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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Stevan Harrell

Fieldwork Connections: The Fabric of Ethnographic Collaboration in China and America book cover
Fieldwork Connections: The Fabric of Ethnographic Collaboration in China and America (University of Washington Press, 2007)
Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 4:00pm
Communications 202

With co-authors Bamo Ayi and Ma Lunzy.
Reception to follow.
Fieldwork Connections tells the story of the intertwined research histories of three anthropologists working in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in 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 female scholar 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 describes the research itself, and the stories begin to connect as they become active collaborators. Over the course of the narrative, the scene shifts from China to America, and the relationships among the authors changes from distant, wary, and hierarchical to close, reciprocal, and egalitarian.
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.
Stevan Harrell is an anthropologist and translator. He is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington and curator of Asian Ethnology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Bamo Ayi is an anthropologist and a 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. Ma Lunzy is an ethnologist, historian, author, and curator. He is Deputy Director of Liangshan Minorities Research Institute.