We Are All Insider-Outsiders

We Are All Insider-Outsiders: A Review of Debates Surrounding Native Anthropology

Abby Forster

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Abstract

More and more anthropologists are doing “anthropology of home” by researching within their own communities. Major methodological and theoretical contributions for researchers working in their home communities come from debates surrounding “native” anthropology. Since anthropology has historically involved going outside one’s community, the shift to research sites in an anthropologist’s home community has fostered debates about the application of traditional anthropological methods to one’s own community. This article outlines several important methodological issues that have been debated by native anthropologists including issues of distance, cultural competence, translation, and defining “native.” This article shows that native anthropology offers a critique of dominate anthropological practices by opposing the customary position of natives as objects and countering Eurocentrist domination in academia. At the same time, native anthropologists have been strong in voicing the fluidity of identity which shows that every researcher is both an insider and an outsider. These insights are important for every anthropologist of home.

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