The challenge of the region
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As mentioned, East Asia can be seen as providing many challenges for anthropologists. For example, as Kelly (1991) has noted, Japan specialists are studying a powerful nation, with great wealth, literacy, and, significantly, with an extensive and independent academic establishment. The implications, for anthropologists, of turning to the study of cultures with ancient literate and scholarly traditions have scarcely begun to be considered. One potential difficulty is that by becoming specialized (or over-specialized) in local concerns (a specialization that is virtually limitless through, for instance, a consideration of Chinese history), it will become difficult for anthropologists of East Asia to relate their findings to anthropologists who rely more fully, in other regions, on the traditional ‘long conversation’ of participant observation.