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LecturegivenbyAlisonPetchon23January2009atthePittRiversMuseum.Itformedtheintroductiontothe
seriesRevisitingVictorianAnthropology?,PittRiversMuseumResearchSeminarsinMaterialandVisualAnthropology,
Hilaryterm2009.
IamextremelygratefultoFranLarson,ChrisWingfieldandChrisGosdenfortheirideasandsupportforthispaper.
ThisarticleisasitwasreadattheFridaylunchtimeseminar,omittingonlythespeaker'sasides.Therewasalongand
veryusefuldiscussionattheendofthepaperandthespeakerwouldliketothankJeremyCoote,ChrisGosden,Clare
Harris,JeremyMacClancyandChrisMorton,amongothers,forveryilluminatingcomments.Twocommentsinparticular
areveryrelevant,thispaperdealsonlywithBritishVictoriananthropology[Ihaveamendedthetitleinthislighttomake
thisclearer],anditdoesnotcoverallthepossiblemodelsoffieldworkthatwerecurrentatthetime.Inaddition,itwas
pointedoutthatmyuseoftheword'model'isperhapsalittleproblematicandthatsofarasGillenwasconcernedatleast,
someofhisworkmayhavebeencolouredbyVictorianBritishattitudestoclass.

Totalimmersionorpaddling?:differentmodelsoffieldworkinVictorian[British]
anthropology,18741914
AlisonPetch,
Researcher'TheOtherWithin'project
Abstract:Fieldworkhasbeencalled'thecentralritualofthetribe'of
anthropologists.[Stocking1983:70]ThispaperaskswhyMalinowski's
modeloffieldwork,baseduponhisworkinPapuaNewGuineaduringthe
FirstWorldWar,becamethedefiningform,andwhetheralternative
modelsoffieldworkcarriedoutbyVictoriananthropologistsbetween1874
and1914mightalsobesuitable.
[Slide:PortraitofMalinowskiinthefield]Fieldworkisseenbymanytobe
atthecoreofwhatitistobeananthropologist.GeorgeStockinginhis
1983paper'TheEthnographer'sMagic'callsit'thecentralritualofthe
tribe'.[1983:70]Malinowskiisoftenportrayedasthefoundingfatherof
modernanthropologicalfieldworkhedescribeditasfollows:
Lectureintroductoryslide

Ihavelivedinthatarchipelagoforabouttwoyears...duringwhichtime
Inaturallyacquiredathoroughknowledgeofthelanguage.Ididmy
workentirelyalone,livingforthegreaterpartofthetimerightinthevillages.Ithereforehadconstantlythedailylife
ofthenativesbeforemyeyes,whileaccidental,dramaticoccurrences,death,quarrels,villagebrawls,publicand
ceremonialevents,couldnotescapemynotice.'[Malinowski1922:xvixvii]
AsHenrikaKuklickaspointedoutthough,'reportorialconventionsofanthropologicalaccountshavepermittedreadersto
imaginefieldworkersexperiencingexoticwaysoflifethroughtotalimmersion,butfieldpracticehasoftendepartedfrom
thisideal'.[Kuklick,1998:164]Malinowski'sdiarycertainlysuggeststhattherealitywasalittlemorecomplicatedthathis
quotationimplies.Followinghissupposedlead,theidealtwentiethcenturyanthropologistwasexpectedtoselectone
culturetostudy,identifythebestlocationinwhichtobasethemselvesforaprolongedperiod(usuallytakentobeayear),
tolearntospeakthelocallanguageasfluentlyaspossible,totallyimmersethemselvesinlocalcultureandact,atall
times,asa'participantobserver'.UptakeoffieldworklaMalinowskidiminishedtowardstheendofthecenturyas
restrictionsinfundingandconcernsoversafetyetcmadeitincreasinglyimpracticalformanyanthropological
postgraduates.
Actuallyitisrecognizedthatthereneverhasbeenasinglemodelforfieldwork.Someanthropologiststodayareeagerly
embracingothermodels,likemultisitedethnography.[Marcus,1995]Thebigquestionis,whywasMalinowski'smodel
apparentlychosenasTHE'distinctiveapprenticeship',thatAdamKuperforoneidentifies,inthefirstplace?[Kuper,1996:
1]ThereisinsufficienttimetoanswerthislargequestionheresoIwillconcentrateontheaspectsofitthataffectoneof
thebranchesofmainstreamanthropologymuseumethnographyormuseumanthropology,callitwhatyouwilland
lookatthekindoffieldworkwhichresultedintheacquisitionofartefacts,specificallyobjectswhichendeduphereatthe
PittRiversMuseum.IwillaskwhethersomeofthealternativemodelsusedinVictoriantimesmightworkjustaswellfor
acquiring'good'collectionsformuseumstoday.
[Slideshowinglistofcategoriesgivenbelow]Thispaperconsidersfouralternativemodelsoffieldworkusedbylate
VictoriananthropologistswhichIhavelabelled:
1.Lettingothersdothehardwork
2.Surveyinganthropology
3.Thefieldaslaboratory,theanthropologistasteam
4.Fieldsiteashome
Naturallythereissomeslippagebetweenthesecategories,eveninthefewexamplesIdiscussatlength,whichIhope
youwillforgive.
