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Reflections on Power and the Post-Colonial Context: Tales from the Field

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

The history of ethnographic practice in anthropology is inseparable from histories of colonialism—including racist assumptions and exploitative interests. This essay comments on concerns about power and ethnographic work from a different point of view, considering the relative powerlessness of the ethnographer in the context of a relationship that developed in the field. The essay argues that power relations in the practice of ethnography are in fact quite variegated, dependent on multiple factors, and too complex and richly textured to be captured in a single, simple “first world/third world” kind of dichotomous mapping.

Affiliations: 1: Loyola University Chicago, International Studies;, Email:


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