In Parallel Worlds (Gottlieb and Graham 1994), we chronicle our first two stays in Beng villages in Cote d’lvoire. The present essay updates the aftermath of Parallel Worlds on the Beng community and, especially, our relationship with that community. Returning to Bengland in summer 1993, we aimed to offer royalties from the sale of our memoir to two Beng villages, to be used for community development projects of their choosing. Would the residents of these villages agree on small-scale projects, or would various subgroups diverge, perhaps bitterly, in their opinions? What role, if any, should we play in trying to steer a project toward our own values concerning democracy and appropriate development? While rooted in our experiences, this essay also serves as a prolegomenon to a more general meditation on the obligations that devolve on the ethnographer of a place, any place, over the long term, and it further reflects on the parallels between the continual processes and demands of revising a text and of revisioning our relations-ethical, literary, and otherwise-with the communities that (willingly or not) host us.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Literature and Literary Theory