Ethnographies of the Hometown: Re-invigorating the Discussion on “Native” Anthropology in Asia

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Ethnographies of the Hometown: Re-invigorating the Discussion on “Native” Anthropology in Asia
Stream: Anthropology
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Julius Bautista, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan (organizer, presenter, chair)
Dada Docot, Purdue University, United States (presenter)
Cyprianus Jehan Paju Dale, Universität Bern, Switzerland (presenter)
Shiori Shakuto, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore (presenter)
Tricia Okada, Tamagawa University, Japan (presenter)


This panel addresses the methodological and conceptual vicissitudes of studying ‘the homeland’ in the production of anthropological knowledge. Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the number of Asians researching in their own communities, often channelling their cultural and linguistic proficiencies into their ethnographic repertoire (Heryanto 2002). To be sure, anthropologists worldwide have long recognized that the increased prominence of ‘native' ethnographers has contributed to the widespread interrogation and reframing of the discipline’s most foundational assumptions about ‘the field,’ ‘otherness,’ ‘scientific objectivity,’ and methods (Narayan 1994, Kuwayama 2004). The discussion about ‘native anthropology’, however, needs to be refreshed and reinvigorated in a way that recognizes the varied situational, empirical, and institutional tensions that arise from the practice of studying one’s own. Moreover, analytical attention needs to be devoted to the oblique ways in which social scientists today conceptualize the ‘field’ within, especially considering the colonial origins of the formation of national and regional boundaries. This panel features scholars from a variety of institutions and diverse levels of academic appointment. Each of them will explore the various methodological, ethical and conceptual issues that have arisen in their pursuit of an “anthropology of the hometown” (Docot 2018), and will comment more broadly on what this could mean for the practice of ethnography in Asia and beyond.