chapter  1
25 Pages

Theoretical and Historical Overview

WithJudith Okely

Many classical monographs have proved thoroughly engaging to anthropological readers and beyond. Subsequent generations have brought innovations to the genre. Social anthropological fieldwork provides unique insights into long-term cross-cultural encounters. Few anthropology academic textbooks explicitly analyze fieldwork as what is done in practice. Anthropological methodological silence has not been restricted to the United Kingdom. In 1997, it was claimed that ‘most leading departments of anthropology in the United States provide no formal (and very little informal) training in field-work methods’. Preparation for anthropologists, in Britain at least, where the majority of the anthropologists were educated as postgraduates, has too easily relied on a notion of ‘instinct’, ideally detached interaction but in practice an open-ended approach. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book concentrates on aspects of the largely unique field practice of anthropology.