Returns to the Field

Returns to the Field : Multitemporal Research and Contemporary Anthropology

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Many anthropologists return to their original fieldwork sites a number of times during their careers, but this experience has seldom been subjected to analytic and theoretical scrutiny. The contributors to Returns to the Field have all undertaken multitemporal fieldwork-repeated visits to the same place-over periods ranging from 20 to 40 years among minority groups in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Melanesia. Over the years of contact, these anthropologists have witnessed dramatic changes, but also the perseverance of the people they have worked with. In vivid and personal essays, the authors examine the ramifications of this type of fieldwork practice-the kind of knowledge it produces, what methodological tools are appropriate, and how relationships with people in the field site change over time.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 286 pages
  • 148 x 226 x 22mm | 408.23g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 22 b&w illus.
  • 0253223482
  • 9780253223487
  • 1,777,236

Table of contents


Introduction \ Signe Howell and Aud Talle

Part 1. Change and Continuity in Long-term Perspective
1. Forty-five Years with the Kayapo \ Terence Turner
2. "Soon we will be spending all our time at funerals": Yolngu Mortuary Rituals in an Epoch of Constant Change \ Frances Morphy and Howard Morphy
3. Returns to the Maasai: Long-term Fieldwork and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge \ Aud Talle
4. Contingency, Collaboration, and the Unimagined over Thirty-five Years of Ethnography \ David Holmberg
5. Nostalgia and Neocolonialism \ Peter Metcalf

Part 2. Expansion in Time, Expansion in Space
6. Cumulative Understandings: Experiences from the Study of Two Southeast Asian Societies \ Signe Howell
7. Repeated Returns and Special Friends: From Mythic Encounter to Shared History \ Piers Vitebsky
8. Compressed Globalization and Expanding Desires in Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands \ Edvard Hviding
9. Widening the Net: Returns to the Field and Regional Understanding \ Alan Barnard

Afterword: Reflecting on Returns to the Field \ Bruce Knauft

List of Contributors
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Review quote

This is an important book because we need a disciplinary conversation about our myths. . . . [I]s more always better? Are there limits to the value of returns to the field? What are the costs and who will bear them? Returns to the Field has done us the valuable service of allowing this conversation to begin. * Social Anthropology * [V]aluable insights can be gained by returning to the field-whether physically or intellectually-to reflect upon the inevitable shifts in the researcher's intellectual transformation, disciplinary trends, and even popular understandings of key events and narratives that have been documented. Summer/Fall 2014 * Oral History Review * Overall, this is a great collection of essays that hang together well and - for once! - address the common theme that the edited volume is ostensibly about. At the same time, each is strong enough that it could be read separately. If you are interested in the topic or the contributors, it is definitely worth picking up. * *
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About Bruce M. Knauft

Signe Howell is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. She is author of The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective; The Ethnography of Moralities; Societies at Peace: An Anthropological Perspective; and Society and Cosmos: Chewong of Peninsular Malaysia.

Aud Talle (1944-2011) was Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and author of The Power of Culture: Female Circumcision as Tradition and Taboo (in Norwegian) and Women at a Loss: Changes in Maasai Pastoralism and Their Effects on Gender Relations.
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