[Slideshowinglistofmenlistedbelow]QuiteafewanthropologistscouldbeusedtoexemplifythesemodelsbutIhave
selectedfivemenwhoarealllinkedtothePittRiversMuseuminsomeway.Fourofthesemenwerealmostexactlythe
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sameage,PittRiverswasolderbuttheywereallVictorians.[1]Thereareotherconnectionsbetweenthesemen(apart
fromtheirgender).Threeofthemweretrainednaturalscientists(Spencer,BalfourandHaddon)atatimewhenthe
secondeditionofNotesandQueries,publishedin1892,definedanthropologyas'thenaturalhistoryofman'.[2][Garson
andRead1892:B]PittRivers'firstcollectionfoundedtheeponymousmuseumatOxfordin1884,whichBalfourcurated
from18911939.Gillen,throughhispartner,Spencer,wasacquaintedwithBalfourandcontributedtothemuseum's
collections.BalfourwasaclosecolleagueofHaddonandSpencer.SpencerwasadvisedbyHaddontotakea
phonographandcincameraonhissecondexpeditionwithGillen.Interestingly,atleastoneofthemwasknownwellby
Malinowski:SpencersponsoredhimwhilsthewasinAustraliabeforehisPNGfieldworkandwasknownbyhimas'Old
Baldie'.MalinowskiwasalsolinkedtothePittRiversMuseumwehavefivecanoeprowsloanedbyhimin1916butnot
formallyaccessioneduntil1971anotherpartofhiscollectionwassoldtotheMuseum,afterhisdeath,byhiswifebut
laterreturnedtoher.[3]Fourofthemenundertookfieldworkatthesametime,usingthesamekeytextsandanswering
someofthesamequestions.
BecauseMalinowski'sfieldworkiswellknown,andtimeisshort,Iwillnotdiscussthedetailsofhisfieldworkmodel.
Haddon'sworkhasalsobeenextensivelyexaminedandpublishedrecently(seeHerle1998)andIwilldealwithit
cursorily.BalfourandPittRivers'contributions,thoughgenerallylesswellknown,areofcourseknowntousherethe
mosttimethereforewillbespentdetailingthefieldworkofourfifthman,FrankGillen,whosework(particularlywhenseen
inisolationfromhismorefamouspartner)isprobablytheleastfamiliarofthefive.
Sotoourfirstfieldworkmethod:controversiallyperhaps,itcanbeseenasthechoiceofthelazyresearcher.

Firstalternative:PaddlingorLettingothersdothehardwork
[SlidePittRivers]PittRiverschosenottovisitthefieldhimselftoobtain
data,whichmighthaveseemedtheobviousthingtodohebelievedthatit
waspossibletobaseanthropologicaltheoryoninformation,andartefacts,
obtainedbyotherpeople.[Petch2007:29]He,likeTylor,believedthat
artefactswereculturalfacts,andthat'culturalformsrenderedintomaterial
forms[were]amenabletoempiricalstudy','mythsandkinshipwere
consideredalongwithweaponsandweavingaselementsofcultureof
equivalenttype'.[Brownetal,2000:259,263]TheartefactsPittRivers
acquiredwereinessencethe'facts'hewasinterestedin,hewas
indifferentintheothertypesofdatasentbackbytravellers:vocabularies,
measurements,pictures,maps,andstories.Objectscouldbecollectedby
others,justaswellasbyhimself,andbyconcentratingonaUKbased
huntforartefacts,heensuredthewidestpossiblerangeofsourcesand
geographicalspread.Bytrawlingthemarketanddealersthroughout
Europe,andpursuingeverytravellerwithacollectiontosell,hemanaged
toacquireoneoftheforemostethnographiccollectionsoftheVictorian(or
anyother)age.
Inordertoensurethathebasedhisworkuponthebestpossiblesources
ofbothformsofdata,hehelpedtoestablishNotesandQueriesin1874
whichdirectedtravellersandotheramateuranthropologistsinthewayto
obtaindata,andthequestionstoask.[3]PittRiversfinanciallysupported
thefirsttwoeditionsofthispublicationandhealsowroteseveralsections.
[Petch2007:27]Someofthesesurvivedintheensuingeditionsofthe
Guideuntilthefifthedition,publishedin1929.Althoughfactsandartefacts
cametohiminahaphazardmannerhethentriedtoimposeanorderupon
theminhispublications,oftenintheprocessdisguisingtheessentially
random,opportunisticmethodofacquisition.[Petch1998,2006]

AugustusHenryLaneFoxPittRivers.1998.271.66

PittRiverswas,therefore,oneofthegroupofwhatStockingcalled'evolutionarytitans,seatedintheirarmchairs,[who]
culledethnographicdatafromtravelaccountstodocumenttheirvisionofthestageofcreationofhumanculturalforms'.
[1983:71]AsStockingalsopointsout,bymaking'empiricaldatacollectedbygentlemanamateursabroad'feedthe
'systematicinquiriesofmetropolitanscholarship',anthropologistswereonlyfollowingtheleadofothermidVictorian
scientists.[Stocking1983:72]PittRivers'laissezfaireattitudetodataand'facts',andwhatmightbeseenashis
preferenceforsweepinggeneralizationbasedonlittlehardevidence,canbeinterpretedaspartofhisarmchair,home
basedmethodology.Separatingdatacollectionandtheorywasseenasapositivething,notanecessaryevilbecause
datacollectorsinthefieldwouldnotbebiasedbytheoreticalideas,andtheoristssawasmuchdataaspossiblebefore
developingtheirtheses.Greateranthropologicaltheoriststhanhimself,likeTylorandFrazer,employedexactlythesame
methodologytogreatertheoreticaleffect.Indeedthismethodmayhavefacilitatedtheorizing,freeingthescientistto
compareandcontrastbetweendifferentculturesandwaysoflifethathehimselfwasnotintimatelyacquaintedwith.
