Review Essay: Defying Insider-Outsider Categorization: One Researcher's Fluid and Complicated Positioning on the Insider-Outsider Continuum

Karen Eppley


In Writing the Amish: The Worlds of John A. Hostetler, WEAVER-ZERCHER compiles key ethnographic works which reflect HOSTETLER's role as a Pennsylvania Old Order Amish and a scholar-mediator of Amish culture. This project originated from the late HOSTETLER's unfinished book, part auto-biography, part scholarly review. Essays and commentaries contextualize and expand HOSTETLER's original discussions of Amish culture and social science, showing HOSTETLER's development from advocate to anthropologist across decades of publications. HOSTETLER describes the origins of this journey as he describes his family's shunning from the Peachy Amish church and his own calling, not to join the Amish church as a young adult, but to pursue academic learning instead. Using WEAVER-ZERCHER's text as an example, I offer a re-conceptualization of insider/outsider positioning, not as a fixed and binary positioning, but an unsettled, tenuous positionality situated within a continuum. The book offers a unique example of the problematic conceptualization of researcher positioning as either insider or outsider.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0603161


insider-outsider; Amish; Anabaptist; ethnography; qualitative research; researcher positioning

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Copyright (c) 2006 Karen Eppley

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