October 31, 2012
Anthropology: Lecture 2
What is ethnographic fieldwork?
What is the anthropological method?
What kinds of knowledge do we produce?
Bronislav Malinowski (1884-1942)
Argonauts: Caribbean Islands
Malinowski: Fieldwork in Trobriand 1914-1918
He wrote a book that was about the exchange
- Ethnology has introduced law and order into what seemed chaotic and freakish
It has transformed for us the sensational, wild, and unaccountable world of
“savages” into a number of well-ordered communities governed by law,
behaving and thinking according to consistent principles…
- The time when we could tolerate accounts presenting us the native as a distorted,
childish caricature of a human being has gone. This picture is false, and like many
other falsehoods, it has been killed by Science”
- Any approach that treats the whole as greater than the sum of its parts. Non-
holistic approaches emphasize the role of the individual rather than the total social
or cultural system within which s/he operates.
- Methodological holism thus aims at understanding social life through social and
cultural patterns. It is contrasted to methodological individualism, which is the
position (advanced in philosophy, for example, by Karl Popper) that t