Analysis Of Nigel Barley's The Innocent Anthropologist

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Nigel Barley’s The Innocent Anthropologist explores the lives and culture of the Cameroonian Dowayo tribe. The book follows Barley’s fieldwork gathered during his stay amongst the tribe, affording insight into their ceremonies, language, social norms, and beliefs. Barley’s book stands out in the highly personal tone with which he recounts his time spent with the Dowayo, acknowledging bureaucratic troubles and, oftentimes humorous, misunderstandings. With a translator, Barley embarks on his attempt to immerse himself into the culture of the Dowayo, not hesitating to participate in their festivals (to a certain degree) and incorporate himself in their daily lives. Barley regals the audience with the entire experience of his fieldwork in West Africa, making sure to include how more modern technological and political inventions, such as voting and refrigerators, are regarded by the Dowayo. Barley writes with emphasis on the difficulties of the language, which is tonal and consists of multiple dialects, the Dowayo’s fondness for…show more content…
However, omissions in his account of his time spent with the tribe provoke questions regarding the role of women in the society and the power dynamic in Cameroonian tribes, such as the Dowayo. In order to answer such questions, one may look to Miriam Goheen’s experience and fieldwork with the Cameroonian Nso people. Her fieldwork, which closely examines exactly such questions affords great insight into the role of the women in these regions and how their labors are regarded by the other tribespeople. Juxtaposed, Barley’s The Innocent Anthropologist and Goheen’s Men Own the Fields, Women own the Crops: Gender and Power in the Cameroon Grassfields provide a very interesting look into the people of the Cameroonian

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