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Reversed Gaze

Reversed Gaze: An African Ethnography of American Anthropology

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Reversed Gaze
    Book Description:

    Deftly illustrating how life circumstances can influence ethnographic fieldwork, Mwenda Ntarangwi focuses on his experiences as a Kenyan anthropology student and professional anthropologist practicing in the United States and Africa. Whereas Western anthropologists often study non-Western cultures, Mwenda Ntarangwi reverses these common roles and studies the Western culture of anthropology from an outsider's viewpoint while considering larger debates about race, class, power, and the representation of the "other." Tracing his own immersion into American anthropology, Ntarangwi identifies textbooks, ethnographies, coursework, professional meetings, and feedback from colleagues and mentors that were key to his development. _x000B__x000B_Reversed Gaze enters into a growing anthropological conversation on representation and self-reflexivity that ethnographers have come to regard as standard anthropological practice, opening up new dialogues in the field by allowing anthropologists to see the role played by subjective positions in shaping knowledge production and consumption. Recognizing the cultural and racial biases that shape anthropological study, this book reveals the potential for diverse participation and more democratic decision making in the identity and process of the profession.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09024-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. 1 Imagining Anthropology, Encountering America
    (pp. 1-23)

    Anthropologists’ accounts of how they navigate their first moments in the field have given us clues to understanding the fieldwork enterprise.¹ In doing so, some anthropologists have often problematized their own subjectivity in the field (e.g., race, gender, class, or ethnicity) and the way it affects their process of data collection and analysis.² Following these “revelations” as well as various “crises” in the profession, some critiques of anthropology have come to regard ethnography as a contingent fiction that neatly packages otherwise disparate parts of culture and obscures the power relations and poetics of writing about a culture or cultures.³ Such...

  6. 2 Tripping on Race, Training Anthropologists
    (pp. 24-51)

    Why does the bulk of anthropological research entail studying other people, especially those in non-Western worlds? Are anthropologists genuinely interested in other cultures, or do other cultures provide convenient subjects for anthropological study? Why go through the kinds of agony and challenges of fieldwork that have been recorded by many anthropologists in their fieldwork memoirs? Is fieldwork an adventure that, once completed, allows one to enter a new social status and that therefore offers a justifiable end for an excruciating process? Is studying others a consequence of the ease that might generally come with one’s finding and working with local...

  7. 3 Of Monkeys, Africans, and the Pursuit of the Other
    (pp. 52-77)

    My participation in a group project on race opened my eyes to other avenues of understanding the dynamics of race in the classroom and beyond. I soon found myself quite drawn to sociocultural texts that allowed for a deeper understanding of race. My next opportunity to analyze race came not in the form of a book but through student activities within the department as I looked not only at classroom behavior but also at some of the strategies used to bring students together. Interestingly, anthropology—no matter what level—seems to be fixated with alterity. Whether it is in the...

  8. 4 Remembering Home, Contrasting Experiences
    (pp. 78-100)

    As I argue in the previous chapter, even though Western anthropology has been dominated by the study of the Other, the discipline has and can be used to study one’s self and one’s culture. In this chapter, I give an example of the value of using anthropology not only to study others but also to reflect upon one’s own culture. Two years into my graduate training in anthropology, I picked up a set of analytical tools that I used in critiquing not only the work of other anthropologists but my own culture as well. The more I read ethnographies and...

  9. 5 Mega-Anthropology: The AAA Annual Meetings
    (pp. 101-125)

    For anthropology truly to become a cultural critique, anthropologists must apply the information they gather from studying other cultures toward understanding themselves and anthropological culture itself. In such anthropological studies of anthropology, I envision a systematic analysis of how anthropologists function in their everyday lives—especially when they assemble together for professional meetings such as the American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual conferences. Such a study and analysis are, in my view, very similar to those carried out in anthropology’s traditional locations in far away and exotic places and not what Holmes and Marcus call para-ethnography.

    In para-ethnography Holmes and Marcus...

  10. 6 A New Paradigm for Twenty-First-Century Anthropology?
    (pp. 126-152)

    What is the future of anthropology in a world that is becoming increasingly connected by new forms of globalization that hinge on a neoliberal economic model? What is the role of anthropology in highlighting and analyzing this global neoliberal condition, especially as it reflects not only anthropology’s quintessential research subject—the Other—but American anthropology’s relationship with other anthropologies? Faye Harrison offers an important starting point in Outsider Within (2008) for answering these questions by providing what she calls in her subtitle a “reworking of anthropology in the global age.” She then goes on to provide nine critical objectives toward...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 153-164)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-176)
  13. Index
    (pp. 177-183)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 184-184)