Shifting Technologies of Reflection

Intergenerational Relationships and the Entanglements of Field and Home


  • Amy L. Allocco Elon University



ethnography, fieldwork, Tamil Nadu, India, relationships, mentoring, home, field


This article focuses on the intergenerational gifts and relationships that have structured my experience of the flows between home and the field in order to highlight the deeply intersubjective and relational aspects of fieldwork. It considers the shifting technologies of reflection—the diverse forms of field-writing that I produced at different stages as intertextual mediations of my fieldworlds—present in an archive chronicling twenty-five years of study and fieldwork in South India. Excavating this archive—which includes traditional fieldnotes, handwritten letters, creative essays, emails, voice memos and visual fieldnotes—has sharpened my awareness of the value of analyzing fieldwork experiences longitudinally and offers rich glimpses of everyday religion and gendered social relations. These materials underscore the interpenetrations of home and field, life and death, and self and other and prompt me to reaffirm my commitment to centering the crucial relationships that develop in these contexts in my scholarship, teaching and mentoring.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Amy L. Allocco, Elon University

Amy L. Allocco is an ethnographer whose research focuses on vernacular Hinduism, especially contemporary ritual traditions and women’s religious practices in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where she has been studying and conducting fieldwork for twenty-five years. She has published on snake goddess traditions, the narrative strategies of a female Hindu healer, and ritual innovation. Allocco’s current project, “Domesticating the Dead: Invitation and Installation Rituals in Tamil South India”, delineates the repertoire of ritual relationships that Hindus maintain with their dead kin and analyzes the ceremonies to honor deceased relatives called pūvāt˙ aikkāri (“the woman wearing flowers”).


Abu-Lughod, Lila 1993 Writing Women’s Worlds: Bedouin Stories. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Allocco, Amy L. 2009 Snakes, Goddesses, and Anthills: Modern Challenges and Women’s Ritual Responses in Contemporary South India. PhD dissertation. Atlanta, GA: Emory University.

Nurtured and Challenged: Feminist Mentoring and Memory at Colgate and Beyond. In Women and Religion, Philosophy and Feminism: The Colgate Heritage in Honor of Professors Marilyn Thie and Wanda Warren Berry, edited by Christopher Vecsey, 7–21. Hamilton, NY: Colgate University Press.

Vernacular Practice, Gendered Tensions, and Interpretive Ambivalence in Hindu Death, Deification, and Domestication Narratives. Journal of Hindu Studies 13(2).

forthcoming Bringing the Dead Home: Hindu Invitation Rituals in Tamil South India. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 89.

Allocco, Amy L., and Anya Fredsell 2018 Mentoring in Global Contexts: Embodying Feminist Ethnography in South India. PURM: Perspectives on Undergraduate Research & Mentoring 7(1).

Behar, Ruth, and Deborah A. Gordon (eds) 1995 Women Writing Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Casey, Edward S. 1996 How to Get from Space to Place in a Fairly Short Stretch of Time: Phenomenological Prolegomena. In Senses of Place, edited by Steven Feld and Keith H. Basso, 13–52. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Clark-Decès, Isabelle 2007 The Encounter Never Ends: A Return to the Field of Tamil Rituals. Albany: State University of New York Press.

De Neve, Geert 2006 Hidden Reflexivity: Assistants, Informants and the Creation of Knowledge. In Critical Journeys: The Making of Anthropologists, edited by Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar, 67–89. Hampshire: Ashgate.

Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter 2006 In Amma’s Healing Room: Gender and Vernacular Islam in South India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Gold, Ann Grodzins 2000 [1988] Fruitful Journeys: The Ways of Rajasthani Pilgrims. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Ilkama, Ina 2018 Dolls and Demons: The Materiality of Navara?tri. In Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navara?tri Festival of South Asia, edited by Caleb Simmons, Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues, 157–77. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Lochtefeld, James G. 2010 God’s Gateway: Identity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lorde, Audre 1984 The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism. In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 124–33. Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press.

Maggi, Wynne 2001 Our Women are Free: Gender and Ethnicity in the Hindukush. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

McKay, Deirdre 2006 Introduction: Finding “the Field”: The Problem of Locality in a Mobile World. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 7(3): 197–202.

Moraga, Cherríe, and Gloria Anzaldúa (eds) 1983 This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press.

Nagarajan, Vijaya 2019 Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India—An Exploration of the K?lam. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ortner, Sherry B. 2006 Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Pintchman, Tracy 2005 Guests at God’s Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Raheja, Gloria Goodwin, and Ann Grodzins Gold 1994 Listen to the Heron’s Words: Reimagining Gender and Kinship in North India. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Sanjek, Roger 2016 From Fieldnotes to eFieldnotes. In eFieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology in a Digital World, edited by Roger Sanjek and Susan W. Tratner, 3–13. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Seremetakis, C. Nadia 1991 The Last Word: Women, Death, and Divination in Inner Mani. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sivakumar, Deeksha 2018 Display Shows, Display Tells: The Aesthetics of Memory during Pommai Kolu. In Nine Nights of the Goddess: The Navara?tri Festival of South Asia, edited by Caleb Simmons, Moumita Sen and Hillary Rodrigues, 257–73. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Stolow, Jeremy 2008 Technology. In Keywords in Religion, Media and Culture, edited by David Morgan, 187–97. New York and London: Routledge.

Trawick, Margaret 1990 Notes on Love in a Tamil Family. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Tweed, Thomas 2006 Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Unnithan-Kumar, Maya 2006 Sensing the Field: Kinship, Gender and Emotion in an Anthropologist’s Way of Knowing. In Critical Journeys: The Making of Anthropologists, edited by Geert De Neve and Maya Unnithan-Kumar, 129–48. Hampshire: Ashgate.

Wolf, Diane L. (ed.) 1996 Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.



How to Cite

Allocco, A. L. (2020). Shifting Technologies of Reflection: Intergenerational Relationships and the Entanglements of Field and Home. Fieldwork in Religion, 15(1-2), 159–179.