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Keywords:

  • empathy;
  • emotions;
  • long-term fieldwork;
  • and friendship

Summary

In this article, I draw on my experience as a friend and (honorary) daughter in a Nahua community in Guerrero, Mexico, to show how emotions and empathy between “informants” and the “anthropologist” were central to my work. Through examples involving sadness, I suggest that “learned empathy,” or the embodiment of a new emotional arrangement during long-term fieldwork, allows for a better understanding of some native conceptions. In addition, I introduce the concept of “emotionally contextualized discourse,” where affects are intensely expressed and complement the verbal message in a way that is consistent with indigenous communicative modes. I conclude that attention to these emotional components during fieldwork makes possible a more humanistic, dialogical research process.