5 oct. 2010

The Innocent Anthropologist

Title: The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes from a Mud Hut
Author: Nigel Barley
Year of publication: 1983
Paperback: 190 pages
Language: English
Synopsis:
When British anthropologist Nigel Barley set up home among the Dowayo people in northern Cameroon, he knew how fieldwork should be conducted. Unfortunately, nobody had told the Dowayo. His compulsive, witty account of first fieldwork offers a wonderfully inspiring introduction to the real life of a cultural anthropologist doing research in a Third World area. Both touching and hilarious, Barley’s unconventional story—in which he survived boredom, hostility, disaster, and illness—addresses many critical issues in anthropology and in fieldwork.
About the author:
Nigel Barley (born 1947 in Kingston upon Thames, England) is an anthropologist famous for the books he has written on his experiences. He studied modern languages at Cambridge University and completed a doctorate in social anthropology at Oxford University. He held a number of academic positions before joining the British Museum as an assistant keeper in the Department of Ethnography, where he remained until 2003.
Barley's first book, The Innocent Anthropologist, was a witty and informative account of anthropological field work among the Dowayo people of Cameroon. Thereafter he published a number of works about Africa and Indonesia in such genres as travel, art, historical biography, and fiction.
Barley has been twice nominated for the Travelex Writer of the Year Award. In 2002, he won the Foreign Press Association prize for travel writing.
Comments:
“Barley’s The Innocent Anthropologist is in turns maddening, provocative, subtle, and complex. I’m convinced it’s a good tool for uncovering students’ biases and preconceptions, both about anthropological fieldwork and about doctrinaire political correctness. Moreover, Barley’s droll wit makes students laugh—even at themselves when his humor escapes them.” —Sarah J. Hautzinger, Colorado College
“A good account of what is involved in doing fieldwork in anthropology that should be interesting reading for all students.” —James M. Kerri, Palomar College
“This book most accurately described how I felt when I was doing my own fieldwork ... I couldn’t put the book down. Personally, I found it both witty and compassionate.” —Diane C. Bates, Sam Houston State University
“A refreshingly honest insight into anthropological fieldwork. Barley reveals the realities of life and work in Africa in a most articulate, readable, humorous, and entertaining manner. If you do not like this book, it is because you do not like the message that Barley sets out to convey, i.e., life in one small African context, just as the anthropologist encountered it. Yet, this message could be most valuable to anyone engaged in the study of anthropology.” —Mark Huddleston, Nebraska Christian College
“This book not only presents anthropological data but also reads like a novel. It sparkles with humor and cultural insights.” —Clive Kileff, University of Tennessee
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