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ETHNOLOGY OF THE PROXIMATE
The Poetics and Politics of Contemporary Fieldwork
"'The field' has long been the symbolic centre of anthropology. It is there that knowledge is collected and experience built up. Fieldwork is the initiation rite of the professional anthropologist, and constitutes an important part of his or her symbolic capital. (The anthropologist who never does fieldwork is as much an oddity as a theoretical swimmer.)" (Hannerz 2003:19) The examination of the notions of the field and fieldwork suggests that these two concepts are not necessarily a matter of nature or course, but that they may in fact be scientific constructs resulting from particular understandings of ethnology, the ethnologist and the subject of ethnology. Indeed, diverse understandings of the field and fieldwork and their practices in various national scholarly traditions of ethnology and socio-cultural anthropology point to the same conclusion. The "deceptive transparency" (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a:5) of the concept of "the field" should be examined so as to reveal the complex processes that take place in the field, in the encounter between the researcher and the researched. How is the field defined in our scholarly tradition? Does research require the researcher's physical dislocation, or can the field be in the researcher's immediate vicinity and the dislocation virtual, mental? In other words, does the field denote a particular physical location (or locations) or, instead, a net of relationships unconnected with a particular physical place? How do we select our field? What happens in the encounter of the researcher with the "distant" or "close others" in the field, and how long should 261
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek this encounter optimally last? What is the relationship between researchers and their subjects? What should the researcher focus on during fieldwork – on social structures or on particular everyday things people do? Or perhaps on their comments and opinions about their own society? Which field techniques or, more generally, which ethnological methodology is recommended when doing fieldwork – – observation, interview or participation? Understanding the field and fieldwork further involves recognizing the role of the researcher's subjectivity in the research process. Moreover, interpreting and writing ethnographies, i.e. (re)presenting the studied groups, seem inseparable from the field procedure. Do researchers adopt the position of the omniscient narrator-scholar (the etic perspective) or do they grant a particular place in the final product – the text based on their fieldwork – to the subjects of their research, frequently called informants (the emic perspective)? Does this refer to a single informant or to several informants? Should this single informant be presented as a "generalized individual" – a representative of the researched culture or as a person with a unique experience and interpretation of the culture to which s/he belongs? How should partial or concurrent accounts be combined? Finally, reflection about fieldwork and the presentation of material includes a number of issues connected with the reception of ethnographic work. Who are the readers and the potential audiences of ethnographic texts? In other words: who do ethnologists write for – for the researched, for the academic community, for a wider audience – and how does the intended audience shape their texts? What are their reactions to ethnographic texts? The issue of audiences is closely connected with the clients who commissioned the research, with the sponsors of our research and with some ethical issues. For instance, what are the responsibilities of ethnologists to their subjects, or, how should the responsibility of ethnologists to their discipline and to society be allocated during and after the war? However numerous, interesting or crucial the questions that we could ask about our own fieldwork or the fieldwork of others may be, they have largely gone unasked in Croatian ethnology and folklore studies, even though fieldwork is one of the foundations of these 262
Ethnology of the Proximate disciplines in Croatia. The central period of ethnological practice in the twentieth century, dominated by the cultural-historic paradigm (roughly between the 1930s and the 1970s), was almost entirely void of discussions of fieldwork, both of general observations concerning fieldwork and reflections about one's own fieldwork. This period was preceded by the foundation of the ethnological science in Croatia, when Antun Radić had elucidated some aspects of fieldwork in more detail (Radić 1897 and 1936), but it was not before the 1970s that some crucial questions about the subject of ethnology and its methodology were asked (e.g. Rihtman-Auguštin 1976), which resulted in critical texts about the ethnographic method (e.g. Rajković 1974). In the 1990s, prompted by the so-called ethnography of war, a number of works were written in which the establishment of credibility was based on a detailed reflection about the positioning of the ethnologist as the member of the researched culture and on the textual (re)presentation of the subjects (Povrzanović 1992a). However, as late as 1998, in the issue of the journal Narodna umjetnost published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, fieldwork was treated marginally (in review articles concerning the development of research at the Institute) or anecdotally (in autobiographic stories of the researchers) (see Pleše, this volume). The volume Ethnology of the Proximate: the Poetics and Politics of Contemporary Fieldwork is a result of certain epistemological and methodological problems that the researchers at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research faced during their fieldwork and their analysis of various issues (see Čapo Žmegač, Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Puljar D'Alessio, Šantek, this volume). In comparison with the standard fieldwork practice in Croatian ethnology, our studies were set in a changed context: some dealt with the urban environment (Gulin Zrnić 2004), others took place in religious communities (Šantek 2004) or in several places in two countries (Puljar D'Alessio 2005; Čapo Žmegač 2003a), and others still dealt with non-localized, deterritorialized social spaces created by means of the internet (Pleše 2005) or transmigration (Čapo Žmegač 2005a and 2005b). All of them seemed to encourage reflections about the field: about its territorial in263
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek scription and boundedness, about the practices that we adopted so as to establish relationships with our informants or to analyze our own experience, or about the representation techniques that we selected in our texts while keeping in mind that our work would find its way to our interlocutors from the field, etc. Methodological discussions encouraged us to assemble a larger team of collaborators, which resulted in the publication of this volume – a volume which is the first step towards alleviating the shortage of ethnological texts in Croatia explicitly tackling the issues of field and fieldwork (a shortage which does not seem to be unique only to Croatian ethnology; cf. Gupta and Ferguson 1997a). The first part of the introduction is an overview of ideas and field practices in Croatian ethnology. In the second part we present our view of ethnology as an empirical science seeking to gain insight through fieldwork. Next, faced with the contemporary research situations, we re-examine the traditional concept of the field as a physical place. In the fourth part we discuss some features of ethnology of the proximate and contemporary life, especially with relation to the researchers’ auto-reflexivity, which becomes necessary when their home becomes their field. In the fifth part we consider the researched group as the readers of our work, and some ethical issues connected with the ethnologists' responsibility to their subjects. In the final part we give an overview of the texts appearing in this volume.
Field and fieldwork in Croatian ethnology
Although Croatian ethnologists have explicitly written very little about the field and fieldwork in their scholarly works, we will attempt to say a few things about their approaches to the field and their understanding and treatment of the field. Our presentation is based on existing discussions and on some works which do not tackle the issue explicitly. Although we have no pretensions of giving a complete overview of the shift in the scientific paradigms in 264
Ethnology of the Proximate the Croatian ethnology of the twentieth century, we will not be able to completely avoid doing this, because the attitude towards the field and fieldwork is closely connected with the theory that a particular scholar explicitly or implicitly advocates (including the subject of ethnology and its goals as established by this particular theory). Since explicit statement of theory is uncharted territory of Croatian ethnology, our overview of the concepts of the field and fieldwork in Croatian ethnology should be read as an attempt to construct a largely implicit idea of the field and fieldwork included in particular scholarly works. Actually, as opposed to Anglo-American socio-cultural anthropology which was dominated by Malinowski's 1922 definition of the field, Croatian ethnology (and folklore research, which we do not discuss in detail) is largely characterized by heterodoxy, i.e., a number of concurrent ideas about the field and fieldwork, which were a result of the twentieth-century shifts in ethnological paradigms, parallelism between them, and some institutional restrictions. Generally speaking, Croatian ethnologists, like their Eastern European colleagues (cf. Jakubowska 1993), have not conducted fieldwork by long-term immersion in the researched community. This is justified by the fact that they belonged to the same national culture as their subjects (with some regional and class differences), which is why they could establish their credibility in the researched group based on their membership in the elite urban intelligentsia (ibid.). They would undertake a number of brief visits to their research site, usually staying several days at a time, rarely longer than a week. During their visits they would stay in the local hotel or, more rarely, with one of the informants. Their fieldwork usually boiled down to interviewing the members of the community about their culture in the past; in the 1970s the focus shifted to include its present-day aspects, in which case observation was also used. Let us consider how this fundamental concept of fieldwork was realized within the major ethnological paradigms, and how some of them more or less significantly departed from the paradigm. Antun Radić, who is considered the founder of Croatian ethnology, defined certain parameters of field and fieldwork some of which are still employed (see Čapo Žmegač 1997a for a detailed ana265
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek lysis of his ethnological work). To begin with, Radić defined ethnology as a science dealing with the rural culture of the (rural) part of one’s own society. Given that the Croatian nobility and citizenry have "become alienated" from the rural population, who were – according to Radić – the bearers of the "real" national culture, Radić did not recommend that rural culture be studied by members of these classes, but by peasants themselves – literate and educated people from the country – students, clergymen and teachers (Radić 1936:69-70), which resulted in the (intended) consequence that the ethnographic material was recorded in the dialect of the researched region. As early as the late nineteenth century, in his discussion of the ideal ethnologist-researcher and her/his relationship with the subjects, Radić implicitly raised the methodological and epistemological issues that would be identified, some one hundred years later, as the issues of representation of the researched and of ethnographic authority (cf. Clifford 1983; Marcus and Fischer 1986). Radić doubted whether researchers from another (non-peasant) culture could see the world as it is seen by peasants – he doubted whether they could understand it using the peasants' reference system. He claimed that someone who is prejudiced against the peasantry, who does not have a good relationship with the peasants and does not sympathize with the peasant culture, as well as someone who romanticizes the peasantry, cannot be a good researcher (Radić 1936:69-70). Therefore, he recommended that educated people from the country be ethnographers. The first Croatian ethnographers in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century were just that: in keeping with Radić's recommendation they were participants in the culture that they described, or, if they were clergymen and teachers, immediate observers of the culture from which they themselves originated. The material recorded by an educated peasant had absolute epistemological pre-eminence in Radić's idea of the field and fieldwork. In other words, Radić favored the emic approach 1 (see below); and ethnographic authority – in keeping with his recommendation – was established as the voice of the participant in the culture (ethnographers were participants in the researched culture, sometimes themselves assuming the role of informants). Of course, Radić did not problema266
Ethnology of the Proximate tize the position of these educated peasants-ethnographers, starting from the assumption that despite their schooling they remained close to the models of the peasant culture, and that they knew and understood them well: "Whoever knows everything by himself, everything that 'The basis…'2 asks about; or whoever has a relative, friend or acquaintance to whom he can say: please tell me about this or that, – – he will be able to immediately sit down and start writing" (Radić 1936:70; emphasis added). The assumption of homogeneity of culture and of generalized experience (whoever knows everything by himself…) underlay this concept of ethnography, according to which the validity of ethnographic records can be based on the narration of a single person, whether s/he may be the collector herself/himself or someone else. Although the 1920s and the 1930s saw the increase in the collection of the material by educated specialists (Čulinović-Konstantinović 1979), part of the earlier canon has survived until today. The tradition of amateurs – participants of the described culture recording material and publishing it in popular magazines and in the media, often using their local dialect (which is in keeping with Radić's recommendation3) still survives. On the other hand, contemporary professional ethnologists, who also participate in the researched culture, include their own experience in their fieldwork and scientific research (see Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Puljar D'Alessio, Šantek, all this volume), but from a completely different epistemological starting point and with a clear reflexive orientation. Radić may be said to be the founder of the field practice of the so-called "folk ethnographers" (cf. Kideckel 1997) in Croatia, i.e. people who collect material relating to "folk life", which is similar to the practice used in early American anthropology where informants themselves recorded data about their own culture (employed, for instance, by Franz Boas; see Marcus and Fischer 1986:71). In Radić's concept, fieldwork and recording – practices within the domain of folk ethnographers – were separate from editing and interpretation, which were the prerogative of Radić himself. Thus, the formative period of Croatian ethnology did not see the establishment of the authority of an academic researcher-theorist, combining intensive personal field experience with scientific analysis, a concept familiar 267
