The politics of localization: controlling movement in the field
AbstractRomantic notions of the field, as depicted in works such as those of Evans-Pritchard and Malinowski, where an anthropologist is able to set up a hut in the middle of a village, conceal the complexities encountered by researchers in attempts to localize themselves in the field. In the post-colonial, globalizing world today, the field is marked by various unequal power relationships. Reflecting on my fieldwork experience I shall examine how questions of race and ethnicity affect a researcher's ability to acquire various apprenticeships for understanding how 'things are done' (Jenkins 1994: 442) and effectively conduct fieldwork. I worked in the ethnically divided society of Zanzibar, where I was categorized as a local Asian and my ability to move through the social landscape was tied to my ethnic origins. Placed within such contested landscapes, where the researcher becomes a part of the politicized field, traditional training in fieldwork methodology proves useless. In such situations, the researcher is required to re-examine approaches to fieldwork and re-evaluate their position vis-à-vis the rest of the community. As ethnic/racial categories through which the locals classify the researcher dictate the nature of data collected, the paper will explore issues that a researcher must attempt to comprehend when placed in such a situation and discuss how questions of power are integral for negotiating one's position in such a politicized field.