Beyond Sites and Methods

The field, history and global capitalism

Authored by: Patrick Neveling

The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415583954
eBook ISBN: 9781315743950
Adobe ISBN: 9781317590675

10.4324/9781315743950.ch4

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Abstract

For a largely research-driven science such as anthropology the object(s) of investigation are crucial choices. The “field” is what most anthropologists may identify as just such an object, be this the entire world or a rural, suburban, or urban setting, a factory, a university department, or whatever other scales we may think of where human interaction and sociability take place. What is possibly significant for anthropology in contrast to other disciplines is the uneasy relationship they have with their “field” – both as individuals with academic biographies and as an epistemic community of scientists with their common quarrels over politics and analytical strands. Bronislaw Malinowski, who is often identified as the founder of mainstream anthropological research practices, himself established the practice of field research in a setting where he ended up as living for a time as a detainee on Australian territory because of his German origin in the years of the First World War. He made good use of his somewhat unwanted residence pattern and, as we all know, wrote several all-time classics about the Trobriand Islands in what was then an Australian protectorate.

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