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Lecture 15

Anth lecture 15

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University of Guelph
ANTH 3690
Marta Rohatynskyj

Lecture 15 Nov. 1. 2011 Founding Functionalists The Subject, Method and Scope of This Inquiry (1922) Bronislaw Malinowski 1884-1943 - made field work appear difficult, critical thinking of each step - vs Mead in Samoa who made it appear easy and a breeze - his book becomes a classic in methodology, Initial Points Describes several large trading systems in the south east end in Papua New Guinea • • not just the Kula that he is interested in • at time he was doing research the systems had been interfered with by colonial contact • His description of the Kula exchange is a close professional study of one of the last remaining ones • He pays homage to members of the Torres Strait Expedition (Cambridge) 1989 - Haddon, Seligman and Rivers as scientific, indirectly • Stresses the importance of giving full account of how data was collected - this is only good science • Provides one of the most memorable accounts of the first moments of ‘fieldwork’ ever • ‘Image yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all of your gear, alone on a tropical beach close to a native village...”(p.204) The Basics of Good Ethnographic Research • ‘...patient and systematic application of a number of rules of common sense and well-know scientific principles...’ • not by an miraculous short-cut • vs Mead who thought you could come to know a culture very quickly • for M it is a long process, A, to B, to C, etc • 1. Real scientific aims, and know the values and criteria of modern ethnography • 2. Put himself in good conditions of live without other white men ... right among the natives • racial consciousness • 3. Apply a number of special methods of collecting, manipulating and fixing his evidence. Friendship with ‘natives’ and the draw of ‘White Society’ • His fieldwork carried out in a setting where there was a caste like separation between Europeans and the indigenous peoples • Although, he sees spending time with ‘natives’ as leading to a friendship and sociality that helps to understand their culture • Recourse to the company of ‘white man’ serves as a bread from this daily life but one must not become dependent on it • Fear of being ‘contaminated’ by views of other white men because they would be judgmental and unscientific Clear distinction has to be made in writing up between data based on inference (observation) • and data based on informants’ statements • Only by accounting for how this data was collected can one provide a reliable report • It is the only way that a ‘white man’ can avoid making statements based on the prejudices of his own community The Approach Transforms the ‘Native’ Community • Ethnology has introduced law and order into what seemed chaotic and freakish (p.207) • It is a far cry from: ‘Customs none, manners beastly.’ • ethnocentric view • Structuralist Foundation: • Holistic approach and clear and firm outline of the social constitution • Disentangle the laws and regularities of all cultural phenomena from the irrelevances • There is no formulated law in the community but the ethnographer has to codify it • The regularities in native institutions are an automatic result of the interaction of the mental forces of tradition, and of material conditions of environment. (p.208) • materialism / idealism • this is his statement, what culture ends up being, result of that interaction The Method • 1. The organization of the tribe and the anatomy of the culture must be recorded in firm, clear outline. The method of concrete statistical documentation is the means through which an outline has to be given. 2. Within this frame, the imponderabilia of actual life, and the type of behaviour have to be • filled in. They have to be collected through minute detailed observations, in the form of some sort of ethnographic diary, made possible by close contact with native life. • those little incidental things of daily life, which people usually do not pay attention to. • collected through minute detailed observations -> importance of keeping a journal • how close do people stand to each other, where, how do they sit, etc • 3. A collection of ethnographic statements, characteristic narratives, typical utterances, items of folk-lore and magical formulae has to be
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