Extraordinary Anthropology


Extraordinary Anthropology

Transformations in the Field

Edited by Jean-Guy A. Goulet and Bruce G. Miller
With a preface by Johannes Fabian

472 pages
Map, index


June 2007


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eBook (PDF)
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June 2007


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About the Book

What happens when anthropologists lose themselves during fieldwork while attempting to understand divergent cultures? When they stray from rigorous agendas and are forced to confront radically unexpected or unexplained experiences? In Extraordinary Anthropology leading ethnographers from across the globe discuss the importance of the deeply personal and emotionally volatile “ecstatic” side of fieldwork.
Anthropologists who have worked in communities in Central America, North America, Australia, Africa, and Asia share their intimate experiences of tranformations in the field through details of significant dreams, haunting visions, and their own conflicting emotional tensions. Their experiences demonstrate the necessary fluidity of research agendas, the value of going beyond an accepted (and safe) cultural and academic vantage point, and the inevitability of wrestling with tension and unhappiness when faced with irreconcilable cultural and psychological dichotomies. The contributors explore ways in which conventional research methods can be adapted to creatively engage the intellectual, ethical, and practical dimensions of these dislocations and capitalize on them. Unsettling and revealing, Extraordinary Anthropology will spark debate and reflection among anthropologists for years to come.

Author Bio

Jean-Guy A. Goulet is an anthropologist teaching conflict studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. His books include Being Changed by Cross Cultural Encounters: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience and Ways of Knowing: Experience, Knowledge, and Power among the Dene Tha (Nebraska 1998).
Bruce Granville Miller is a professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia. His books include The Problem of Justice: Tradition and Law in the Coast Salish World (Nebraska 2001) and Invisible Indigenes: The Politics of Nonrecognition (Nebraska 2003). Johannes Fabian is the author of Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object.
Contributors: Edward Abse, Millie Creighton, Duncan Earle, Peter Gardner, Guy Lanoue, Deirdre Meintel, Denise Nuttall, Petra Rethmann, Deborah Bird Rose, Edmund Searles, Jeanne Simonelli, Janferie Stone, Anahì Viladrich, and Barbara Wilkes.


"This work is a refreshing counter to an increasingly neopositivist academy, a must-read for those interested in what a critical, phenomenological ethnography looks and feels like in anthropology today."—Leslie A. Robertson, BC Studies

“In this book, thick ethnographic description, thoughtful analysis, and theoretical postulate borrowed from cognitive psychology, social psychology, anthropology, folklore and history are interwoven into a beautiful fabric so that ethnography in practice emerges in present acts as narratives about the past. . . . The result is an illuminating volume about a complex research method, imbued with spontaneity and much affected by a wide array of emotional, ethical, practical, and moral tensions and dichotomies. . . . Readers may also find it useful and interesting to go backstage with an anthropologist, and see what lies behind the finished performance.”—Gregory S. Szarycz, Anthropological Forum

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