Drinkers, Drummers, and Decent Folk

Ethnographic Narratives of Village Trinidad

By John O. Stewart

Subjects: Anthropology
Paperback : 9780887068300, 230 pages, January 1989
Hardcover : 9780887068294, 230 pages, January 1989

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Table of contents


Foreword: Hermeneutics and the Anthropology of Fiction
Robert A. Manners

Introduction I. Post-Modern Ethnography and the Fictive Mode
II. Native and Anthropologist in the Field Small Victories

Who's Speaking Here?

Shadows in the Moonlight

Who's Speaking Here?

After the Rain

In the Field

Bad Blood

At the Desk

The Community Center

From the Field

When Oya Dances
Who's Speaking Here?

I Witness

At the Desk


Glossary of Trinidadian Terms



Drinkers is a multi-form text. Essays, poetry, and fiction present rural life in Trinidad. These texts are interspersed with analytic and exploratory sections on the ethnographic and fieldwork experience. Within a context which includes the West Indian sugar estate at its core, and the distant but very influential U. S.A. at the periphery, Stewart reveals villagers struggling with problems of individual identity, as well as with problems occasioned by the historical struggle between African, European, and Indian cultural forms.

John O. Stewart is an anthropologist and Professor in the Department of English at Ohio State University.


"The stories that make up the body of the text are engrossing and charming at the same time; Stewart is obviously a talented writer of fiction, among the best of contemporary Caribbean writers who have produced a very rich semi-ethnographic corpus on cultural experience in their homelands. The special interest of Stewart's work for anthropologists is that he legitimates ethnographic fiction as a form of doing ethnography in a very persuasive and sophisticated way. He raises such issues himself with great elegance in his last chapter, and he appropriately places his work squarely in the context of the contemporary debate about the nature of the ethnography. " — George E. Marcus, Rice University

"Drinkers is an innovative and creative piece of work that sets about to present those subjective cultural dimensions that guide action but are so difficult to establish and present through the usual ethnographic techniques. Stewart uses short stories to present these submerged cultural principles. He is an accomplished writer and the effort is a highly successful one. He is also a fine anthropologist sensitive to the unstated nuances of human behavior in a range of social conditions. " — George C. Bond, Teachers College, Columbia University