Open Access

A “Stranger” Researching Narratives in Southern Slovakia: Hungarian Minority Research by an Anthropologist Who Is Not “At Home”

   | Dec 27, 2017


This paper considers methodological questions regarding cultural/social anthropological research in multiethnic fields. Specifically, I attempt to reconsider the possibility of anthropological research by a “stranger” based on a research that I—a Japanese anthropologist—conducted in southern Slovakia. Anthropology originally developed as the study of other cultures; in some European countries, however, most anthropological research is conducted by anthropologists who are “at home”. For Slovak and Hungarian researchers, the Hungarian minority has been a common research target; therefore, many inhabitants, both ethnic Hungarians and Slovaks, have already experienced social research as subjects. Some interviewees get use to present a narrative expressing how they think about a certain topic. This research condition points to a fundamental question in the interviews of anthropological research. In this paper, therefore, my research experience is described to analyze reflexively my research position in the field.

In fact, it is difficult to theoretically define the boundary between “at home” and “stranger”; the difference depends on the context of each study. Anthropologists need to interpret their narratives by considering the results of participant observation and reflexivity in the research. “Stranger” anthropologists might have the advantage of noticing informants’ reflexivity in their narratives. This discussion can, in turn, become part of an ongoing process by which inhabitants’ interactions with researchers create new master narratives in the field.