangskar mountain range in an uninhabited gorge some 120 kilometres long. After seven days walk, we arrived in Lingshed, in the midst of the range, just in time for the annual Great Prayer Festival. During the course of my fieldwork at Lingshed and its surrounding hamlets, several things became clear. Firstly, that my initial assumptions about the separation between lay and monastic domains were incorrect. Despite their nominal status separation from lay life and residence within monastic institutions, monks remained in many regards firmly embedded within the household domain. At its most prosaic level, this could be seen in the physical structuring of monastic communities. Usually built around a central temple complex, monastic quarters (shak) nonetheless belonged to and were legal parts of the natal households of the monks that inhabited them. This separation of temple and shak was both legal and ritual: the application of monastic rules varying markedly between them, and with the ritual demarcation of the two domains being performed at several key points throughout the monastic calendar. Secondly, the ritual life of Buddhist monasticism was structurally integrated into a field of local chthonic numina – mountain gods, local area gods, water spirits and so forth. Such ‘masters of the soil’ (sa-dag) were held to ‘own’ – or more accurately constitute the agency of – all focal elements of the landscape: fields, mountains, streams, households. Usually, those spirits and deities that have some degree of spiritual dominion over village lands have simple, unembellished shrines (lha-t’o) dedicated to them, which receive regular offerings. Whilst a ubiquitous element of village life across the Tibetan cultural region, the propitiation of such numina is usually discussed – both by Western academics and Buddhist religious thinkers – as in some sense distinct from Buddhism, or at the very least existing in some subordinate or ‘subjugated’ (dulja) position to it, with local deities having been historically ‘bound’ by oath to support Buddhism since the mythic past of seventh century Tibet, when the tantric exorcist and ‘second Buddha’ Guru Rinpoche subdued them in magical battle. As time and field notes passed at Kumbum monastery, it eventually became apparent that the very foundations of Buddhist monastic authority rested squarely on their capacity to interact with and ritually mediate this domain of local nu mina. At its simplest, this was part of a pastoral responsibility for Kumbum monastery: at the request and sponsorship of local householders, monks would perform offerings (sang-sol) at local deity and household shrines on a monthly and annual basis. This was seen as a key responsibility of the monastery, and whilst laymen could perform it, was seen as better left in the hands of monks on grounds of ritual purity. In particular,

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the monks’ institutional links to the tutelary tantric Buddha of the monastery – Yamantaka, the ‘Vanquisher of Death’ – allowed them to authoritatively invoke the power of that Buddha to compel local numina to accept libations and remain bound to their oath. With this authority, monks were vested with the ability to influence the weather, augment summer rainfall and water provision, and ultimately ensure a good harvest. This was fairly typical of much Buddhist monastic ritual in South and SouthEast Asia, but it did present me with a conundrum: if ordinary monks had not fully renounced their involvement in household life, wherein lay their authority to perform such rites? Hypothesis One was looking very shaky indeed … Further evidence pointed towards a more complex picture. Ritual relations with such worldly spirits and deities were actually a two-way street for the monastic community. Such numina served in ritual terms as the constitutional framework for the ritual presence of the monastery in the area. As with other monasteries in Ladakh, the principal local area god – in this case Shar-chogs, household deity of the nearby but now defunct lineage of aristocratic lords – acted as protector (srungma) of the monastery, and was evoked every morning in monastic prayers. At monastic ordinations and the institution of new monastic officers, offerings were given to the assorted local deities from the roof of the temple complex, above the principal Buddhist shrine rooms. Relative physical height is a paramount signifier of hierarchy and often the subject of tense negotiation in Buddhist Ladakh. In many other monasteries in Ladakh, moreover, the local deity protector had a full shrine on the roof, or in the mountains above the temples; similarly, in many households, lineage shrines (p’a-lha lhat’o) were placed on the roof above the household’s main Buddhist shrine. Thus, whilst Buddhist monks and laity spoke of local deities’ subjugation to Buddhism, at the same time the landscape as a numinal matrix constituted the principal ritual dynamic within which Buddhist monasticism was embedded (Mills 1995). The ambiguous position of deities thus mirrored similar ambiguities in the social transcendence of monks. The symbolic embeddedness of ordinary monks and monastic communities meant one important thing: whilst monks could coerce local deities and perform exorcisms on a quotidian basis as part of an established ritual calendar, they could not establish that calendar themselves, or inaugurate ritual practices in new areas. This responsibility to ‘break new ground’ lay in the hands of a different class of religious virtuosi: the incarnate lamas (Tib. tulku). Designated as the legal reincarnations of previous high lamas, tulku are also seen as born in some sense above the localized constraints that embed ordinary monks within local cosmologies and economies. In ethnographic terms, this meant that whilst incarnates were seen as important transmitters of Buddhist doctrine and practice, this status was legitimated (especially in their upper ranks) by their reputation for subduing local deities and binding them to Buddhism. Historical and biographical accounts from this and other Tibetan areas often asserted histories of local deities being subdued and domesticated by high lamas, usually as a crucial ideological forerunner to the authoritative establishing of Buddhist temples and monasteries (see for example Mumford 1989). It is the ritual

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cycles put in place by prominent incarnate lamas in specific valleys, villages and monasteries that monks replicate after the fact, thus transforming innovative ritual authority into monastic tradition (Mills 1997, 2003a). So: • Hypothesis Two: The matrix of local deities constitutes the background framework of ritual authority in Tibetan Buddhism. Ordinary monastic institutions are embedded within this framework, and therefore the authority of ordinary local monks depends on replicating the religious agency of those seen as transcendent of it – the incarnate lamas.

