chapter
fieldwork
Pages 8

There is a troubled relationship between the representation of anthropological fieldwork and the actuality of any particular fieldwork. In sober fact, fieldwork can take as many forms as there are anthropologists, projects, and circumstances. Jean Briggs (1970) spent 17 months with a family group of Inuit in the Canadian *Arctic, 150 miles from anyone else. It is difficult to conceive of a more intense, total, and perhaps ill-advised abandonment to the ethnographic project. No-one spoke English. She was dependent on her hosts for shelter, for much of her food and clothing, and in an immediate and frightening sense for her very survival. Only once did she briefly leave the field, for a tiny and hardly less austere outpost of civilization. Malcolm Young (1991), on the other hand, did his fieldwork on the police of Newcastle while being a Newcastle policeman, and so never left home-or perhaps never left the field. My own fieldwork with Sri Lankan forest monks was different again (Carrithers 1983). I lived in Sri Lanka for nearly three years, but only occasionally among the monks: after all, they live in the woods to get away from people.