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Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field by Akhil Gupta

By Akhil Gupta

One of the social sciences, anthropology is predicated such a lot essentially on "fieldwork"--the long term immersion differently of existence because the foundation for wisdom. In an period while anthropologists are learning issues that face up to geographical localization, this ebook initiates a long-overdue dialogue of the political and epistemological implications of the disciplinary dedication to fieldwork.These leading edge, stimulating essays--carefully selected to shape a coherent whole--interrogate the proposal of "the field," displaying how the idea that is traditionally developed and exploring the implications of its dominance. The essays talk about anthropological paintings performed in locations (in refugee camps, on tv) or between populations (gays and lesbians, homeless humans within the usa) that problem the normal limitations of "the field." The participants recommend substitute methodologies applicable for modern difficulties and finally suggest a reformation of the self-discipline of anthropology.

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102-107). Anthropologists (and others) moved away from the nineteenth century's obsession with the laws of energy as expressed in the science of thermodynamics; translated into individual terms by Herbert Spencer and his followers among students of human psychology, these laws provided a plausible explanation for experiences such as Ranke's, permitting the conceptualization AFTER ISHMAEL 63 of each individual as a closed system endowed with a fixed portion of en. ergy. And, of course, anthropology abandoned the theory Ranke's autoexperiment addressed, premised on the assumption that differences among types of societies could be described in qualitative, hierarchical terms.

But one must emphasize that the primary justification for colonial ventures was the benefits they were expected to bring home. Thus, anthropologists were sounding familiar refrains when they made their initial claims to professional status based on the value of their expertise in resolving practical dilemmas posed in both domestic and colonial situations (see Kuklick 1991: 27-74, 182-209; McGee 1897). With professionalization, naturalists of every stripe embraced a new scientific creed. This was, not surprisingly, defined in opposition to the ethos of the professionals' amateur predecessors.

I3 Practice, happily, accords less and less with these prescriptions, as the tenets that made them appear to be common sense come under scrutiny and as the political-economy of the discipline is gradually altered. 7I The Historically Situated Field . Historical research raises another set of challenges to conceptions of the field, sometimes quite radically. Most disconcertingly, the field may not be a place at all, but a period of time or a series of events, the study of which will take a researcher to many places.

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