Creating coalitions and causing conflicts: Confronting race and gender through partnered ethnography

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12 Scopus citations


Responding to cultural anthropology's shift from the major paradigm of culture-as-meaning to one that includes the politics as well as the poetics of culture, this article urges experimentation with field methods. To that end, it recounts one such experiment, an attempt at partnered ethnography. Envisioned as a palliative to the dilemmas faced while conducting research in a Black millenarian community, I attempted a partnership with a fellow anthropologist whose race and gender positionings identify and place him differently from my own. Aiming to transcend the partiality of knowledge that necessarily derives from the standpoint of a lone researcher, as well as to find a way out of the researcher-researched imbalance of power, it was our hope that this coalition would produce multi-layered, multiply-positioned ethnography and do justice to the host community. The case illustrates, however, that this utopian vision of complementary research can, and did, spawn the very same problems of identity and authority claims that it was intended to solve. The essay concludes, nonetheless, by encouraging further experimentation with partnerships, for although risky, these can provide fruitful areas of empirical and theoretical illumination and ultimately enrich the project of ethnography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-222
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • Authority
  • Black hebrews
  • Field methods
  • Identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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