Fieldwork Connections by Stevan Harrell

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Fieldwork Connections tells the story of the intertwined research histories of three anthropologists working in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China in the late twentieth century. Chapters are written alternately by a male American anthropologist, a male researcher raised in a village in Liangshan, and a highly educated woman from an elite Nuosu/Chinese family. As decades of mutual ethnographic research unfold, the authors enter one another's narratives and challenge the reader to ponder the nature of ethnographic "truth."

The book begins with short accounts of the process by which each of the authors became involved in anthropological field research. It then proceeds to describe the research itself, and the stories begin to connect as they become active collaborators. The scene shifts in the course of the narrative from China to America, and the relationship between the authors shifts from distant, wary, and somewhat hierarchical to close, egalitarian, and reciprocal.

The authors share their histories through personal stories, not technical analyses; their aim is to entertain while addressing the process of ethnography and the dynamics of international and intercultural communication.

Bamo Ayi is an anthropologist and scholar of comparative religion. She is deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Department, State Nationalities Commission, and professor of philosophy at Central Nationalities University, Beijing. Stevan Harrell is an anthropologist and translator. He is professor of anthropology at the University of Washington. Ma Lunzy is an ethnologist, historian, author, and curator. He is deputy director of Liangshan Minorities Research Institute.

"I used Fieldwork Connections in my Chinese Ethnographies course last quarter, and the students really liked it. Both the students and I thought that it gave them a much better idea of field research methods and issues than other ethnographies had done. They also liked the comparison of different researchers experiences with each other, in China, and in the US. It sparked some very productive seminar discussion about research methods and ethics. I strongly recommend it. " - Melissa J. Brown, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Stanford University


About Stevan Harrell

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Published January 1, 2007 by University of Washington Press. 384 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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A cast of characters list, a brief Chinese and Nuoso glossary, maps and photographs of the researchers at work contribute to the ease with which the non-specialist reader can enter the work.

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