Noneofourother,later,examplesseparateddatacollectionfromtheorizinginthisway:foreachofthemthecollectionof
factsandtheconsequenttheorizingwaspartofthesamepackage,carriedoutbyasingleindividual(orinthecaseoftwo
oftheexamples,aspartofateam).

Secondalternative:Anthropologyassurvey
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[SlideBalfourandSpencerasstudents]PittRiverswasselftaught,indeed
hestartedworkinginanthropologylongbeforeitwaspossibletoformally
studyitataBritishuniversity.Thenextgenerationofscientistsweremore
fortunate.BothHenryBalfourandhiscontemporaryandfriend,Walter
BaldwinSpencer,studiedthenaturalsciencesattheUniversityofOxford
andattendedlecturesbyEdwardBurnettTylor.Spencercameupto
ExeterCollegein1881andgraduatedwithafirstclassdegreein1884.He
wasthenappointedDemonstratorwithHenryNottidgeMoseley(whoknew
PittRiverswell,andalsotaughtBalfour)andwasaskedtohelptransfer
thePittRiversMuseum'sfoundingcollectionfromLondontoOxford.
BalfourcameuptoTrinityCollege,Oxfordin1882(ayearafterSpencer)
andgraduatedwithasecondclassdegreein1885beforetakingupthejob
workingatthePittRiversMuseum.In1891hewasappointedCuratorof
theMuseum,aposthehelduntilhisdeathin1939.BalfourandSpencer's
correspondence,heldintheMuseum'smanuscriptcollectionsprovesthe
longevityoftheirconnection.

MembersoftheHumanAnatomyandPhysiology
Class,OxfordUniversityMuseumofNatural
History.1998.267.85

[SlideBalfour]ForoverfortyyearsBalfourwasthelinchpinintheMuseum
designingdisplays,acquiredartefacts,battledwiththeUniversity
authoritiestoobtainfunding,teachingtheDiplomastudents,andcarrying
outhisownresearch.WorkingfulltimeasamuseumcuratorleftBalfour
verylittletimeforfieldworkintheMalinowskianmanner.Inanycasethe
kindsofquestionsthatBalfourwasinterestedin,includingthe
developmentofparticulartechnologies,lentthemselvestobeing
investigatedbythesurveymethodspendingshortperiodsinthefield,
travellingoverlargetractsofcountryandresearchingarelativelylimited
numberofquestions.Balfourpreferred'facts'totheorizing,hethoughtthat
anthropologicalendeavourwasdividedbetweengeneralistsand
specialists.Inhis1937FrazerlectureatOxfordentitled'Spinnersand
WeaversinAnthropologicalResearch',hemadeitclearthathisown
sympathywaswiththe'weavers'orgeneralists.Itisclearthat,forBalfour,
theorizingtooksecondplacetocollectingandcommunicatingdata.Both
specialistsandgeneralists,heargued,shouldknowsomethingofthe
other,butthelatterkindofanthropologistwouldalwayshaveagraspof
thewiderpicture.
BalfourhadtorestricthislongerjourneystooutsideUniversityterms,but
hetriedtotakeadvantageofmostLongVacationstotravelabroad.Upto
1914hetravelledtoFinmarkenandRussianLapland,SouthAfrica(three
times),Mozambique,Zimbabwe,Australia,Indonesia,Singapore,
HenryBalfour1998.356.17.1
Malaysia,SriLankaandIndia.Hecontinuedtotravelinthisveinuntilthe
late1930s.Hekeptjournalsofhistravels(theywillhopefullybeonlineat
somepoint).Theyarefullofdirectobservations,sketches,photographs,exacttimes,namesandlocations,buttheyoften
lackedanecdotalorpersonalcommentaryregardingtheconversationshehadorhisthoughtsandopinionsondaily
eventsandinteractions.
However,Balfour'stravelswerenotfieldworkasanthropologistsafterMalinowskiwouldcometoacceptit:hedidnot
spendverylonginoneplace,anddidnotinquireindepthonanyonetopic(apartfrom,possibly,stonetools).Mostofhis
travelswereopportunitiestoobtainadditionalartefactsfortheMuseumratherthanopportunitiestoobtainrawdata
(though,ofcourse,forBalfourobjectswererawdata).Histravels,althoughextensive,werelargelybusytoursinvolving
daytripsandexcursionsfromthemaintownsandcities,accompaniedbyresidentsorinlargergroups.Shoppingintowns
andbuyingartefactsfromlocalstoreswasanimportantwayforhimtoacquirematerialquicklyandefficientlyashe
travelledaround.Theresimplywasnotsufficienttimetoestablishlongtermrelationshipswiththepeoplewhomadethe
objectshebought.Instead,hehadtorelyonmiddlemen,andcontributedtothethrivingtradeinlocalcollectablesatthe
sametime.Thatsaid,therewereoccasionswhenhewasabletoacquirethingsmoredirectly,fromtheiroriginalowners
andusers.
