In Is Native Anthropology Really Possible how is native anthropology defined? What does it mean to do native anthropology? Also, describe one challenge the author identifies for native anthropology.
Paper details: Answer the following questions in your own words using the appropriate assigned readings. Do not quote/cite the text. You can, however, say things like “According to Eriksen” or “Ingold tells us that.” Each response should be no more than two paragraphs long; that is, two paragraphs per question maximum.
Use a standard 12-point font and double-space your paper. Do not use outside sources.
1. In the article “Is Native Anthropology Really Possible” by Takeyuki Tsuda, how is “native anthropology” defined? What does it mean to do native anthropology? Also, describe one challenge the author identifies for native anthropology.
2. In the article “Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage” by Renato Rosaldo, what explanation does he offer for why the Ilongot headhunt? Offer a brief explanation of the reason.
This article offers a reflexive and anthropological contribution to the current volume of scripta Instituti Donneriani aboensis. It reflects on the experience of conducting anthropological work at home – or across homes – I considered this research to be an experience of ‘Jewish ethnography’ as a Jewish ethnographer. However, my own ‘Jew-ish’ background meant that I had become ‘neither fish nor fowl’ within the field-site, which proved both to be an obstacle to, and an opportunity for, conducting the research.
It utilises this experience to challenge the conceptual use of the term ‘community’, which encapsulates considerable diversity but obscures the nuanced differences that can pervade a social body. these reflections demonstrate how positionality can be used as a tool for postgraduate students to untangle the complexities of conducting ethnographic research at ‘home’ or in relation to religious minority groups, where significant intra-group differences of practice and worldviews exist, but may otherwise be concealed by the image of ‘community’.
Haredi Jewish minorities are often grouped together and framed by public health bodies in England and Europe as the ‘ultra-Orthodox Jewish community’ with not much clarity concerning of how this ‘community’ is constituted.
I was consequently interested to problematise the construction in health discourse of this composite collective as a ‘community’ and the implications of this for meeting their needs. Presenting my initial findings at the Donner Institute in March 2015 for a round-table discussion on ‘Judaic Studies in the Nordic Countries Today’ was, then, a timely opportunity to reflect on my PhD fieldwork which was conducted in an Orthodox and Haredi Jewish area of England, introduced above and discussed in this essay.
Although this volume shows an unfortunate lack of anthropological or ethnographic perspectives of Jewish sociality in the Nordic countries or by Nordic scholars, anthropological contributions to Jewish studies more broadly have been immense.
Anthropologists have certainly contributed to the sub-field of Jewish studies by producing research that critically analyses emerging encounters within Jewish social worlds, as well as intra- and inter-community relations as they connect, conflict, or coalesce over time (to name just a few examples; see Arkin 2014, Egorova and Perwez 2013, Goldberg 1972, Herman 2012, Sered 1996). It has also proved to be a stimulating and reflexive journey when the researcher conducts anthropology at ‘home’ or has a degree of relation to the context of study, as prompted by Barbara Myerhoff ’s (1978) legendary ethnographical work Number Our Days (see also Fader 2009, Kugelmass 1988, Kahn 2000, Seeman 2009, Stadler 2009, Weiss 2002).
As a growing and prominent Jewish minority, the ‘ultra-Orthodox community’ has increasingly become the focus of academic interest. In the context of Israel, its members have been cited as being an example of ‘Jewish fundamentalism’, demonstrating outward expressions of activism and resistance despite voluntarily living ‘in sort of ghettos that have ecological and cultural boundaries clearly defined and carefully maintained’ (Aran et al. 2008: 32; see also Hakak 2009, 2011).
There remains, however, a lack of ethnographic research that captures the texture of Jewish life in the UK (also argued by Kahn-Harris 2014), particularly regarding the bounds of Orthodox and Haredi Judaism.
Rather than a fixed ‘boundary’, the term ‘frontier’ accounts for a situation that is brought about by the presence of ‘overlapping and moving cultures’ (see, for instance, Merli 2008: 6), which could, more suitably, describe a composite collective that is formed of multiple Jewish modalities.
Ethnographic research and the researcher’s experience of positionality may then be a strategic method for teasing out the complexities and intricacies of Jewish topographies that are not defined by the notion of a clear-cut and contained ‘community’.