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek from Anglo-American ethnology and socio-cultural anthropology since Malinowski’s time (cf. Clifford 1983:127). Instead, fieldwork and interpretation were treated as separate activities. In the 1920s and 1930s in Croatia folk ethnographers were replaced by professional ethnographers who, with some exceptions, did not at the same time become ethnologists-theorists. Therefore, in some areas of ethnology, the division into fieldworkers and theorists is not a myth, but reality (see Lozica, this volume; Prica 2000 and 2001). A call for a reconciliation and a dialectic permeation of the two scholarly phases was issued in 1976 by Olga Supek-Zupan (see Lozica, this volume). This division was further perpetuated within the cultural-historical paradigm, the Croatian version of diffusionism, which followed Radić's ethnological paradigm in the 1930s but did not replace it completely. Defining ethnology as a historical science which "stands and falls" with the notion of ethnos and which strives to reconstruct ethnic history through studying culture (Belaj 1989:13), the cultural-historical paradigm turns towards the past forms of peasant culture. In contrast to Radić's ethnography which deals with the present moment of "folk life", this ethnology focuses on the past; and the present is of interest to it only inasmuch as it preserves some older cultural forms. This has direct consequences for fieldwork, because a concept of ethnology with such aims implies that fieldwork can only rely on a single technique – collecting verbal statements about the past. In comparison to the techniques used in fieldwork inspired by Radić's ethnology – where, along with verbal statements, observation and participation also played an important role – this is a considerable reduction. Accounts of the past were partly collected by means of the questionnaire from the Ethnological Atlas of Yugoslavia (1962-1967), or by means of other questionnaires based on it. The questionnaire is a lexicon of "folk" terms and procedures, whose existence in a particular region is to be confirmed or refuted by the fieldworker – initially a peasant or a teacher, and later a student or some other unskilled assistant of the scholar-ethnologist.4 In this paradigm, the ethnologist was not supposed to play an important role in fieldwork. It is not our intention to go into a more detailed description of the fieldwork 268
Ethnology of the Proximate data collection technique based on the questionnaire (cf. Rajković 1975 for its inadequacy in studying certain topics in the so-called social culture). Suffice it to say that a number of issues have remained unexplored within this paradigm, including the validity, reliability and status of the collected material in general, the role of collectors – – whether local inhabitants or outside professionals, their relationship with informants (cf. Kolbas 1998), the epistemological presuppositions of such research and the conviction that the application of clearly aimed questionnaires would result in "facts" about past forms of culture. The cultural-historical interest in past cultural forms resulted in a number of negative features of the collected material, discussed by Zorica Rajković (1974) in the first effort to criticize the cultural-historical research methodology in the 1970s. Firstly, verbal statements do not provide a precise definition of the time of a cultural phenomenon. They condense time sections from various periods, and refer to some indefinite past time, which creates an image of the existence of a single, old, unchanging and timeless culture in the past, of "a particular period in the past which can be taken as a fixed whole; and what ethnologists should strive for is its discovery" (ibid.). In search of what was old and belonged to the past, researchers relied on verbal statements, and were unable to use observation. This resulted in yet another feature of the collected ethnographic material, its generality: researchers' general questions received "general answers, based on the informant's total knowledge and experience, and not on a particular case" (ibid.). A generalized description, Rajković continues, provides a model of a particular phenomenon, but the researcher does not know the extent to which the population of a particular village or region may conform to it. Moreover, the described models are normative, i.e., they describe what is desirable and ideal rather than real-life situations (ibid.). The opposition between recording and analyzing the model (structure) and the performance of a particular behavior (practice) to this day remains one of the moot points of Croatian ethnology and of international cultural anthropology (see Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, Niemčić, this volume). 269
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek During the 1970s the ethnologists and folklorists working at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research contrast the ideal and typical descriptions of culture with records and analyses of particular life situations in which individuals behave differently and depart from the typical. This contrast based on fieldwork experience – – was expressed by Dunja Rihtman-Auguštin as a theoretical opposition between the imagined (normative, desired) and the realized (lived) order of cultural phenomena (1976).5 She applied this opposition in the analysis of extended families (Rihtman-Auguštin 1984), and Rajković applied it in studying marriage practices (1975).6 Olga Supek-Zupan is the first Croatian ethnologist who used the AngloAmerican concept of fieldwork in an attempt to overcome certain limitations of the cultural-historical fieldwork methodology through extended stay in the field and by applying participant observation. This methodology was later largely ignored for institutional reasons, the inability of Croatian research institutions to provide organizational and financial support for this type of fieldwork, and because of the fact that ethnologists were members of the same national culture as the subjects of their research (cf. Halpern and Hammel 1969; Jakubowska 1993). The agile team of ethnologists and folklorists at the Institute should be recognized for yet another change connected with the field and fieldwork. It is thanks to them that since the 1970s the field as the location of ethnological research no longer implies only a village, as was the case in the ethnological research traditions which developed from Radić's and later cultural-historical ethnology. Similarly to the tradition of the field in socio-cultural anthropology, going to the "field" up to then "suggests a trip to a place that is agrarian, pastoral or maybe even 'wild' (…)", which still remains the case for some Croatian ethnologists. "What stands metaphorically opposed to work in the field is work in industrial places: in labs, in offices, in factories, in urban settings – in short, in civilized spaces that have lost their connection with nature" (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a:8). Thus, Gupta and Ferguson conclude that the "field", as a metaphor used in socio-cultural anthropology, reveals many tacit assumptions of the discipline. Although the "field" in Croatian ethnology may not have im270
Ethnology of the Proximate plied finding and studying "the natural/pre-civilization state" of human groups, it was certainly laden with connotations of "authenticity and antiquity" (Rihtman-Auguštin 1976). Since the 1970s, however, with the "revolutionary" issue 13 of the academic journal Narodna umjetnost (1976) (see Lozica, this volume), the urban field, still somewhat vaguely described as research into "the culture of a particular city" or into "the culture of certain changing socio-cultural groups in a city" (Rihtman-Auguštin 1976:19), provides an alternative to the earlier rural fields. Consequently, studying the present provides an alternative to studying the past. By studying contemporary urban everyday life, Croatian ethnologists situate the field very close to or indeed in their own urban "home": Milivoj Vodopija (1976), for instance, studied the graduate processions through the city; based on observing the games her daughter played, Zorica Rajković (1978) wrote a text about children's folklore in the city. Aleksandra Muraj (1989) conducted a methodologically interesting research with children in one of Zagreb's housing communities, which is included as a comparative counterpoint in one of the first studies of spatial concepts in the rural environment. Dunja Rihtman-Auguštin (1988) researched how people internalize the urban space in the New Zagreb housing estate where she lived. Unfortunately, the research project dealing with the urban everyday life which was started in the 1970s remained rather general in nature, because only a relatively small number of researchers tried their hand at studying the contemporary everyday life (e.g. Rihtman-Auguštin 1988; Povrzanović 1989; Prica 1990; Čiča 1991; Kalapoš 1996). Studies of the everyday are continued under completely changed circumstances in the 1990s, within the so-called ethnography of war. Finally, in the 1970s there was another programmatic and practical step to redefine and expand the concept of the "field", which deserves mention. The long-standing research into the transformations of folklore traditions by the collaborators of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research resulted in abandoning the concept of the localized field: "As opposed to previous ethnological and folklorist studies which were limited to particular villages or regions we did not go about taking a demographic unit as our basis. We searched for 271
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek phenomena that jumped out at us and we looked for their explanations." (Editorial 1978, emphasis added). Researching newspaper obituaries, Rihtman-Auguštin (1978 and 1988) completely abandoned the concept of the "real" field as a localized (preferably rural) place where one has to travel, a place which involves a physical dislocation of the researcher. The researcher remains "at home" and studies the selected topic from the space of her home. At the time, such fieldwork was not acceptable in the established ethnographic and ethnological canon, as illustrated by suspicious comments denying that it was fieldwork, and by the saying that this particular researcher did not go to the field at all! It was years later that we could hear (and read) that Dunja Rihtman-Auguštin considered everything her field: "her everyday life was her field, which was different than the rest of us who went to villages at the time. Her life, what she saw around her – all this was her field" (Bošković-Stulli 2004:273). Such understanding of the field, which was unorthodox in the 1970s and the 1980s, has nowadays become an acceptable field strategy in Croatian ethnology and in the international cultural anthropology, as illustrated by Ulf Hannerz's remark "… that the anthropologist never has to be entirely 'out of field'" (2003:35). In the meantime, during the 1990s, Croatian ethnology along with its fieldwork practice, was shaken by the appearance of the ethnography of the wartime everyday life. This ethnography was pronouncedly reflexive with regard to the position of the researcher and, consequently, with regard to the status of the knowledge constructed at that extraordinary social point in history, which was marked by the Croatian war for independence and post-war instability. Therefore, ethnography of war introduced some key elements of reflexivity about ethnographic writing. By emphasizing its subjective position in relation to the subject it studies, Croatian ethnography of war referred to, with some reservations, the postmodern American anthropology of the 1980s (especially to G. Marcus, M. Fischer and J. Clifford). Although taking a stance on their subject matter confronted them with ambiguity, only seeming stability and weakness of their beliefs (Povrzanović 1992a:70), postmodern anthropologists believed that this was inevi272
Ethnology of the Proximate table in ethological writing. Any ethnological writing implies a particular choice and begins at a particular position which corresponds to the personal interests and views of the researcher and to the space and time in which the ethnologist works. In this socially and existentially critical point in time, Croatian ethnology turned to the researcher and predominantly dealt with the ethnologist as the author and her/his position and credibility, i.e. with epistemological as opposed to methodological issues. Highlighting the ethnologist's positioning and the conditional nature of ethnology leads to pronounced reflexivity of Croatian ethnologists, primarily with regard to ethnographic writing. Among other things, they problematized reaching what is objective within a selected subjective paradigm determined by their participation (ethnologists are simultaneously participants and researchers of the wartime everyday life); moreover, they asked the question of textual representation of the researched subjects and examined the partiality and social commitment of ethnographers (cf. Čale Feldman, Prica and Senjković 1993; Jambrešić Kirin i Povrzanović 1996; Povrzanović 1992a). By being reflexive, Croatian ethnologists of the wartime everyday life make an epistemological break: they strike at the very foundation of Croatian positivist ethnology and its image of the omniscient and distant ethnological authority (which is in the cultural-historical paradigm frequently separated from the unskilled collector of the ethnographic material). One of the eminent Croatian ethnologists of the wartime period, Maja Povrzanović, points out that she agrees with the Norwegian ethnologist Marianne Gullestad who problematizes using the author/researcher "as an informant about [her] own society (…) as a part of the process of systematically transforming cultural familiarity into systematic knowledge" (Povrzanović 1992a:72; Gullestad 1991:89). Concerning anthropological pretensions to presenting the totality of the researched culture, Croatian wartime ethnologists are aware of the observer's position being limited in scope by fragmented and incomplete reports (see especially Povrzanović 1992a; Prica 1992), sending, in this way, the same message as the Native American hunter when summoned by the court to testify about his 273
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek tribes' hunting ground: "I’m not sure I can tell the truth... I can only tell what I know" (Clifford 1986a:8). In accordance with the paradigm, the result of such insistence on fragments, on a lesser degree of authoritativeness and on polyphony is experimenting with ethnographic texts, which, according to one opinion, "changed the face of Croatian ethnographic writing" (Čale Feldman 1995:81). The subjectivist, positioned, committed perspective and experimenting with textual representation strategies are an invaluable contribution of ethnography of war to the contemporary Croatian ethnology. What makes this contribution specific is the fact that ethnography of war emerged in extraordinary socio-political circumstances. In this volume similar issues are discussed within the framework of a scholarly practice which studies the peacetime everyday life of what is proximate. The discussion is extended to include a methodological and epistemological examination of the research procedure: we study how our contemporary fields are constructed in relation to the researched locality and the researcher's home, in relation to insiderness as a basic methodological procedure of empirical fieldwork and in relation to our informants – the subjects of our research and the readers of our work. In the methodological discussions that follow we examine the research procedure, both generally (in relation to fieldwork in ethnology and cultural anthropology) and particularly (in relation to the selected subject and a particular fieldwork).
