Association of Senior Anthropologists
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
In his classic essay, 'Deep Play,' Clifford Geertz demonstrated how the meaning and intensity of cock-fighting in rural Bali arose from the participants' life-long immersion in intricate webs of local kin and village ties. In this paper, I argue that this level of comprehending a foreign culture can only be approximated through multiple return collaborations involving the same interlocutors strung over the length of the anthropologist's career. Such an extended research programme is obviously necessary for understanding the nature of long-term cultural and social change. But it is essential also for plumbing the deeper character of the very phenomena that are undergoing those changes, something virtually unachievable through a single field experience. The analytical virtues of 'multi-timed ethnograpy' are illustrated drawing on the author's conduct of some 25 field-trips over 45 years among two Austronesian-speaking Papua New Guinea societies: North Mekeo and Trobriand Islands.