Working Paper 60

Lessons (Un)Learned: Ten reflections on twenty years of fieldwork in the Peoples Republic of China

Dru C. Gladney

Abteilung ‚Resilienz und Transformation in Eurasien’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 60

This paper attempts to distill ten lessons learned over the last 20 years of field research in China. It highlights the particularities of doing fieldwork in the Chinese setting and addresses various issues that are special to anthropology of and in China, ranging from practical questions about doing fieldwork to disputes over the actual subject of research within Chinese studies (e.g. China/Taiwan; Han/minorities; folk religion/Islam). The author offers a critical review of studies on Chinese society, conducted both by Western and Chinese scholars and traces the changing role of anthropology over the last two decades in China. In addition, the paper challenges the idea that one should work in one site, with one people, on one problem, over a specific period of time and highlights the benefits of taking a multi-sited research approach. The essay further seeks to question the notion of Han heterogeneity and suggests instead that China studies need a re-location.

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