Methodological and epistemological contemporary fieldwork
Ethnology: empiricism, insiderness, the emic perspective
Ethnology and socio-cultural anthropology are two empirical sciences seeking to acquire knowledge through fieldwork. Before discussing what contemporary anthropologists regard as their field, we wish to take a closer look at how anthropologists analyze the possibility of grasping reality in the field, i.e. of reaching the da274
Ethnology of the Proximate ta/material they need. A classical realist position – that there is a reality independent of the researcher, whose nature can be understood and later presented in a way that corresponds to it – used to be the epistemological basis and the justification of ethnographic research. This position, which was connected with the concept of culture as objective reality, as a reified whole with a given content, shaped both Radić's and cultural-historical ethnographic tradition in Croatia. Postmodern criticism relativized this position, even to the extent that it denied the possibility of grasping reality in the field, claiming that reality does not exist beyond ethnographic interpretations, i.e., that it is constructed within the text. In this way representation – whereby an ethnographer "translates experience into text" (Clifford 1986b:115) – has become the central ethnographic practice, and ethnographic analysis emphasizes the techniques of representation and especially of writing. The lack of a frame of reference makes it impossible to say which construct is better than some other and, consequently, ethnographic constructivism lapses into extreme relativism. A growing number of anthropologists have been taking the position that neither radical realists nor radical relativists are right in this epistemological debate, and they have been advocating the adoption of a "subtler form of realism" (Hammersley 2001:107-108). Thus, "neo-relativist ethnographers" adopt a position that does presuppose "the existence of at least some realist premises of ethnographic research" in addition to the awareness of socio-cultural constructedness of reality (Šantek, this volume). Therefore, fieldwork does to some extent allow obtaining data, which enables ethnology/anthropology to remain empirical in nature. This, in turn, means that it is primarily based on induction, which is realized in the recent theoretical and interpretive approaches as the ethnography of the particular (Abu-Lughod 1991) or ethnographically grounded theory (according to Hammersley and Atkinson 1996). Furthermore, the research process is frequently affected by reciprocal epistemological trends, whereby empirical data shape theories (induction) which are then used to explain facts (deduction), and these two courses of acquiring knowledge are in constant interaction (retroduction).
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek While traditional concepts and paradigms of Croatian ethnology did not require the researcher's participation in the "field" in the sense of living in the researched community, this requirement became the central methodological defining feature giving anthropology scientific legitimacy. In the Croatian tradition the material was collected by several shorter visits to the field when researchers interviewed the native population about particular elements of material, social and spiritual culture. The American and the British tradition required an extended stay in the field and participation in the life of the researched community, which was the key element in creating specific anthropological knowledge based on personal experience (Emerson 2001; cf. Lozica and Šantek, this volume). As far as we know, this Anglo-American understanding of fieldwork was first applied in Croatian ethnology by Olga Supek-Zupan in her fourmonth research near Zagreb (1979). It was only recently that this methodology was employed again, giving impetus to new analyses of fieldwork, which are also represented in this volume (Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Puljar D'Alessio, Šantek, Zebec, this volume). Malinowski believed that participation was "a counterbalance to ethnographic abstractions about society" (Moore 2002:173). Participation would result in empathy, enabling the ethnologist to identify with "the native's point of view"; it included observation, interviewing and actual participation in everyday life. Looking back on Croatian ethnology, the observational component of fieldwork does not gain prominence until the 1970s, which coincides with the change of paradigm whereby research restricted to studying a phenomenon in isolation was replaced by research into a phenomenon in practice, in context, interacting with the life of an individual and a community. Interviewing has always been present in Croatian ethnology, but the conversational forms and the relationship between the researcher and the informant have changed significantly. In the older paradigm an interview was comprised of questions and answers. Open interviews and the life-story method have become more frequent during the 1990s in the ethnography of the wartime everyday life, which, feeding on the postmodernism of the 1980s, largely turned to texts, discourse and representations. Participation was present 276
Ethnology of the Proximate in Radić's ethnography, and it was later epistemologically and ethically questioned as a practice in the extraordinary wartime circumstances. In the last decade or so, partially as a result of the relativist criticism and of growing weary of the discourse analysis paradigm, many ethnologists, mainly the ones who worked on creating this volume, have started using fieldwork devised according to the AngloAmerican model, in which insiderness, as a methodological procedure of drawing close to the researched subjects7, is a vital foundation of the process of acquiring knowledge. Insiderness – a long-term presence of the researcher in the field – may be defined as one of the two extremes: an exclusively observational or an entirely participatory position, or any combination of the two. What used to be a relatively fixed and distant position of researchers towards their subjects, has now become unstable and open to continual redefining in various field circumstances. Nowadays, emphasis is placed on the instability of field roles, their contextual and situational character, and the influence of the researched on their formation. The fluidity of this position is further complicated if researchers blend their research with their personal life, so that the field and home overlap physically and socially. Open interviews resulting from a more intensive communication with the researched are still an important part of research, but, at the same time, participation in the life of the community may correct the possible bias in the narrative material and enable examining "the reality of interactions". Interpretation of interactions in the socio-cultural context is the domain of ethnologists and cultural anthropologists (Čapo Žmegač 2002:266-7; Šantek, this volume). Ethnology of the proximate exhibits a more systematic application of fieldwork modeled on classical anthropological methodology as defined by Bronislaw Malinowsky, and adapted to Croatian circumstances. One such form of fieldwork, used in the ethnological research into dance, is a decade-long going to the same field several times a year, which has allowed long-term observation of all significant events and a contextualized analysis of various situations connected with the subject, whereby insiderness has primarily been realized through participatory observation and, if the opportunity arose, through actual participation (Zebec, this volume). A several277
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek -year-long participation in a religious community – which started out as a personal experience and concluded as research, redefining the researcher's position from a complete participant to a reserved observer – is an example of the application of this model in the anthropology of religion, posing similar dilemmas connected with the delicacy of the topic (Šantek, this volume). In a different example – an ethnological and cultural-anthropological research into the city – the circumstances of the researcher's life have been brought together into a research project. In this case, the boundaries between the field and the home, between what is professional and what is personal are removed, and insiderness is achieved through continual observation and complete participation, through constantly being in the field, to the extent that it is difficult to distinguish where and when the research ends (Gulin Zrnić, this volume). Another applied form of fieldwork has been inspired by the phenomenological approach and aims at understanding "culture-in-use" by almost exclusively focusing on human practice – what people do in particular situations. Methodologically, this approach requires the researcher's complete, direct and physical participation, a "practical mimesis" as the crucial part of the research procedure, and is called "radical empiricism" (Jackson 1983 and 1996; Frykman and Gilje 2003; Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, this volume). All of our fields embody the concept of the semiotic understanding of culture, which makes insiderness indispensable in disentangling "the web of meanings" (Geertz 1973)8 by means of narration, interaction, observation and participation. Symbolic analyses that treat subjective meaning as the problem of ethnography are central to this concept (Čapo Žmegač 2002:16). This redefinition of the subject of ethnological or anthropological research, and the redefinition of the physical groundedness of the field, may have encouraged Croatian researchers to reemphasize the experiential field dimension of the epistemological and methodological foundation of their discipline.9 Because culture is no longer seen as spatial or objectivist, the legitimacy of the anthropological field is no longer achieved by means of objectivist epistemology or by the selection of a particular locality, but rather by means of experience of intensive long-term and 278
Ethnology of the Proximate total fieldwork which Okely calls "total experience", requiring "all of the anthropologist's resources: intellectual, physical, emotional, political, intuitive" (1992:8). Thinking about all these personal and intensive experiences in the field is the ultimate foundation of all texts in this volume. Finally, after fieldwork has been completed, ethnography requires re-contextualization. The knowledge of the discipline allows ethnologists, in their theoretical and interpretive work, to translate the original stories, narrations, reflections and experience into anthropological discourse, re-arranging them according to the analytical framework of ethnography (Strathern 1987; Hastrup 1992). This is transposition between the emic and the etic perspective, or, according to Geertz (1983), between "experience-near concepts" and "experience-distant concepts". Concepts near to the experience of the researched subjects, the emic perspective, are concepts that the individuals from a certain society/culture apply on the basis of their common sense, without explaining or questioning them – they are concepts of the shared corpus of knowledge, which are understandable in communication. The emic is a view from inside, which in no way means that it lacks plurality of views and meanings. The etic perspective, or the application of experience-distant concepts, means using technical language. The emic knowledge is interpreted by means of scientific discourse, i.e. discipline-related notions, which may in turn allow, for instance, comparative ethnological research, because different emic knowledge is "translated" into scientifically-based, theoretically-founded concepts of scientific analysis (e.g. religion, kinship, dance), thus becoming readily comparable. The current trend is to adhere to the emic perspective, especially in representation, and to give legitimacy to the research by basing the interpretation on the etic – scientific, ethnological, professional – perspective. Empirical fieldwork primarily aims at reaching the emic perspective: either in the Malinowskian sense of reaching "the native's point of view" by "getting into the minds" of the researched subjects; by trying to understand what the researched "think they are up to" in the Geertzian sense; or in the phenomenological sense of reaching a direct lived experience. Entering the researched commu279
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek nity, drawing close to it, being empathic, reaching the experience of the researched subjects and acquiring one's own experience are all methodological means of giving legitimacy to the empirical epistemological foundation of ethnology/anthropology and the knowledge that it creates. Since this entire methodological complex is realized in the field, we can conclude that the "ethnology as a profession can not abandon the field" (Lozica, this volume). The definition of the ethnological field also depends on the standpoint (the scientific paradigm) of the ethnology that we support (ibid.); and the historical overview given above illustrates the changes of paradigms in Croatia. However, some of the most contemporary fields provoke new debates, requiring a radical redefinition of the very notion of the field.
