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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The 'intimate politics' of fieldwork: Monica Hunter and her African assistants, Pondoland and the Eastern Cape, 1931-1932
Author:Bank, AndrewISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:anthropological research
interpersonal relations
culture contact
About person:Monica Hunter Wilson (1908-1982)ISNI
Abstract:Monica Hunter's 'Reaction to conquest' (1936) is a celebrated example of interwar anthropology that has long influenced the conception of African societies and is today still widely recognized as a precocious and pioneering study. This article explores the human story behind the book by returning to the sites where Hunter collected her ethnographic data during her two years of fieldwork in 1931 and 1932. At each of these sites of knowledge production, the author uncovers - for the first time - the hidden history of the close personal relationships between Monica Hunter and her African research assistants. The view from the field reveals their enormous contribution to her research, variously as tutors in Xhosa, translators, transcribers, bodyguards, hostesses and social networkers, guides in cultural etiquette and, not least, primary informants. These assistants were only partially acknowledged in her published study, however, and the author reflects on why she chose to downplay their contributions, as well as on their own respective motivations for collaborating so actively in her research work. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]