Feminist Fields

Feminist Fields: Ethnographic Insights

RAE BRIDGMAN
SALLY COLE
HEATHER HOWARD-BOBIWASH
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 314
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttw7p
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  • Book Info
    Feminist Fields
    Book Description:

    Feminist Fieldsoffers a rich and varied portrait of both the current work in feminist anthropology and future possibilities for dialoguebetween feminism and anthropology.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0257-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ONE INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)
    Rae Bridgman, Sally Cole and Heather Howard-Bobiwash

    This book began as a murmur in a crowded room where women anthropologists had gathered to talk about the work they had been doing, to report on the kind of support they were receiving from the institutions with which they were affiliated, and to brainstorm on possibilities for the future of women in anthropology in Canada. It was a meeting of the Women’s Network/Réseau des femmes at the annual Canadian Anthropology Society/Société canadienne d’anthropologie at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1996. At that time it was noted that there was a dearth of presentations at the conference on...

  5. TWO PILGRIM SOULS, HONORARY MEN, (UN)DUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: SOJOURNERS IN MODERNIST ANTHROPOLOGY
    (pp. 13-32)
    Sally Cole

    Between 1921 and 1940, nineteen women and twenty men received doctoral degrees in anthropology at Columbia University in New York. This phenomenon was not duplicated at any other institution at the time, nor did similar proportions of women begin to enter anthropology again until the 1980s. The history of women in twentieth-century anthropology parallels that of women in other disciplines. In 1930, 15.8 per cent of full professors in the social science departments at American universities were women; by 1960, that number had plummeted to an all-time low of 3 per cent (Parezo, 1993; Rossiter, 1982). Rates of participation of...

  6. THREE TRANSLATING MOTHER TONGUES: AMY TAN AND MAXINE HONG KINGSTON ON ETHNOGRAPHIC AUTHORITY
    (pp. 33-53)
    Karen Su

    Translation between languages and cultures involves the negotiation of power – who must translate for whom? As an Asian-American, I feel the act of translation thrust upon me all too often. Many Asian-Americans are held to an “ethnographic imperative” to explain “Asian” culture to a Western audience or to translate what’s perceived as our “mother” culture. Exacerbating the situation is the dominant culture’s lack of recognition of what an Asian-American cultural identity, as distinct from an Asian one, might be. The central conflicts between mothers and daughters in Amy Tan’sThe Joy Luck Club(1989) and Maxine Hong Kingston’sThe...

  7. FOUR U.S. FEMINIST ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE DENATIONALIZING OF “AMERICA”: A RETROSPECTIVE ON WOMEN WRITING CULTURE
    (pp. 54-69)
    Deborah A. Gordon

    In this paper I explore the affiliations and afflictions of the U.S. nation-state as they played themselves out inWomen Writing Culture(Behar and Gordon, 1995).Women Writing Cultureis a volume in which feminists in North American anthropology considered women’s contributions to the discipline’s purpose at the end of the century. The contributions included new readings of women anthropologists, reclaimed the writings by women of colour for cultural description, and proposed new visions of feminist ethnography. As one of the book’s editors, I want retrospectively to situate the volume within what Mary John (1996)has argued inDiscrepant Dislocationsis...

  8. FIVE BEYOND SELVES AND OTHERS: EMBODYING AND ENACTING META-NARRATIVES WITH A DIFFERENCE
    (pp. 70-85)
    Cory Silverstein

    Many of us live in borderline zones that have yet to be socially acknowledged or defined. Each situation demands and/or emphasizes different identity markers so that one is constantly encountering an array of possible “selves.” Lila Abu-Lughod (1990) refers to this condition as “multiple selfhood.” She points out that native anthropologists, and feminists in general, often find themselves simultaneously, or alternately, high and low on different scales of hierarchy. Although one may partially control the presentation of one’s identity in a given situation, for the most part others ascertain who one is based on socially determined categories such as man/woman...