The field, place, culture Some Croatian fieldworkers used to search for micro-cultural worlds connected with a particular physical locality, basing their research on the presupposition that there is a particular symbolic and real connection of culture to a particular place – the presupposition that a single locality presents a single cultural variant (monographs based on Radić's questionnaire, later monographs about the town of Sinj, the island of Zlarin and so on, e.g. Ivanišević 1987; Lovretić 1990; Narodna umjetnost 1968, 1980 and 1981). Croatian ethnologists of the cultural-historical orientation had a somewhat different idea of the relationship between culture and geographical space, but they too looked for dominant cultural elements characteristic of a particular space (region), which resulted in the notion of cultural zones or areas (specific cultures connected with a particular space), which do, however, exhibit some overlap at their borders (Gavazzi 1978). In both cases, culture was treated as an objectively given entity, a "thing", as a factor determining locality irrespective of the people as its bearers. Therefore, this type of ethnology can be called "ethnology without people" (cf. Muraj 1989).10 In both of these cases the field is 280
Ethnology of the Proximate conceived of as a larger or smaller locality, which allows forming a complete image of the way people live or compiling a list of cultural elements. In these approaches physical space is defined as the center and the boundary of a particular local culture. Of course, studies of the culture of a single locality proved to go beyond it, either because the local culture was shaped by influences of other closer or more distant cultural spaces, which is a typical contribution of diffusionist and cultural-historical studies in Croatia and internationally (Gupta and Ferguson 1997a; Giddens 1990 according to Hannerz 2003:20), or because the local culture was integrated into larger geographical and social spaces (such as state, national and global spaces), and could not be studied in isolation from the larger social context. Although it is still possible to choose to do research within a single locality, because of the mobility of people, capital, ideas and goods which cross the boundaries of local as well as national geographical spaces (Apadurai 1996) such a choice is no longer self-explanatory and ethnologists are expected to account for their methodological and analytical procedures (Hannerz 2003). Conducting research within a single locality no longer means presupposing that it represents a cultural whole, but presupposing heterogeneous parallel symbolic relationships formed between people and localities in a single geographical place (multivocality of place, Rodman 1992; Gulin Zrnić 2004). A gender-sensitive analysis resulted in a similar realization: the author has concluded that a single local community may have gender-specific, even conflicting representations of the same event (Niemčić 2002a and this volume). While Gulin Zrnić (2004) tried to cover the heterogeneity of cultural meanings in a single locality by applying the ethnography of the particular, Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević (this volume) tried to do the same by applying the methodology where a group of researchers-ethnologists records reality – the celebration of the former Yugoslav national holiday – Dan mladosti [Day of the Youth] in the village of Kumrovec in 2004 – from different viewpoints. Today the field is constituted as several physical places of research, as so-called multi-sited fieldwork (Marcus 1995).11 Sanja Puljar D'Allesio's choice of two localities for her research means that she 281
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek examines the two geographical places as meeting places of local and translocal – regional, national and global – cultural meanings. The disentangling of this web of meanings in both localities and their comparison are the subject of fieldwork and analysis (Puljar D'Alessio 2005 and this volume). Her ethnography can be qualified as bilocal (or multilocal), and only with some qualifications as transnational or "intercountry-translocal" (Čapo Žmegač 2003a). These qualifications concern the fact that it is the researcher's analysis rather than the activities of the inhabitants that connect the selected localities into an interdependent structure. Thus, these localities do not form a single unified "field" where people, ideas and objects from both geographical localities overlap.12 Multilocal translocal research is a typical product of migration studies, which pointed out some ten years ago that migrants live their lives in two or more localities (located in two nation states), and in the interspace that they have created between them (Basch, Glick Schiller and Szanton Blanc 1994; Čapo Žmegač 2003a and 2003b). Transmigrants are migrants who create so-called transnational social fields (Basch, Glick Schiller and Szanton Blanc 1994), i.e. social fields going beyond geographical localities and bridging cultural and political boundaries. This is social space par excellence, within which transmigrants "articulate and express their emergent identities and their own utopias of what they would like to be" (Simsek-Caglar 1994:66-67). In diasporic situations, places where the members of the diaspora dwell are multiplied, and the research expands from bilocal into multilocal and translocal (cf. Povrzanović Frykman 2004a). In some recent studies the research goes beyond "the physical field". The researcher breaks away from the traditionally dominant guideline of physical groundedness, like in studies of the internet, "a global network which connects the remotest and farthest spaces and people in a new, non-physical cyberspace" (Pleše, this volume, emphasis added; Senjković and Dukić 2005). Hence the question asked by one of the contributors to this volume: "Have I been in the field?" (Pleše). This is a radical attempt to move away from the traditionally field-dependent (localized, physically bounded) research space, in which researchers and participants of the studied cyberspace are 282
Ethnology of the Proximate supposedly free of being physically grounded. However, even in such studies of a nonmaterial global communication network, researchers-ethnographers tend to treat the virtual space of this new technology as an "environment populated by real people with physical bodies (…) people with real-world problems and identities shaped by their physical groundedness" (ibid.). The anthropology of migration and transnationalism has also shown that physical place, a particular locality where a person lives (whether bilocally or multilocally), is more significant than suggested by initial theories, which celebrated going beyond all kinds of boundaries (Guarnizo and Smith 1998). Thus, similarly to transnational practices which are defined by the possibilities and limitations of specific localities in which they take place, transmigrants, although they participate in trans-border activities, are still anchored in the localities where they live and develop local connections and groundings (Faist 2000; Čapo Žmegač 2003b). It seems that ethnological research cannot completely abandon the connection between the field and physical space. Locality/place still remains the constitutive element of research, although it no longer implies that social and cultural spaces are bounded by a single physical space or that cultural meanings within this space are homogeneous. This redefined concept of the ethnographic "field" in our research into the contemporary life encompasses several (physical) places: it can be constructed as a single (physical) place which is an intersection of various local, (g)localized, national and global meanings; it can be a "moving" place – such as a bus (Povrzanović Frykman 2001); a social space based on religious communion (Šantek 2004); a seemingly completely deterritorialized space of the internet communication; or a liminal, third space, where migrant and diasporic identification projects take place. These multilocal fields are sometimes transnational or "intercountry-translocal" (Čapo Žmegač 2003a), because the ethnologist deals with groups which live across nation state borders.13 Even when it seems that the deterritorialized aspects of understanding contemporary fields are foregrounded and that the practices of the modern mobile people connect various perhaps very distant places, thus turning "the whole world" into "a glo283
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek bal village", people, the subjects of ethnographic research, are always located in very specific geographic locations (or in several of them) that contribute to the formation of their practices. Hence the inability of recent ethnographic research to completely "detach" itself from the field as a physical place. However, aspects of contemporary life in which our research is conducted necessitate a redefinition of the field. Contemporary ethnological epistemologies do not define the field as a given geographical locality. Rather, our fields are constituted by the chosen topic and its treatment in a specific study. Contemporary research does not focus on the geographic locality and cultures or cultural phenomena that belong to it, but rather on people and social spaces that they create. Therefore, contemporary field is more appropriately defined in terms of social relationships, networks and spaces (Hannerz 2003; Pleše this volume), which are also used to give methodological legitimacy to the discipline. Thus, we no longer study localities as assumed places of a particular bounded culture, but people, whom we follow, whether they stay in a single locality or move through different localities (Welz 1998), and their interpretations of their own world.
