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Reversed Gaze

An African Ethnography of American Anthropology


Publication Year: 2010

Deftly illustrating how life circumstances can influence ethnographic fieldwork, Mwenda Ntarangwi focuses on his experiences as a Kenyan anthropology student and professional anthropologist practicing in the United States and Africa. Whereas Western anthropologists often study non-Western cultures, Mwenda Ntarangwi reverses these common roles and studies the Western culture of anthropology from an outsider's viewpoint while considering larger debates about race, class, power, and the representation of the "other." Tracing his own immersion into American anthropology, Ntarangwi identifies textbooks, ethnographies, coursework, professional meetings, and feedback from colleagues and mentors that were key to his development. Reversed Gaze enters into a growing anthropological conversation on representation and self-reflexivity that ethnographers have come to regard as standard anthropological practice, opening up new dialogues in the field by allowing anthropologists to see the role played by subjective positions in shaping knowledge production and consumption.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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pp. vii-xiii

This book is a personal journey into the heart of anthropology; representing my own pathways as an African student entering American higher education in the early 1990s to study a discipline that I knew very little about. It is a story about my initial entry into an American academic..

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pp. xv-xvi

Support for writing this manuscript was generously provided by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc., under the Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship (Gr. 7532) to whom I am most sincerely grateful. My initial training as an anthropologist was also enhanced by...

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1. Imagining Anthropology, Encountering America

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pp. 1-23

Anthropologists’ accounts of how they navigate their first moments in the field have given us clues to understanding the fieldwork enterprise. In doing so, some anthropologists have often problematized their own subjectivity in the field (e.g., race, gender, class, or ethnicity) and the way it affects...

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2. Tripping on Race, Training Anthropologists

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pp. 24-51

Why does the bulk of anthropological research entail studying other people, especially those in non-Western worlds? Are anthropologists genuinely interested in other cultures, or do other cultures provide convenient subjects for anthropological study? Why go through the kinds of agony...

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3. Of Monkeys, Africans, and the Pursuit of the Other

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pp. 52-77

My participation in a group project on race opened my eyes to other avenues of understanding the dynamics of race in the classroom and beyond. I soon found myself quite drawn to sociocultural texts that allowed for a deeper understanding of race. My next opportunity to analyze race...

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4. Remembering Home, Contrasting Experiences

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pp. 78-100

As I argue in the previous chapter, even though Western anthropology has been dominated by the study of the Other, the discipline has and can be used to study one’s self and one’s culture. In this chapter, I give an example of the value of using anthropology not only to study others but also to reflect...

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5. Mega-Anthropology: The AAA Annual Meetings

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pp. 101-125

For anthropology truly to become a cultural critique, anthropologists must apply the information they gather from studying other cultures toward understanding themselves and anthropological culture itself. In such anthropological studies of anthropology, I envision a systematic analysis...

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6. A New Pardigm for Twenty-First-Century Anthropology?

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pp. 126-151

What is the future of anthropology in a world that is becoming increasingly connected by new forms of globalization that hinge on a neoliberal economic model? What is the role of anthropology in highlighting and analyzing this global neoliberal condition, especially as it reflects not...


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pp. 153-164


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pp. 165-176


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pp. 177-183

E-ISBN-13: 9780252090240
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252035791

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2010