In Field Stories, William H. Leggett and Ida Fadzillah Leggett have pulled together a collection of ethnographic research and classroom experiences from around the world. Drawing on moments both unfamiliar and all too familiar to those accustomed to fieldwork, the contributors to this collection demonstrate in clear, relatable prose how intimate engagements with others in the field can present moments of rich ethnographic value that provide insight into global interconnections.
Ida Fadzillah Leggett is associate professor of anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University.
William H. Leggett is associate professor of anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University.
William H. Leggett
Chapter 1: Children and the Experience of Mundane Violence: Unexpected Stories from the Field
Ida Fadzillah Leggett
Chapter 2: Stories from the Other Notebooks: The Poetics of Encounter in Post-War Croatia
Chapter 3: Trained Identities: Exploring Emergent Identities Aboard One Slow Moving Train
Chapter 4: Alabama
Chapter 5: Friends, Family, Informants: Fieldwork as Relationship
Chapter 6: Friendships, Fieldwork, and the (De)Construction of Knowledge
Chapter 7: Staying in the Field: Living Arrangements, Violence, and the Female Anthropologist
Conclusion: Finding Truths in Different Forms
These contributors have set down in writing those stories from fieldwork that usually remain the stuff of cocktail parties, conversations among friends, and classroom provocations. In doing so, they have reaffirmed the power of ethnography and of storytelling for conveying anthropological (and human) truths. These stories will make your heart race, make you weep, and make you think. Accompanying the vignettes, poems, and notes from field journals are philosophical reflections and ruminations on the construction of ethnographic knowledge, the process of authorship, sticky fieldwork ethics, and the anthropologist over time. For all those who have done ethnographic fieldwork or who teach anthropology, this collection will inspire you to further reflect on your own field stories and their power to illuminate the most vital lessons of our discipline.
Field Stories, edited by William Leggett and Ida Fadzillah Leggett, is a trenchant collection that focuses on the powerful force of the ethnographic field narrative. Anthropologists are avid story-tellers, word-weavers, emotion-conjurers and co-world-makers. Ethnographic fieldwork is not about ‘observing’ life from afar, but is a series of engaged encounters, desires, attachments, and bonds. It is not a cold-hearted data retrieval method. The field story is not just an incident, an insignificant turn of event, or a mundane conversation. A field story is not just ‘background’ material in hastily written fieldnotes in computer files or hidden dusty notebooks about trivial specks of social situations. A field story spins experiences about long term field engagement with peoples and places that lead to feelings of ‘being there’ and ‘being with’ those bodies, sites, sounds, tempos, and atmospheres. The editors bring together various anthropologists’ elegant voices to showcase the evocative and provocative dimensions of field stories and offer them as pivots for learning moments and vital enlightenments.
Anthropologists engage in three major kinds of encounters: with people in their fields, with colleagues, and with students (and beyond these, members of a wider public). With colleagues and with students, they talk about their fields, but in different ways. In this book, they talk to colleagues about how to talk to students about concrete field experiences—meeting with Nigerian rappers in a Brazilian favela, becoming a victim of violence in Kenya, a long train ride through the American West... This is a very important step toward the creation of a real public anthropology!
Field Stories brings readers into hidden corners of intimate experiences too often absent from scholarly writings. In a series of deeply personal, often fraught, and always human stories, contributors to this captivating volume revisit old fieldnotes to create original narratives, enriching our understanding of people, places, culture, and history.
Field Stories are important stories to tell… and for many different reasons. Leggett and Fadzillah Leggett have brought together the kind of rich and compelling tales that, rarely find their way into the academic work of ethnographers. Trauma and violence as topics run throughout many of the stories collected in this volume but so too does the topic of friendship. The remembrances from the field recounted here demonstrate that ethnographers would do well to find ways to share such stories more often and more broadly.
The humble act of telling stories is the regenerative seed and solar dynamo that gives energy and substance to anthropology. The essays here offer rich stories and pay careful attention to the places where we share our stories—in the classroom, in the field, and alongside other ethnographers as we learn and practice our craft. This book re-centers storytelling as a crucial resource for anthropological endeavors, and should be useful for teaching and for thinking about how we tell our tales from the field.
Anthropologists tell stories. Often, the best are those we tell our students in our classes. The authors, here, bring their emotionally charged stories out of the classroom and into this accessible, readable, and impactful collection. All seasoned ethnographers, they tell of vivid and poignant experience, experimenting with writing while reflecting on the meanings of their tales from the field.