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Being in the Field: Reflections on a Mi’kmaq Kekunit Ceremony

Hornborg, Anne-Christine LU (2003) In Anthropology and Humanism 28(2). p.1-13
Abstract
This article has a threefold purpose. First, it seeks to show how modern rituals among Mi'kmaq traditionalists in eastern Canada are anchored in and derive their rationale from modern reserve existence. Two rituals are described, a kekunit godparent ceremony for a 14-year-old girl and a sweat lodge ceremony later the same evening. Second, the article also provides an example of the paradoxes of "participant observation" by showing how engagement in fieldwork may turn the fieldworker's preconceived beliefs and attitudes on their head. The effect of some words from a young girl illustrates how being-in-the-field in an instant can shatter the most comfortable distinctions between a rational Self and a superstitious Other. Being-in-the-field... (More)
This article has a threefold purpose. First, it seeks to show how modern rituals among Mi'kmaq traditionalists in eastern Canada are anchored in and derive their rationale from modern reserve existence. Two rituals are described, a kekunit godparent ceremony for a 14-year-old girl and a sweat lodge ceremony later the same evening. Second, the article also provides an example of the paradoxes of "participant observation" by showing how engagement in fieldwork may turn the fieldworker's preconceived beliefs and attitudes on their head. The effect of some words from a young girl illustrates how being-in-the-field in an instant can shatter the most comfortable distinctions between a rational Self and a superstitious Other. Being-in-the-field entails a continuous oscillation between close engagement in people's lifeworlds and distanced observations of human behavior. In the third part of the article, I reinterpret the ritual—a painful process for me, albeit necessary. As for the participants themselves, their pain is as diffuse and enduring as their lives. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
rituals, reflexive anthropology, fieldwork, participant observation
in
Anthropology and Humanism
volume
28
issue
2
pages
1 - 13
publisher
The Society for Humanistic Anthropology: University of California Press
ISSN
0193-5615
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f5d72787-5faa-474f-9710-454933258a7a (old id 154161)
date added to LUP
2007-07-19 15:44:30
date last changed
2016-04-16 03:06:20
@article{f5d72787-5faa-474f-9710-454933258a7a,
  abstract     = {This article has a threefold purpose. First, it seeks to show how modern rituals among Mi'kmaq traditionalists in eastern Canada are anchored in and derive their rationale from modern reserve existence. Two rituals are described, a kekunit godparent ceremony for a 14-year-old girl and a sweat lodge ceremony later the same evening. Second, the article also provides an example of the paradoxes of "participant observation" by showing how engagement in fieldwork may turn the fieldworker's preconceived beliefs and attitudes on their head. The effect of some words from a young girl illustrates how being-in-the-field in an instant can shatter the most comfortable distinctions between a rational Self and a superstitious Other. Being-in-the-field entails a continuous oscillation between close engagement in people's lifeworlds and distanced observations of human behavior. In the third part of the article, I reinterpret the ritual—a painful process for me, albeit necessary. As for the participants themselves, their pain is as diffuse and enduring as their lives.},
  author       = {Hornborg, Anne-Christine},
  issn         = {0193-5615},
  keyword      = {rituals,reflexive anthropology,fieldwork,participant observation},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {1--13},
  publisher    = {The Society for Humanistic Anthropology: University of California Press},
  series       = {Anthropology and Humanism},
  title        = {Being in the Field: Reflections on a Mi’kmaq Kekunit Ceremony},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2003},
}