Native Subjectivity as a Means for Uncovering the "Truth"


  • Anton Piyarathne


In this paper I engage with the discussion on subjectivity and objectivity in the social sciences in general and in anthropology in particular. Early anthropological research in peripheral regions has been dominated by fieldworkers foreign to those regions. Over the last few decades that trend is changing with the emergence of local anthropologists. The emergence native ethnographers evoked discussion that juxtaposed subjectivity versus objectivity of ethnography. In this paper I argue that objectivity is a legitimate and potentially satisfactory goal for foreign researchers but not for local researchers as it may disturb their ability to see the ethnographic reality clearly. Local researchers, for whom the social realities are under investigation, are part and parcel of their embodied subjectivities. In the context of my own research in Sri Lanka this includes hotly contested issues that have emerged from a three-decade-old ethno-racial crisis. Building on my own experience of doing fieldwork with communities in my own country, I will discuss how my subjectivities played in the course of the research and affect my analysis and writing.


How to Cite

Piyarathne, A. (2015). Native Subjectivity as a Means for Uncovering the "Truth". Humanity. Retrieved from