chapter  2
20 Pages

Unit, Region and Locality

WithJudith Okely

Global links beyond fixed localities were always present in the subject of classical anthropology and early monographs, but not usually the prime focus. Anthropologists elsewhere are waking up to the fact that seemingly isolated peoples are not only affected by new invasions and changes, but also that they had a history. Our analytic units need not be population aggregates of some sort: they can as well (and sometimes more revealingly) be segments of time or action, points of contact or separation. British and French anthropologists tended to concentrate on colonial regions in Africa and Asia under their nations’ respective rule. By contrast, pioneering North American anthropologists engaged in research among their internally colonized indigenous peoples: Boas among the Eskimo/Inuit, Kroeber among Native Americans. The chapter explores how dialogues with anthropologists reveal that they indeed were often open to chance as to field site. Significantly, they were later able retrospectively to explain their imaginative and productive choices.