The journal’s double issue, which includes twelve peer-reviewed articles, focuses on the ethnography of India across the longue durée and includes several generations of scholars.
Amy Allocco, associate professor of Religious Studies and director of the Multifaith Scholars Program, has published a double issue of “Fieldwork in Religion” (15.1-2) with the theme of “Shifting Sites, Shifting Selves: The Intersections of Homes and Fields in the Ethnography of India.”
Allocco co-edited the volume with Dr. Jennifer D. Ortegren, assistant professor of religion at Middlebury College. It includes peer-reviewed articles written by scholars working in the field of South Asian religions whose ethnographic research stretches back to the 1970s. This issue grows out of a 2019 symposium that Allocco and Ortegren jointly organized for the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (see related article below), an interdisciplinary South Asian studies conference that attracts 1,100 scholars annually.
By taking the productive tensions between “home” and “the field” as its primary interpretive framework, the 11 scholars who contributed to the special issue are able to explore varying strategies for self-fashioning and self-presentation in their fieldwork contexts. They also identify sensory engagements with and emotional entanglements in these contexts and call for richer reflexivity and standpoint work in ethnographic writing. All of the essays in the volume offer reflections on the contingencies and positionalities that shape ethnographic engagements and ways of knowing, thereby demonstrating that all ethnographic knowledge is inescapably partial and incomplete. Many of them argue for privileging accountability and reciprocity in fieldwork interactions and in the production of anthropological knowledge itself.
In addition to co-authoring the introduction to the special issue with Ortegren, Allocco also contributed an article titled “Shifting Technologies of Reflection: Intergenerational Relationships and the Entanglements of Field and Home.” Her contribution considers the diverse forms of field-writing, including handwritten letters home, creative essays, emails, and more (what she calls “technologies of reflection”), that she has produced over the course of 25 years of study and fieldwork in South India. Allocco leverages this material to reflect on the intergenerational gifts and relationships that have structured her experience of the flows between home and the field and highlights the deeply intersubjective and relational aspects of fieldwork. Reflecting on the sources in her archive –which powerfully illustrate the interpenetrations of home and field, life and death, and self and other – leads Allocco to reaffirm her commitment to centering the crucial relationships that develop in these contexts in her scholarship, teaching, and mentoring.