Inadditiontohisownfieldwork,Balfourcollecteddata(artefactualandfactual)fromotherpeople.Themainthrustofhis
researchworkwascumulative:hegatheredethnographicdataandartefactsfromhundredsofsourcesduringhislonglife
inanefforttobuildupascompleteapictureaspossibleofthemanufactureanduseofparticulartypesofobject
throughouttheworld.BasicallyBalfourwasamixtureoffieldworkerandarmchairanthropologist,usingwhatevermethod
bestsuitedthejobtohand.Surveyworkwascommonduringtheperiodinquestion,anotherOxfordanthropologistofthe
age,RobertRanulphMarett,confirmed'Touring,indeed,provestheidealmethodofanthropologicalresearch'soBalfour
wasnotalone.[Stocking,1983:110]Surveyfieldworkwasideallysuitedtothelimitedtimehehadavailableandalsohis
needtoacquirealargenumberofartefactsfairlyquickly.Italsosuitedtheexplorationofthetopicshewasinterestedin:
hisinterestinstonetooltechnology,forexample,requiredlargenumberofstonetoolsfromdifferentlocationsfor
comparativepurposes.Itcanbearguedthatthereareperhapsalimitednumberofresearchtopicswheresurveyworkis
therightoronlymethodologythatwouldfulfillrequirements,butBalfourcertainlythoughtithaditsplace.
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Thirdalternative:Thefieldaslaboratory,theanthropologistasteam
[SlideTorresStraitexpeditionmembers]MostlistenersareprobablyfamiliarwiththeTorresStraitExpeditionsoIwillnot
lingeronthedetails.InMarch1898sevenmensetoutfortheTorresStraitislandsoffAustralia.Theirexpeditionhadbeen
sponsoredbytheUniversityofCambridgeandwasledbyAlfredCortHaddon,adistinguishednaturalscientistand
ethnologist.Theexpeditionalsoincludedscholarsfromthefieldsofpsychology,physiology,medicineandlinguistics.They
spentapproximatelysevenmonthsontheislands.[HerleandPhilp1998:8]StockinghassuggestedthatHaddonused
thegreateighteenthcenturymaritimeexpeditionsasamodelforhisteam.[1983:76]
Fouryearsbeforetheexpeditionsetout,Haddonhaddescribedtheessentialsoffieldworkmethodology:
Informationmustbepatientlycollected,criticallyexaminedandcarefullycomparedandchecked.Innocaseshould
theinvestigatortheorise,itisthenative'sexplanationthatisrequired.[Haddon,1894:271quotedinHerleand
Philp1998:26]
Sixyearsearlierhehaddoubtedthathehadtheskillsettobea'properanthropologist':
onerequireswiderknowledgeandmoreversatiletalentsthanIcanlayclaimto.Heshouldbealinguist,artist,
musician,andhaveanextensiveknowledgeofnaturalandmechanicalscienceetc.[Haddon1888journal:108
quotedinHerleandPhilp1998:25]
Theexpeditionmembersusedthescientificmethodologyoftheirparticulardisciplinestorecordasmuchmeasurabledata
aspossibleabouttheislanders,theirlivesandcustoms.Haddonwasagreatbelieverinaccurateanddetailedrecording
andtheExpeditionthereforeamassedgreatquantitiesofdata.[4]Theteamwereexpectedtoreachsomesortof
consensusabouttheirfindings,andusedmethodologywhichconformedmoretocontemporarylaboratorypracticethan
thatofthefield.Kuklickarguesthat,forHaddon,the1898expeditionwas:
ademonstrationproject,representingtheoptimalsynthesisoflaboratoryandfieldpractice.Itwouldinspire
anthropologytofollowtheleadofothernaturalhistorysciences,whichhadearlierabandonedthedivisionoflabour
betweencollectorswhotoiledinthefieldandtheoristswhoworkedinlibrariesandlaboratories.[Kuklick1998:150]
ShedefinestheanthropologicalworkundertakenbytheTorresStraitexpeditionas'primarily'survey'work'.However,she
alsoconcludesthatthiswasidealfor'ateamofspecialistswhodividedinvestigativetasksalonglinesconsistentwiththeir
individualexpertise'.Sheseesthisastheexpectedreflectionofanthropology'sdevelopmentfromthenaturalsciences
wheresuchcollaborativeresearchwascommon.[Kuklick1998:159]JamesUrry,bycontrast,believedtheexpedition
mixed'detailed'intensive'researchwithsurveysofneighbouringareas'.Inthiswayheseestheexpeditionasforminga
middlegroundbetweenonemodelandanother.[Urry,1998]Stockingremarksthatbythetimethefinalvolumeofwork
arisingfromthe1898expeditionwaspublished,in1935:
theembraciveevolutionaryconceptionofanthropologythatjustifiedsuchadiffuseandmultidisciplinaryenterprise
hadbeencalledseriouslyintoquestion.Farfrombeingacceptedasageneralmethodologicalparadigm,the
CambridgeExpeditionbecamesomethingofamethodologicalalbatrossforseveralearlyacademicanthropologists
who,aloneinthefield,attemptedtocarryonasimilarrangeofinquiries.[Stocking1995:114]
Haddon'scollaborativemodeloffieldworkwasnotonethatBritishanthropologyfollowed.Thismayhavebeenbecauseof
thedriftofsocialanthropologyawayfromthenaturalsciencesandtowardsthehumanitiesorsocialsciences.Later
anthropologistsdidnothavethescientifictrainingthatanthropologistslikeBaldwinSpencer,HenryBalfourandAlfred
Haddonhadhad.Ifanthropologywasconsideredabranchofscience,dealingwithmattersofhardevidence,itcouldbe
arguedthatitdidnotmattersomuchhowtheevidencewascollected,solongthatitwasbeforeitwaslostforeverlater
anthropologistswereseenassocialscientists,dealingwithinterpretations,personalitiesandperspectivesbringingthe
emphasismuchmoreonthehow.[Larson,pers.comm.]

