The work done by contributors to Fieldwork Is Not What It Used to Be articulates, at the strategic point of career-making research, features of this transformation in progress. Setting aside traditional anxieties about ethnographic authority, the authors revisit fieldwork with fresh initiative. In search of better understandings of the contemporary research process itself, they assess the current terms of the engagement of fieldworkers with their subjects, address the constructive, open-ended forms by which the conclusions of fieldwork might take shape, and offer an accurate and useful description of what it means to become-and to be-an anthropologist today.
Contributors: Lisa Breglia, George Mason University; Jae A. Chung, Aalen University; James D. Faubion, Rice University; Michael M. J. Fischer, MIT; Kim Fortun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Jennifer A. Hamilton, Hampshire College; Christopher M. Kelty, UCLA; George E. Marcus, University of California, Irvine; Nahal Naficy, Rice University; Kristin Peterson, University of California, Irvine; Deepa S. Reddy, University of Houston-Clear Lake
"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.
Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.
Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.
If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.
Panourgia and Marcus bring together anthropologists working in various parts of the world (Greece, Bali, Taiwan, the United States) with classicists, historians, and scholars in cultural studies. The volume takes into account global realities such as 9/11 and the opening of the Cypriot Green Line and explores the different ways in which Geertz's anthropology has shaped the pedagogy of their disciplines and enabled discussions among them. Focusing on place and time, locations and temporalities, the essays in this volume interrogate the fixity of interpretation and open new spaces of inquiry. The volume addresses a wide audience from
the humanities and the social sciences--anyone interested in the development of a new humanism that will relocate the human as a subject of social action.