A Nepali anthropologist in America: Reflections on fieldwork among friends (2004)

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Ill-defined as it may be, "fieldwork" is the hallmark of cultural anthropology. Within that discipline, nobody is regarded as having quite made the grade without some experience of fieldwork. The tradition is not new in anthropology, having begun with - or at least become institutionalised at the time of - British colonial expansions in Africa and Asia. One can even find important strains of it in the American work of Lewis Henry Morgan in the mid-19th century United States, though he is often regarded as a precursor who remained to stay at home. Nevertheless the tradition of long residence in the midst of the people of study, sharing their lives to varying extents but with methodological rigour and theoretical sophistication began only with the work of W.H.R.Rivers and others in the Torres Straits expedition of the Pacific around 1900. This tradition of fieldwork was followed and elaborated by the leading anthropologists of the twentieth century, among them Bronislaw Malinowski with the Trobriand Islanders in the Pacific (1914-18), E.R. Radcliffe-Brown with the Ong of Andaman Island (1910-11) and Franz Boas with the Inuit of Baffin Island (1920-22).

In this essay, the author aims to provide brief reflections based on his own contrasting field experiences in the United States and Nepal, recollected from fieldwork in the US 2000-2001 and in different parts of Nepal since 1973.
Year: 2004
Language: English
In: Contributions to Nepalese Studies, Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS), Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu, Nepal. Volume 31, Number 1, January 2004: http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/contributions/pdf/CNAS_31_01_01.pdf. Digital Himalaya: http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/journals/contributions/index.php?selection=31_1,



 Record created 2011-12-21, last modified 2013-01-17