Ethnology of representation
European national ethnologies have a long tradition of studying their respective societies and cultures in the widest sense of the term. They used to do research into the peasant, traditional, folk culture which, although an integral part of modern life, was studied as a repository of past, older, disappearing cultural forms. Research was conducted in villages, and the studied period was the past. The 1970s marked a great paradigmatic turn towards doing research in the city and in the present time, a turn which involved rethinking and redefining the very subject of ethnological research. In the 1970s and the 1980s a growing body of research in, e.g., Scandinavian, German, Slovenian and Croatian ethnology, studied certain segments of ur284
Ethnology of the Proximate ban culture or working-class culture. This research developed the idea of continuity and shifts in tradition in the modern time, of creating new traditions in new contemporary spaces or socio-political regimes, and offered new definitions of culture, intended to overcome the limited and static opposition of the village and the city as the places of "old" vs. "contemporary" ethnology (cf. Rihtman-Auguštin 1988; Bausinger 1961 and 1970; Kohlmann and Bausinger 1985; Kremenšek 1970 and 1980; Frykman and Löfgren 1987). In the 1980s, British social anthropology and American cultural anthropology deal with their great shift towards "anthropology at home" (Jackson 1987; Messerschmidt 1981). In anthropologies this shift primarily relates to space: a dislocation from exotic fields of remote worlds and a "return home" – to studying one’s own culture and society. In European ethnologies this shift is particularly evident in the temporal relocation of research from the past to the present, while in a spatial sense the research has remained within the same society, but has moved from the village to the city.14 With respect to both of these aspects, ethnology has "drawn closer" to the ethnologist, and has grown into the ethnology of the familiar contemporary society, or "the ethnology of our everyday life" (Rihtman-Auguštin 1988). All the contributions in this volume belong to the ethnology of the proximate 15, because they are situated within the framework of studying one's own (Croatian) culture and society, in accordance with the good tradition of Croatian ethnology. According to Peter Niedermüller (2002) one's own society should not be taken as a specific place of research, but primarily as a common horizon, a state of knowledge (Wissenzustand), which is the product of modernity. By participating in constituting the same society, the researched and researchers share a common view of the world, and a common – – although not homogeneous – knowledge (commonsense understanding). In other words, Niedermüller claims that all research in European ethnology is based on the cognitive assumption that researchers share a significant part of their non-ethnological knowledge, their social commitments and moral attitudes with the researched (ibid. 59). Thus, research in which the researcher is a part of the society and culture that s/he studies is characterized by "basic in285
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek sidedness" in the sense of sharing some basic knowledge, the sense of belonging and emotions with the researched (Povrzanović Frykman 2004b:87-90). The researchers' knowledge of their culture has not been acquired by reading; rather, it is "substantial understanding" originating from the experience of sharing time, the social setting and situations (Dyck 2000:48). It is because of this interiorization that the anthropologist at home studying the proximate will not perceive differences and interesting topics as jumping out at her, like in intercultural research, but will need a more vivid anthropological imagination or estrangement of what is known in order to distinguish the researched processes, topics and practices. As a result, the anthropologist will be faced with her/his personal attitudes and views that are directly or indirectly connected to the topic (Gulin Zrnić, Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, Šantek, this volume). Anthony Cohen says: "As an anthropologist, I cannot escape myself; nor should I try", but I "[use] myself to study others" (1992:224). It is this fact that some describe as the "fundamental principle" of fieldwork in research conducted in one’s own culture and society (Pink 2000). In ethnology of the proximate, researchers often select as their field a group of people or individuals close to them by their place of residence (Gulin Zrnić, Puljar D'Alessio), kinship (Čapo Žmegač), gender (Niemčić), because they are friends (Pleše), or because the researcher used to actively participate in the researched group (Šantek). In this way, the selection of the field is, among other things, pragmatic, which makes it easier to access it. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances and relatives are already in the field, and they help us in our research, becoming informants themselves and trying to connect us with other informants. This is one of the characteristic features of fieldwork in the research into the proximate, because it requires reclassifying the existing relationships that the researcher may privately have or foster (Hastrup 1987; Povrzanović Frykman 2004b; Gulin Zrnić and Šantek, this volume). This research does not only lack physical dislocation to remote and exotic anthropological fields, but also to closer fields which still involves travel (however short), a dose of adventure, a departure 286
Ethnology of the Proximate from the everyday, a change from the daily routine and facing something new (see Pleše, this volume). Some works eliminate all dislocation and are literally created at home, which means that from the researcher's perspective the field is construed out of "continuing personal engagement in certain types of social aggregations, activities and relationships" (Dyck 2000:48, emphasis added). This engagement was usually there before fieldwork was formally started, and remains after it was concluded. Since there is no boundary between the home and the field, being in the field is constant (Hannerz 2003:35), and insiderness as a methodological procedure can no longer be defined as physical movement but as cognitive realization, "auto-cultural defamiliarization" (Gulin Zrnić, this volume). Thus, ethnology of the proximate is radically practiced where both the space and the time of the field and the home coincide (Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Puljar D'Alessio, this volume). This coincidence goes beyond the mere overlap between otherwise separate locations: it refers to interweaving personal and professional life, roles, time and social activities, with strong mutual influence and shaping, and the field is inevitably located "between autobiography and anthropology" (Hastrup 1992:119). In such a field the conditions and circumstances of the researcher's life all converge into a research project, which means that the research topic is simultaneously the topic of the researcher's private and everyday life: on the one hand it would be a violation to remove the researcher as a participant (Pleše, this volume), and on the other hand it is difficult for the researcher to detach herself/himself and step away from the field (Gulin Zrnić, Šantek, this volume). In cases where the researcher is practically, cognitively and emotionally living with the field, the research is a continual blend of personal experience and the creation of anthropological knowledge; the researcher becomes an informant because s/he possesses some knowledge about the topic, acquired through her/his personal experience, but independently of the research (Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Puljar D'Alessio, Šantek, all this volume; Okely 1996; Dyck 2000; Pink 2000). All these elements illustrate that research at home (i.e. research into one's own culture) clearly incorporates the autobiographical ele287
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek ment into ethnology. Anthropological writing about the autobiographical experience of a part of one's own life is dubbed "retrospective fieldwork" by Judith Okely (1996:19). The autobiographical perspective in this type of research, including one's own culture in general as well as social and cultural practices of the contemporary world in which the researcher herself participates in particular, is not so much a matter of conscious choice, as a result of the topic itself (Pleše, this volume). The autobiographical component may be consciously repressed in the text (Gulin Zrnić and Šantek, this volume), made conscious in the research itself (Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, this volume), be present in the construction of the field and the research topic (Gulin Zrnić and Šantek, this volume) or be interpolated into the narrative corpus, whereby the researcher becomes one of the central characters of her own ethnography (Pleše, this volume). The term auto-ethnography defines the relationship between autobiography and ethnography as two research procedures and genres, no matter of the extent of incorporating personal experience into ethnological research and writing. In the 1980s, the convergences of and the overlap between the genres of biography and ethnography have raised crucial questions about the relationship between the researcher and the informant, between scientific authority and legitimacy, authenticity, experience, etc. (cf. collections edited by Clifford and Marcus 1986; Okely and Calaway 1992). During fieldwork the ethnologist doing ethnology of the proximate is implicitly in a fluid epistemological position between a participant-insider (researcher) and a participant-witness (native, informant). While the former position is methodological, the latter carries with it an autobiographical element – an "authentic" testimony of the researcher about her/his own experience: it is this position that makes the researcher an informant and her/his personal testimony part of the emic perspective. Such duality is characteristic in studying the proximate. However, ethnologists will still organize their knowledge differently than individuals from the social group they are studying, no matter how close they may be to it; researchers themselves are "bicultural", because they simultaneously belong to the world of science and the world of everyday life (Narayan 288
Ethnology of the Proximate 1993:671-672). This will result in a hybridity of anthropological texts but also in raising the researcher's awareness: one anthropologist, examining her native country using the discourse of social analysis, saw "many of the experiences that have shaped me into the person – and professional – I am today" in a new light (ibid. 678). Many researchers, including the contributors to this volume, point out that their research has prompted them to question, develop or even change their personal opinions (Gulin Zrnić, Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, Šantek, this volume). Research, especially its conversational part, very often goes beyond mere examination, and transforms communication into a mutually committed dialogue (Čapo Žmegač 2002:41). This conversation then becomes a forum for the researcher's and the informant's reflexivity (Gulin Zrnić, this volume).16 In this sense fieldwork is indeed realized as interactive and intersubjective creation of meaning (Rabinow 1977:151; Hastrup 1992). Therefore, the field is no longer "discovered" but constructed through interaction, which implies dynamic and fluid change of relationships, balance and recognition between the researcher and the researched social group and its individuals (Čapo Žmegač, Gulin Zrnić, Puljar D'Alessio, Šantek, this volume; Povrzanović Frykman 2004b). The altered relationship between the researcher and the researched in ethnography reflects the change in the concept of culture. The past decades have brought about a new concept of culture, which is no longer conceived as an objectively given entity, but as an interactive symbolic corpus whose meanings are subject to constant negotiation. This means that people are no longer seen as mere culture-bearers, but as "culture-builders" (Frykman and Löfgren 1987; Frykman 1999). In this way, the researched communities and individuals in it are no longer the object of research but become the subject of research "with their own voice, views and dilemmas, their own particular attitudes and their interpretation of a situation and of cultural meanings" (Čapo Žmegač 2002:42). Moreover, the change in the status of informants and the nature of our relationship with them is also illustrated by the pervasive change of the term which we use to refer to them: since they are no longer expected simply to inform during 289
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek the new field interview which resembles a conversation, informants become interlocutors (ibid. 41). In addition to this, through field and open interaction the social group becomes the co-creator of the field and the entire research: in more recent studies they point to specific topics within a selected corpus and thus participate in the construction of the research topic (Čapo Žmegač 2002 and this volume; Gulin Zrnić, Pleše, Šantek, this volume). However, their participation in the cooperative production of ethnography (Marcus and Fischer 1986:71) goes beyond fieldwork, and plays a significant role in the construction of the text and its interpretation. Some studies base their presentation on extensive excerpts from transcribed conversations with various informants (Čapo Žmegač 2002; Gulin Zrnić 2004; Pleše 2005; Zebec 2005), allowing voices of individuals to be heard, and in this way pointing to a variety in positions and attitudes, composing a "polyphony of the text" (Clifford 1983). This is a result of anthropological debates in the 1980s, which raised the issue of ethnological authority that essentialized and generalized the speech of others into a homogenous and coherent ethnographic story (Marcus and Fischer 1986). It was as early as the 1970s that Geertz (1973) pointed out that cultural analysis in itself, intrinsically, cannot be complete, and that its aim is not to create a coherent image of a community (nor can coherence be the criterion of merit of cultural analysis). In the 1980s this observation was stated in terms of "multiple meanings", "partial truths" or "contradictory truths" (Clifford and Marcus 1986). One of the methodological, interpretive and representational procedures used in ethnology to deal with the multiplicity of reality was the ethnography of the particular (Abu Lughod 1991). Starting with the claim that "ethnology has never strived to remove representative samples from a presumed whole" (Augé 2002:40), ethnological knowledge is created on the basis of completely researched individual cases. They valorize individual experience, extensive context of individual researched situations, personal opinions and values, their change and the conditional nature of knowledge. This is a way to overcome "the most problematic connotations of culture: homogeneity, coherence, and timelessness" (Abu Lughod 1991:154), to allow the representation of 290
Ethnology of the Proximate multiple realities, and to validate the ethnological inductive epistemological position. Situated between the earlier extreme realism and the later potentially radical relativism, multiple representations of reality are possible and legitimate because they are created by various points of view, making the ethnologist’s text only one of possible interpretations; an interpretation based on ethnological concepts, which give it legitimacy (cf. Geertz 1983; Čapo Žmegač and Šantek, this volume). In order to present the multiplicity of reality and the multiple meanings of experience, contemporary research and ethnographies employ the ethnography of the particular, which clearly reflects and readily accepts the emic perspective (Čapo Žmegač 2002; Gulin Zrnić 2004; Pleše 2005; Šantek 2004). Another methodological framework which works towards the same goal is "the field from different points of view", which relies on the phenomenological perspective and on the technique of group fieldwork. Since this type of fieldwork has not been practiced in Croatian ethnology, it can be considered a novelty, but its tenets – understanding the perspective of others, "multiplicity, variability and diversity of experiences, attitudes and cultural practices" (Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Škrbić Alempijević, this volume) and being aware of the researcher's role in creating knowledge – have all been inherited from anthropology.
