THE HABITUS OF FIELDWORK: THE SELF AS THE NEW OTHER
Dr. Social Anthropology, Greece, email@example.com,
The present study is an extensive 22-months field research in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan. The case of Bedouin Zalabieh adds another voice to this diverse anthropological research. Fieldwork is a complicated and challenging process where the anthropologist experiences a rite of passage through interaction with his/her informants. He/she is transformed from a subject who conducts fieldwork to an object of his/her own self striving for redefinition. Incorporating the habitus of the “others,” he/she becomes an “other.” At the end of the fieldwork, he/she is confronted with multiple “others”. With reference to Bedouin Customary Law, through a “thick description” I try to focus on the habitus of my informants as something that cannot be completely understood by the anthropologist, just because it belongs to a preconscious state. A dialog between cultures, rites, concepts, and behaviors is essential for the redefinition of the self during the research as well as thereafter. Through the distinctive habitus of people, we coexist and share our lives while unconsciously constructing new selves. While we study others, we become objects to be studied; this entails an interactive study on each other. In addition, focusing on the conflict between spouses, I emphasize the new forms of practices and actions created by the interaction and coexistence of the anthropologist and his/her informants. The silent conflict between spouses undermines men’s supposed power over women. Exploiting my presence, the spouses challenged the existing cultural assumption as well as my femininity. Since everything is always a mutual definition and redefinition from a deontological point of view, instead of the term “study” (a community) I prefer the term “mediate” that can vacillate between the science of anthropology and the informants.
Keywords: Fieldwork, Bedouins, self, habitus, gender, women, femininity
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