Fieldwork and Cultural Understanding
Publication Year: 2013
Encountering Morocco introduces readers to life in this North African country through vivid accounts of fieldwork as personal experience and intellectual journey. We meet the contributors at diverse stages of their careers–from the unmarried researcher arriving for her first stint in the field to the seasoned fieldworker returning with spouse and children. They offer frank descriptions of what it means to take up residence in a place where one is regarded as an outsider, learn the language and local customs, and struggle to develop rapport. Moving reflections on friendship, kinship, and belief within the cross-cultural encounter reveal why study of Moroccan society has played such a seminal role in the development of cultural anthropology.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Table of Contents
A version of chapter 4 previously appeared in Anthropological Quarterly and is being reprinted with permission. The anecdotes in chapter 3 appeared in In and Out of Morocco, by David A. McMurray, and are used by permission of the University of Minnesota Press.
This book introduces readers to Morocco by showing how anthropologists have come to understand it. Each essay takes us into a specific part of the country through the unique voice of the writer. Each delivers a very local story, a vignette of how a particular individual has done fieldwork in a specific context. ...
1. Arabic or French? The Politics of Parole at a Psychiatric Hospital in Morocco
It is Thursday morning, and the patients and doctors of the open women’s ward at a Moroccan psychiatric hospital are gathering in the lounge for the weekly ijtima, an hour or so of sharing stories, experiences, and impressions of life at the hospital. As the women take their seats on the couches—made in a traditional design, ...
2. Time, Children, and Getting Ethnography Done in Southern Morocco
When ethnographies assume polished form, the process of selecting a field site usually appears to have been a serendipitous alignment of intellectual commitments and affective attachments. The “arrival narrative” begins to take shape in those first days at the field site. ...
3. Thinking about Class and Status in Morocco
A barber worked directly across the street from the front door of our apartment in the late 1980s in Nador, a gritty boomtown in the Berber north that was exploding with the repatriated wealth of emigrants away in Europe as well as the revenues from goods smuggled in from Spain and hash smuggled out of Morocco.1 ...
4. Forgive Me, Friend: Mohammed and Ibrahim
In Morocco I tend—like many American anthropologists—to seek rapport with a smile. Retailers in Fes refer to American tourists by the code word miska—chewing gum—meaning they are all teeth and lips. (British tourists, in contrast, are ad-dam al-barid, which means cold blood.) ...
5. Suspicion, Secrecy, and Uncomfortable Negotiations Over Knowledge Production in Southwestern Morocco
Power relations inherent in the encounter between anthropologist and informant engaged the advocates of reflexive anthropology working in Morocco (Crapanzano 1980; K. Dwyer 1982; Rabinow 2007 ). Their analyses have reconfigured the practice and writing of ethnography over the last three decades. ...
6. The Activist and the Anthropologist
In his afterword to Paul Rabinow’s Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco (2007 , 166–67), Pierre Bourdieu cites Jean Piaget’s famous dictum, “it is not so much that children don’t know how to talk: they try out many languages until they find one their parents can understand,” and concludes, ...
7. A Distant Episode: Religion and Belief in Moroccan Ethnography
It was a bright June day in Fes, with perfect blue skies, just before the heat of summer would lie on the Ville Nouvelle1 like an unquiet conscience. Today my Moroccan mother-in-law, Jamila, had been promising to take me to the tomb of Sidi Bou Ghalib in the medina. ...
8. Shortcomings of a Reflexive Tool Kit; or, Memoir of an Undutiful Daughter
Bougainvilleas of multiple colors—burgundy, yellow, rose, and white—draped the walls of what seemed to be a timeless corner villa and separated it from the small streets paved with a puzzle, hard bricks that made a funny buzzing sound when cars drove on them. ...
9. Reflecting on Moroccan Encounters: Meditations on Home, Genre, and the Performance of Everyday Life
I encountered Morocco when I was twenty-four years old. It was, in a sense, an accidental or at least a serendipitous encounter—but then again, it may have been fate. Before leaving New York in 1981, I was in music school studying flute performance. I was working on my second BA , begun after my graduation from the English Department at New York University ...
10. The Power of Babies
Children are of obvious importance to farmers in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, as the main source of farm labor and as a preeminent cultural value. Villagers expect to have children, pity those who do not, ask about having them, pray to have them, and consider any equivocation about the desirability of parenthood to be a weird misunderstanding or a form of mental illness. ...
11. Afterword: Anthropologists among Moroccans
The essays in this volume address topics that, for a long time, were present only at the margins of academic anthropological discourse, if they appeared at all. Issues like the anthropologist’s “identity”—the implications of the anthropologist’s origins and how anthropologists construct themselves in the field; ...
Jamila Bargach is the secretary general of the Association Dar Si Hmad, in Sidi Ifni, Morocco. Her most recent book is Orphans of Islam: Family, Abandonment, and Secret Adoption in Morocco. ...