Fourthandfinalalternative:Fieldsiteashome,totalimmersion
[SlideGilleninfield]FewcaneverhavedoneanthropologicalfieldworkinquitethewaythatFrankGillendid.[6]Hewas
ofIrishCatholicdescent,bornandbroughtupinSouthAustralia.Hisformaleducationendedveryearlyandhejoinedthe
postalservicein1867attheageoftwelve,asamessenger.Hestartedworkintheoutbackin1875asatelegraph
operatorandby1892hehadbeenappointedthePostandTelegraphStationMasteratAliceSpringsandthelocal
magistrateoneofthemost,ifnotthemost,seniorauthorityfigurethenonpermanentstationinCentralAustralia.
However,hisbackground,loveofgambling,investmentin(worthless)goldminesandboisteroussenseofhumourmeant
thathewasalwaysabitofanoutsiderinstuffyAustralianbureaucracy.Anotherfactorthatcontributedtohisdifference,
washissympathyandlikingformembersofthelocalAboriginalcommunity.Hehadsomeprofessionalresponsibilityfor
them,beinginchargeofthemechanismbywhichrationsweredistributedintimesofneed,buttherelationshipbetween
themwasmuchdeeperandwasconfirmedwhenheprosecutedapolicemanwhohadmurderedanAboriginalman
althoughthepolicetrooperwasacquitted,Gillen'sreputationwiththeArrerntewassealed.
[SlidevocabularylistsfromtheUniversityofAdelaide]Gillen'santhropologicalfieldworkpredating1894hasnotyetbeen
fullyresearched.Thereislittleremainingevidenceofit,apartfromphotographsheldintheSouthAustraliaMuseum,
vocabularylistswrittenin1875andpublishedin1886aspartofCurr'ssurveyoflanguages,fieldnotebooksnowheldin
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theUniversityofAdelaideandGillen'scontributiontotheHornExpeditionvolume.[Gillen1896][Gillen,1995:4,5]Heis
alsoknowntohavebeenakeen(ifsomewhathaphazard)photographerofthelocalpopulationatthetime.[Jones2005]
BecausehishomewasincentralAustralia,andhehadinterestedhimselfinAboriginalaffairs,Gillenwaseventuallyvery
familiarwithbothgeneralandrestrictedareasofArrerntelife.
[SlideSpencer]In1894Gillen'slifechangedforeverwhenhemetWalterBaldwinSpencer.Spencerwasthenthe
ProfessorofBiologyattheUniversityofMelbourneandhadtravelledtoAliceSpringswiththeHornScientificExploring
Expeditionasitsphotographerandzoologist.Gillenlatercontributedsometwentyfivepagesofnoteshehadpreparedon
ArrerntelifeandcustomstotheExpeditionvolume,thismusthavebeenbasedonworkhemostlycarriedoutbeforehe
metSpencer.[Gillen1896]Thetwomenbegananextensivecorrespondencein1894andlateragreedtocollaborateon
ananthropologicalendeavour,GilleninthefieldandSpencerathomeinMelbourne.Theircorrespondence,orratherwhat
isleftofit,isnowheldinthemanuscriptcollectionsofthePittRiversMuseum.
In1899SpencerandGillenwrote:
Ithasbeenthelotofoneofustospendthegreaterpartofthepasttwentyyearsinthecentreofthecontinent,and
assubprotectoroftheAborigineshehashadexceptionalopportunitiesofcomingintocontactwith,andofgaining
theconfidenceof,themembersofthelargeandimportantAruntatribe,amongstwhomhehaslived,andofwhich
tribebothofus,itmaybeadded,areregardedasfullyinitiatedmembers.[SpencerandGillen1899:vii]
Thefinalstatementiscontroversial.Theyweretryingtoinferthattheywereprivytoallthesecretsoflocalculture,
includingthatnormallyrestrictedfromEuropeanknowledge.Itisclearthat,ifthiswastrue,itwassobecauseofGillen.He
wasallowedaccesstoinformationandceremoniesthatwouldnormallyhavebeenforbiddentooutsiders,womenand
uninitiatedmalesbecauseofthespecialrelationshiphesharedwiththelocalcommunity.Hisreputationforfairdealing
spreadthelengthandbreadthoftheNorthernTerritorygivingbothmenprivilegedaccesstoothergroupsaswell.
