A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and by Margery Wolf

By Margery Wolf

A Thrice-Told story is one ethnographer's ingenious and robust reaction to the methodological matters raised by way of feminist and postmodernist critics of conventional ethnography. the writer, a feminist anthropologist, makes use of 3 texts built 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 special kind, and has diversified "outcomes," but all 3 contain a similar attention-grabbing 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. was once she changing into a shaman, posessed by means of a god? used to be she deranged, short of actual restraint, medicinal drugs, and hospitalization? Or was once she being cynically manipulated through her ne'er-do-well husband to elicit sympathy and cash from her buddies? finally, the girl was once taken clear of the realm to her mother's apartment. For a few villagers, this settled the problem; for others the talk over her habit was once most likely by no means actually resolved.The first textual content is a quick tale written almost immediately after the incident, which happened virtually thrity years in the past; the second one textual content is a replica of the fieldnotes accrued in regards to the occasions lined within the brief tale; the 3rd textual content is a piece of writing released in 1990 in American Ethnologist that analyzes the incident from the author's present point of view. Following each one textual content is a remark during which the writer discusses such subject matters as experimental ethnography, polyvocality, authorial presence and keep an eye on, reflexivity, and a few of the diversities among fiction and ethnography.The 3 texts are framed via chapters during which the writer discusses the genereal difficulties posed by way of feminist and postmodernist critics of ethnography and offers her own exploration of those concerns in a controversy 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 themes of ethnographic study be set by way of those people who are studied. The e-book concludes with a plea for ethnographic accountability in accordance with a much less educational and simpler standpoint.

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1 would surely have explored her attitudes toward the powerful foreigners (a penniless graduate student and his wife) and whatever ethical uneasiness she may have felt about passing on her observations on the personal life of her fellow Taiwanese. The story would probably have been focused more on her own struggle to come to terms with a supernatural experience. Had 1 taken Mrs. " 1 cannot remember now whether 1 even considered using these other voices, but 1 doubt it. 1 knew that 1 did not and could not think like a Taiwanese.

Wu Chieh: "Why doesn't she like 492 (F 28) and 140 (F 39)? " 106: "She was going to 492'S home, and 49 2 closed the doors. 85: "49 2 says that it was the children who closed the doors. Then 4 8 got mad and picked up a stick and banged on the door. " "Oh, they were okay at first, but then they had an argument so that now they don't talk to one another. 140 got mad because 47 went to tell her husband something about her. Yesterday 48 went over to 140'S house, and 140 hid in the kitchen. But 48 stood in the yard bai-bai-ing, and when 140 stuck her head out, 4 8 called her and she had to come out.

Anthropologists do fieldwork by themselves, by and large, or with a spouse, but very rarely in conjunction with other anthropologists. There may be restudies, and there may be studies in nearby villages, but in the main the individual anthropologist takes responsibility for and essentially promises her public that she will not only tell the truth as she knows it, but will check and recheck what villagers tell her about the way things are in that village. Amazing though it may seem, we simply assume that we all do this because it is part of the ethics of our profession: a slender thread of trust sustaining a heavy burden of credibility.

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