The Politics of Ethnography: Translated Woman In this book I attempted something that was taboo for anthropology. I not only presented Esperanza’s life story, but I explored my own interpretations and responses to her story, including the consequences that thinking about her story had for my own life (XVII) Two theoretical and methodological currents • Advocacy in feminist literature (including anthropology) • Importance of anthropological confessions as a methodological shift in ethnography Testimonial as a type of advocacy • • • • • • • Docummentary Channels of communication Preserve women’s history Accessibility Demystify common assumptions Taken a position Roots in Latin American historical fiction Testimonial literature resonates with other types of advocacy in anthropology • Ethnography as activism: Elizabeth Enslin (1994) • Repatriation for empowering subjects Testimonials and ethno autobiographies • Marjorie Shasta’s “Nisa: The Life and Words of a 1Kung Woman” (1981) • Vincent Crapanzano’s “Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan (1980). • Mediations of relationships( ethnographer and other) Blurring distinctions (subject and object) I have tried to make clear that what I am reading is a story, or set of stories, that have been told to me, so that I, in turn, can tell them again, transforming myself from a listener into a storyteller (13). Emphasis on local episteme Esperanza certainly understood that the border between history, reality and fiction, is a fluid one (16). I had to edit and reshape what she told me, turning it into something else (16) Immediate versus timeless • Women ethnographers have often found themselves positioned in the daughter role relation to the people with whom they work. In giving me the role of comadre, Esperanza made me "fictive kin”, but in a way both highlighted and formalized the contradictions of the racial and class differences between us (7) Methodological influences from anthropology • Anthropological confessions: necessity to show oneself as ethnographer • A move away from ethnographic realism • Malinowski’s diaries: ethnographer not a detached recorder of culture Contrasting with realist ethnographies • • • • Highly personalized styles Stories of fieldwork rapport Active construction of the ethnography A world presented in which the ethnographer plays a part I was also forced to realize the extent to which the ethnographic relation is bases on power, for indeed, I had felt uncomfortable when an ‘informant’ – particularly another, less-privileged, woman—was assertive and aggressive, rather than complicitous and cooperative as informants “should’ be (6). Remain realist • Done to convince the audience of authenticity • Mentions personal biases, character flows, etc • Shows him/herself struggling to piece together the story Clifford (1983) Two rhetorical strategies of confessions • One: to cast oneself as student as an apprentice of culture; comes to learn a culture like a child learns a culture • Two: to cast oneself as a translator or interpreter of indigenous texts available to the ethnographer only in the field A growing discomfort about close links between the fieldworker and the inquisitor a extractors of confessions...This discomfort was highlighted for me in Mexico by the intense awareness of race and class differences in the countryside and by the way people tended to position mw in the role of a rich gringa from the United states (3) Discussion Questions • Why does Behar think Esperanza needs the anthropologists to mediate her story? • Whose stories are they? • Can testimonial an ethnic autobiographies refashion our practice of ethnography as a mode of cultural critique?