THE COMFORT OF FIELDWORK JEFF CARTER Thinking about this apparent methodological convergence between the history of religions and cultural anthropology, I first asked the question "why?". Why have those of us who study religion increas- ingly found ourselves doing "things anthropological?". Is there sud- denly something especially attractive about field studies? In this short piece, I want to consider some of the reasons that may be driving historians of religions to embrace certain field research methods gleaned from anthropology. Along the way, I will try to identify some of the more obvious reasons, but also develop what might be an underlying motivation, perhaps an unrecognized assumption, that can also spur this disciplinary turn for some of us. Why, we have to ask, do we, or should we, run to the field? The snide answer is that historians of religions have finally begun to "see the light," that we have been behind the curve thus far and are only now catching up to the methodological insights long under- stood by anthropologists. We have finally given up our lofty general- izing tendencies, and are now willing to get our hands and feet dirty "on the ground." After all, if it
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2001
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