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The Social Construction and Reconstruction of the Other: Fieldwork in El Barrio

Judith Freidenberg
Anthropological Quarterly
Vol. 71, No. 4 (Oct., 1998), pp. 169-185
DOI: 10.2307/3317440
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3317440
Page Count: 17
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The Social Construction and Reconstruction of the Other: Fieldwork in El Barrio
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Abstract

Anthropologists speak of ethnography as both product and process of fieldwork, yet have tended to be overly concerned about the product. In this article I argue that by making the process of fieldwork more participatory, we make the product more policy oriented. The case presented here suggests that visual methods can be valuable in the process of validating anthropological interpretations with study populations and of submitting ethnographic renditions to general publics. Visual methods help study populations to project their views and engage them in dialogue that validates fieldwork while helping them to construct their own and joint visions of "self" and "other." I suggest use of visual instruments at three different stages of fieldwork (conversations around photos, artifacts, and opinion books) involving informants and general publics. Using dialogues on, with, and about the study population produced a multifaceted, richer, and more reflective construction of "the other." Interview instruments that engage the other in their own constructions of otherness are particularly useful in ethnographic research on multicultural and socially stratified contemporary urban societies.

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