07 Mar What Not to Do with a Tantrika: Some Notes on Ethnography in India
June McDaniel (Religious Studies, College of Charleston)
Friday, March 7 / 4:00 pm
3041 Humanities and Social Sciences Building
This lecture explored important issues concerning ethnographic fieldwork methods in the study of South Asian religions. Drawing on her fieldwork in West Bengal, McDaniel discussed a range of issues involved in interviewing living tantrikas, including issues of bias and stereotyping, payment and confidentiality, safety in the field, telling insincere practitioners from sincere ones, and building networks. Should researchers be initiated into the traditions they study? Should they participate in rituals? How close should scholars get to their informants?
June McDaniel is Professor of Religious Studies at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. Her publications include The Madness of the Saints: Ecstatic Religion in Bengal; Making Virtuous Daughters and Wives: An Introduction to Women’s Brata Rituals in Bengali Folk Religion; and Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. She currently serves as co-chair of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Mysticism Group and has also served as founding co-chair of the AAR Anthropology of Religion Consultation and co-chair of the AAR Ritual Studies Group.