GillencarriedoutfieldworkwhilstcontinuingtoworkfortheTelegraphService.Heworkedcloselywithanumberof
Aboriginalmen,mostlyeldersbutalsosomeyoungermenwhohepaidinkindwithtobacco,flourandclothes.Spencer
andGillenalsocarriedouttwofurtherintensiveperiodsoffieldworktogether.Thefirstwasinthesummerof18967when
Gillenhad'arranged'thatacycleofceremoniestakeplaceattheareatheycalledthe'Engwuraground'[Angkwerre]next
totheTelegraphStation.Thesecondlastedforanentireyearin19012whentheytravelledslowlythroughthewholeof
AustraliafromtheGreatAustralianBighttotheGulfofCarpentaria.ThesetwofieldworkperiodsandGillen'sowndaily
fieldworkformedthebasisfortheirfirsttwobooks,NativeTribes...(1899)andNorthernTribesofCentralAustralia(1904).
In18967SpencerandGillenwereasmuch'participantobservers'asnineteenthcenturyanthropologistscouldbe:during
thetwomonthsofthecycletheylivedinawurley,closetothemainceremonialground,andjoinedinsomeoftheritual
actionassociatedwiththerevelationofsacredthings.Ofthisexperience,theywrote,inMalinowskianmode:
...aftercarefullywatchingthenativesduringtheperformanceoftheirceremoniesandendeavouringasbestwe
couldtoenterintotheirfeelings,tothinkastheydid,andtobecomeforthetimebeingoneofthemselves...
[SpencerandGillen1899:12]
[SlideThe19012team]In19012theypioneeredsoundrecordingonwaxcylindersandshotcinfilmunderconditionsof
somehardship.Thefieldjournalstheybothkeptduringthisjourney(whicharenowinAustralianarchives)demonstrate
theirfieldmethodologyindetailbutthereisinsufficienttimetoexaminetheminanydepthhere.
Therehasalwaysbeensomedebateaboutwhocontributedwhatintheirpartnership.ItseemsclearthatGillenprovided
therawdata,commentaryandcriticismwhilstSpencerturnedGillen'sworkintopolishedprosesuitableforan
internationalaudience.Whenbothhadworkedinthefield,Spencer'srolewastosynthesisetheirindividualsetsof
fieldworkdataintooneseamlesswhole.Spencerwascertainlymorefamiliarwithanthropologicalkeytexts(heoften
suggestedthatGillenreadthem),andalsowithcontemporarytheoriesandpracticesGillenwasthemanwiththeinside,
indepthknowledgeofArrernteculture(thepeopletheymostlyworkedwith).Hewasalwaysverydeferentialinhisletters
towhatheperceivedtobeSpencer'sfinermindandgreatereducationbutinfacthewasafine,ifinformal,writerandhis
greatskillinobtainingandprocessingdatafromeveryinformantmadethemthegreatanthropologiststheybecame.
TherehasalsobeendebateaboutjusthowmuchArrernteGillenactuallyspoke(itisgenerallyagreedthatSpencerspoke
verylittle).Thegreatestaidtobeingabletodoempathicfieldworkistospeakthelocallanguagewell.Foralongtimeit
wasbelievedthatGillenwasnotfluent,butdetailedanalysisofhislettersand,moreparticularly,hisbudgetsof
information,showthat,infact,hehadaverygoodgraspofit.
Theirfinalpieceofjointfieldworktookplacein1903whentheytravelledbrieflytoLakeEyre.SpencerandGillenintended
tocontinuetheiranthropologicalpartnershipbutthiswaspreventedbyGillen'sincreasingillhealth,hediedin1912.
Spencercontinuedtoworkintermittentlyonanthropologicalprojectsafterthisdate,carryingoutfurtherfieldworkaround
DarwinintheNorthernTerritory.Hefinallydiedin1929duringhislastfieldworktrip,toTierradelFuego.
[SlideknifeandsheathcollectedbySpencerandGilleninPRMcollections,1903.39.40]Withhindsighttheirfieldworkcan
appearquitemodern.Theywereverycarefultocrosscheckthedatatheyobtainedwithseveralsources.Theyalso
'recordedinformationwhichwentagainsttheiroriginalhypothesesandmodifiedtheirinterpretationtotakethenew
materialintoaccount'.[Mulvaneyetal,1997:44]Theirfulldocumentationoftheirthoughtprocesseswhileinthefield,or
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preparingtheirpublications,throughtheirlettersandjournalsmakeitunusuallyclearwhattheseprocesseswere.In
additiontocollectinganthropologicalfacts,theyalsoamassedlargecollectionsofmaterialculture,mostofwhichisnowin
museumsthroughouttheworld,someinthisveryone.
Insummary,SpencerandGillenoperatedasateam,bringingdifferentskillstothefieldbutworkinginharmonyand
agreeingtheresultsoftheirtheorizing.Gillenbelievedstronglyintheneedforfieldwork,andforthatfieldworktobelong
term:
...withoutlivingamongstthemandpossessingtheirentireconfidence[theanthropology]willbevaluelessYou
knowfromourownexperiencehowextremelydifficultitistomakeanyheadway[even]whenyouliveamongst
themandpossesstheirConfidence...[Letter31,Gillen'sletterstoSpencer,SpencerpapersPRMmscollections]
FrankGillenknewhischosenanthropologicalsubjectsverywell,helivedandworkedalongsidethemfrom1875to1899,
andin19012.HisdaytodayinteractionswiththeAboriginalcommunitiesaroundAliceSpringswerepartofhisreality.
