The Politics of Location: Being a Native Anthropologist among Western Interlocutors in India

Tuhina Ganguly


This paper examines the politics of doing fieldwork as a ‘native’ i.e. Indian anthropologist among Western interlocutors in India. Focusing on the inter-relations between the Indian anthropologist and (predominantly) Western participants, this shows the complex nature of insider/outsider and native/Western location(s). While pointing out the multiple and shifting locations inhabited by the author and the interlocutors, the paper also highlights the ways in which such fluidity negotiates with the construct of the authentic native. The fixity of the mythical figure of the native made it difficult for the author to claim undisputed insidership. However, in critiquing the construction of the native as a fixed, immobile category, the author is nevertheless mindful that counter-constructions of the native as hybrid and hypermobile overlook the privileged position of postcolonial academics. Ultimately, the paper argues that acknowledging the specificities of one’s location shatters the myth of the native as a singular category.


Authenticity; location; native anthropologist; postcolonial elite; Puducherry

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