However, despite eventual success, fieldwork into the topic of local deities was slow and difficult at best, and sometimes next to impossible. To begin with, commentarial sources within the Tibetan Buddhist textual corpus were practically silent on the topic of local gods, choosing instead to emphasize universalistic discussions on karma, ethics, and the nature of reality. When challenged directly, monks would often fiercely condemn the worship of local deities in principle, arguing that they were of no significance whatsoever for Buddhism. They often remained adamantly silent on the question of local monastic rites to such deities, to the extent that, on one occasion, one monk refused to admit to the existence of offering rites to local gods despite the fact that the sound of the drum being used by a local abbot in his offerings at a nearby local deity shrine was effectively drowning out the sound of the interviewee’s voice on my tape recorder! My initial reaction to this peculiar discursive syndrome was to identify it with the rise of a particular kind of Buddhist modernism amongst certain sections of the monastic community in Ladakh – those monks that spent much of their free time travelling around the newly-emerged Tibetan refugee communities in South Asia. So: • Hypothesis Three: Institutional ambivalence regarding Tibetan Buddhist monasticism’s entrenched relationship with local deities is a function of a growing religious modernism, arguably derived from its interaction with Western commentators.

Was Tibetan Buddhism, like its southern cousins, undergoing a gradual revolution in which the localized ritualism of monastic life would be swept away by a new, rationalized vision of Buddhism, as had occurred in the Sinhalese and Burmese contexts? Certainly, urbanization and the rise of a new bourgeoisie (which Gombrich & Obeyesekere identify as key elements of the social context of the rise of ‘Protestant Buddhism’) are growing features of many Tibetan communities. This discursive tension between the verbal and literary representation of Buddhist tradition on the one hand, and its ritual operation on the other, seemed endemic to Tibetan religiosity, but peculiarly acute in the case of ‘cosmopolitan’ members of the monastic community. Attractive though this analysis may have been, it eventually fell away when it became clearer that many of this class of monks were also involved in key local deity practices, and indeed were practical supporters of it. Even within the ethnographic domain then, there was a marked distinction between two elements of religious discourse:

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• A publicly available body of abstract ethical concepts and interpretive hermeneutics, widely referred to as nangpo chos (literally, ‘inner religion’, a term often used for Buddhism); To be frank, at the point in time that I was writing up my field notes for my doctoral thesis and its subsequent book form (Mills 1997, 2003a), I remained unconvinced either way as to the degree to which the complex silences that attended upon rites to local deities were a peculiar function of modernity. In the local context of Lingshed, the issue seemed simply irresolvable. It was not until I began research on religious governance within the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, that the picture began to resolve itself. Fieldwork 2000–2004: Governmentality and world peace The purpose of this latter work – which is still on-going at the time of writing – was an analysis of the historical transformations of Tibetan systems of religious governance (Tib. chos-srid zung drel) over the last three hundred years, and particularly in the wake of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950, and subsequent Tibetan diaspora in 1959. Following on from my previous work, I was intrigued as to whether the kind of ritual embedding within local landscapes that occurred at the individual monastic level carried on over into the diaspora, both at a monastic and a governmental level. Historical evidence suggested that the principles of embeddedness that I saw in Lingshed were widespread features of monastic organization in pre-1950 Tibet, as well as components of traditional Tibetan governmentality. The Ganden Potrang government at Lhasa – founded by the fifth Dalai Lama in 1642 and dissolved in 1959 – had a multi-faceted relationship with worldly deities:2 • Firstly, a strong ritual concern with local deities and landscape as the ideological basis for taxable wealth: thus, for example, areas such as Shelkar paid a regular ‘hail tax’ (ser tral) to support ‘hail protection’ rites (focused on the subjugation of local deities) by the nearby religious authorities (French 1995: 199). Taxes sent to regional and state capitals required exorcism in advance, lest egregious local numina attended upon them. At the same time, the Lhasa government had a responsibility to ensure the compliance and goodwill of those deities by distributing sa-chu ceremonial vases to the principal provinces under the Ganden Potrang. These were buried in the ground in order to bring rain and avert earthquakes (Atisha 1991).

2 Tibetan Buddhist cosmological systems generally distinguish between worldly deities (jigtenpa’i-lha), who remain within the world of samsara, and those supraworldly deities (jigten-laydaypa’i-lha) such as Buddhas, that have achieved transcendence of the cycle of existence.

