The Innocent Anthropologist : Notes from a Mud Hut

The Innocent Anthropologist : Notes from a Mud Hut

Nigel Barley

Language: English

Pages: 190

ISBN: 1577661567

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

Also by Nigel Barley and available from Waveland Press: Grave Matters: Encounters with Death around the World (ISBN 978-1577664310). Titles of related interest available from Waveland Press: DeVita, Stumbling toward Truth: Anthropologists at Work (ISBN 9781577661252) and Gardner-Hoffman, Dispatches from the Field: Neophyte Ethnographers in a Changing World (ISBN 9781577664512).

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in prayer, convinced that only direct supernatural intervention could aid him. I sped on past. By the end of the following day I had spent something like �200 and was approaching the end of my Odyssey. The man who had sent me off initially received me with great amusement at the préfecture and shooed other clients out of his office to offer me a chair. ‘Congratulations,’ he said with a huge grin. ‘Most people take much longer than that. Have you the documents, the receipts and the declaration?’

consideration of ‘difficulf’ topics such as prescriptive marriage and symbolism, but basically remaining true to its ‘plain and sensible’ persona. African anthropology must be one of the few areas where dull pedestrianism is advanced seriously as a claim to merit. South America looked fascinating but I knew from colleagues that working there was notoriously difficult politically; moreover, everyone seemed to be working in the shadow of Lévi-Strauss and the French anthropologists. Oceania would be

were driven in so that the diseased one could be caught, two yearlings tried to mount each other. I pointed this out, hoping that similar practices would be imputed to some group, with luck, blacksmiths. The further I went in my questioning, the more awkward and embarrassing it became. The truth seems to be that homosexual practices are largely unknown in West Africa except where white men have spread the word. Dowayos were incredulous that such things were possible. Such behaviour in animals was

information about rainchiefs had linked together human fertility and rainfall. The ‘true cultivator’s’ harvest had linked together plant fertility and circumcision through the ‘beating to death of the old Fulani woman’. Here I learned of links between rainfall, circumcision and plant fertility. It appeared that the day the stones were wiped clean to begin the dry season was the day the mountain, ‘the crown of the boy’s head’, was fired for the first time (i.e. ‘dried’) and also the day that first

more at the back. It seems to be required that each vehicle shall contain a couple of army corporals or lieutenants. Gendarmes normally find themselves the best seats, beside the driver, and blandly refuse to pay for them. A couple of southern schoolteachers resentful at being sent to the Muslim North are standard. With but little prompting, they entertain the company with tales of their sufferings in that benighted area, denouncing the lack of entrepreneurial spirit, the savagery of the pagan

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