Ethnological products: audiences, sponsors, responsibilities Researching culture through ethnographic fieldwork is closely connected with its product – ethnography.17 The reflexive awareness of ethnographies being written products of fieldwork data collection and analytical procedures must take into account potential audiences of the textual products, because ethnographic texts and their interpretations on part of potential readerships are part of the general process of reflexivity in ethnology of the proximate. Final ethnological products – texts – are shaped by, among other things, diverse audiences for which they were created, whether they are a specialized ethnological audience, a wider community of social scientists 291
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek and scholars, action-oriented practitioners, a non-differentiated general audience or, last but not least, the researched subjects themselves (Hammersley and Atkinson 1996; Brettell 1993). How we are going to write a text depends on our potential audiences, and influences the reception of our texts (Hammersley and Atkinson 1996:255, 261). We write differently when the audience we have in mind is academic, and differently when our work is primarily aimed at a general audience, or, even more specifically, at the researched subjects. Discussions about the reception of ethnographic work and writing are not numerous in the international anthropological literature (but see, e.g., the collection edited by Brettell 1993), and are practically non-existent in Croatian ethnology (but see Supek-Zupan 1979). However, in ethnology of the proximate and in European ethnologies in general (which deal with their respective societies – it is here where the researcher lives, studies, and writes about), the reception of ethnographic texts – primarily by the researched, but also by the wieder society – becomes a significant issue. There seem to be two crucial reasons why this is so. On the one hand, writing about proximate others (no matter what their degree of distance) – even about neighbors, friends, relatives etc. – ethnologists of the proximate publish in the language that they share with the researched and the general public. On the other hand, because of striving for insiderness as a basic methodological procedure and because of a special status of the researched – as the co-creators of our interpretation – it is to be expected that contemporary ethnology of the proximate would also take the researched into account when they become the audience or readers of their work. The change of status of the researched means that ethnologists, when writing and publishing, have to bear in mind that perhaps their most interested readers will be the researched subjects themselves, and they, therefore, write their texts allowing for this potential audience. In this sense a portion of this text is dedicated to the other pole of the ethnographic cooperative enterprise – to those who were first given the role of co-creators in our fieldwork, and who later become the readers and evaluators of ethnographic products. Other potential recipients of our work 292
Ethnology of the Proximate – i.e. the reception of ethnographic texts by other audiences, both professional and non-professional – should, certainly, not be overlooked. In the previous pages, the first phase of the relationship between the ethnologist and the researched has been described in some detail from the point of view of the researcher. Ethnological literature tends to overlook the perspective of the researched, primarily their view of researchers and the roles they assign to them. Because of the dominant "'folk' idea of ethnology as a science which deals exclusively with the peasant past" (Lozica, this volume), the ethnologist, especially when studying contemporary topics in Croatia, may face the problem of being unrecognizable as a professional. Thus, many researchers will find themselves painstakingly describing what they do, sometimes accepting qualifications which in no way correspond to their discipline, but are recognizable enough for the subjects to overcome their initial doubts. For instance, an informant advised the researcher that his questions about the polka dance do not belong to ethnology18 (Zebec, this volume); while another concluded that the researcher is actually a sociologist of the contemporary society (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). In both cases the categorization of the researcher's discipline functions as a means for the informant to situate, recognize and, thus, accept the researcher into the researched community, which is a very important precondition for successful research. The informants' assessment of the researcher is another part of this important process of "accessing the field" and winning informants' trust. Various personal characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnic or religious affiliation, can facilitate first contacts (Čapo Žmegač, Niemčić, Šantek, Zebec, this volume), which may result in questioning the multiple selves that the researcher might face during fieldwork (Zebec, this volume). Informants may not only presuppose what a researcher should be interested in based on their understanding of ethnology (Agelopoulos 2003), but may also sometimes direct the material that is collected and may try to control what is published (Niemčić, Čapo Žmegač, this volume). A text by one of the authors in this volume was "locally edited" by editors and publishers of the book for which it was 293
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek commissioned (Niemčić), another author was informed by the members of the researched group that they wanted to inspect the texts of her co-researchers before publishing (Čapo Žmegač). Negotiating the relationships of power between researchers and their subjects, which is a part of the ethnographic process, involves the major dispute as to who has the right to represent the researched group – ethnologists or the researched group. In the case described by Iva Niemčić, two factors are evident: firstly, a local power struggle, as a result of which one part of the researched group – namely women – are denied the right to be represented, and secondly, negotiating for representation between different fractions of the researched group. By controlling the representation of the social group, the researched may attempt to instrumentalize the researcher to fulfill their (political) objectives (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). And while the ethnologist's intercession on behalf of the researched was a matter of personal choice and opinion in the ethnography of the wartime everyday life and in the gender-conscious ethnography (Niemčić, this volume), some ethnologists, faced with the dilemma of taking a committed or an uncommitted perspective, decided on the latter, and, rather than being advocates or witnesses, decided to be analysts or observers, which raised numerous ethical issues (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). These examples exhibit very complex negotiatory relationships between the two subjects of ethnographic research – ethnologists and the researched. Although ethnologists today choose to represent the researched group as a subject, that is to say a co-creator of ethnography, ultimately it is the ethnologist who, in the theoretical and interpretive work, translates the original stories, narrations and reflections into scientific discourse, recombining them into the analytical framework of ethnology (Strathern 1987), thus creating a gap between the researcher and the researched – the gap which indicates the epistemological distinction between the two. None of the authors in this volume embarked on the inclusion of the researched population into writing ethnography, as done by some anthropologists (Brettel 1993). One of the authors gave her unpublished texts to one of her informants to try to predict the reactions of the researched population (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). 294
Ethnology of the Proximate The gap between the ethnologist and the researched becomes even more evident when the researched subjects become the readers of our ethnographies. At that point neither of the two ethnologist's procedures – her/his anticipation that the most interested audience would be the researched subjects or the polyphonic presentation of the ethnographic text (which is, to some degree, a consequence of anticipating the researched subjects as the audience) – can resolve the essential epistemological difference between the ethnologist and the researched. Contemporary ethnologists of the proximate do take other audiences into consideration, but it is unlikely that a single text – – whose poetics and rhetoric are determined by anticipated recipients – would be capable of satisfying all the recipients' expectations. The attempt to write a text that is accessible to both the academic and a "common" audience (especially the researched) may result in a "hybrid" ethnological/anthropological text (Narayan 1993:681), in which the ethnologist "attempted to connect the ethnographic narration with the theory, and supplemented the professional discourse formula – of introducing a thesis at the beginning, restating it at the end and emphasizing theoretical frameworks and generalizations – with numerous narrations intended to present [her] interlocutors and their views as vividly as possible to the reader" (Čapo Žmegač 2002:43). The attempt of connecting the two discourses was not a complete success, because at least one of the intended audiences – the one comprising of the researched – understood the text only in its narrative segment, and not on the level of interpretations (ibid. and this volume). When the researched assume the role of the audience or readers, they "talk back" (Rosaldo, according to Brettell 1993). Their critical comments on ethnographies in which they are the main characters could be a result of their disappointed expectations. In folklore studies, informants expect the research to result in knowledge that will be useful to them in renewing or further nurturing the researched folklore phenomenon (Niemčić, Zebec, this volume). If the published ethnography is not primarily an illustrative or a textual document of the researched phenomenon, the researched population is 295
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek "disappointed" (Zebec, this volume) or considers it incomplete (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). Anthropological reflections about the researched subjects as an audience also mention their feeling of having been "betrayed" or of not recognizing themselves in the ethnographies in whose creation they participated. And while anthropologists/ethnologists may consider themselves neutral and objective, their ethnography is not received as such, especially when it concerns a delicate topic or identity constructions of the researched group (Brettell 1993). Even when the neutrality of the researcher has been recognized, some members of the researched group are not satisfied with the "objective opinion, from a distance" which the ethnologist interweaves through her ethnography, giving precedence to the non-academic books about the same subject (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). Similar and even more critical attitudes about the textual products of ethnological work can call into question the possibility of the ethnologist to study the same group again. This risk is also present when scholars, because of the nature of their sub-specialization, such as ethno-choreology, become involved in the practice of folklore, whether by participating in the organization and assessment of folklore festivals and concerts or by restoring folklore dances (Zebec, this volume). The ethnologist's position is doubly sensitive, because his two roles – of a researcher and an evaluator – are intertwined. On the one hand, by assessing folklore stage performance the ethnologist points out the deviations from the tradition. Interpreting the stage performance as authored choreographed work based on a folklore template, Zebec attempts not to use the traditional template as a sole criterion, but to evaluate the performance as an esthetic in its own right. The second ambivalence in the ethnologist's practical work, when faced with the choice between a bad esthetic of choreographies and adherence to traditions in the same choreographies, forces him to choose the latter. The issue of audiences and the researched – who are simultaneously the subjects of fieldwork and the readers-evaluators of ethnological written results – are closely connected with some ethical considerations in ethnology and anthropology. Above all, there is the responsibility of ethnologists to their subjects. The relationship 296
Ethnology of the Proximate towards the researched comprises five issues: informed consent, privacy, harm, exploitation and the consequences for future research (Hammersley and Atkinson 1996:264-275). The accepted view in anthropology, with some exceptions, is that the researched should be informed about the research in an understandable and precise way, and that they should give their consent to it. Although this issue is most clearly visible in covert research, it also appears in other types of ethnographic work. With regard to the issue of privacy, the fact that ethnographic research includes publication of things that have been said or done in private situations, which may have undesirable consequences, is a frequent cause for concern. Sometimes the researched subjects may be harmed during fieldwork or by the publication of data. The research itself may cause or facilitate anxiety of the researched, and the publication of results may have a negative impact on the public reputation or on the economic status of individuals, and may upset them. Research may be considered an exploitative relationship, in which the researcher takes information and gives the researched little or nothing in return. Finally, depending on the choices that the researcher has made concerning the relationship to her/his subjects and their status in the research and publication of the data, there may be various consequences for future research, and dissatisfied subjects may prevent future research. In order to avoid problems connected with all of these responsibilities, professional anthropological associations have developed ethical research codices. Croatian ethnologists do not have an ethical codex, so these issues are resolved on a case-by-case basis. In older ethnographies informants were listed and named using their full names, age, sometimes their religious or ethnic affiliation, as a type of guarantee of the positivist objectivity and verifiability of research results. One of the few early attempts of protecting the identity of informants in the 1970s (Supek-Zupan 1979) was hiding the identity of the researched individuals and the place where the research was conducted according to the model of American ethnographies. Today, especially when studying political issues or delicate matters (which may relate to political controversies, personal spirituality, intimate 297
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek occasions), it is considered unethical to disclose any personal information about the researched. In addition to hiding their identity, another way of protecting the subjects is for the ethnologist to refrain from writing about all aspects of the research, especially about aspects that might in some way harm the researched group or individuals. Thus, in some situations the ethnologist is forced to censor the collected data (Čapo Žmegač, Šantek, this volume). Sometimes this is done not only to protect the researched but also the researcher. During fieldwork and afterwards, the researcher can become an exploited victim (cf. Adler and Adler 1987), as well as the target of acts of revenge which try to harm her/his personally and/or professionally (cf. Wallis 1977). Sometimes publishing work in a foreign language may inadvertently hinder reception in one's own society and in the researched community (Čapo Žmegač, this volume). Thus we arrive at the problems of multiple – and, consequently, potentially conflicting – responsibilities that face an ethnologist: the responsibility to the researched, to the wider society, to the sponsor, to the profession etc. The contributors to this volume have addressed this problem in different ways. Some of them consider the ethnologist's responsibility to the subjects to be primary (Niemčić). By connecting emic and implicit conceptualizations of the world to forms of professional (etic) knowledge, others establish a standard of academic responsibility, without necessarily neglecting their responsibility to the researched (Čapo Žmegač, Šantek, Zebec). Academic responsibility can be regarded more narrowly: for instance, Šantek advocates responsibility to his own discipline – ethnology and cultural anthropology – at the expense of potential audiences in other disciplines, e.g., theology, for which the topic he is dealing with is extremely relevant. There are also some discussions of the author's responsibility to the sponsor or the commissioner of the research (Čapo Žmegač, Niemčić). The issue of being here and writing here becomes particularly difficult when the ethnologist of the proximate, the researcher of contemporary familiar worlds, decides to write critical and socially committed cultural analyses of topics that may be politically sensitive, or when s/he deals with topics that encroach upon the human 298
Ethnology of the Proximate intimacy and are not normally open to public scrutiny. Such a position of the ethnologist requires an awareness of the social and political implications of her/his work (both research and writing), and calls for sensitivity to possible readerships. The problem is not so much doing research here as writing here, i.e. writing and publishing in a language that ethnologists share with their fellow citizens, especially if they want to write a critical socially committed cultural analysis. This issue did not arise in older Croatian ethnology, which focused on collecting information about old peasant types of culture in a positivist manner. It became relevant during the latest war in Croatia, when the ethnological scope of interest was expanded and ethnology started to deal with various delicate matters that concerned living people, and when the concept of culture was changed and a new awareness of the ethnologist about the potential social relevance of her/his analysis was built.