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• Secondly, the extensive employment of protector deities as a legal foundation of the state. Such deities (called chokyong – literally, ‘protectors of the doctrine’) were evoked as the guarantors of legal oaths (French 1995: 131–2). At the highest levels of government, worldly deities such as Pehar (who had spiritual dominion across all Tibet) were regularly consulted through possessed oracles (see Mills 2003a: Ch.9; Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1993). • Finally, the ritual subjugation of the landscape as the historical basis for governmental legitimacy. Tibetan mythic histories associate the origins of Buddhist kingship in Tibet with the binding of the chthonic deities of Tibet by key Buddhist and royal preceptors. This subjugation was continued on an annual basis, through rites designed to assert governmental authority over the land of Tibet, such as the exorcisms performed at the Great Prayer Festival during the first lunar month of the year, when legal dominion in Lhasa was passed to the monastic authorities (Richardson 1993). Pre-1959 Tibetan governance seemed as embedded within cosmopologies if landscapes as local monasteries were. Initial impressions, however, seemed to indicate that many of these features had been jettisoned when the Tibetan Government-in-Exile was set up in Dharamsala, North India, in 1959. Indeed, the Tibetan Governmentin-exile seemed to have become a model of Buddhist modernism, and to have incorporated many core features of governmental modernity in a surprisingly short period of time. As soon as the chaos of enforced refugeehood had partially settled in 1962, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama pushed forward considerable governmental, constitutional and democratic reforms that have, in principle at least, restructured the exiled government along the lines of Indian/American model, towards a strong democratically-elected assembly, a central constitution, the separation of powers, and equality of citizens before the law, the abolition of hereditary titles and the traditional monk/layman governmental distribution that held in pre-1950 Tibet. In recent years, he has sought (with debatable degrees of success) to downgrade the office of the Dalai Lama in comparison with democratically elected officials, and has even argued that a future free Tibet should not have any Dalai Lama as head of state (a rather unpopular decree amongst the Tibetan refugee communities). At the same time, as we have seen above, many writers on Tibetan affairs have seen the Dalai Lama as a Buddhist modernist and modernizer, promoting scientific and rationalized understandings of Buddhism at the expense of its previously hierarchical, priestly and highly segmented forms. In line with these changes, a remarkable consonance had developed between the discourses of prominent Tibetan intellectual and religious leaders on the one hand, and Western (and often reform-minded) academics and commentators, on the other. These areas of agreement: (1) represented Buddhism as politically and ethically individualistic in nature (Schwartz 1994, Ortner 1978) and generally in line with the political and ecological sentiments of Western liberalism (in particular Thurman 1999); (2) pushed towards a future separation of Tibetan church and state (Ardley 2000b; Dalai Lama 1992: 186–7); (3) were critical of ecclesiastical Buddhism as a

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legitimate or even workable basis for the Tibetan political cause (e.g. many editorials of the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Review, Karmay 1994: 113; Ardley 2000a), and; (4) strongly asserted the ‘Tibetan nation’ and Tibetan nationalism as the basis for claims of international legitimacy (Karmay 1994; Smith 1996). From this combination of administrative reform and political inter-textuality, it seemed apparent to me at the outset that traditional Tibetan theocratic systems of governance were emphatically on the way out, to be replaced by the rise of the secular nation-state as a basis for Tibetan political vision. • Hypothesis Four: The constitutional form of the Ganden Potrang Government has undergone significant modernization and secularisation in exile, primarily in response to the liberal Western political environment that is its principal audience on the international stage.

Reflecting on this, I sought in 2000 to engage with an ethnographic study of the ending of those preceding modes of ritually-embedded governance that had characterized the pre-1950 Ganden Potrang, and the degree to which this was a structural feature of diaspora. As time and fieldwork went on, however, I began to feel a none-too-subtle sense of déjà vu. Wherever I looked, the ritual forms of governance demonstrated by the old Ganden Potrang were not only being re-enacted but strengthened in exile (although with certain new political and ecclesiastical biases).3 This seemed to produce a tension, leading in two different directions. While, for example, the TGIE had restructured its constitutional plan to mirror the departmental structures of the US, the Religion & Culture department maintained most of the hierarchical and ceremonial privileges that attended the religious authorities in old Lhasa. Many of its responsibilities, moreover, replicated the ritual practices of the pre-1950 Ganden Potrang, all the way down to the distribution of ceremonial vases to be buried under the ground of refugee communities in order to avert earthquakes and persuade local deities to offer up their wealth. Whilst publicly promoting the rise of democracy and the ending of ecclesiastical rule within a future Tibet, the present Dalai Lama was also embarked upon the reestablishment in exile of the ritual structures of central religious governance initially devised by the fifth Dalai Lama, as the millenarian pre-requisites of the return of Tibetan sovereignty. Probably the most striking of these was the building of the so-called ‘Earthquake Stupas’ in Dharamsala, ritual monuments designed to subdue local deities and protect the Dalai Lama and his government from earth-tremors prophesied by the government’s principal oracle and the Indian National Seismic Survey – an intriguing intertwining of the scientific and the ritual. Moreover, rites given over to the subjugation of local landscape were now not simply practiced within Tibetan refugee communities but, as I have discussed elsewhere, being propagated on a global scale in association with His Holiness’ philosophy of ‘World Peace’ (Mills forthcoming). This was clearly part of a wider diasporic expansion of 3 Principally, within the growing internal dominance of the ri-me, or non-sectarian movement.

