Prof. Dr. Judith Okely: "Anthropologists Writing down and Writing up: through Fieldwork to Publication"
Research seminar in Social Anthropology
Prof. Judith Okely, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Hull, and Research Associate at the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford, will give the 3rd JJ Bachofen Lecture, a distinguished lecture series hosted annually by the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel.
"Anthropologists Writing down and Writing up: through Fieldwork to Publication"
Anthropologists need to take notes, not tick boxes. Participant observation involves the whole being: mind, body, memory, intellect, emotions and the unpredictable. Sometimes the anthropologist may write notes in front of the subjects, other times, only alone, at day’s end. This presentation analyses the writing practices of anthropologists of varied nationalities, with fieldwork around the globe, including this anthropologist’s research among Gypsies and in rural France.
Contexts of note taking vary. Non-literate subjects may be fascinated or fearful of the stranger pen, while the tape recorder and camera are sometimes welcomed. Writing notes and interrogation can distract from the rhythm of events: banal or melodramatic. Thus fieldwork presents dilemmas: whether to participate or observe. Jottings, then elaborated prose, reveal emerging categories. The personal may be separated in private diary or as letters home. Notebooks, carefully preserved, invariably remain in the anthropologist’s possession.
For some, writing up after field immersion, paradoxically frees the author from re-reading field notes: so engrained is their legacy. Additionally, being both fieldworker and writer, the author draws on unwritten experiences. The now deskbound anthropologist can engage with others’ cross-cultural texts. Simultaneously, some fieldwork details, noted or just remembered, are forever disguised or censored from publication.
Ort / Venue: Alte Universität, Rheinsprung, Basel; Hörsaal -101