chapter  7
29 Pages

Specificities and Reciprocity

WithJudith Okely

The specificity, positionality and personal history of the anthropologist are resources to be explored, not repressed. Powdermaker long ago insisted: ‘A scientific discussion of field work method should include considerable detail about the observer’. The participant observer had to make decisions unsolved by scientific ‘objectivity’. Key associates may come to be a vital means of ensuring reciprocity between the anthropologist and the people. As with the examples of the anthropologist revealing emotions, Clough narrated a major breakthrough via reciprocity. As throughout these multiple examples of fieldwork from around the world, through decades, and by individuals of some sixteen varied nationalities, the contexts for reciprocity and exchange varied according to context and the specificity of the individual fieldworker. The anthropologists migrated from armchair, desk and even laptop for embodied fieldwork across the globe, in unknown, tiny or well-trampled places.