There are numerous elements of ethnology of the proximate that have been discussed in the previous pages. Ethnology of the proximate presupposes studying contemporary topics, in which the researcher does not participate only by sharing a certain corpus of general knowledge with the researched; the researcher may, in some cases, participate by way of her/his personal life. Ethnology is characterized by an evident reflexivity of the researcher about the procedure in all phases of the research project. In this case, the standard reflexivity of the discipline is reinforced by auto-reflexivity, i.e. the researcher's thinking about the personal, which was brought about by the research itself. These topics are in no way new: they have been under discussion in Croatia for some thirty years now, inspired by the changes in the paradigm during the 1970s, by the postmodern criticism of the 1980s and by ethnography of war during the 1990s. All these issues are reconsidered based on discussions of our recent and particular fieldworks. Additionally, in contrast to a principal focus 299
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek on texts and their authors, we have supplemented our analysis with a more complex anthropocentrism, evident in our sensitivity to the researched as the co-creators of the research projects and as people for whom our research may have direct consequences. In our texts, moreover, reflections about the personal may bring to light our personal decisions, attitudes and emotions, in this way illustrating the interactive nature and the multi-sidedness of the research process and its retroactive effect on the researcher, both professionally and personally. We have led numerous discussions of our experiences in the field, the fluidity of the field positions in which we were, the processual nature of the ethnological project, our dilemmas, decision-making and the pleasures that we have gotten from particular research situations. Our fields, within the framework of the ethnology of the proximate as we defined it here, were characterized by intensive being in the field, which was long-term and complete, within a chosen researched community, and so the discussion of insiderness as a methodological procedure took up most of our thinking. Insiderness is no longer an ascribed role of a native indigenous anthropologist, as defined in the wartime 1990s. It has been redefined as a chosen role, a methodological position that the researcher has to acquire in the field. Therefore, we have more systematically applied the classical Anglo-American methodology of fieldwork, adapted to our particular conditions, and, of course, redefined in accordance with the contemporary understanding of the field in general. As opposed to the issue of poetics and politics of ethnographic writing (representation), we turn to examining the poetics and the politics of ethnographic research (the field). And while the former dominated the past decades of the postmodern approach and textual criticism (Clifford and Marcus 1986), it seems that the latter has arisen as central as a result of the growing demand to return to researching actual practices, i.e. "culture-in-use" (Frykman and Gilje 2003).
Ethnology of the Proximate
The articles in this volume
The volume consists of articles that examine fieldwork, based on the personal experience of the researchers, and include issues ranging from the choice of the field to restitution to the researched, as an addition to a negligible number of texts in Croatian ethnology that reflexively problematize fieldwork from a methodological and epistemological perspective. Starting from his ethnographic experience in studying a religious movement, Goran Pavel Šantek discusses various contemporary concepts of fieldwork and the representation of fieldwork material. Without denying the numerous advantages that these concepts (inspired primarily by postmodern and literary criticism) have had for ethnography and its affirmation, the author points to their troublesome side for the ethnographer. His analysis is based on the discussion of positive and negative aspects of the research procedure of insiderness, and the ethnographer's own textual revelation and relativization of reality, both field reality and the reality of the final ethnographic product. As one of the possible ways to resolve this identity crisis of modern ethnography, the author suggests at least a partial return to the tenets of realism and an ethnography whose core includes being created in the field, believing that, ultimately, this can result in a greater impact of ethnology on the social and humanist scene and better arguments in discussions about relevant issues such as religion with other disciplines. Trying to construct a framework for her own research and field experience, Valentina Gulin Zrnić uses the term of auto-anthropology. Crucial to this framework is eliminating Otherness (spatial, contextual), inverting the methodological paradigm and incorporating the autobiographical. The author builds her professional construction of the field in the space and time of her non-professional and everyday life, literally intertwining the field with home. The methodological and epistemological problem that arises is stepping out of the field, i.e. ending a particular study. As this cannot be realized physically, "auto-cultural defamiliarization" is examined as a method of cognitive distancing. This is necessary because the re301
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek searcher deals with her own contemporary culture, where there is a "cultural continuum" between the researcher and the participants, because they share the context of the research by having a corpus of shared knowledge. Furthermore, in various phases of the research the researcher's personal – autobiographical – experience is included in the research project to various degrees. Thus, doing research raises the issues of the researcher examining, transforming and reevaluating personal experiences and opinions that had formed earlier, irrespective of the research. The same dynamic and reflexive process occurs in the researched, primarily because conversations have the form of open dialogues in which the researcher herself takes active part. "Personal" and "one's own" imply relationships from the researcher's perspective: in the discussed concept of auto-ethnography, the researcher is so much surrounded by the field both with respect to her personal (experience) and her own (society and culture) that she must continually examine leaving the field. Finally, in the discussion the author examines all three elements (the object, the space and the character) of the traditional canon of anthropology, "the others – elsewhere – different", and discusses the creation of knowledge in a new three-dimensional prism of "us – – here – similar". Starting with the premise that the ethnography of TV audiences should not only relate to their interpretation of TV texts, but should attempt to use them to analyze the cultural processes of assigning and creating meaning, Sanja Puljar D'Alessio supports discussing interpretive practices as the embodiment of localization of global meanings mediated by television. In order to find out which tactics TV viewers use in producing/localizing cultural meanings in their everyday context of lived space, the author presents her research into the viewers' interpretations of the TV game show Who wants to be a millionaire?. The aim of the research was to investigate the interpretive practices of people living in the first decade of the twenty-first century in the Naples' district of Petraio and in the Zagreb district of Studentski grad. The ethnography of TV audiences conceived in this way defines the field in the interpretive space of TV reception, which exhibits intersecting stratified local and global cultural characte302
Ethnology of the Proximate ristics. Furthermore, since this type of ethnography is embodied by research conducted in two localities, the author categorizes it as bilocal and translocal. What connects the two localities is the life of the researcher herself, which allows the field to be characterized as a "covert autobiography". Since one of the localities had been the author's home until the beginning of the research, and the second one became her home during and after the research, the text discusses the concept of temporal and spatial simultaneity of anthropology at home and of the exotic field. Finally, both fields, apart from talking and living with the locals, also consist of the analysis of the media discourse in the two countries – which expands the subject of research to the national and global level. Iva Pleše examines the possibility of defining her research into electronic correspondence as fieldwork, and describes and interprets the particular aspects and phases of this research. It deals with two interconnected aspects of fieldwork – the issue of physical groundedness of the field and the issue of the relationship with the researched – placing them into the context of studying an internet topic – e-mail. She describes her ethnography as, on the one hand, moving away from the traditional field and turning to social instead of physical spaces, and, on the other hand – in comparison with classical fieldwork – as being more closely connected to particular people in particular places. "The field" which is formed at the desk, says the author, can still be considered a field, although shaped in new ways, other than the classical. Kirsten Mathiesen Hjemdahl and Nevena Škrbić Alempijević base their thinking on the ethological research into the celebration of the Yugoslav national holiday of Dan mladosti [The Day of the Youth] in the village of Kumrovec in 2004. Their research dealt with the social memory expressed through the commemoration of the Yugoslav national holiday, which evokes the socialist imagery. More specifically, it dealt with the recent past, which is stigmatized today, and the narrations that are created about it in the contemporary context. The text outlines the methodology that the group of twenty researchers from Zagreb and Bergen used, and presents the experiences and dilemmas that were the result of this particular fieldwork. 303
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek During fieldwork the tenets of the so-called "thinking with one's feet" method developed by the anthropologist Michael Jackson were used. They are based on using the body in the same ways as the participants in the events that are being researched. The field was approached from different points of view in an attempt to grasp the fragmentary character of the event, i.e., various interpretations that different participants ascribe to the same situation; while the more comprehensive interpretation of the commemorative event comes after the fact, through the comparison of the stories that each of the researchers focused on. Focusing on the question of direct experiences that the participants gain from their actions, the text also discusses phenomenological research. On the example of researching dances from the island of Krk, Tvrtko Zebec presents the process of continual fieldwork, i.e. of analyzing material by mutual complementation and connection of the emic with the etic perspective, and of the diachronic with the synchronic. This is used as a way to achieve "communicative competence", and to discover deeper social structures, philosophy and symbolism of the studied island communities. The author lays bare the multiple selves of the researcher, which helps in determining the "ascribed" social position of the professional in the eyes of the community he is studying. He disagrees with the opinion that a scholar's research work ends with writing a text, and, based on the example of ethno-choreological experience, offers arguments for experts' active participation in practice. Depending on the different context of performances, and, in accordance with this, depending on the change in esthetic principles and on the contemporary needs of identification of the performers, this activity extends from direct counseling – helping to reconstruct the forgotten dance experiences in a motivated community requesting such help – to instruction which can simultaneously be a good way of protecting non-material cultural goods, to indirect influence through judgments of performed dances at festivals and concerts – in public music and dance practice. The critical point of the assessment of particular choreographies is the point where the opinions of the choreographer and the assessment of the critic-ethnologist, who decides about their re304
