Although fictionalized, it is a clear testament to the perils of being an anthropologist thrust unprepared into the field. During her fieldwork studying the effects of urbanization upon a small Danish Island village, Anderson is faced with challenge after challenge to fitting into the regular patterns and expectations of the people. As a means of better adjusting to the community she takes a cooking class, only to quit the course due to a series of embarrassing episodes beginning with a disastrous meatloaf resulting form her mistaking the Danish word for flour for the word for sugar. I was especially amused by the chapter about the Danish bathhouse in Copenhagen. A situation like this, without much knowledge of the culture or the language is a perfect example of just how alien one can be even within another Western country.
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Barbara Gallatin Anderson recounts a fieldwork assignment in the tiny fishing village of Taarnby, Denmark. She and her husband are there to study the changes that urbanization is making to the culture of the small town. First Fieldwork, however, is not a true ethnography.
Anderson attends a cooking class, conducted in Danish which she is certainly not fluent in , and memorably ruins the meatloaf. She attempts to enjoy an afternoon at a luxury bathhouse, without having any idea how to navigate the place. Through it all, she portrays herself as a sort of lovable buffoon, flailing where her husband and daughter are thriving.
When I was 17, I spent a summer in a small city in Germany. None of the German teenage girls I met there, for example, wore shorts, even in the middle of summer.
When I ordered ketchup with my fries, they mixed it with mayonnaise. When I tried to put my feet up on the back of the seat in front of me at the movies, I got in trouble with the usher. These little rules, that you would never learn in a class or by reading a book, are the things that emphasize your differentness, and they can wear on you. Anderson recounts these experiences in a way that is always funny, while also inspiring empathy in the reader.
First Fieldwork; the misadventures of an anthropologist
Kazisida I found myself smiling through out most of it. The Goose Girl Refresh and try again. The Misadventures of an Anthropologist. From the arrival of the Anderson family to their eventful departure, students follow the professional and personal challenges of a culture change study. One person found this helpful. First Fieldwork: The Misadventures of an Anthropologist Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Although fictionalized, it is a clear testament to the perils of being an anthropologist thrust unprepared into the field.
Their behavior is indicative of a fearful response to change, while motivating every emotion, retort, and accomplishment. What the villagers of Taarnby understood, was what they had to fear. While although this community wanted to prosper, they also wanted to remain unchanged in their ways, retaining their abilities to both trade and remain separate, yet at the same time not be cut off from the outside world. Anderson provides an accurate account of her perceptions and feelings while recording the same of those in her community, and put together makes for a remarkable and satisfying story. As Barbara Gallatin Anderson says, the traditional anthropological monograph has done little to answer that question. With some exceptions, most anthropologists writing scholarly monographs about the societies they lived in have revealed little about their personal experience in the field. Indeed, as Gallatin observes, anthropologists were traditionally trained to suppress What is it like to travel as an anthropologist, living in a foreign culture for a year, as both observer and participant?
First Fieldwork: The Misadventures of an Anthropologist