anthro101lec31.040308 - Anthropology 101 Winter 2008 At...

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Anthropology 101 04.02.08 Winter 2008 Tom Fricke At Home in the World I. Getting it: A Note on Ethnographic method and process "It so happened that when I returned to Lajamanu, it was a tree that determined the course of my fieldwork: the same tree Francine and I had visited with Nola Nungarrayi the previous year, and Nola had mourned as her father" (pp. 137-38). Now this is interesting! Jackson is setting us up for something. There is something about fieldwork and anthropological understanding. Is it the later return to a place that gets us closer to "understanding" the other? Is it the separation period, the time away between trips, that gets us thinking and lets experience sort of settle into the anthropologist's mind (and body), priming him or her for realization? Remember how Fricke talked about not really "getting it" among the people of Timling until that return, the second fieldwork, a few years later than his first fieldtrip? And then suddenly realizing how things "worked" -- feeling like he understood better how the Tamang really "saw" their world? He said in lecture that he felt like Helen Keller in that old movie with Patty Duke -- realizing what those hand signs meant in the rain. [This is parenthetical -- or maybe "bracketical" since I'm using brackets here -- but has anybody noticed how fieldwork for anthropologists has the same form as a rite of passage? There's separation, liminality, and reintegration in a transformed state I abundance in the process. Anthropologists come back from the field as a kind of transformed person. Think of all the other things you could apply that framework to!] II. Anthropological holism: On "feeling" and "habitus" Another thing: Michael Jackson went to study the Warlpiri for a reason (for a research reason): this is what anthropologists do -- it's a way of organizing our enquiries. Yet, what is so interesting here is how entering into another culture, another world, from any point very quickly draws you into more than you bargained for -- to the connections across vast domains. This is a good illustration of why anthropology insists on a "holistic" perspective: "This is how I understood the journey I embarked upon. Much had been written on the subject of home and homelessness in the Western world, but what of the experience of home elsewhere? By going to Aboriginal Australia, I hoped to explore the ways in which people created and sustained a sense of belonging and autonomy when they did not build or dwell in houses, and house was not synonymous with home" (Jackson, p. 4). Maybe, going to Jackson's use of that idea he calls "habitus" will give us a handle on what he's talking about. He mentions that word on page 51 and again on page 85. "As I spaded the spiniflex from the hard, brick-red earth to make a camp, or lit a fire of mulga in the gathering dust, I felt renewed. If home is where a person is at peace with himself, where he can honestly say that there is nowhere else he would rather be, then the desert had become my home.
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