The translation of anthropological data : how to approach the chaos of fieldwork

TitleThe translation of anthropological data : how to approach the chaos of fieldwork
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsM.E. de Bruijn
EditorE. van Dongen, and S. van Londen
Secondary TitleAnthropology of difference : essays in honour of professor Arie de Ruijter
Pagination69 - 84
Date Published1998///
Place PublishedUtrecht
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsanthropological research, ethnography, fieldwork, Mali, methodology, pastoralists

The translation of anthropological data into ethnography is a fuzzy process which all ethnographers go through. The process starts with the methodologies and techniques used in the field to gather data. These are used to get a grip on and order an often very chaotic reality. Through the process of analysis and description this ordering continues. The assumption behind this type of research is that people and societies can be understood as objects of knowledge. The author offers some insight into the process of gathering data and its translation into ethnography, using her own experiences in dryland Mali among Fulbe cattle keepers. She concludes that anthropologists should leave more room in their fieldwork for the nonordered realities, for moments of silence. They should get rid of the theoretical and descriptive models and terminology that are very common in anthropology but that make the translation of the experienced practice, emotions, etc. in an ethnographic text very difficult

IR handle/ Full text URL
Citation Key2093