Reciprocity Rules

Reciprocity Rules

Friendship and Compensation in Fieldwork Encounters


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Reciprocity Rules explores the rich and complicated relationships that develop between anthropologists and research participants over time. Focusing on compensation and the creation of friendship and “family” relationships, contributors discuss what, when, and how researchers and the people with whom they work give to each other in and beyond fieldwork. Through reflexivity and narrative, the contributors to this edited collection, who are in various stages in their professional careers and whose research spans three continents and eight countries, reflect on the ways in which they have compensated their research participants and given back to host communities, as well as the varied responses to their efforts. The contributors consider both material and non-material forms of reciprocity, stories of successes and failures, and the taken-for-granted notions of compensation, friendship, and “helping.” In so doing, they address the interpersonal dynamics of power and agency in the field, examine cultural misunderstandings, and highlight the challenges that anthropologists face as they strive to maintain good relations with their hosts even when separated by time and space. The contributors argue that while learning, following, openly discussing, and writing about the local rules of reciprocity are always challenging, they are essential to responsible research practice and ongoing efforts to decolonize anthropology.