Ethnology of the Proximate presentativeness, clash. The expert walks a tightrope between different esthetic principles, valuing tradition more highly. The author discusses the multiple responsibilities that he faced in practice, and concludes that scientific and theoretical discussions combined with various fields and research contexts become part of their practical application and vice versa. Iva Niemčić deals with the moreška dance from the island of Korčula, which is a relatively well-researched topic, but which was primarily studied by male ethnologists and historians. Therefore, the author assumes that the male dominant view of the Korčula moreška is a result of both the statements of male informants – moreškanti, and the conceptual world of male researchers. In her research the author used the same method, but chose the marginal group of bule, so that the story about the bule, i.e. the ethnographic text she discusses and its restitution have been constructed exclusively from the female perspective. And while the unofficial duty of the moreškanti – males – is to verbally present moreška – the bule – women – did not have the opportunity to tell their story, and had not (yet) created an ideal verbal variant of the moreška for the public, so they spoke about the problems, about them being neglected and about the asymmetrical relationship in moreška. That is to say, as opposed to the moreškanti, the bule do not "control" their story. The author also discusses the way in which writing a text commissioned by the local community should be approached: whether one should exclude the academic perspective so as to publish a text about the thus far marginalized and the only female role in moreška, or remain true to academic interpretation, without paying attention to the consequences of the restitution of the text. Relying on the axiom of reflexivity of every phase in the process of creation of an ethnographic text, Jasna Čapo Žmegač, on the example of her own fieldwork concerning the integration of Croats who were forced to move from Serbia in the early 1990s, examines her position (in the society, in the researched community etc.) and her influence on the research, as well as the possible consequences that her ethnological products – papers and books – may have for the researched subjects, the researcher’s relationship with them as 305
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek well as for herself, an ethnologist and a citizen of Croatia at the end of the twentieth century. The text discusses the ethical dilemmas and particular decisions of the researcher who, practicing ethnology of the proximate, deals with the topics in which the researched subjects and the larger society are passionately involved, and the complete situation is potentially laden with political meanings. Deciding to take the role of an analyst and an observer of the chosen field, without simultaneously neglecting "the voices of the researched", the ethnologist faces the issues of restitution of her works and multiple, potentially conflicting responsibilities of the ethnologist-author. Faced with the dilemma of choosing between several types of responsibilities, she chooses personal and professional accountability (the responsibility of the ethnologist to the changing standards of her own discipline), without, simultaneously, neglecting the commitment of the ethnologist not to harm the researched subjects. Therefore, concludes the author, the ethnologist sometimes cannot say everything that she has heard or seen, or should, in order to protect the researched, use special strategies. In the five years since the creation of the first version of this contribution, the author's views regarding the commitment of the ethnologist to restitute their works to the researched subjects have changed. This shows that positioning is not only the characteristic of ethnological work in general, but also of personal reflections about it. Ivan Lozica discusses the opposition between thinking and fieldwork in light of humanist interdisciplinarity. In order to define the field, it is first necessary to define the object of research, which means that everything depends on the academic paradigm that we advocate. The cognitive impact of the act of defining itself is also problematic, because it is based on Aristotle's teaching that things contain essences. The author disagrees with the traditional opposition between field workers and theoreticians, and gives arguments in favor of his view of the unfeasibility of such a distinction based on the criticism of the static linguistic-structuralist understanding of the opposition as a basic relationship of two elements in a system, advocating a dynamic, dialectic concept of the opposition as a relationship between two processes or events. Furthermore, the author gives 306
Ethnology of the Proximate an overview of the historical development of the dialectic, and analyzes the consequences that recognizing the time-space continuum and accepting the dialectic movement as a principle of reality have on the understanding of the relationship between the subject and the object. Thus, the subject no longer asks what the object is, but asks from inside how the object happens, thus questioning his own position. Through the opposition of Hegel vs. Marx, the author analyzes to opposition between theory and practice and relates it with the initial opposition theory vs. fieldwork. Going back to Aristotle's tripartite division of science (praxis, poiesis, theoria), the discussion is concluded by the proclamation of inseparability of theory and fieldwork.
Actually, he advocated a combination of the emic and the etic approach, because the folk collectors of cultural forms worked according to Radić's template – a questionnaire called Osnova za sabiranje i proučavanje građe o narodnom životu [The basis for collecting and studying material about folk life; 1897], which provides guidelines for cataloging the ethnologically relevant material. "The Basis..." refers to The basis for collecting and studying material about folk life. This signalizes a lack of professionalization of ethnology, as diagnosed by Lydia Sklevicky (1991). The Glas Radne zajednice za Etnološki atlas [The Voice of the Working Community of the Ethnological Atlas; 1962:5-6] mentions two types of collaborators collecting data: the so-called explorers or professional researchers, "who must at least have basic ethnological education" and non-professional local correspondents. While the former "use questionnaires to examine" a certain number of villages and settlements, local correspondents "collect materials for the atlas only in their own village, where they are living or working (and where they were born),
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek
where they know the people and where the local residents trust them". The text advises against a person without ethnological education collecting material in an unfamiliar village where s/he has not lived for a longer period of time. Apart from peasants, local collaborators also include teachers.
In doing so, Dunja Rihtman Auguštin relies on Claude Lévi-Strauss, rather than on the much earlier methodological text by Bronislaw Malinowski in the introduction to his classical work Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1961, originally published in 1922). In this text Malinowski distinguishes three levels of ethnographic research: the structural level, the level of real life and the level of commentary about life. During this period the emphasis on the diversity of practice/performance in relation to the ideal and typical model also appears in the folklorist research of the collaborators of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research (Marks and Lozica 1998; Lozica, Zebec, this volume). In this particular case insiderness is not synonymous with the understanding of the insider or native indigenous as an authentic participant in culture and society (cf. Povrzanović 1992a). Geertz makes a radical break from the positivist and objectivist tenets of anthropology, offering a semiotic concept of culture, in which science itself is not defined as an experimental entity in search of laws but an interpretive endeavor in search of meanings (1973:5). Reemphasize rather than simply emphasize, because intensive fieldwork that was practiced throughout the 1970s, although not in the same way as insiderness that is discussed above, also created material which became the basis to criticize the cultural-historical paradigm which was dominant at the time. In short, the material undermined the generality, normativeness and coherence of knowledge about certain phenomena, and pointed to the variability which was observed in their contextualized research in everyday situations. Cf. Rajković 1974; Rihtman-Auguštin 1984; and the section about field and fieldwork in Croatian ethnology in this chapter. Since the 1970s, ethnologists working at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research have shifted their focus from cultural artifacts to people. It is in the context of this tendency that Aleksandra Muraj quotes
Ethnology of the Proximate
the statement of the famous Russian ethnologist S. A. Tokarev "Ethnology is the science of people and not of things" (Muraj 1989:4).
Multi-sited fieldwork as a term in international anthropology has been used since the late 1980s, prompted by several programmatic works by George Marcus (1986, 1995; Marcus and Fischer 1986). When Marcus started propagating the idea that a combination of fieldwork in several localities can shed light on larger social and cultural interrelations, there were few anthropological studies that he could have used as examples (Hannerz 2003:22). We believe that multi-sited fieldwork was conducted before Marcus made the phrase popular. Comparative studies in cultural anthropology and cultural-historical studies in Croatia were usually based on multi-sited fieldwork. A significant post-cultural-historical attempt of multi-sited research in Croatia was the one by Zorica Rajković (1988) in her research of memorials of death in public places which led her to a number of localities where she had noticed this phenomenon. However the difference between older and more recent multi-sited research lies in the fact that older research is not simultaneously translocal, i.e. research in which all research localities are considered parts of a single social network, that is of a more or less coherent structure (cf. Hannerz 2003). When events in one locality influence the events in another locality, doing research in a single locality becomes inadequate and the researcher must define her/his field as a network of localities. It is in this sense that Ulf Hannerz (2003:21) talks about the field which includes several sites in one. In such research the field is multilocal and the analytical entity is translocal. Hannerz (2003:24) points out that the terms translocal and transnational are not synonyms. Although translocal studies can be conducted within a single country, they are usually connected with a keener interest for transnational and global processes and structures. Of course, this does not mean that rural ethnology or ethnology of the past have been discontinued. The newly coined term "ethnology of the proximate" has been inspired by the title of Augé's text "The close other" ("L'autre proche" in the original, 2002, originally published in 1989) in which this African studies scholar
Jasna Čapo Žmegač, Valentina Gulin Zrnić and Goran Pavel Šantek
describes the path of the French ethnology (social anthropology) from the research of spatially remote others towards "ethnology at home" (ethnologie chez soi) and the research of spatially close others. In connection with the theoretical and methodological consequences of the development of "anthropology of the proximate" in French ethnology during the 1990s there was an animated discussion which resulted in numerous works where the new French ethnology is called "ethnology/anthropology of the proximate" (ethnologie/anthropologie du proche), "the ethnology of the present" (ethnologie du présent), "anthropology of contemporary societies" (anthropologie des mondes contemporains), etc. (Segalen 2002 ; Althabe, Fabre and Lenclud 1992; Augé 1994; Bromberger 1997). Also see the thematic issue of the French journal L’Homme entitled "Anthropologie du proche" (1992) and of the Canadian journal Ethnologies entitled "Ethnologie du proche/Ethnology at home" (2004).
Cf. Gingrich's argument that postmodernism established a methodological principle of the polycentric and self-reflective dialogue as a part of ethnological empiricism (1997:201). As a matter of fact, the term ethnography refers to both the process of production of ethnography and the textual product itself. Questions about the polka dance should presumably not be a part of ethnology because this dance is a newer tradition on the island of Krk, and it is expected that an ethnologist traditionally deals with older and rural cultural phenomena.
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