Back in Ifugao, the first thing that struck me was that I was already tired of being here. That this feeling would occur as early as during the first days of my second fieldwork here should of course not have been a great surprise to me as I do recall now that my previous field diary was filled with complains about how utterly boring I found the place and about how little sympathy I had for my research objects (yes, I did and still call them that since I never got to develop any relations resembling friendship with them).
Well, I guess I should have read my diary better before deciding to devote four more years to study these people. I also guess that starting off with a deeply felt antipathy towards my research objects is not exactly a very nice point of departure for a research project based on the method of participant observation. In addition to the field site related frustrations I am experiencing at the moment, I also find myself in a state that best could be described as anthropology-fed-up-ness. I am just tired of reading monography after monography and article after article without finding anything much of interest in them (this certainly also goes for my own writings, I must add). I assume, no, I actually know, that this is not because the books and articles actually are uninteresting (if this was the case, contemporary anthropology would be in a very sorry state), but rather due to my own lack of enthusiasm.
One should perhaps think that some motivation would re-emerge when one finally comes to the field again, but as far as I am concerned, this did not happen, actually quite the contrary. If this is related to the fact that my fascination for the field is limited to its theoretical and analytical potentiality, I do not know, but my antipathy for the field does indeed not pair very well with my general lack of motivation. And it is not the case that I during my previous fieldwork was more sympathetic towards the field; I then lasted through the nine months by relying on my motivation. I wanted to go through with it; I wanted to endure the stress and discomfort. Now, alas, I have no such motivation. I am just fed up with Ifugao and, sadly, with anthropology. I hope and think that the latter will again attract my interest, but I am pretty sure that the former will forever remain a depressing and not very sympathetic people to me. And I still have to work three years with this project…! I really do not know what to do.
Another problem that has surfaced in my new project is how I should relate to my new informants. To put it short, my new project is about the Pentecostal Christians in Ifugao, while I in the previous project concentrated on the practitioners of the traditional Ifugao religion. In almost every conversation I have with the Pentecostals I am asked if I am a Christian and if so to what denomination I belong. This question is of course quite easy to answer; I am not a Christian. As such the question should not cause any problems at all.
However, during these conversations I actually do feel a need to emphasize that I am not a Christian. It seems that I really need to distance myself from their beliefs. I guess this has something to do with how I relate to similar groups back home, it also got me thinking about how a similar problem did not occur during my previous interactions with the priests of the traditional religion. During a preacher held at the Evangelical Church (I went there first but found it to be “too solemn”, to quote one of my Pentecostal informants), I thought about how I would react if I were asked to be baptised or go through any other kind of Christian rites-de-passage, and I must admit that I dreaded the thought. I would certainly not be comfortable going through with that; I guess I would feel a hypocrite and that I betray my informants.
However, during my previous fieldwork I did not hesitate to participate as much as possible in the sacrificial rituals and spirit possessions. Then, I did certainly not feel a need to distance myself from them or their beliefs, actually I think I did the contrary and almost hinted about accepting their claims about the activities of the spirits, which was of course as much (and considering my Christian background) hypocritical than what would be the case in this Christian context.
I partly think that there are at least two points to be made here (and I am sure that one could find more). First, I now experience some kind of moral continuity with my informants. In my previous fieldwork I felt more at a distance from them, although I was much more involved with them then I am now. Second, I think that this has something to do with ‘belief’, a concept that was barely mentioned in the traditional context but which plays one of the leading characters in the Christian one. This concept has some sort of continuity with my own moral universe and I therefore am challenged when I have to relate to it in this particular way. Well, these thoughts are just preliminary of course, but they keep popping up whenever I sit quietly through the tedious services of the Evangelical church or stand still during the noisy Pentecostal prayers.