Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Abstract: The climate of professional anthropology is changing, increasingly recognizing the tension between the requirements of ethnographic data collection and our obligations as human beings embedded in other contexts and relationships. This roundtable explores critical perspectives on linguistic anthropology methods with the aim of developing a methodological framework for rapid assessment that retains the analytic strength of long-term fieldwork while being feasible in both “academic” and “applied” contexts. We also seek to destabilize the binary between “academic” and “applied” by providing a framework for linguistic ethnographic research that can be applied across both contexts, but also noting logistical differences between the two.
Rapid assessment methods provide an alternative to long-term fieldwork, long the unspoken norm in “academic” anthropology. This intervention is necessary because long-term fieldwork privileges researchers and respondents who are extricable from networks of responsibility. That is, the time commitment required of both researchers and respondents may exclude those with caregiving responsibilities, health needs, or immediate financial needs, among other types of responsibility. Long-term fieldwork is also rooted in the colonial gaze, and developing rapid assessment methods is a necessary step in decolonizing linguistic and cultural anthropology (cf. Murali & Shulist, 2017).
Our panelists include practicing and academic anthropologists from both cultural and linguistic anthropology, one of whom is writing a book on rapid ethnographic assessments.