The tradition of intensive fieldwork by a single anthropologist in one area has been challenged by new emphasis on studying historical patterns, wider regions, and global networks. Some anthropologists have started their careers from the new vantage point, amidst a chorus of claims for innovative methodologies. Others have lived through these changes of perspective and are able to reflect on them, while re-evaluating the place of fieldwork within the broader aims of general anthropology. This book explores these transformations of world view and approach as they have been experienced by anthropological colleagues, a number of whom began their work very much in the earlier tradition. They cover experiences of field research in Africa, Papua New Guinea, South America, Central and South Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, Japan and China. Constant through the chapters is a distinctively qualitative empirical approach, once associated with the village but now being developed in relation to large-scale or dispersed communities. Paul Dresch has been working both on Yemeni history and the ethnography of the Arab Gulf.
He taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before being appointed Lecturer in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. Wendy James has taught at the Universities of Khartoum, Aarhus, and Bergen, and has research experience in the Sudan and Ethiopia. She has published on the history and anthropology of North East Africa and on general topics in religion and politics. She is currently Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford. David Parkin has carried out field research in East Africa since 1962, much of it while at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University. Current research interests include Islam, medical anthropology, socio-material prosthesis, and cross-cultural rhetorics. He is the Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford.