Not too close together, nor too far apart: Negotiating research-community relations during anthropological fieldwork

Regardless of the community under study, cultural anthropologists are charged with the task of capturing other people’s points of view. As we live and study among the communities that we want to understand, anthropologists differ in the way that they relate to the people that they study. Some maintain their outsider status while others delve in and even convert in order to get as close as possible to the insiders’ perspectives. Making use of the experience of fieldwork with a contemporary community of Albanian Sufi Mystics of Islam, this semi-formal talk traces the twists and turns in the very fieldworker-community relationship. In doing so, the author’s experience does not reflect a stable relationship that is easily defined as either an “outsider” or “insider” positionality but a negotiated and fluid relationship that oscillated from being received as a suspect visitor to an uninitiated member of the Bektashi.

Please join us for the next Faculty Lunch Talk presented by Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology Mentor Mustafa on:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
12:30 – 1:30 pm
President’s Dining Room