  9. SIX “HOME HAS ALWAYS BEEN HARD FOR ME”: SINGLE MOTHERS’ NARRATIVES OF IDENTITY, HOME AND LOSS
    (pp. 86-102)
    Susan Frohlick

    This essay is both a critique and a recognition of the significance of “home” and its multiple meanings and practices in the context of single mothers’ life stories. Feminist anthropologists and geographers argue that home (or the lack there of) is a crucial spatiality of women’s everyday lives, a diagnostic of power and gendered subjectivity that should not be taken for granted (Rose, 1993; Massey, 1994; Moore, 1994). Home is neither a neutral container nor an essential place but rather a lived, felt, and highly mediated experience and social space in which subjects are defined and determined (Kirby, 1996). Home...

  10. SEVEN “OH, SO YOU HAVE A HOME TO GO TO?”: EMPOWERMENT AND RESISTANCE IN WORK WITH CHRONICALLY HOMELESS WOMEN
    (pp. 103-116)
    Rae Bridgman

    I hopped on my bicycle and prepared to make the trek home from one of the first days I visited Savard’s, a shelter for homeless women. A woman who was living there asked me, “Where are you going?” I answered gaily, casually, “I’m going home.” “Oh, so you have a home to go to?” she asked, followed by, “Do you have furniture?” I was startled. Yes, I had a home to go to. But now, the questions gnawed at me. Her assumption had been that I did not have a home to go to. In her mind, I had somehow...

  11. EIGHT “LIKE HER LIPS TO MY EAR”: READING ANISHNAABEKWEG LIVES AND ABORIGINAL CULTURAL CONTINUITY IN THE CITY
    (pp. 117-136)
    Heather Howard-Bobiwash

    Much anthropological attention has focused on issues of representation and interpretation in textual production. There has been less discussion of the reception of or process of reading our texts in the communities of practice from which they have originated (Brettell, 1996; Wolf, 1992). As Ruth Behar (1995) found, efforts to discover how our work is received may meet with indifference. For those of us who work in urban contexts the boundaries between personal, field, and academic circles may overlap and flow into each other, collapsing bases of knowledge and forming new sites from which creative and innovative anthropology may emerge....

  12. NINE WHO ARE WE FOR THEM? ON DOING RESEARCH IN THE PALESTINIAN WEST BANK
    (pp. 137-156)
    Celia Rothenberg

    Pat Caplan (1993: 78) argues that as anthropologists we should ask about ourselves and the people with whom we work: “Who are we for them? Who are they for us?” The latter question generally receives far more attention than the former. But asking and taking seriously who we are for them can lead us to more sensitive and appropriate research practices and questions than a singular focus on who they are for us. Further, when asked and answered together, these questions may also begin to break down the dichotomy of Us and Them and allow us instead to develop a...

  13. TEN NARRATING EMBODIED LIVES: MUSLIM WOMEN ON THE COAST OF KENYA
    (pp. 157-172)
    Parin A. Dossa

    In her 1992 essay, “Experience,” Joan Scott argues that what we count as experience is not self-evident but is always contested and therefore political. In this paper, I employ the paradigm of “embodiment” to foreground unexamined bodily/lived experiences of Swahili Muslim women on the island town of Lamu (Kenya). By the paradigm of embodiment, I mean experiential understanding of life situations. The paradigm of embodiment locates the roots of human experiences in the body as the existential ground of culture and self (Csordas, 1994), where the body is understood as a thinking, feeling, and acting entity. As a non-positivist strategy,...

  14. ELEVEN OFF THE FEMINIST PLATFORM IN TURKEY: CHERKESS GENDER RELATIONS
    (pp. 173-195)
    Gönül Ertem

    In an essay written for International Women’s Day, a Cherkess intellectual suggests that

    the Cherkess woman cannot be thought of in isolationvis-à-visthe new concepts and trends in the world concerning “the woman.” The Cherkess woman also experiences all the problems that women in the culture of the country in which she lives do, and [she] struggles. She carries on her struggle functionally sometimes in the family, other times, if she works outside, in her work environment. (Bir, 1995)

    Bir emphasizes that Cherkess women realize they must work and be economically independent if they are to reap the benefits...

