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Friday's Fascinating Fotographs from Fieldwork


The king Okyenhene Amoatia Ofori Panin II surrounded by palace officials, receiving visitors and well-wishers during a ‘traditional’ festival (Kyebi/Ghana, 2002)

"Cherchez le Chercheur" No. VIII

Another shot from ‘the field’ inviting you to search for the researcher.
He is attending this ceremonial and royal protocol in which the ‘traditionalists’ from the king’s palace and the visitors are bound. But is he really involved? Or just a spectator more or less admitted to the event? How much of what is going on does he actually grasp? At least, the photographic document – viewed back home – can serve the researcher as a source of multi-facetted information, as a mnemonic aid proper.

Click here for an enlarged view of the scene above.


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Friday's Fascinating Fotographs from Fieldwork



Another picture of the standing-out-in-the-crowd series (see last week): children surrounding the harassed foreigner... (Kyebi/Ghana, 2002)

"Cherchez le Chercheur" No. VI
There is a mutual fascination that link children and fieldworker. For the kids, the researcher's presence forms a welcomed entertainment. They have an astonishing capacity for integrating this curious element in their midst. For the fieldworker, children are amusing and outspoken narrators, brilliant observers, language teachers, spreader of rumours, etc. But are they reliable informants?

Though kids are also likely to become the most annoying, disturbing and devastating element during fieldwork - time-consuming, demanding and full of gossip. Beware of those who are about to squat your valuable privacy, just like these kids did, too...


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Friday's Fascinating Photographs from Fieldwork



Priests, palace officials and other ritual specialists on returning from a ceremony performed on the banks of the Bukuru stream in the Atiwa Forest (near Kyebi/Ghana, 2002)

"Cherchez le Chercheur" No. III
Remember last week’s photograph? The ‘traditionalists’ were monitoring the performance of a cleansing ritual in front of the royal palace. Today you find the same crew posing for a group shot on the junction of a forest trail. Amongst them are the leading priestess (okomfo, smoking her pipe), junior priests and cult novices (in white cloth), and a chief’s spokesman (okyeame, holding the golden staff). And, difficult to ignore, a foreigner.

It seems rather uncommon for a fieldworker to have his picture taken with his ‘objects’. For the most part it is his duty to stand behind the camera. Who, then, makes him to be the object in the field? It is (or, it was in my case) local acquaintances and what one might call field assistants; or friends from home on a visit to the fieldworker’s remote world; or even journalists hunting for pictures of exotic cultures – but locating just another invader...

Expect next week’s entry with a photographic episode about a SPIEGEL journalist who run into the researcher in the field.
Also check the ‘colonial version’ of the picture above, just for fun...


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Friday's Fascinating Photographs from Fieldwork



Ritual specialists and palace officials observe the preparation of a cleansing ritual. Water from the 'sacred river Birim' is mixed with leaves, then consecrated and finally sprinkled around the king Okyenhene's palace (in the back, Kyebi/Ghana)

"Cherchez le Chercheur" No. II
Resuming the "Cherchez le Chercheur" series set off last week, this picture provides the researcher's view of the presented ceremonial scene. It is, of course, taken from a completely different angle and focuses solely on the protagonists' activities. Also, note that it carries features of an actual group portrait - however stemming from a different, yet intentional arrangement: the 'traditionalists' (priests, chiefs, palace functionaries) are not supposed to stand behind the person preparing the ritual but rather must back the one (in red cloth) who will pour libation on it afterwards. A 'natural' setting offering an opportune access for another protagonist - the photographer.

Look up next week's picture! The same 'traditionalists' - and with them the researcher - will pose for a real group shot in the thick forest of southern Ghana.


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Friday's Fascinating Photographs from Fieldwork



Ethnographic observer surrounded by 'traditional' rituals, possession dances and ceremonial food preparations in front of the Okyenhene's palace (June 2002, Kyebi/Ghana)

‘Cherchez le Chercheur’ – No. I
While the ethnographic fieldworker is famous for producing countless photographic impressions of his own field, the documentary evidences of his presence and involvement in the ethnographic process are rather scarce. Hence, in this upcoming ‘Cherchez le Chercheur’ series on Fridays, I will present photographs which focus on one essential element of the fieldwork setting: the researcher himself.

The pictures stem from my fieldwork project carried out in Kyebi, Akyem Abuakwa (Eastern Region/Ghana, Jan. - Aug. 2002).

Don’t miss next week’s picture!! I will provide the counter-picture (i.e. the researcher’s view) of the ceremonial scene above.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


Pinse-Tawa, A Lengua Witch-Doctor
"A good type of a Lengua witch-doctor's face. Age about 55. Pockmarks and the absence of eyebrows, eyelashes, and all hair on the face is noticeable. The Indian considers himself superior to dogs, horses, and other hairy animals, and gives this as his reason for the painful operation of pulling out all hair on his body, the top of the head excepted."
From W. Barbrooke Grubb, "An unknown people in an unknown land. The indians of the Paraquayan Chaco", p. 46.
I you find a fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


Margaret Mead an Gregory Bateson in New Guinea, 1938.
From Roger Sanjek: Fieldnotes. The Makings of Anthropology. Title Page.
I you find a fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


Unknown field researcher.
Photograph by Howell Walker. From Paul Bohannan: "We, the Alien. An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology", p. XIV
I you find a fascinating picture, or have one from your own reasearch please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


Christmas Camp from Theodor Koch-Grüneberg, somewhere in northwest brazil
From Theodor Koch-Grüneberg, "Zwei Jahre bei den Indianern Nordwest-Brasiliens", p. XIII.
I you find a fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork




English Ethnographer Farnham Rehfisch with a Mambila
From a nice website about the work of Rehfisch.
I you find a fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


Maskentanz der Káua. Rio Aiarý.
From Koch-Grüneberg's "Zwei Jahre unter den Indianern, Bd.1", 1909, S.132.
I you find an fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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Friday's Fascinating Photograph from Fieldwork


A Missionary with an infant
From the cover of the magazine "Portugal em Africa", 1953, Nr. 55.
I you find a fascinating picture, please send me the picture or the name of the book where it is printed.


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