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a chthonic ritual logic: in religious sites affiliated to the Tibetan government, shrines to local deities were springing up across the world, in areas as diverse as Malaysia, Scotland and New York.4 At the same time, the last ten years have seen a remarkable centralization of religious authority around the TGIE, and the Dalai Lama in particular. The four principal orders of Tibetan Buddhism, previously largely segmented away from direct rule from Lhasa, have been systematically brought under the authority of His Holiness, as has the previously heterodox non-Buddhist order of Bon. Non-Tibetan communities of Buddhists (such as those in Ladakh, Japan and Nepal, and arguably many in Europe) have been incorporated not simply under his religious headship, but under his symbolic authority as head of the Tibetan exiled state. Meanwhile, the democratic process has led to the institution of the religiously conservative Samdhong Rinpoche as prime minister, and the excising of the institutional worship of the deity Shugden, itself seen as at odds with the inclusivist and non-sectarian model of religious statehood promoted by the Dalai Lama (see Mills 2003b). With the exception of this last issue – which hit the headlines in the international press in 1996 – most of these changes have been low-key and distinctly ‘in-house’, rarely discussed beyond the confines of those communities directly affected. Once again, a profound dissonance appeared between discourse and practice. On the one hand, His Holiness’ exiled government appeared to be such a model of international rectitude – and his government so open to the politically correct rhetoric of many Western supporters – that his speeches are often treated as practically sub-political (what the Scotsman magazine recently characterized as ‘an innocent abroad’) and his presentation of Buddhism so apparently secular, universalistic and undemanding that commentators have argued that there is little if anything to distinguish it from ‘just being nice’. On the other hand, the practices of the Tibetan government – under His Holiness’ clear public guidance – demonstrate marked centralizations of religious power, supported by complex ritual practices designed to authoritatively re-embed Tibetan governance as a very particular kind of object within the diaspora. Interpreting Discursive Dissonance It is, perhaps, rather easy to simply put this down to a cynical manipulation of the international media, especially when it comes to the portrayal of the fourteenth Dalai Lama himself: ‘easy-going eclecticist in public, draconian theocrat in private’ makes for good headlines but bad social analysis. Certainly, some writers on Tibet have interpreted things that way, giving way spectacularly to the ‘school of suspicion’ model of political interpretation. Others have been more circumspect: discussing this issue, the Tibetan historian Tsering Shakya has proposed a centrifugal model 4 An interesting example here is the shrine to the lu water spirits (strongly associated with wealth) erected in a river close to Samye Ling monastery in the West of Scotland, as part of a wider project to raise funds for the building of a Buddhist library at the centre.

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of diasporic cultural diffusion, arguing that whilst Western discourses of political modernity have permeated the outward looking international discourses of the Tibetan exiled government, they have dramatically failed to influence Tibetan internal governmental relations, and thus ‘penetration by Western constructs, whether cultural or political, remains at the margins of Tibetan subjectivity’ (Shakya 2001). Shakya’s thesis is a tempting one, but does not wholly capture the janus-faced nature of this problem. The truth of the matter is that this discursive imbalance does not simply separate two domains of Tibetan governmental practice – the internal, Tibetan stage and the external, international one. Rather, it often pervades single projects. Thus, His Holiness often gives speeches in favour of World Peace which clearly embody the kind of non-sectarian multi-faith perspective that has characterized Buddhist modernism, and which won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. At the same time, and often on the same day, His Holiness will consecrate Buddhist ‘World Peace’ monuments whose liturgical purpose has never been anything but the ritual subjugation of the local landscape in which it was built, and the particular local spirits and deities that reside there. The problem here, then, resides in the analysis of social action itself, and the manner in which it interacts or even embodies discursive meaning. Certain dangers lie in the assumption that the two ‘sides’ of these discourses can be treated as performatively equivalent. As John Austin argued in his 1962 work, How To Do Things With Words, the vast majority of linguistic statements are not simply descriptive or even expressive: they are performative, in the sense that they do things (they perform social actions); and that performance depends for its success on certain conditions (which Austin referred to as felicitousness). These conditions of felicity allow for the creation of embodied social truths in historically-specific moments and places. Such conditions are actually immensely complex and rituallybounded: within Western political discourse, for example, something like the annual inauguration of governmental proceedings involve the correct organization of social and political hierarchies, formal linguistic structures, dress codes, spatial arrangements and so forth. These complex ritual conditions serve to render particular statements authoritative – to render unto them a certain ontology of truth that is then taken for granted by participants. I can’t simply open a parliament by mentioning it in a café to some of my friends; on the other hand, once a parliament is opened, one cannot easily undo its social consequences. In the Tibetan context, the embodying of, for example, public discourses on World Peace by figures such as the Dalai Lama, are seen as actively embodying its principles in the place in which it is performed. But the conditions of felicity that attend upon such acts are primarily conceived in terms of hierarchies of authority over ritualised spaces. For example, discussing his many Kalacakra Initiations For World Peace – public tantric initiations that have come under the ‘For World Peace’ rubric since 1985 – the Fourteenth Dalai Lama commented: We believe that the Kalacakra ceremony is very good for eliminating negative forces [such as] warfare. So, the Kalacakra is something useful for peace. [Moreover] while I don’t

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know what the real reason for this is, whenever the Kalacakra is performed and people sit together and develop good motivation and meditate for a few hours, that produces some kind of unified energy that helps not only the individual, but also the environment, the area.5

Here then, the public discursive concepts of World Peace are imbricated with ritualised evocations of landscape that constitute their conditions of authority. Whilst the Dalai Lama (rather awkwardly) acknowledges this dynamic as a fact, it’s worth noting the degree to which it is generally sub-voce. Within Tibetan Buddhist ritual practice, such relations with landscape are, as we saw above, a core element of the unspoken and performative habitus of religious and political authority. Whether we are discussing offerings to chthonic spirits by a local Tibetan monastery, or the public opening of a Peace Garden in South London by the Dalai Lama, these crucial relations with the land are implicit and silent, and therefore often missed by observers. Not because they are being hidden away from sight – indeed, these are elements of governmentality that remain hidden in plain sight – but because they are, in a sense, not what is being discussed. To examine them – as I did – is for many senior Tibetan officials, whether monastic or governmental, simply to miss the point. By comparison, it would be as though I had walked into the headquarters of the European Union in the middle of some debate on immigration law, and started asking officials why it was they all seemed to wear ties, or why they all sat in a particular order, or why they all used certain forms of language: I would be rather hastily dismissed as having missed what the whole thing was about, despite the clear import of such symbolism and structure to the political weight of European governance. In much the same way, my interest in the ceremonial practices of Tibetan governance was seen as not simply odd by many Tibetan officials that I interviewed, but as inappropriate and useless. There was an implied sense, moreover, that I was not doing my job properly – indeed that in studying things like the earthquake stupas at Dharamsala, I was questioning the entire basis of the Tibetan government’s legitimacy. Certainly it gave for a few polite ear-bashings the higher up the chain of authority I ventured. By contrast, my questions on these topics were met with extensive and often enthusiastic discussions when put to the many Tibetan refugees I interviewed outside the governmental and ecclesiastical fold. This, more than anything, implied to me that the issue concerned the ‘legitimate’ place of academic discourse within the arc of governmentality as conceived from one or more Tibetan perspectives. In its simplest form then, this is perhaps merely a question of medium and message: the message may well come over loud and clear, but the medium should be silent, despite its omnipresence. The similarity between this and the previous fieldwork scenario cannot be overlooked, and it seems to me that the clue to interpreting this puzzle lies here. As with the monks of Ladakh and their relations with local deities, there is a clear discursive disjunction between talking about the disembedded principles of the 5

Public interview at Kalacakra initiations given at Tabu, Spiti, N. India, 1996.

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Tibetan government on the one hand, and the embedding ritual mechanisms of governmentality on the other. The first is seen as an appropriate area of explicit discourse, although it does not constitute the mainstay of ordinary practice; the second constitutes the vast bulk of governmental practice from a religious perspective, but is rendered ‘silent’ at the explicit discursive level. Conclusion: The Dynamics of Social Change So, where are we on this particular ‘critical journey’? We began, in a sense, with classic anthropological concerns about ethnocentrism: Western academic understanding of Tibetan religious life was skewed by seeing it through our own categories, leading anthropologists to divide what was in fact united – monastic Buddhism’s institutional embedding within the cosmological frameworks of landscape and local gods. This very conclusion – correct though it may well have been in itself – served however to obscure a more obvious point: that my Tibetan and Ladakhi informants were themselves working pretty hard to obscure or at least tone down this relationship. Commenting on this in my original doctoral thesis, I put it down to the rise of a certain Western-influenced Buddhist modernism on the part of some of my more urbane monastic informants, a modernism that would eventually lead – as it apparently had done in Sri Lanka – to the demise of key ritual forms in the face of religious reform. It was only when I began a new fieldwork arc on the Tibetan government in exile that I realised that that which is rendered silent is not always that which is being eradicated or even devalued. References Ardley, J., ‘Violent Compassion: Buddhism and Resistance in Tibet’, paper for the Political Studies Association – UK 50th Annual Conference (Typescript, 2000). Ardley, J., ‘One Man’s Democracy? The modernisation of the Tibetan government in exile’ (Typescipt, n.d.). Atisha, T.P. , ‘The Tibetan Approach to Ecology’, Tibetan Review, 26: 9–11, 14 (2) (1991). Bechert, H., Buddhismus, Stät und Gesellschaft in den Ländern des TheravadaBuddhismus (Frankfurt, Berlin; Wiesbaden 1966–1973: vol. 1, 1966). Bunnag, J., Buddhist Monk, Buddhist Layman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973). Collins, S., Selfless Persons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982). Collins, S., ‘Monasticism, Utopias and Comparative Social Theory’, Religion, 18 (1988): 101–135. Dalai L., Fourteenth, Freedom in Exile: the autobiography of the DalaiLama of Tibet (London: Abacus, 1992). French, R., The Golden Yoke: The Legal Cosmology of Buddhist Tibet (London: Cornell University Press, 1995).

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Giddens, A., The Consequences of Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991). Gombrich, R. and Obeyesekere G., Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1988). Lopez, D., Prisoners of Shangrila: Tibetan Buddhism and the West (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1998). _____(ed.), A Modern Buddhist Bible: Essential Readings from East and West (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2003). Mills, M., ‘Crucifying the Demoness: A Marxist Analysis of Monastic Renunciation in Tibetan Buddhism’, Department of Anthropology, University of Edinburgh (Typescript, 17 June 1993). _____, ‘The Religion of Locality: Local Area Gods and the Characterisation of Tibetan Buddhism’, in Dodin T. & Rather H. (eds), Recent Research on Ladakh 7: Proceedings of the seventh Colloquium of the International Association for Ladakh Studies, Bonn/Sankt Augustin, 12–15 June 1995 (UKAS: Ulmer Kulturanthropologische Schriften, 1995). _____, ‘Religious Authority and Pastoral Care in Tibetan Buddhism: The Ritual Hierarchies of Lingshed Monastery, Ladakh’, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis (University of Edinburgh, 1997). _____, Identity, Ritual and State in Tibetan Buddhism: The Foundations of Authority in Gelukpa Monasticism (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003a). _____, ‘This Turbulent Priest: Contesting Religious Rights and the State in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy’, in Wilson R. & Mitchell J. (eds), Human Rights in Global Perspective: Anthropological Studies of Rights, Claims and Entitlements, ASA Monographs 40 (London: Routledge, 2003b). _____, ‘This Circle of Kings: Modern Tibetan Visions of World Peace’ (forthcoming). Nebesky-Wojkowitz, R. de, Oracles and Demons of Tibet (Kathmandu: Tiwari’s Pilgrim’s Book House, 1993). Ortner, S., Sherpas through their Rituals (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978). Richardson, H., Ceremonies of the Lhasa Year (London: Serindia, 1993). Schwartz, R., Circle of Protest: Political Ritual in the Tibetan Uprising (London: Hurst & Co, 1994). Smith, W.W., Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996). Tambiah, S.J., Buddhism and the Spirit-Cults of North-East Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976). Thurman, R., Inner Revolution (New York: Rider, 1999).

