Asia is changing. Socio-political shifts in the world economy, technological advances of monumental scales, movements of people and ideas, alongside ongoing post-colonization projects across the region have created an emerging Asia – one confident and assertive of its place in the contemporary geopolitical sphere. As political and economic powers reassert Asian sovereignty in opposition to perceived Northern dominance, and dramatic and rapid development in the region shift the relationship between the centre and the periphery, new renderings and imaginations of hierarchies of identity and power come to the fore. This changing environment leads to emerging challenges for anthropologists working in the region: both those who have been working there for years, and new scholars entering the field.
This volume considers these changes, and the implications of this on our practice. By focusing on Asia as a site of enquiry, the contributors to this book discuss tensions and opportunities arising in their ethnographic fieldwork in light of a changing Asia. Drawing on personal reflections on Asia’s global positioning in this contemporary moment, the contributors consider how fieldwork is being negotiated within the changing dynamics of anthropology in the region. This book then, is a discussion on the shifting landscape of field sites and the resultant emerging research methodologies, and is aimed at those who are already deeply immersed in fieldwork as well as those who are seeking ways to undertake it.
Nayantara Sheoran Appleton is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Science in Society at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Caroline Bennett is a Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
Asia and Ethnographic Methods: An Introduction - Nayantara S. Appleton and Caroline Bennett
Part I: Reflexively Re-Reading the Field
Chapter 1: Astronauts of the Western Pamirs: Mobility, Power and Disconnection in High Asia - Till Mostowlansky
Chapter 2: Re-searching and Re-positioning the Self and the Field: Investigating the Nation-State Through Narratives from the Borders - Rimple Mehta and Sandali Thakur
Chapter 3: Violence From Another Angle: The Cold War and Contemporary Cambodia - Caroline Bennett
Chapter 4: Infrastructures in Karachi: Processes and Practices of Ethnography in Urbanity - Sarwat Viqar
Part II: Thinking Across Space and Time
Chapter 5: “The Child as Method?”: Paradigm Shifts, Positionality, and Participatory Methods for Researching Children in Asia - Kathie Carpenter
Chapter 6: Comparison as Method in India and Papua New Guinea - Lorena Gibson
Chapter 7: The Bali of Anthropology and the Anthropology of Bali: Research in a Fast-Moving Part of Asia - Graeme MacRae and Lee Wilson
Part III: Notes on Positionality
Chapter 8: “We Have Always Been Cosmopolitan”: Towards Anthropologies of Contemporary Complexity in Japan - Paul Hansen
Chapter 9: A Feminist Ethnographic Practice in Contemporary India: Pitfalls and Potentialities - Nayantara Sheoran Appleton
Chapter 10: Identity Politics, Fieldworkers, and Globalisation: A Japanese Company in Hong Kong as a Fieldsite - Yi Zhu
Chapter 11: Comprador, Translator, or Cartographer? Thoughts on Methodological Positions - Jia-shin Chen