- Paperback: 190 pages
- Publisher: Waveland Pr Inc; 58855th edition (September 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1577661567
- ISBN-13: 978-1577661566
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Innocent Anthropologist : Notes from a Mud Hut Paperback – September 1, 2000
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"I absolutely love this book and am using it this semester. The text is extremely readable and provides students with real insight into how fieldwork can go right even in the face of adversity." --Yvonne Downes, Hilbert College
"I have decided to use it in my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course. Its strength was the author's clear articulation of the fieldwork process in all its highs and lows." --Christina Schwenkel, University of California, Riverside
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
"The prevalence of factual data in anthropological monographs stems . . . from an attitude of 'when in doubt, collect facts.' This is, in a sense, an understandable approach. So off I went every day, armed with my tobacco and notebooks and paced out the fields, calculated the yields, counted the goats in a flurry of irrelevant activity. This at least had the virtue of making my weird and inexplicable ways familiar to the Dowayos and I began to know them by name." (from Chapter 6)
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I kept wanting to underline entire paragraphs, for going back and laughing at them again later. Here are a few of my favorites:
"Young anthropologists know all about missionaries before they've met any. They plan a large role in the demonology of the subject, beside self-righteous administrators and exploitative colonials. The only intellectually respectable response to a tin rattled in one's face by someone collecting for missionary work is a reasoned refutation of the whole concept of missionary interference... Missions destroy traditional cultures and self-respect, reducing peoples all over the globe to the state of helpless, baffled morons living on charity and in economic and cultural thralldom to the West. The great dishonesty lies in exporting to the Third World systems of thought that the West itself has largely discarded." And then he goes on to describe how much he enjoyed his time with missionaries, and enjoyed shopping at their store. "To the jaded, ravenous fieldworker this (their store) was an Aladdin's cave of imported goodies at reduced prices."
The book lagged a bit for me near the end, where he wrote about the actual practices of the people he was studying. Then it gets hilarious again when he describes his return home to England:
"The anthropologist traveller... goes away for what seems an inordinately long period to other worlds, ponders cosmic problems, ages greatly. When he returns, on a few months have elapsed. The acorn he planted has not become a great tree; it has scarcely had time to put forth a tentative shoot... Only his closest friends have noticed he has been away at all... It is positively insulting how well the world functions without one. While the traveller has been away questioning his most basic assumptions, life has continued sweetly unruffled. Friends continue to collect matching French saucepans. The acacia at the foot of the lawn continues to come along nicely."
"Being English seems as much a pose as being Dowayo. You find yourself discussing the things that seem important to your friends with the same detached seriousness that you used to discuss witchcraft with your villagers. The result of this lack of fit is a brooding sense of insecurity only heightened by the vast numbers of rushing white people you meet everywhere."
"Anything concerned with shopping seems inordinately difficult. The sight of the shelves of a supermarket groaning with super-abunance of food induces either nauseous revulsion or helpless dithering. I would either go three times round the store and give up the attempt to decide, or buy vast quantities of the most luxurious goods and whimper with the terror that they would be snatched from me."
Too perfect! I highly recommend this book to anyone who has found themselves living in a cross-cultural situation for an extended period of time. While the details might not match, the "feel" certainly will. And the wonderful self-deprecation of the author will keep you in stitches the whole way through.