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Index

accountability, 27 agency, 1, 8, 33, 107, 133, 135, 138–39, 141–42, 195, 197 analogies, false, 23–24 anthropology applied, 125 feminist, 4, 135, 139 medical, 39, 133, 144, 151, 159, 161 postmodern, 2, 3, 4, 19, 20, 67 regional, 3–4, 11, 14, 70, 73, 87, 94, 131–33, 167 assistant (see research assistant) assumptions, 23, 24, 25, 32, 34, 37, 42, 62, 69, 75, 94, 170, 182–83, 187, 191, 193, 202 about gender, 4, 135, 170, 180 about property, 23–24, 135 about social organization, 9, 24, 135, 170, 171–72, 182, 195 authenticity, 49–54, 58, 60, 62 authorial voice, 32, 33, 62, 70, 72, 102–104, 112, 113 authority, 11, 70, 72 99–100, 104, 107, 113, 138, 139, 140, 143, 173, 199, 201, 202, 203 claims to, 3, 69, 101–102, 105, 112, 194 monastic, 7, 195–97 autobiography, 2, 35–36, 71–72, 113, 138 Bengali, 7, 167, 171–87 Bledsoe, C., 140, 142 bodily practice, 8, 130–31, 161–62 body, 8, 13, 51, 129, 130, 141–42, 157–60, 161–62, 178–79 boundaries, 5–6, 8–9, 31, 33, 34, 35, 44, 52, 72–73, 83–84, 126, 129, 172, 174, 175–79 Bourdieu, P., 2, 8, 130–31, 142 British anthropology, 48n3, 93–95, 96, 120, 122, 123, 125, 131–33, 138, Buddhism, 9–10, 199, 201 Modern, 10, 191–92

Theravadan, 191, 194 Tibetan, 7, 10, 191, 192–94, 197–201, 203 Buddhist Governance, 191, 193–94, 198–204 modernism, 191–94, 197–200, 202, 204 monasticism, 9–10, 194–97, 198, 199, 204 monks, 193, 194–95, 197, 203 religion, 191–92, 194, 195–99, 201, 204 caste, 8, 14, 59, 60, 75, 81, 83, 98, 105, 106, 129, 131, 133–38, 140, 143, 167, 173–74, 175, 177–78, 180 childbearing, 129, 137, 139, 142 children, 25, 27–28, 58–60, 85–86, 105, 134–35, 137, 139–41, 142, 177–78, 179, 183, 184–85 class, 4, 14, 71, 131, 132, 134, 138, 143, 166, 174, 175, 177–79, 180, 187 middle, 7, 9, 31, 75–76, 81, 120, 138, 166–67, 169–75, 177–79, 180, 182, 184–86 collaboration, 7, 10, 19, 40, 67, 68, 80–84, 87, 144 collaborative, 7, 10, 19 communal identities, 9, 49, 51–54, 58, 80, 81, 83, 120, 131–38, 159, 169–70, 173–80 consumer goods, 23, 180, 182–86 consumption, 69, 74–79, 176, 179, 182–86 cross-fertilization, 17 Csordas, T., 130, 141 culture, 3, 9, 18, 32–33, 42, 43, 51–58, 61–62, 67, 69–70, 73, 83–84, 86–87, 101n10, 118, 141, 178, 187–88, 191 Dalai Lama, 10, 192–93, 198–203 deep structures, 9, 39, 41–43 dialogue, 61, 74, 78–79, 84, 86–87, 143 disciplinary habitus, 2, 3, 32, 43, 130 divorce, 98, 135, 182

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Dumont, L., 94, 105n, 134, 137 East Indian, 6, 47–63 embeddedness, 9–10, 18, 21, 76, 134, 136, 142, 192–94, 196–97, 198–201, 203–204 embodied knowing, 131–32, 150, 158 embodiment, 5, 8, 51, 141, 157, 202 emotion, 71, 86, 129–31, 138, 140, 143–44, 158, 160, 183 anthropology of, 8, 13, 129–31, 139, 141, 143 ethnographic writing, 1–5, 8–9, 11, 13, 18, 22n6, 35–36, 53, 57, 58, 62, 67, 69–72, 91–113, 120–21, 122–23, 142, 162, 168 evaluation study, 38, 105, 123 Evans Pritchard, E.E., 18–19 executive summary, 102–104 experimentation, 10, 40–41 facticity, 96–97, 99–100, 105 family, 14, 25–26, 27–28, 55n10, 56–57, 85–86, 119, 121, 133, 136, 140, 153, 166, 176–78, 179–80, 181–88 Fardon, R., 3–4, 70, 72, 132 Ferguson, J., 1, 4, 31n, 33, 34n, 40, 73, 86–87, 130, 133, 170 fertility, 137, 139, 142 fetishisation, 31–34, 43, 120 fiction, 5, 18, 33, 69 field, vii, 1–14, 17–20, 25, 31–44, 47–48, 62, 67, 68, 70, 72–74, 77, 84, 129–32, 144, notes, 19, 83, 85, 110, 120–21, 195, 198 site, 1, 3, 5–6, 9–10, 13, 31–44, 62, 67, 71, 72, 75, 80, 94, 117, 129, 133, 168, 170–71, 181, 194 fieldwork, vii, 1–14, 17, 19, 28, 29, 31–44, 47, 48n3, 57, 62, 67–87, 94, 98, 100, 117, 119–21, 125–26, 129–31, 149–50, 159–60, 167–70, 181 methods, 1, 3, 10, 14, 32, 39, 72–73, 76, 120–21, 122–24, 149–50 Solomon Islands, 119–20 Foucault, M., 132, 142