Hewasabletousethisdatatofurtherhumanknowledge,tohelponecommunity(theEuropeansinAustralia,and
Europe)understandanother,apparentlyalien,culture.Withhispartner,BaldwinSpencer,heproducedtwopublications
whichhadaseminaleffectonBritishandEuropeananthropologyandonthewaythatanthropologydevelopedintheearly
twentiethcentury.BothFrazer,intheUK,and(tomorelastingeffect)Durkheim,inFrance,usedtheirdataasasourceof
muchrevolutionarytheorizing.Malinowskibelievedthathalfofanthropologytheorywrittenbetween1904and1913was
basedontheirwriting,andallbutatenthheavilyinfluencedbyit.[Stocking1983:79]ItisStocking'sviewthatSpencer
andGillen'sworkmarked'thebeginningoffieldworkinthemodernanthropologicalsense'.[Stocking1995:111]

Conclusions
[Slide:SpencerandGillentogetheratBlackPeak,photographedbyJ.W.Lindt]Thispaperhasgivendetailsoffour
differentmodelsforcarryingoutfieldworkemployedbymanyanthropologistsattheturnofthenineteenthandtwentieth
centuries.Eachofthesemodelswassuccessfulsofarastheirproponentswereconcernedinthattheyproducedthe
resultstheanthropologistswerelookingfor.Oneoftheproductsoftheirfieldwork,ineachcase,wastheacquisitionof
objectsthateventuallyarrivedatthePittRiversMuseum.
Itwasasurprisetome,thoughIamnotsurewhy,whenIfirststartedworkattheMuseum,thatsomanyoftheclassic
socialanthropologistsofthetwentiethcenturyhadcollectedmaterialculture,andgivenittothemuseum.EvansPritchard
istheobviousexamplebutalsoMarilynStrathernand,ofcourse,otherrepresentativesfromISCA...Thusthedominant
twentiethcenturyMalinowskianmodeloffieldworkwassuccessfulinensuringmaterialculturecollectionsinthemuseum,
althoughthesecollectionsweregenerallynotdiscussedinthepublicationsoftheirdonors.
Eachoftheotherfieldworkmodelsappearstohavebeensuccessfulwithregardtoacquiringlargenumbersofartefacts.
Thedifference,sofarastheMuseumisconcerned,betweenthedifferentmethodsprobablyliesinthedepthof
documentationprovidedforeachobject.Asmightbeexpected,acquiringartefactsatsecondhandistheleasteffective
methodofensuringabundantinformationisalsoavailableandonecansafelysaythat,byandlarge,thefounding
collectionoftheMuseumisalsooneofthemostpoorlydocumented.Interestingly,though,anotherrelativelypoorly
documentedcollectionisthatacquiredanddonatedbyHenryBalfour,whoactuallyworkedintheMuseum.Thisis
presumablybecauseheoftenacquiredobjectsawayfromtheirsiteofproductionanduse,butalsobecausehismethodof
surveyfieldworklefthimlittletimetoacquiredetailedinformation.Tobefairtohim,italsoreflectsthefactthathemay
havefelthedidnotneedtorecordallthedetailsofartefactsashehimselfcouldrememberallaboutthem.Heworkedat
theverybeginningsofprofessionalmuseumpracticeandwasnotnecessarilyveryconsistentinhisapproachto
documentation.FrancesLarsonhassuggestedthatbothPittRivers'andBalfour'swaysofanthropologising(goinground
alargeregion,orusingsecondarysources,togatheruplotsofobjectstoworkonatalaterdate)isonlypossiblewhen
objectsareseenasaprimaryformofdata,justlikewesee'words'today(forexample,inaninformant'stestimony).The
objectcouldbeinterrogatedasthoughitcouldspeak,itdidnotnecessarilyneedbackgroundinformationaswell.[pers.
comm.]Thusthepotentialdeficiencesoftheirmethodologywereimmaterialtothem.
SurveyfieldworkwascarriedouttodifferentdegreesbyBalfour,SpencerandGillenin19012,andHaddon(aswellas
manyotheranthropologistsliketheSeligmans).Ithaslongfallenintodisuseasamodelandisnowdisregardedas
producing'shallow'results.Ifcomparisonofdifferentculturesisthoughtofasimportant,thensurveyworkisanalmost
idealmethod.Itallowstheresearchertoidentifythekeyquestions,askthemsystematicallyinaseriesofdifferent
locationsandthenworkwiththeresults.Asregardsacquiringcollectionsforamuseum,thismethodwouldprobably
ensureartefactsfromthewidestgeographicalareadependingupontheknowledgebaseofthecollector,itmayormay
notproducewelldocumentedartefacts.
ThecollectionsofHaddon,SpencerandGillenarewelldocumented,indeedtheyareamongthebestdocumented
artefactsoftheperiod.Thisisbecausetheauthorsnotonlyknewthematerialcultureoftheirchosensocietiesverywell,
butalsobecausetheytookthetimetopublishinformationaboutthematerialcultureindetail.Theywerehelpedbythe
relativelylargenumberofmanhoursdevotedtofieldinvestigationinbothcases(thoughthedistributionofthemanhours
wasdifferent,withtheTorresStraithavingmanymenworkingsimultaneouslyoverashortperiodandSpencerandGillen
relyingmoreupononemanworkingmanyhours,daysandyearsinonelocation).
