Being in the Field: Reflections on a Mi-kmaq Kekunit Ceremony
2003 (English)In: Anthropology and humanism, ISSN 0193-5615, Vol. 28, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 28, no 2
reflexive anthropology, rituals, fieldwork, participant observation
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-42290Local ID: 62401OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-42290DiVA: diva2:263146