On Being Here

Mattis Karlsson
2018 Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research  
This paper is a response to the social anthropologist's frustration of not being there. It is, to make further use of your own words, an attempt to deal with my own chronic disciplinary identity crisis. It is a response written in recognition of your situation and in recognition of the symptoms that you so eloquently describe. 1 I love your expression "interdisciplinary bastard", partly because I can relate, and partly because of what happens when the metaphor of disciplines and parenthood is
more » ... and parenthood is extended. I was once also in search of parents. As a fresh undergraduate student my first contact with academia was at the program for Social and Cultural Analysis at Linköping University. This is a program managed by scholars who in many cases had left their respective disciplines to answer calls for interdisciplinary science. The program was also a response to a similar call: approach the world with an open but critical mind without the guiding hand of a specific discipline. In a sense we were all orphans. We grasped for clearer contexts, conformity in method and a canon to rally around. I found all of this in the disciplinary arms of sociology. However, I rebelled on my newfound family at every given opportunity. To me, sociology is merely a point of departure. I keep coming back, but only because I imagine it as a necessity in order to leave. I think this is an imagination based on a false distinction. The insides and outsides of disciplines are arbitrary divides. There are no perfect lines drawn on maps to indicate where sociology ends, and anthropology begins. The "field" is little different from the disciplines of science in that regard. I do not practice fieldwork in any traditional sense. Regardless of whether I am in search of material, or if I am analysing or writing, you are most likely to find me by my computer. In spite of this, I would argue that I am there. It is not from laziness or reluctance to travel that I have decided to conduct my research in this manner. It is from interest and a want for effectiveness.
doi:10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1793342 fatcat:wrqfv4un7rgglgl3oy2ojekogy