Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology

By Roger Sanjek | Go to book overview

DAVID W. PLATH


Fieldnotes, Filed Notes,
and the Conferring of Note

"But these are your notes," screamed Miss Clovis, snatching a half-burned sheet from the edge of the fire.

" 'They did not know when their ancestors left the place of the big rock nor why, nor could they say how long they had been in their present habitat ...'," she read, then threw it back with an impatient gesture. "Kinship tables!" she shrieked,

"You cannot let these go!" She snatched at another sheet, covered with little circles and triangles, but Alaric restrained her and poked it further into the fire with his stick.

"Esther, it's no good," he said. "I shall never write it up now. If Catherine hadn't encouraged me, I don't think it would ever have occurred to me that I could be free of this burden for ever."

— BARBARA PYM, Less than Angels

One of my books about Japan came out recently in Japanese translation. The publisher issued the book with an advertising wrapper, and on that wrapper printed the tease line "Field Notes of an Anthropologist!!" The Anglo phrase "field notes" slipped into the local vocabulary

____________________
Several colleagues provided valuable comments on what was a much cruder version of this essay. My thanks to Edward M. Bruner, Janet Dougherty, Elizabeth Hurley, Charles Keller, and Robert J. Smith. And my extra special thanks to Jacquetta Hill and Roger Sanjek.

-371-

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