Geertz, C., 18, 21, 33, 69, 119 gender, 4, 7, 22–23, 51, 52, 55n9, 71, 85–86, 105, 129, 131–43, 165, 169–87 generalization/particularization, tension between, 2, 26–27 Girasia, 132, 134–38, 141 globalism, 37 globalization, 13, 72–73, 78, 168, 185 governmentality, 191–204 Gupta, A., 1, 4, 31n, 33, 34n, 40, 73, 130, 133, 170 Guyanese/Guyana, 6, 9, 47–63 habitus, 2, 3, 5, 32, 43, 130–31, 203 healthcare, 5, 9, 10–11, 13, 38–39, 41–43, 117, 122–26, 149–62, 179 reproductive, 8, 72, 86, 132, 133, 138–44 Hindu, 7, 9, 49, 53–54, 59–60, 81, 140, 143, 165n, 166–67, 169, 171–72, 173, 174, 175–79, 180, 183, 186 ‘home’, 9, 14, 29, 31, 33, 35, 36, 39–40, 43, 44, 50n, 131–33, 170, 187, hospital, 9, 38–39, 41–43, 142, 155, 156–57, 160 India, 10, 49, 69, 70, 74–75, 77, 92, 94–95, 102, 103, 105, 129, 131–37, 139, 141, 143, 169, 185, 194, 199 Indian state, 135 indigenous, 47–56, 61–62 informants, 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 31, 33, 34, 38, 42, 67–68, 73–74, 76–81, 82–87, 105, 119–20, 121, 125–26, 137, 144, 168, 170, 175, 181, 195, 204 insider, 54, 58, 97, 104, 131n interdisciplinary, 5, 10, 40, 142 interpretation, 4, 6, 7–8, 10, 13, 21, 22, 34, 42, 57, 60, 68–70, 74, 78–79, 83–87, 101ns, 110, 118, 129n3, 171, 193, 198, 201–204 interviews, 38–39, 42, 74, 76–77, 80–84, 85–86, 120–21, 123, 124, 177, 179–80, 203 Iñupiaq/Iñupiat, 7, 17, 21–29

Index journey, 1–2, 11, 17, 32, 33, 34, 35–36, 40, 43–44, 52, 74, 117, 118, 119, 131, 134–35, 141, 195 critical, vii, 1–2, 12, 14, 17–18, 34, 74, 78, 87, 204 kinship, 5, 85, 86, 94, 98, 106, 119, 120, 129–37, 139, 141, 143, 170 knowledge, 12, 18, 20–28, 41, 47, 50, 52– 63, 97, 100, 101, 106, 107, 113, 131, 142, 143, 149, 150, 153, 157–58, 159–60, 161, 175, 180–88 anthropological, 1–2, 5, 6–8, 9, 11, 12, 13–14, 20, 31, 33, 37, 47, 51, 62, 67–87, 129 authoritative, 11, 139 claims, 23, 26–27, 52–63, 110 construction, 7, 8, 12, 13–14, 47, 62–63, 67–87 creation, 11, 12, 67–87, 129, 180 Kolkata/Calcutta, 7, 165, 169–74, 177–78, 179, 182, 183, 185–88 Ladakh, 7, 10, 194–98, 201, 203–204 Lal, R.B., 132 Latour & Woolgar, 96–97, 99, 100n, 101, 111 locality, 5, 33, 41, 49, 54, 61, 72–73, 75, 83, 87, 161, 166–68, 170–72, 173–75 Lock, M., 142, Lopez, D., 191–93 Malinowski, B., 20n, 21–22, 31, 34n, 39, 69, 170 marriage, 81, 85–86, 94, 98, 106, 119, 129, 136–37, 138, 141, 166–67, 177–86 media, 10, 51, 72, 93, 168, 185–87, 201 Medical Research Council, 7, 122, 126 memory, 36, 38, 39, 131, 175 methodology, 1–6, 7–8, 10, 13, 14, 18, 21, 31–33, 39, 40–41, 42, 57, 67, 68–70, 72–73, 76–78, 82, 84, 87, 104, 120–21, 122–24, 141, 149–50, 156, 167, 191 modality, 99–101 modern, 6, 47, 49–54, 57–60, 61–62, 170 modernity, 47, 48, 52, 59, 102, 107, 179, 191–93, 198, 199

