Issue 9.4, November 1994

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Essay Excerpt

"Beyond Writing: Feminist Practice and the Limitations of Ethnography," Elizabeth Enslin

Can there be a feminist ethnography? I have been grappling with this question over the last few years as I conduct research on, write about, and participate in political organizing with women in the western region of Chitwan District, Nepal, in a village called Gunjanagar. My involvement in Nepal creates conditions for writing an ethnography that might be considered "feminist," but also compels me to look beyond ethnography-- feminist or otherwise-- as my primary practice. Through my ongoing engagement with women's struggles in western Chitwan, I attempt to integrate my roles as academic, activist, and femily member. My relations with both women and men in Nepal are mediated less by my rold as anthropological researcher and more by my social location as the daughter-in-law (buhari) in a politically active, Brahman family. By marrying into this extended family that has long been active in social and political work, I have become involved in local conflicts and struggles for change. My own relatives, especially my husband Pramod Parajuli, mother-in-law Parvati, and niece Pramila, became important actors in initiating women's literacy classes and building a campaign to establish Nari Jagaran Samiti (Women's Awareness Organization).