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Anthropology from the Bones: A Memoir of Fieldwork, Survival, and Commitment



In this deeply personal account, I describe for the first time how I was assaulted, beaten, and raped by a gang of hired thugs or rogue police in a north central Indian state during fieldwork in 1992. A graphic narrative of this event leads into a brief meditation on the sorts of things readers would typically prefer not to know, and on our compulsion as engaged anthropologists to bring them into the conversation anyway. I conclude with the persisting hope of survivors of violence—like many of our ethnographic interlocutors in arenas of conflict—that healing is possible and that change toward justice can occur. Finally, I write of an anthropology that speaks from a spiritual, political, and intellectual paradigm which recognizes that, unspoken or not, values of the heart are as central to our field as those of the mind.