ASA Conference 2004, Durham - Locating the field

Plenary A: Field worries

Ulf Hannerz, University of Stockholm

I will draw on my four field studies (among African-Americans in Washington DC; in the Cayman Islands; in a Nigerian town; and among news media foreign correspondents) to exemplify shifts in field definitions and practices in anthropology in recent decades. I will have something to say about the role of chance in the selection of fields and research problems, and about the variations in personal involvements in contemporary fields. These will be related to the moral overtones in current controversies over ‘the field’ in anthropology. I will end by pointing to some present threats to field work in anthropology.