  15. TWELVE COLONIAL AND POST-REVOLUTIONARY DISCOURSES AND NICARAGUAN FEMINIST CONSTRUCTIONS OF MESTIZA: REFLECTIONS OF A CULTURAL TRAVELLER
    (pp. 196-211)
    Milagros Ortiz Barillas

    Revolutionaries were shocked and surprised by their defeat in the 1990 elections in Nicaragua. Having been in power since they successfully overthrew the Somoza dictatorship government in 1979, the revolutionary political party, the Sandinista Front, was confident its anti-bourgeois and anti-American platforms still held wide popular appeal. Revolutionaries were now compelled to reconsider perspectives on the historical, social, and cultural transformations taking place in Nicaragua. In this process, debates were opened about women’s issues in relation to the context of revolution. Women constituted the majority of the electorate, yet in 1990 their voices were not heard during the elections and...

  16. THIRTEEN “FIXO BEN” (SHE DID THE RIGHT THING): WOMEN AND SOCIAL DISRUPTION IN RURAL GALICIA
    (pp. 212-228)
    Sharon R. Roseman

    In this essay, I use a feminist practice approach to explore the significance of the social disruptions performed by women in Galician villages in northwestern Spain. By the word “disruptions” I am referring to those “critical” narratives (Khare, 1996: 28) and actions that stand out in a society because their content and style interrupts the “logical flow” of everyday conversation and behaviours (Church, 1995). Capturing the attention of onlookers, these interruptions can comprise explicit commentary on the structural frameworks of unequal social relations and/or the socially constructed nature of cultural categories. Others might call such disruptions examples of “native” ethnography...

  17. FOURTEEN “TO RECLAIM YORUBA TRADITION IS TO RECLAIM OUR QUEENS OF MOTHER AFRICA:” RECASTING GENDER THROUGH MEDIATED PRACTICES OF THE EVERYDAY
    (pp. 229-242)
    Kamari Maxine Clarke

    Margaret Mead’s statement, that if a fish were an anthropologist the last thing it would discover would be water, rings in my head as I debate the relevance of “insider anthropology” to my research in Oyotunji African Village, South Carolina. Oyotunji, a village of some fifty residents, is situated approximately sixty-five miles southwest of Charleston, near Beausfort, a city with a population of nearly 90,000. Oyotunji is an intentional community of converts to Yoruba religious and cultural practices. Since its formation in 1970, residents have strengthened their ties with Nigerian Yoruba traditionalists. Artists and carpenters in the village designed a...

  18. FIFTEEN GENDER AND IDENTITY FORMATION IN POST-SOCIALIST UKRAINE: THE CASE OF WOMEN IN THE SHUTTLE BUSINESS
    (pp. 243-263)
    Tatiana Zhurzhenko

    The rapid growth of employment in the informal sector and the emergence of marginal forms of economic activity comprise a marked trend of the economy in transition in Ukraine in the last decade. There are women who have carried the main load of the social costs of market reforms and who have had to elaborate alternative economic strategies proceeding from their limited possibilities. Indeed, some marginal forms of economic activity may be accurately called “female,” as they represent “female niches” that have spontaneously emerged in the transition economy. The hypothesis set forth on the basis of the research presented in...

  19. SIXTEEN RURAL WOMEN AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN REFORM ERA CHINA: THE STRATEGY OF THE OFFICIAL WOMEN’S MOVEMENT
    (pp. 264-281)
    Ellen R. Judd

    The economic reform that reshaped China’s countryside in the 1980s gave no attention to women’s particular roles or to gender relations. In this respect it is unusual compared with the previous major thresholds in the transformation of China’s political economy. In each of the previous instances – from Land Reform) (1946-52) through to Cultural Revolution (1965-76) – gender issues were prominent and in some instances were even critical components of the state’s program for change. While this was conspicuously not the case for the economic reform, toward the end of the 1980s some women within the official Women’s Federations moved...

  20. SEVENTEEN FEMINIST FIELDS: CONVERSATIONS TO BE CONTINUED
    (pp. 282-302)

    A primary goal of this volume has been to open up the spaces of feminism in anthropological texts and practice. Ours effort towards this goal have included the incorporation of works by both emerging and established scholars and an emphasis on narrative and reflexive modes of fieldwork analyses and presentation. Rather than close this volume with an authoritative conclusion, we have chosen instead to generate a dialogue that, in these last pages, constitutes only the beginning of conversations to be continued.

    We initiated this conversation by asking the contributors to participate in the writing of this last chapter. By making...

  21. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 303-306)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 307-314)