209

Western, 193, 202 Moore, H., 4, 14, 8n3, 133, 135, 138n motherhood, 59–60, 139, 143, 175–76, 179, 185 multidisciplinary contexts, 117–26 ‘multi-project’, 44 multi-sited, 5, 10, 13, 35–36, 43–44, 72–73, 193 Muslim, 7, 49, 54, 109, 140, 143, 165n, 166, 167, 169, 171–72, 175–76, 177 Narayan, K., 131 native, 5, 8–9, 21, 31, 50n, 54, 56, 57, 61–62, 68, 78, 83, 101n9, 131–33, 171 neighbourhood(s), 7, 75–76, 165–68, 170–88 New York, 6, 47, 49–52, 54, 58, 60, 201 objective evidence, 27, 99, 102, 104, 106, 107–13 objectivity, 2, 18, 27, 62, 102, 106, 107–13 observer, 47–48, 52, 53, 54–55, 118, 150, 158, 159 other, 3, 4, 6, 31, 47–48, 50, 51, 55, 57, 58, 60–63, 72, 83, 87, 130, 133, 175, 180 outsider, 13, 31, 48, 54, 58, 60, 68, 83, 131, 136, 168, 181, 186, 187 papers, chemical physics, 92, 96–101, 104 papers, ethnography, 92, 96, 98, 100–101, 104, 105, 106–107 Parry, J., 136 participant, 8, 10, 36, 39, 41, 48, 82, 101, 120–21, 136, 149–50, 154, 158–59, 161–62, 168, 202 hosts, 49, 57, 60, 61, 62 objectivation, 2, 8 perlocutionary force, 106, 108, 110, 112 PhD, 32, 37, 40, 119–26, 134, 158, 160 Pieke, F., 78 pilgrimage, 9, 34, 38, 41–43, political organization, 172–74, 191, 192–94, 198–204 positioning, of anthropologist, 2–3, 9, 14, 26–29, 47–48, 53, 54, 56n11, 58, 62–63, 69, 71, 77, 81, 126, 149, 151

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Protestant, 37, 41, 192

Romantic Gaze, 31

questionnaire, 39, 76–77, 82 questions, 8, 25, 47, 55–58, 76–77, 79, 80–81, 82–83, 135, 137–39, 140, 141, 167, 169, 170, 182, 186, 187, 188, 203 Malinowski on, 22 misguided, 22, 24 new, 25, 126 survey, 76, 77, 124–25, 170, 180

Scheper-Hughes, N., 133, 142 scrutiny, 50, 54–58, 60, 62, 71 serendipity, 14, 37, 78 Shostak, M., 19 socialization, of anthropologists, 20, 25–27 Sri Lanka, 92, 93–96, 107, 109, 191, 204 statements, types of, 96–107, 111–12 supervisor, 27, 74, 77, 94, 95, 120, 135 Sweden, 9, 36–37, 40, 41 symbolic, 57, 137, 138, 196, 201

Rabinow, P., 3, 8, 68, 69, 72, 81 Rajasthan, 74, 129, 131–34, 137, 139–43 Rajput, 135, 137, 138 reciprocity, 29, 142 reflection, 2, 3, 8, 13, 32, 36, 39, 49, 53, 67–74, 76, 79, 85, 86–87, 125, 140 critical, vii, 1–2, 12, 14, 47, 67, 69, 87, 143 reflexive, 2–3, 12, 19–20, 48, 53, 72–74, 78, 112, 188 reflexivity, 1–6, 7, 18–20, 48, 53, 55, 62, 67–87, 112, 138, 188 hidden, 67–87 literary, 69–70, 73 self-, 58, 71–72, 73–74 reports, consultancy, 26, 92, 96, 102–106, 112 reports, expert, 11, 96, 106–11, 112 reproduction, 2, 8, 72, 81, 86, 117, 129, 132, 133, 137, 138–43, 174, 177, 178, 179, 180 research, 5, 8, 9, 19–20, 35, 44, 47–48, 51–52, 62–63, 70–73, 119–21, 181-83, assistant, 5, 7–8, 67–68, 73–74, 75, 77, 79–84, 85, 86, 87, 140, 172, 182, 186 health, 8, 9, 10–11, 38–39, 42, 117, 122–26, 132, 138–44, 149–62, qualitative, 11, 101–102, 122–24 respondents, 2, 3, 5, 6–7, 8–9, 12, 13, 110, 124, 129, 130, 139, 140, 142, 144 ritual, 7, 9–10, 17, 52, 54, 58–61, 167, 176, 178, 191–204

Taiguaqti, specialist, 27 Tamilnadu, 7, 74–78, 79–84, 94, 103 teaching, 11, 12, 20n, 22n6, 36, 39, 42, 43, 44, 93–94, 122, 123, 132, 133, 139, 143–44, 154–55, 158–59 theory, relationship with fieldwork, vii, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 14, 19, 25, 40, 70, 71, 73, 122, 124, 131, 141, 143, 150–51 Tonkin, E., 3, 130, 131 tradition, 3–4, 6, 14, 32, 35, 40, 42, 49–52, 54, 55n9, 59–62, 70–71, 73, 87, 132, 169–71, 173, 179, 182, 191–92, 194, 197, 198, 199, 200 tribal, 21, 25, 41, 48n3, 105, 131–32, 134–36, 137 Indian women, 135, 136, 137, 138–39, 141 tribe India, 8, 129, 133, 135–37, 140, 143 scheduled, 136 Western, 4, 31, 33n4, 37, 49, 50n, 61, 62, 80, 84, 91, 133, 134, 156, 158, 161, 179, 182–83, 186, 191, 192–93, 195, 197, 199–200, 201, 202, 204 widow, 176 women, 4, 7, 8, 21, 23, 28, 49, 50, 52, 55n9, 82, 83, 85–86, 91, 105, 107, 133, 134–43, 154, 165–67, 169–70, 172–88 writing genres, 91–113, 142