By Margery Wolf
A Thrice-Told story is one ethnographer's inventive and robust reaction to the methodological matters raised by means of feminist and postmodernist critics of conventional ethnography. the writer, a feminist anthropologist, makes use of 3 texts constructed out of her study in Taiwan—a piece of fiction, anthropological fieldnotes, and a social technology article—to discover a few of those criticisms.Each textual content takes a distinct point of view, is written in a distinct type, and has assorted "outcomes," but all 3 contain an identical interesting set of occasions. a tender mom started to behave in a decidedly abherrant, maybe suicidal demeanour, and opinion in her village used to be sharply divided over the explanation. used to be she changing into a shaman, posessed by way of a god? was once she deranged, wanting actual restraint, medicinal drugs, and hospitalization? Or used to be she being cynically manipulated by way of her ne'er-do-well husband to elicit sympathy and cash from her associates? after all, the lady was once taken clear of the realm to her mother's residence. For a few villagers, this settled the problem; for others the controversy over her habit was once most likely by no means actually resolved.The first textual content is a brief tale written almost immediately after the incident, which happened virtually thrity years in the past; the second one textual content is a duplicate of the fieldnotes accrued concerning the occasions coated within the brief tale; the 3rd textual content is an editorial released in 1990 in American Ethnologist that analyzes the incident from the author's present standpoint. Following each one textual content is a remark within which the writer discusses such subject matters as experimental ethnography, polyvocality, authorial presence and regulate, reflexivity, and a few of the diversities among fiction and ethnography.The 3 texts are framed by means of chapters within which the writer discusses the genereal difficulties posed by means of feminist and postmodernist critics of ethnography and offers her own exploration of those concerns in an issue that's strongly self-reflexive and theoretically rigorous. She considers a few feminist issues over colonial examine equipment and takes matters with the insistence of a few feminists tha the subjects of ethnographic learn be set through those who find themselves studied. The booklet concludes with a plea for ethnographic accountability in keeping with a much less educational and simpler standpoint.
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Extra info for A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Ethnographic Responsibility
They looked exhausted and hot. 47 went up to 48'S mother and said: "See what I told you. Now she doesn't want it. " Later, Wu Chieh asked 369 (F 24) about the god, and 369 said that 48'S mother had tried to sell her the god because 48 didn't want it. Wu Chieh asked 369 why she thought 48 was ill. "Well, it is because of the $90 that her husband took and gave to a friend to go and gamble. " 369 then told Wu Chieh that she and 447 (F 35) were standing earlier in the yard outside of 48'S house wondering if she could sleep and 48 overheard them and yelled: "No.
With that he hurried out of the yard without looking right or left. A-mei's mother, who attempted to "see him off" as Taiwanese courtesy requires, hadn't gotten halfway across the courtyard before he was out of sight. Her social discomfort was obvious, but she also looked relieved-at the departure of Ong Huelieng or at the results of his meeting with them? Tien-Iai, who by rights should have ushered out the guest, was nowhere in sight. The men in the yard began to drift off, but the women closed around A-mei's mother like birds on an unattended bowl of rice.
We have begun to search for a way to do ethnographic research that not only will not exploit other women but will have positive effects on their lives. Feminist anthropologists are struggling with ways of transforming the objects of research into subjects, who themselves identify and design the research projects they think are needed, who retain control over the written outcome of the research, and who jointly publish with the anthropologists (Caplan 1988: 9; Mascia-Lees et aI. 19 8 9: 33). Feminist anthropologists are aware of the difficulties involved in such collaborative endeavors, perhaps more so than the postmodernists who so cheerfully encourage the idea.