HowwouldfieldworkdocumentationsuppliedbyaMalinowskiananthropologistcompare?Thedocumentationforthe
MalinowskicollectionitselfsurvivesevenifmostoftheartefactsarenolongerintheMuseum.Theartefactsareverywell
physicallydescribed,butlesswelldocumentedintermsofuse,methodsofproductionetc.This,however,maynotreflect
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thelevelofdocumentationobtainedbyMalinowskibutratherthefactthatmanyoftheartefactsweresoldafterhisdeath
byhiswifeviaathirdparty(AudreyRichards).FromexperienceofotherMalinowskianfieldworkers,however,itcanbe
safelyconcludedthatthelevelofdocumentationassociatedwithmaterialcultureentirelyreliesupontheanthropologists'
interestinit.Whereananthropologisthascollectedasasideline,littleinformationwillbeobtainedandpassedonwhere
theanthropologistisinterested,abundantinformationmaybeaccrued.Malinowskianfieldworkisamethodthatcan
certainlybeusedtoacquirewelldocumentedartefactsfromasinglelocation.
Themodeloffieldworkerinthetwentiethcenturywasverymuchoneof'anthropologistas[solitary]hero',fightingalone
againsthispeers,seekingtoconvincehisseniorsthatheisdeservingofacademichonoursandfunding.[Stocking1983:
109]Collaborationandteamworkaresurelyoptionsthatshouldbeexploredmoreoften.Workingaspartofalarger
anthropologicalteamisamuchlesscommonpracticetodaythoughitisstilltheestablishedmethodforotherscientific
disciplines.Spencer,GillenandHaddon'sworksuggestthatitcanbeaveryfruitfulmethodwhenappliedtoanthropology
andethnography.Mycurrentexperienceonthisresearchprojectwouldconfirmthat.Itallowsseveraldifferentresearch
avenuestobeexploredsimultaneously,bringsseveralpeoples'talentstogetheranddoesnotrelyonasinglepolymath.
ItmustbeclearbynowthatVictorianandearlytwentiethcenturyanthropologywashappytoemployanumberofdifferent
modelsforfieldwork,andtheseallprovedtohaveadvantagesanddisadvantagesofdifferentkinds.Nowcomesthe'She
wouldsaythat,wouldn'tshe'moment.Itseemstomethatoneofthemosteffectivemethodsisthatemployedspecifically
byoneofourfiveexamples:FrankGillen.Makingthesiteofyourfieldworkyourhome,notforalimiteddurationbutfor
manyyears,orforlife,hasmanyadvantages.Notonlydoyouhavethetimetoreallyunderstandanothercultureindepth,
andseeasmanyfacetsofitaspossible,butyouareabletovisitandrevisitthesameissues,gainingmoreknowledge
eachtime.AsamethodforacquiringwelldocumentedcollectionsIdonotseehowitcanbebettered.Overtimeyou
couldacquiremanymoreartefactsthanwouldbepossibleonasinglevisit,toseechangesintechnologyandusageover
time,tobuymoreartefactsfromindividualmakersorgetarangeofproductsfrommanydifferentmakers,toputright
smalldeficiencesinpreviouscollections.Iamsurethatmyaudiencecanthinkofmanydisadvantagestothismodel,soI
willstopnowandhandovertothem.
Notes
[1]IwillusethenamePittRiversthroughout,forclarity,thoughhedidnottakethisnameuntil1880.
[2]probablytheeditionofNotesandQueriesusedbythemall,ifitwasnotthe1899
[3]Accordingtotheaccessionrecordsthe'specimenswereacquiredunderamisunderstandingandwerereturned..for
shipmentto...MexicoinJuly1947'.
[4]InhisarchaeologicalworkPittRiverswasmoreactive,leadingmanyexcavationsinEngland,WalesandIreland.He
hadspentshortperiodsabroadwhilstservingintheArmy(Canada,MaltaandtheCrimea)andhadvisitedEgyptand
severalEuropeancountriesonholidayorwhenvisitingspasforthesakeofhishealthbutheneverexperiencedaperiod
ofethnographicenquiryinthefield.
[5]SixlargevolumesofReportswerepublishedfrom1901to1935oftheTorresStraitExpeditionfindings.Unusually
copieswerealsosentbacktotheislandsforcomment.SpencerandGillenalsoshowedthephotographsandfilmsthey
madeinCentralAustraliatotheirinformants,butthereisnorecordofthemdistributingcopiesoftheirbooksoutsidethe
EuropeancommunityinCentralAustralia.
[6]Except,ironically,T.G.H.Strehlowwhoworkedinthesamearea,andprofessedtodespiseSpencerandGillen's
professionalwork.
BibliographyandFurtherReading
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Brown,Alison,JeremyCooteandChrisGosden.2000.'Tylor'stongue:Materialculture,evidenceandsocial
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Gillen,F.J.1896.'NotesonsomemannersandcustomsoftheAboriginesoftheMcDonnellRangesbelongingtothe
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186London.
Gillen,F.J.1968.GillensDiary:TheCampJottingsofF.J.GillenontheSpencerandGillenExpeditionacrossAustralia
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Gosden,CandF.Larson[withAlisonPetch]2007KnowingThings:ExploringthecollectionsatthePittRiversMuseum
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